After the excellent turnout of the last two weeks, a total of 8 riders braved the wind and met at Manley Mere this week. With a strong westerly forecast for most of the day, Dave’s plan to visit the hanging gardens of Grappenhall was abandoned for a route south to Cholmondeley, with the wind on our right for the outward journey and on our left for the return. At least no rain was forecast, so Ray, Steve T, Keith, Dave H, Tom, Jim, Brian M and Dave M meandered along the back lanes towards the Motor Museum and Ashton. A quick sprint took us across the Kelsall by-pass and up onto the Utkinton road. Here Dave M departed on grandchildren duty and the remaining 7 skirted Tarporley to the east to cross the A51 at Tilstone. The autumn sun appeared briefly from time to time and the wind appeared to be suspiciously behind us as we continued south through Bunbury, even passing Tillys coffee and cake emporium, much to Dave’s disappointment.
Just north of Brindley we came across a couple of fellow riders whose journey had been interrupted by an incursion of hedge cuttings. Fortunately an alternative route was available and despite a short section on main road we were soon heading south again towards Larden Green. Here we turned to the west and into the teeth of the wind, but fortunately for only a short distance before we reached our lunch stop at the Cholmondeley Arms, a pub/restaurant using the former village school building. The prices were a little above our usual budget but acceptable for good quality food. However, Ray was decidedly underwhelmed by his steak, which would have made an excellent seat cover, but to the credit of the management, a refund was agreed.
Skirting Cholmondeley Castle Deer Park we steadily turned northwards and here Ray and Tom decided to sprint ahead, while the rest of us made our way towards Beeston. The wind showed no sign of easing off so we took the lane to the east of the ridge to gain some shelter, and from Beeston continued downhill to the Shady Oak and the Shropshire Union canal. After a brief climb we were into the wind again, but generally the hedges gave us good protection as we went through Burton, and to the rear of Okells Nurseries. Crossing the A51 at Duddon took us into Tarvin and then over the A54 towards Barrow, where we passed to the east of the Barrowmore Estate and the last lane back to Manley Mere.
Total distance 42 miles or about 60 for those from Chester and Runcorn. Considering the strength of the wind a good day’s riding.