Ten riders gathered at the Ice Cream Farm at Tattenhall on a fine summer morning - Daves H, P and M, Liz, Bryan, George, Trevor, John M, Petar and Steve T. As usual, Dave M was here only for coffee, as domestic duties called, so it was nine who set off for Ellesmere, the destination chosen after a quick conflab between Daves H and P.
After a couple of false starts as Dave H stopped to adjust his map holder, we set off down Newton Lane, turning right at the end and heading towards Bolesworth Castle, where we passed several signs advertising ‘CarFest North‘ on August 29th. This is the annual bash organised by Chris Evans (of Top Gear infamy) which raises funds for Children in Need.
Crossing the A534, we sauntered through Brown Knowl and Duckington, crossing the A41 at Edge Green. Then briefly down the Cheshire Cycleway before turning right into Whitewood Lane at Kidnal. The leading group followed the road round the corner towards Horton Green before being hauled back and pointed in the direction of Chorlton Lane and Cuddington Green. We continued through sleepy Threapwood before crossing into Wales at Tallarn Green, where George could now feel ‘at home’.
As we left Tallarn Green, Trevor raced up from the back to inform us that the tandem had decided to do its own thing, so the magnificent seven pressed on, stopping only to ask a local for directions to Three Fingers and/or Croxton. ‘No idea, mate’ was the response. Was that Two Fingers? But we did eventually find Three Fingers and then Little Arowry, before cycling on to Hanmer. Here we found that the Hanmer Arms, one of our favoured stops, is now closed; the pub sign has been taken down and there was no sign of life. Sadly, Steve H will have to take it off his list.
Out of Hanmer and past Bettisfield Park which was looking idyllic in the warm summer sunshine, we ran for a short time along the A495 before turning off for Bettisfield itself, crossing the Llangollen Canal as we did so. A loop round to Balmer Heath took us back into Wales once more.
Then on through Lyneal to Colemere where a vineyard has been planted recently. Is this pure optimism or something to do with global warming? Picking up the A528, we cycled into Ellesmere. It has been agreed earlier that we would stop for lunch at the Red Lion rather than The Boat House as the fare on offer there is more varied and they serve beer. The waterfront at Ellesmere was crowded with children, dogs and the best fed ducks and geese in Wales, but we managed to get through without running into anything or one.
The Red Lion Coaching Inn (http://www.redlion-ellesmere.co.uk/) offers an ‘over 60s’ two course lunch for £5.50 and a pint of lime and soda for £1 – excellent value for money. The pub was busy, so it took a little while before we were served. Dave H endeared himself to our waitress when his food arrived by saying ‘It’s so long since I ordered, I’ve forgotten what I asked for.’ Fortunately, she took it in good part. Several members took the spotted dick dessert, including Trevor, who claimed that it would add to his performance after lunch.
Lunch conversation included (inevitably) the Tour de France, the Americas Cup yachts and Bryan’s new app which tells him when it’s going to rain. The app says it won’t rain this afternoon – we hope that it’s right!
As we were finishing our meal we got into conversation with two elderly cyclists. After telling them where we had come from, we asked where they had ridden from. Their reply was ‘Shrewsbury’, whereupon Dave H, in his usual subtle style asked ‘What do you do for entertainment in Shrewsbury’. Again the question was answered without any offence being taken and it seems that there is a pub where jazz can be heard some nights at no charge, so there is life in Shrewsbury!
Leaving the Red Lion, we head right at the roundabout, up Swan Hill and then left up to Sandyhill, Trevor’s spotted dick kicks into action and he comes flying past us all. Sadly, the effect is short lived. Dave then leads us down Lion Lane, a tiny road alongside Lion Lane Wood which leads on to the A539 at Sandy Lane. After only a short distance on the A-road we turn right into quiet Burgess Lane and head up to Holly Bush and Worthenbury. From there we go through Shocklack (where John M left us to head home), Tilston and Clutton along the quiet and flat lanes of the Cheshire Plain before reaching Tattenhall . Soon after leaving Tattenhall, we turned right into Newton Lane, but George turned left, heading for his car parked in Waverton.
Back at the Ice Cream Farm, Bryan consulted his app, which told him to expect ‘light rain in 6 minutes’. We continued to drink our coffee and chat for much longer than this, but no rain appeared. So much for technology!
49 very pleasant miles on a dry, warm summer’s day at an average speed of 12 mph – true ‘easy riding’.