Welcome

Retired, work part-time or shifts, enjoy being out in the countryside? Then cycle the lanes and byways of Cheshire and surrounding areas with Chester Easy Riders: you won't get left behind.
Chester Easy Riders is an independent cycling club affiliated to Cycling UK. We cycle every Thursday throughout the year with moderate and brisk day rides of 40 to 80 miles.

For more information see the About Us tab.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

28th December 2017: Overton (mod)

Deep midwinter: sleet had fallen on frozen ground overnight. It was freezing and the roads were icy.  So it was in hope rather than expectation of a ride that I strapped my bike to the car and drove out to Cleopatra’s in Holt. Steve T, Dave H, Keith and Ken had all driven out with the same feeling. David M was also there but in civvies, ostensibly to lend moral support, but really to flog the new Chester and North Wales  CTC vests (discounted to a great value of £20 for a limited period only!).

We considered the options for the day: anything between just riding over the bridge to the café in Farndon and returning, to one of our more usual routes to Hanmer or Whitchurch. As the sun rose we determined to ride out towards Shocklach and decide then based on the condition of the surfaces.  We found that although some sections had been melted by the sun, others remained covered with crunchy frozen sleet.  We reasoned that the smaller less-used lanes would be unsafe, but that we could follow more major roads through Worthenbury, Bangor-on-Dee and into Overton. Cycling gingerly we made slow yet safe progress and eventually arrived outside The White Horse just before opening time having covered only 12 ½ miles.

We were grateful when the doors were unlocked and we met Stuart from Orkney, the temporary landlord. We received a cantankerously friendly welcome.  Five steak pie and chips were ordered and we settled down to wait, having been told that Stuart was on his own and it would take a while. Our conversation was a typical mix of the idiosyncratic. Dave proudly brought a twig out of his bag and claimed it was a specialist twig used to remove mud from under mudguards; Steve told us that his name was shortened to “Ste” by Scousers; and Dave, Steve and Keith revealed yet more insights into the strange world of Runcorn. We were just becoming absorbed in the finer details of 1:50k and 1:25k downloadable maps, when thankfully, five plates of substantial food arrived, the talking ended and the eating began.  Some time later we said our farewells to Stuart and hit the road again.


Photo by Ken P

We hoped that sunshine and the slight rise in temperatures would allow us to take a different route back. And so it seemed after repeating our outward route to Worthenbury, we gained the confidence to head into Malpas, then Tilston.  At Stretton we stopped outside Stretton Hall for a photo and decided to return via Wetreins Lane.  This turned out to the iciest ride of our day, but without mishap we made it back to Cleos having covered just over 30 miles. Except for the road surfaces, it had been a beautiful day and we all were grateful to have made the effort: a suitable finale as the last CER ride of the year.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


Thursday, 21 December 2017

21st December 2017: Ravensmoor (mod)

The shortest day of the year required a relatively short ride. From Rose Farm we have favourite nearby destinations such as the Bhurtpore at Aston or the Crown at Goostrey, but I felt in need of a change.  I’d often cycled past The Farmers Arms at Ravensmoor without stopping, although I was told this had been popular with Easy Riders some years ago. The prospect of 35 or so miles seemed popular, and so six of us set off: Dave H, Keith, Jim, Trevor, Ken and myself.

We didn’t get very far, in fact we didn’t make it out of the car park, before someone from the shop asked us to move our cars out of the main car park to make room for shoppers.  Dave and Trevor duly obliged before we could hit the open road.  Then it was out on familiar lanes through Cotebrook, Wettenhall and Nantwich, to then make a loop around our destination so as not to arrive too early. The morning had been pleasant with generally no wind, mild temperatures, even a little sunshine, though with some filthy lanes.

So it was that with 20 miles covered, we arrived at The Farmers. In spite of a large Christmas lunch party being booked, we received a friendly welcome and before long were tucking into substantial meals.

