A good-sized group of 15 assembled at Hildegard’s for the usual effusive welcome. Dave M was in short ride mode and set off for home the long way. Clive, Ivan and Paul set off for a brisk ride southwards, while the remaining group of Mike G, Bryan, Ray, Andy, Tom, Steve H, Dave H, George, Dave & Liz P, and Jim set off for a moderate ride to Hanmer. We were a little disconcerted to be informed that the Hanmer Arms had recently undergone refurbishment and might not be open. However, plans had been made so we set off optimistically down the lanes towards Ridleywood, Sutton Green and Bangor on Dee. The weather was chilly but dry and we looked forward to a reasonable day. However, we had overlooked the fact that after a very wet winter the local farmers had all set out to get the spring ploughing done while the weather was dry. Consequently, the lanes were covered with a layer of glutinous mud that found it’s way into the gap between tyre and mudguard, and quickly became an irritation in both noise and drag terms. The first of a number of stops took place while we poked around with bits of stick to clear away the offending material.
Leaving Bangor on Dee, we continued southwards to Penley and Hampton Wood. Turning too soon out of Penley, we had to cross the very steep little valley by Brookmill, but pressed on regardless through Hampton Wood towards Bettisfield.
Turning back northwards we soon reached Hanmer Mere and the Hanmer Arms. To our relief the pub was open for business and offering an exceptional choice of ales and reasonably priced soda & limes. The food was well cooked and priced, and we were soon back on the road, after once again clearing huge gobs of mud from our machines. We crossed the A525 at Eglwys Cross, and followed the signs for Higher and Lower Wych: always a grind crossing the valley. Keeping to the west of Malpas, we passed Cuddington Heath, and Chorlton Lane before entering the last part of the journey through Shocklach and Farndon. Ray, Mike G and Andy left us here and a few minutes later the heavens opened! We had a tasty coffee and cake back at Hildegard’s before setting off home. A mainly dry ride of 37 miles, or 60 for those from Chester.