Quite early in the year Dave H had volunteered to organise this year’s Christmas Lunch and since I knew the roads well I offered to lead the ride. The forecast earlier in the week was for a rainy morning clearing up by lunchtime. Fortunately as Thursday drew near the forecast improved and by 9.00am the rain had just about stopped. I met up with Dave H, Steve T and Keith at Jim’s house and together the four of us (Jim wasn’t doing the ride – said he had to have his hair done!!) set off along the Greenway towards Ness Gardens. Despite some rather ominous looking dark clouds we arrived in a dry condition to find Brian Macca, Bryan, Steve H & Mike already enjoying their pre-ride drinks. George joined us soon after to make 9 riders and Kate joined us for a coffee. She would be joining us again later for the lunch.
I was determined to avoid the ‘missing link’. On a day like today our bikes were certain to get covered in mud or something worse as we passed through the farmyard. So we set off towards the village of Burton and turned right into Mudhouse Lane which brought us out onto the busy A540. A quick dash down the dual carriageway and then we turned left into the relative safety of Badgers Rake Lane. Apart, that is, from our old friend Vanman who thought it would be a good idea to overtake us on a bend.
|Photos by Macca and Mike G|
We passed the bottom end of the missing link and took a right hand turn to cross the Welsh Road, heading through Ledsham and Capenhurst. Dunkirk Lane brought us out onto the A5117 and we crossed it to join the off-road cycle path alongside the railway. Having to stop to open and close the gates on this section can be a bit of a pain but is much safer than any of the alternatives. At the end we turned left, by-passing Mollington and crossing the A41 towards Backford.
At the bottom of Chorlton Lane I would normally have turned right to go past the back of the zoo but so as not to arrive at the pub too early a loop was required. So we turned left through Croughton and threaded our way under, over and around the M56/M53 Stoak Interchange. Then it was straight down Picton Lane through Picton and into Mickle Trafford.
The weather had been improving all morning and as we crossed the A56 the sun came out. We passed the café at Meadow Lea Farm, which will become one of our regular starting points next year. Jim joined us here and we continued through the village of Guilden Sutton. The final stretch was an unavoidable trip along the A51 but we kept to the safety of the footpath until we reached our destination at the Stamford Bridge Inn near Great Barrow. Here we were joined by Dave & Liz, Tom, Andy W and Kate.
We had been to the Stamford Bridge for our Christmas lunch a few years ago when we had been well fed and looked after and it was partly for this reason that Dave had chosen it again this year. Once again we weren’t disappointed as we tucked into an excellent Christmas Lunch, washed down with one or two selections from their great range of beers.
After lunch we all made our own ways home. The whole round trip had been about 33 miles. Not a bad tally before lunch for those of us who had ridden out to Ness in the morning.
Many thanks to Dave for organising the meal. Not an easy task but successfully accomplished.