The return was along similarly familiar lanes, though we diverted to avoid the usually messy lanes north of Brindley, and passed through the village of Haughton and an appealing looking pub, The Nag’s Head, which Dave identified as part of the Ribble pub chain (though a long way from the Ribble Valley). This really is a better alternative lane to the one we usually take, and for the sake of a few hundred meters of main road is worth it. We then passed on through Bunbury, by Beeston Castle and over the steep humpback canal bridge beside the Shady Oak.  Here Ken revealed that he had learnt to swim in that canal. Corkscrew Lane took us into Clotton and so back to our start.  Overall we covered almost 38 miles for the day, and enjoyed a pleasant ride as our last outing before Christmas.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


Friday, 15 December 2017

14th December 2017: Christmas Special Ride to Christleton (mod)

A pleasant enough day for December saw 8 riders heading off from The Gallery at Hawarden bound for the CER Christmas lunch.  While Dave H had ably organised again all the arrangements for the meal.... and thank you for doing that so well......Trevor had a circular route avoiding entirely the city of Chester.  Dave H, Trevor, Chris, Mike, Jim, Keith, Steve T and me initially went SW to give us a good 2+ hour ride to the lunch; our route was Burton, Rossett, Holt, Aldford and then NE up the only incline of note on the day at Saighton College and thence to Waverton and Christleton.

Photos by Macca

We were joined by 10 other members at The Ring o Bells for an excellent lunch but only 3 seasonal hats and one Christmas jumper were in evidence – more effort needed next year says Santa.  A couple of hours later, well replenished, it saw us departing before more snow and ice came in.  Back at Hawarden I had 63 kms on the clock in the dark.



A very special thanks must surely go here to Bryan Wade for all he has done for chestereasyriders, not only over the last 12 months but for the last 9 years since he founded the club.  We all hope the next 12 months bring him and Erla good health and happiness, wherever they are. 


Macca

Sunday, 10 December 2017

7th December 2017 : Bickerton (brisk)

Eight riders  assembled at Delamere Station cafe and were joined by Bryan, Dave and Liz, for coffee. Dave M also arrived on his bike and was buying a Christmas Tree - good luck getting that home in one piece Dave!

Three of the eight riders were keen for a brisk ride despite the threat of Storm Caroline heading our way. So taking account of the prospect of strong north westerly winds I decided on a route that would take us west as far as Alford and then south to Tilston before turning north east after lunch.

From the cafe Steve T ,Paul and myself headed out to Hatchmere then left through Ashton before crossing A54 into Oscroft- no sign of Dave and his Christmas tree.

Our good pace on familiar roads meant the journey from Oscroft through Waverton and Alford was soon covered , it was surprisingly pleasant given  the wind and cold forecast had not yet materialised. In Churton we turned left down Pump Lane into Coddington , at the junction of Mill Lane and Broxton Road, we decided to see if there was route through Carden Park Golf Resort as this would provide a nice shortcut into Tilston. The  Hotel and golf course all appeared very quiet and the way through the estate was easy to navigate providing the  short cut we had hoped for. Still enjoying fine weather and dry roads we made easy work of the lanes through Duckington and Bickerton before  arriving at our lunch venue.

The Bickerton Poacher has had a facelift since I was last here and seemed all the better for it. The staff were very welcoming, we were quickly seated with both drink and food orders taken at the table, the food arrived promptly and was excellent. Lunch topics included Christmas travel plans and Paul’s new Tifosi  cycling glasses bought from Evans cycles for £16:00, including three interchangeable lens -bargain!

Back on the road our route through Peckforton and Bunbury passed quickly but it was here that a brief senior moment meant I missed the turning to Bunbury common so we had a small detour through Alpraham and Long Lane. Fortunately it went unnoticed by both Paul and Steve and only added  a little more mileage. 

With a little help from ‘Caroline’ the ride back through Eaton to Delamere passed without incident. Here we all parted company, Paul and Steve both cycling home while I had an easy drive home. 

Although today’s route was on roads familiar to CER riders we had a pleasant 44 mile ride, in part due to the absence of the threatened weather. However, in our haste to beat ‘Caroline’ we didn’t stop for a photoshoot.


