In the absence of the usual ‘brisk’ ride leaders, there was a certain amount of indecision, even chaos, before Ken came up with a ride down to Audlem – a nice steady 50 miler, or so it seemed. Mike G offered to help with the navigation and so Ken, Mike G, Andy B, Tom, new rider Garnett and yours truly set off – but not before we’d spent 15 minutes trying to fix Tom’s loose head…I mean headstock... on his new bike. After various CER members had offered allen keys of various lengths and sizes and opinions on how to eliminate the wobble, the bike was no better, so we set off anyway down the road towards Tarporley. From there we took Birch Heath Road and Crib Lane out to Beeston and then on to Bunbury Heath and Bunbury, crossing the A49 as we did so.
From there we followed Long Lane down to Brindley and across the A534. By now, we were fairly whistling along, since Mike G had taken the lead and had his foot down. He explained that he’s usually the slowest of the brisk group, so he’d decided to take the lead and set the pace so as not to hold the rest of us up. Personally, I think he was on something! So on we sped, crossing the Llangollen Canal at Swanley Hall and then on to Brindley (where we crossed the A 534) and Ravensmoor to Sound. Taking in the sights and sounds of the countryside on a beautiful summer's day, we zoomed along the lanes epitomising all that is great about CER. After a mere hour and twenty-five minutes, we arrived at the boundary sign for Audlem, only to turn right and skirt the village. Unbeknown to me, our leaders had decided that our destination should be modified and we would press on towards Market Drayton. Ah, I thought it must be the Joules Brewery …
So we pressed on via Swanbach and Kinsey Heath and ran down into Norton-in-Hales, arriving just after 12.30. The Hinds Head in the village has been a point of call for CER in the past and reports had been good, so it was decided to stop here for lunch. As we trooped in, the landlady was just taking lunch orders for a group of 9, so we ordered our drinks and food, expecting to wait a considerable time for the grub to arrive. Incidentally, the lime and soda here was but 60p a pint, putting The Hinds Head at the lower end of the price range we see. In the end, the food came in about 40 minutes and was unanimously considered to be of a high standard at a very reasonable price. Perhaps Steve H would consider adding this hostelry to the CER list of ‘favoured lunch stops’? (www.hinds-head.co.uk ).
|Resting in Wrenbury|
After lunch we rode through the village, a really pretty spot, turning up the bucolic lanes of North Shropshire to Adderley and Shavington Park. There was a park at Shavington as early as 1577. The current house was built in 1685 for the sixth Viscount Kilmorey and the landscape park was extensive by 1752. The park was expanded to around 1500 acres by 1851, but it had fallen into a dilapidated 'wilderness' by the 1890s. Although the site is now administered by Parks & Gardens UK, sadly the park is not open to the public.
As we went on towards Aston, Mike G was again setting a cracking pace (who said anything about a nice steady ride!) and we soon found ourselves in Wrenbury. We stopped at the Llangollen Canal partly because the bridge was up, but mostly for a breather…and a photo. Then it was back into the saddle and on towards Cholmondeley Castle Gardens, crossing the A49 as we passed the Cholomondeley Arms (expensive!). Thence on to Bickerton and up Harthill. Reaching the top, we were rewarded by the long downhill stretch into Tattenhall, where Tom, Andy, Mike and Garnett peeled off to head back to Chester; Tom was intending to take his bike into the shop to get his head fixed today if possible.
Ken and I then meandered back to Utkinton via Huxley and Clotton, arriving back at Rose Farm in time to get a cuppa before they shut up shop.
This ‘steady ride’ turned out to be 58 miles at an average speed of 16 mph. Thanks go to Ken and Mike G for guiding the rest of us so ably on a lovely summer’s day.
Photograph by Steve Tan