There were hordes of us at the temporary cafe at the Ice Cream Farm today. The weather was overcast and rain threatened. The brisk group of Ivan, Tom, John, Jan and myself set off bound for Baldwin’s Gate; “Where’s that” was the uniform response - “near Newcastle-under-Lyme" was the answer. Jan was “back” after a 2-year layoff, but you wouldn’t have known it from her riding form today. So, out and through Tarporley to Eaton, and then riding the length of the Wettenhall to Nantwich road, finds us on the edge of Nantwich. A short run along the A51 Bypass finds us taking a right down via Willaston and into Wybunbury via the cyclist-friendly road bridge over the A500 at Blakelow. A left by the Wybunbury church eventually takes us up to Wrinehill, where after a mile of the A531, we turn right and up the hill towards Madeley, which is only a stone’s throw from the M6. It’s “only" then a slog up and over the next hill and down into Baldwin’s Gate. After 30 miles we are ready for a stop. Apparently the village acquired its name “ from one of the properties on the main road where the occupant collected tolls from users of the road” according to Wiki.
It’s quite awhile since I visited the Sheet Anchor pub and its transformation into a modern decor pub was a pleasant surprise. The fare was pricier, but the food was plentiful and good, which combined with good service and a Lime & Soda for 80p, produced a satisfying dining experience. Meanwhile, the threatened rain had wetted the roads as we left for our 30 mile return.
Up and over Camp Hill and through Aston we find delightful lanes in the cool air. In and out of Woore and going north, we take the lanes across to Hunsterson and Hatherton to ride the main drag back into Nantwich. It’s raining more now, and a rain-check coffee stop offer in Nantwich is eschewed, thus we motor on via Acton and Brindley before arriving dripping wet in Tilley’s. There’s always a warm welcome here, and we sit and chat hoping the rain will stop. It doesn’t, but it abates enough to get us going again back towards the ICF. It’s a 60 miler round trip, with 80+ for Chester riders. I suppose it had to rain sometime!