KP

Saturday, 9 December 2017

7th December 2017: Lymm (mod)

Steve Tan and I arrived together by car at Delamere.  I cursed under my breath as a rich pensioner in a posh Mercedes got in our way as we tried to cross the bridge on our bikes. Keith had ridden from “not quite 'Upper'” Runcorn. At the station, Dave Matthews was operating a Christmas tree-trusser. I acknowledged some of our fast lads, but I'm not sure I caught them all as they moved like rapid wraiths to cafe tables bereft of calorific temptations. It was good to see Paul again, his super- slim form ghosting past our chairs on his way to the toilet. It was a reminder to the likes of Keith and myself of how you could move in a cafe without bumping into things, if you didn't possess the bulk of Big Daddy! The rich, Mercedes-driving pensioner entered the cafe in a classy coat and scarf, and announced that he couldn't be persuaded to ride. It was Bryan. I was in the dog house with Keith, as I had arranged to bring my bike rack to save him from a dangerous, dark ride home at the end of the day. I had left it in the garage, and he would just have to “go whistle”! I was having trouble fitting overshoes, having already given up on new Boardman XL items, that even Lynne couldn't zip up on me at home. Dave Matthews wouldn't touch them as they lacked graphene, pure silk or high modulus carbon fibre content, and their aerodynamics had not been refined in McLaren's wind tunnel. To be fair, he did recommend his BBB shoe covers which are just pull-on, and I later investigated their website. George and Bob had travelled together by car, parking at Mouldsworth in order to clock up an extra seven miles for the day. It's all about “small margins” as Dave Brailsford would say!  Dave and Liz then appeared in civvies having been holidaying in Cyprus. They thought that the strong winds would be a risk on the tandem, particularly if Dave had found it necessary to wear his vintage oilskin cape. You could do without a big yellow spinnaker when cycling in high winds! Steve took his chance with the fast lads, and Dave Matthews road to the first cross roads with us, but still had Christmas tree business to complete.

I had a rough idea of a route to Lymm and back, and I had booked The Spread Eagle Hotel in the centre for 12.30. I had in mind to find the odd new lane, and avoid any rural rat-runs. We were just four: George, Bob, Keith and myself. On our way out we went down a little lane to the west of Norley village, passing the attractive Norley Hall, before heading down to Crowton. We then cycled down Ainsworth Lane past some delightful properties, including that of Mick the master sweep. Our first stiff climb was under the main line to London, and past The Cliff, to Acton Bridge. Bartington was followed by the quiet Hall Lane with Cogshall Hall on our right, crossing Northwich Road at Frandley. We meandered to Arley Hall by the smallest lanes that I could find, and gingerly conquered the wet cobbles before the postcard pretty pond, and black and white properties at Arley Green. We cruised on along the narrow, tree-lined estate road, before reaching Cann Lane. We were soon over the M6 and then turned off, into the wind, on virgin lanes for Chester Easy Riders. On reaching Swineyard Hall we were on a more familiar back route into Lymm. We reached our destination almost bang on time, and were able to take our bikes to the private space at the back. We had a choice of where to sit and chose the snug, small room next to the bar with a roaring open fire. I had a skillet of seared chicken breast with a nice sauce, red peppers, onions, and rice and chips. The service was friendly and prompt, and we had our usual convivial conversation. Bob did include a disquieting story or two of an evil Welsh policeman in his village! As we unlocked our bikes, Bob announced that his lunch had been the worst he had eaten since joining the club! Keith wasn't too impressed either. I don't know if George was being diplomatic or throwing up in the corner! I must admit that I felt a bit deflated. 

We set off for Grappenhall, and our second set of cobbles for the day. We were sometimes alongside the Bridgewater Canal, before turning up toward Appleton Thorn. Bob was unfortunate to have yet another puncture despite his Specialized Thornsucker Puncture-Prone Mk.2 tyres being quite new.   
Steve Tan rang to let me know that he had returned to Delamere early, so was going to ride back to Runcorn. We passed the Young Offenders Institute and headed down Arley Road. Turning right at Barber's Lane, I decided that it would now have to be straight back in order to return in daylight, and beat the forecast wintry showers. We headed for Little Leigh, via Antrobus and Frandley, then Acton Bridge, and through my favourite hamlet at Onston. At Crumleyheath Farm, Keith had taken his leave for Dutton and 'not really Higher' Runcorn. He would have to pay penance by riding along rough surfaced Marsh Lane. The sun was slipping away below the tree tops as we climbed up Norley Bank. A wintry shower just caught us before Hatchmere, and I turned my back light to its 'Blackpool illuminations' setting. George and Bob carried straight on through for Mouldsworth.  I covered nearly 44miles, the others must have managed around 50 or more. The distance was just about the limit for a moderate ride on a short winter's day given our starting time, and the possibility of a puncture. As usual I enjoyed the company, and the lovely, quiet Cheshire lanes. I did, however, make a note to ring Jay Rayner, asking him to make at least two visits before I suggest a lunchtime venue in future!
                                                                                                                                             
