As I left for Alyn on the 17 mile slog via the Wrexham Road, it was so dark that I had the bike lights on for the first time in ages. Ivan and I rode out of Chester straight up Marford Hill rather than chancing Davenport Corner in the wet conditions - it was mizzling on and off as we arrived at Alyn. There were six riders in total; three more than I expected given the weather forecast. I had put together a short, northern ride to Northop, mainly because I wanted to be home early in the afternoon. Steve H didn’t fancy the return loop into the strengthening wind, so opted for a meander Overton way.
Ivan, Tom (aka “Jim” see last week’s brisk blog) and I set off up the eponymously named Windy Hill to cross the Minera Steps road towards Ffrith. It is beautiful countryside around here, even at the start of Winter. We motor on through Nercwys towards Gwernymynydd. We divert upwards to 980ft passing the lonely Owain Glyndwr pub and then onwards towards Rhydymwyn and, by this time, I’ve run out of “y”s to type the long Welsh village names. The lane down to R….n runs high up along the Alyn Valley and, in the village, I espy a wall plaque (see photo). Given Felix’s musical talent, we might have had “Rhydymwyn’s Valley” to listen to as well as “Fingal’s Cave” - but no, he wrote a piece about the Alyn river. And, perhaps Charles Kingsley was inspired to write “The Water Babies” after his visits here. For more interesting facts about the village, Wiki is worth a read on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhydymwyn. The only way out now is up, and taking the tiny, leaf-strewn very steep lane by the limestone quarry, we arrive at Rhosesmor where we know the final part of the ride is all down hill to the “Red Lion” in Northop.
We are the first punters of the day and relax after a surfeit of steep climbs over the 19 miles. Post lunch, we decide to run for home. Tom has to get ready for a holiday in Goa, and Ivan and I have things to do back in Chester. So the return route would have made a 31 miler, but today the climbs and advancing years and threat of wind and rain influenced us to go home for an early bike wash and hot shower.