I’d been looking forward to today for quite some time: my first day back cycling with CER after an enforced five months out of the saddle. A start from Ness gardens promised an easy first ride, so even though the wet weather didn’t put me off, it did confirm the decision to drive to the start! By 10:00 I was the only one there although Steve turned up a few minutes later, to be followed by Dave H in his civvies. Given his extended tale of woe and jobs to be done, including his new post of kennel master, we were honoured that he made the time to join us for coffee. Steve and I agreed a route: Eastham Ferry, Port Sunlight, Storeton, Barnston and Irby for lunch at Irby Mill or the Farmers Arms. At half past the hour Ivan arrived to make a riding group of three.
From Ness Gardens we head up to Ness and turn right towards Willaston to join the Wirral Way for a couple of miles. Then it’s the back roads to Childer Thornton and on to Eastham Ferry where we stop to admire the hazy view across the Mersey where it’s just possible to make out the grey mass of the Anglican Cathedral through the drizzle. Oh the joys of cycling!
Photograph by Ivan Davenport
Leaving Eastham ferry behind we take the off-road cycle path along the coast before turning off along the disused rail line path to Port Sunlight. Port Sunlight is gearing up for it’s annual festival when we arrive. We make do with a leisurely tourist circuit from the Heritage Centre to the Lady Lever Gallery and back, before leaving the town to climb through the suburbs to Storeton. It is now decision time: Landican or Barnston? Personally I prefer the more scenic Landican route but bearing in mind the weather we opt for Barnston and find ourselves heading straight into the wind. Ivan kindly goes in front to give me some shelter but I just can’t stay with him and so struggle on to the main road where we at last get some shelter.
On the way through Pensby Steve notes that it’s already lunchtime and Ivan consults the Good Pub Guide on his smartphone and announces that we are only a few miles from a list of “good” pubs. I was pleased to note that his list included the intended lunch stop of Irby Mill. No change of plan needed, so it was only a few more minutes before we were flying through Irby and turning into Irby Mill pub off the roundabout.
Irby Mill proved to be much better than I remembered: a brilliant choice of ales including Tribute, Two Hoots and Autumn Red plus an excellent range of food. Steve’s choice of fish and chips saw the arrival of the largest battered fish imaginable. Another venue to add to the repeat visits list then.
14:00 hours saw us ready to leave the pub with the decision made to head back along the Wirral Way. A left turn at Royden Park and we were heading downhill to the coast to join the Wirral Way in Caldy for a leisurely ride through to Parkgate. From here on, we looked out for a link path down to the old docks and the Harp Inn but missing the link we came off the Wirral Way by the rail bridge and took the road to descend from the mini-roundabout to the Harp and onto the Burton Marshes link path. The newly opened farm café, aka Net’s Coffee Shop, along here proved too much of a temptation and we stopped for coffee and cake where Steve admitted that he had eaten more cake since he started cycling than ever before!
After a relaxing break Ivan headed back to Chester across Burton Marshes while Steve and I climbed back up to Ness Gardens to complete an enjoyable 33 mile ride. Thanks go to Ivan and Steve for staying with me on my first ride back.