DH

Thursday, 30 November 2017

30th November 2017: Loppington (mod)

Six Easy Riders assembled at the Tea Rooms in Chirk – Bob, Ken, George, Keith, Dave H and myself.  Not as many as in recent weeks, but it was very cold and Chirk is a long way out for many. What was to be our destination?  A north wind was blowing, so an easterly or westerly direction was preferred.  We wanted to avoid any icy roads, so climbing the hills to the west was ruled out.  This meant an eastwards route of not much more than 40 miles given the short days.  Surveying the map, the village of Loppington seemed about right and previously we had enjoyed its Dickin Arms, although we had never ridden out from Chirk.

We headed out through Western Rhyn and passed by the Oswestry Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital. (In case you had ever wondered, these two were pioneering orthopaedic specialists: Sir Robert one of the first surgeons to focus on fractures and Dame Agnes the first orthopaedic nurse. Forty years ago I was treated with a Robert Jones bandage when I fractured my patella.)

We then took to east bound lanes through Welsh and English Frankton before arriving at the Dickin Arms. Two incidents ‘enlivened’ our morning.  On a little back lane we found the road blocked by the work of a ‘white-lining’ team – they were very apologetic for causing us to carry our bikes past on the verge, but we did wonder why it was worth painting white lines on such a narrow road.  A little later, Bob suffered a puncture and mended it while we all shivered.

The Dickin Arms was especially welcome on such a day with a large fire, a friendly barman, good beer and good food – a little more pricey than our usual, but well worth it – the Italian meatballs were a favourite. It should go on our favourites list.

Our return took us through Lyneal, Colemere and Ellesmere and several lanes before hitting the main road at St Martin’s. On our route we were surprised to see a dog being taken for a walk by a woman driving her car alongside it!  The main road from St Martin’s took us quickly back to the Chirk Tea Rooms, except for Ken who still had to cycle back to Rossett.

It had been a very good day. Despite the cold were had lots of blue sky and great views, and but for a few muddy spells, we rode on smooth clean quiet Shropshire lanes, and we lunched at a great pub.  Overall about 37 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH



Friday, 24 November 2017

23rd November 2017: Aston (mod)

It was another good CER turnout, with 14 taking coffee at the Ice Cream Farm.  Clive was in civvies suffering from some aches and pains, and Jim and Trevor were just out for a local ride. This left a decent number of riders and for only the second time since August that we had both a moderate and a brisk group. 

The moderates consisted of myself, Ray, Bob, Dave H, George and Bryan.  Dave had unfortunately left both his jackets behind and purloined a bin bag from the ICF, modified it for wear and was proudly modelling it, until Brian spoilt our fun by offering his own spare jacket. So now properly equipped we headed off towards Aston and the Bhurtpore Arms. 

The last couple of days had been wet and stormy, and had left some very mucky roads and a gusty WSW wind.  Fortunately the conditions were leavened by some decent sunshine. Our route out passed through Churton, Tilston and Cholmondeley.  We also passed three lanes where the tractor were out cutting hedges and leaving a trail of sharp thorns behind. We nonetheless arrived at the pub without incident.

Another excellent lunch at the Bhurtpore with good food and a bewildering array of real ales.  Dave recollected another pub with a similar layout – but was that the Wheatsheaf, or the Greyhound, or the Piccadilly? We couldn't be sure and generally confused we moved on to the budget, then housing and planning in Cheshire, but these didn’t prove to be cheerful topics. Fed and rested we prepared to saddle up, when the effects of the morning’s hedge cutting were seen in Bryan’s rear tyre.  He efficiently replaced his inner tube while the rest of us stood around unhelpfully.

Photo by SH
Back on the road we passed through Ravensmoor, Swanley and Bunbury before returning to the ICF.  Some made direct for home, while the others couldn’t resist tea and sweet things – though not cakes as Dave complained – these seemingly having disappeared from the ICF counters.  A good day, and good to have Bryan with us.  Just over thirty six miles covered in total.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


Thursday, 23 November 2017

23rd November 2017 : Audlem (brisk)

I had uploaded the route from the ICF to Audlem that Trevor led in August, thinking that this might be a sensible route, given the wind direction (southwest –ish). During coffee, Ken asked if I had a route and when I told him, he said he’d got the same route on his phone. So Audlem it was for the brisk riders, who were Paul, Ken, Andy B, Nick and myself. This is the first time that I’ve had the route on my phone in front of me (as opposed to in my back pocket), so I had the challenge for the first time of following the route on the map as we went along. (Clive makes it look so easy!) For the most part, this was successful, although we did deviate from Trevor’s route in one or two places.

The five of us set off down Newton Lane and followed the usual route via Beeston Castle and Bunbury. At the far side of Bunbury, Trevor’s route had followed Long Lane through Haughton and Radmore Green, but we took the earlier turning south via Capper’s Lane and Brindley. In any event, both routes converged at Ravensmoor and we made our way to Audlem via Sound, Brown’s Bank and Copthorne, arriving in Audlem at about 11:55. 

The choice of lunch venue was either The Lord Combermere, where we ate last time, or the Old Priest House Café, where we haven’t been for some time. I suggested the latter and when we walked in there was absolutely no-one else there. Bingo! we’ve struck lucky, I thought. Then the nice lady asked if we were with the party who’d booked for lunch, which, of course, we weren’t. Oh dear!

But not to worry; “ I’ll put you in the front room”, she says. “Would you like beans on toast?” This was more of an instruction than an offer, so we all said ‘yes’ and also agreed to wholemeal toast. We did, however, get the choice between tea or coffee, so it wasn’t all bad. Lunch soon arrived, as did the party of cyclists in the big room who seemed to be celebrating someone’s birthday.

Wrenbury Canal Bridge - KP Photo
Beans on toast don’t take long to eat, so we were back on the road by 12:45, this time following Trevor’s route more faithfully. We left Audlem, initially on the A525, but quickly turning off for Swanbach and Wilkesley before turning north towards Aston. We passed the Bhurtpore Inn (and the moderates eating their curries) at 13:10. From there, it was up through Wrenbury and a stop at Wrenbury Mill for the team photo – except nobody had told Nick, who flew ahead up the road towards Chorley Bank. After what seemed like light years, Nick came back for the photo and our onward journey via Gaunton Bank, Norbury and Cholmondeley Castle. 

At Clay Lane, Nick peeled off for Tilston and home and the rest of us enjoyed the run down the A534 to Bulkeley, Peckforton and Beeston, from whence we retraced our steps to the ICF. Ken took his leave at the end of Newton Lane, which left Andy B, Paul and myself to avail ourselves of refreshments there.

46 miles at an average of 15 mph on a day when the blustery wind seemed to be in your face, whichever direction you were travelling. An additional insult was the state of the roads; although we never strayed from tarmacadam, I have rarely seen bikes more muddy that those which were parked outside the ICF at the end of the ride.


ST

Friday, 17 November 2017

16th November 2017: Mickle Trafford to No Man's Heath (mod)

Anyone who stuck their head out of the window this morning to check the weather would have been forgiven for leaving their cycling gear in the wardrobe. However the forecast led me to believe that it was going to be a good day and by the time I was down to Meadow Lea the heavy rain had already given way to drizzle. Thirteen other members had also checked the forecast so the café was already busy when I arrived. Three of us had rides in mind but a few people expressed surprise when I suggested a trip to the Wheatsheaf Inn at No Man's Heath. We had been there in January when the landlord had told us that the pub was closing in February. However on a recent ride down to Grindley Brook, Dave P and I had noticed that it was open.

Ken decided to do his own thing and Jim wasn’t riding, so twelve of us (Dave P & Liz on the tandem, David M, Dave H, Keith, George, Andy B & Andy W, Clive, Bob, Steve H and I) emerged from the café to find that, as promised, the rain had passed and the sun was trying to push its way through the clouds. We set off through Guilden Sutton and out along Wicker Lane. We crossed the A51 and headed down to Waverton where we turned left to take the Martins Lane route towards Tattenhall. After passing through Tattenhall we started to go up round the back of the Bolesworth Estate and it was here that the whole group thing started to unravel. Dave P, still recovering from his operation earlier in the year was struggling up the hill and the group soon got strung out. Dave H and Keith volunteered to stay with the tandem and offer encouragement, George and I ended up together in the middle with the other six somewhere up ahead. I wasn’t too worried as everyone knew where we were going and so we crossed the A534 to Brown Knoll. Here we joined the Old Coach Road  and followed it all the way to our lunch stop, crossing the A41 just 200 yards from the Wheatsheaf Inn.

The first six had already ordered food when George and I arrived and it wasn’t long before the other four arrived. We were all back together again. It transpired that the pub had in fact closed in February but had reopened in May run now as a community pub, an arrangement that has saved many country pubs from closure.

We split up again after lunch with Dave & Keith opting to keep the tandem company again and David M heading straight home. The plan for the rest of us was to cycle up into Malpas then on towards Tilston. Dave H had suggested a detour which would avoid the hill up into Malpas and the inevitable littering of parked cars through the village. So halfway up the hill we took Dave’s Detour and turned right to pass through Ebnal before regaining the Tilston road at Kidnal. Why had we never done this before?

We continued on our return journey passing though Tilston and crossing back over the A534 at Barton. At Coddington we turned left towards Churton then back through Aldford, Bruera and Saighton to Waverton. From here we retraced our morning's route back to Meadow Lea having covered 40 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download

TC


Friday, 10 November 2017

9th November 2017: Street Dinas, St Martins (mod)

A total of 15 Easy Riders crowded around the table at Cleopatra’s, the largest turnout for some time, though Macca and David M were not out for a club ride.  I had in mind a route to The Greyhound at Street Dinas, just outside St Martins, which seemed to find favour.  We were slow to get started and I wasn’t sure how many would be joining the moderate group, so I set off and waited across the bridge in Farndon to see who had followed me: Dave H, Keith, George, Bob and Ray, plus Dave & Liz P.  Good to see this pair out on the tandem again, and though they didn’t follow our route, we did meet up again at our pub stop.

A forecast of a dry day, was betrayed initially as we left Holt by rain. The route took us out through Threapwood and Penley, then around Dudleston Heath.  Too many rough, potholed and muddy lanes were traversed, but at least the rain had ceased. We arrived at The Greyhound luckily just before a large party of 15 placed their orders. The Greyhound is a favourite of ours, with good value food and drink: George was almost overwhelmed by a massive baked potato, and the ‘light bite’ fish and chips were a plateful.

The return took us direct to Overton and on via Holly Bush to Worthenbury and then a return by our outward route. As George, Bob and Keith made their way back to Holt, the rest of us enjoyed the comforts of Lewis’ in Fardon.  A good November outing with 39 miles covered and a fine dry afternoon with some blue skies.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

9th November 2017: Calverhall (brisk)


Fifteen CER members gathered at Cleopatra’s on an overcast, blustery day. Too many people for a single ride, in spite of the fact that Dave M and Macca would not be joining us for a ride today. So, after some discussion it was agreed that there would be a brisk (ish) ride for John M, Andy B, Nick, Clive and yours truly. But where to go? John M had a route to Maesbury and both Audlem and St Martins were mentioned, but by the time we were leaving, no decision had been made. The weather had turned for the worse whilst we were having coffee, with fine drizzle coming down – so much for the Met Office forecast! Finally, it was decided that we should go to Audlem and Clive led off along Wrexham Road. But Andy was nowhere to be seen! After some hesitation we decided that he must have gone with the moderates and we pressed on, taking Francis Lane down to the A534 via the muddy track and turning east on the main road. As we turned off on the B5130 towards Shocklach, Andy B appeared right behind us! He’d set off with the ‘mods’ thinking it was the brisk ride. Keith B put him right as they crested the hill out of Farndon, so Andy figured that the ‘briskers’ must have headed out this way and he’d legged it down to the junction to catch up with us. Sherlock Holmes would have been proud of him!

The route took us via Tilston, Bickerton and Cholmondeley, across the A49 and into Wrenbury and Aston. Due to the drizzle, the roads were greasy and in many places muddy, where the local farmers had been dragging the muck from their farmyards and fields into the road. Somewhere along here (I’m not sure where!) we came across a ‘Road Closed’ sign which, of course we ignored. As usual the ‘hazard’- a small but deep hole which was being examined by several workmen- was passable on a bike. In order to pass the hole, we had to ride between some narrowly-spaced traffic cones, which we all managed to do without either falling off or knocking one over. Cycling on passed the Bhurtpore Inn, we eventually reached Wilkesley, where a turn to the left would have taken us to Audlem. But Clive felt that, given the wind direction and the fact we hadn't done that many miles, we’d be better going in the other direction. The options were Market Drayton (7 miles) or The Olde Jack Inn at Calverhall (direct 4 miles or 7 miles). The latter got the vote, since it was after 12:00 and ‘lunch time’ according to Andy.

Oh dear!
We were soon seated in the comfortable surroundings of the pub with a drink and food to replenish our energy stocks. The conversation ranged from a discussion of the merits of lead-acid, lithium-ion and sodium-sulphur batteries, how the toll fee system on the new Runcorn/Widnes bridge works (or might not) and how distracting touch screens are in cars compared to the simple switches we used to have years ago.

By the time we left the pub, the drizzle had stopped and we headed northwest from Calverhall, but now into the wind. The route took us through Ightfield, Ash Parva and across the A49 at Prees Heath. The A49 here is a dual carriageway and Clive negotiated it by cycling a short distance against the traffic on both sides of the crash barrier. The rest of us took a more conservative approach, walking the bikes across. We continued on through Tilstock, crossing the Shropshire Union Canal at Brickwalls. Climbing Fenn’s Bank, we crossed the A495 and A525 to reach Whitewell. From there we threaded our way through the lanes to Drury Lane before turning down an unmade road/track to Dymock's Mill, which lies at the bottom of a steep, but narrow Wych valley. Here, a lady warned us that there was a lorry on the road at the other side of the valley which was trying to reverse up the steep  hill. It had come down, ignoring two signs that the road is unsuitable for HGVs (see Clive’s photos) and was unable to turn round at the bottom, so he was reversing up the narrow lane. 

If only the driver had noticed the notice!
If only there was some traction!


We waited for a while to see if the road would clear, but eventually we pressed on. The lorry was sliding about on the mud and going nowhere. We walked the bikes passed it, through the smell of burning rubber and clutch and up to the top of the hill at the other side (this is where the photos were taken). I suspect the lorry is still there, unless they got a very large tractor to pull him up the hill.



Getting back in the saddle, we headed for Cuddington Green, Shocklach (where Nick peeled off for home) and the usual thrash back to Farndon where John M headed home. We’d passed Liz and Dave P on the tandem at Shocklach and they told us that the ‘mods’ were going to Lewis’s in Farndon for tea and cakes, but when we arrived, they were nowhere to be seen. When I finally caught up with Keith and Dave H in the car park in Holt, it turned out that some of the mods had not heard this and they’d all gone back to Cleopatra’s.



In any event, we had an excellent ride of 51 miles at an average of 15 mph in fairly reasonable weather and very convivial company. Thanks go to Clive for leading with much appreciated local input from Nick.


ST

See route map and/or gpx file download

Friday, 3 November 2017

2nd November 2017: Goostrey (mod)

Twelve Easy Riders gathered at Rose Farm, Utkinton on a grey, autumn morning.  Dave M was in civvies, John W was there for coffee, and the 10 others set off east ably led by Steve H.  Dave H true to form soon lost something, this time a £20 note.  He turned back scouring the undergrowth, not knowing that Andy had found it.  Clive went back looking for Dave, but not finding him returned. Mike G then took up the search and failed to return. Dave H rang to say he would join us at lunch. We assumed Mike and Dave had met up, so we carried on past Oulton Park.

The morning ride was otherwise uneventful and Steve T departed early at Winsford, with Andy B departing a little later, now leaving six: Andy W, Clive, Dave P, Ray, Steve H and yours truly on his first CER ride for 7 months.
Photos by Macca

With a mix of brisk and mod riders, the pace to Goostrey was slightly faster than normal, but that may have been due to me recovering from a broken rib from a crash on a NSW badly maintained cycle path.  Cycling through Winsford, across the M6, by 12 noon we safely reached The Crown, Goostrey (01477 532 128).  Shortly after arriving Mike joined us, making the numbers up to 7 again, but without Dave, whose whereabouts remained a puzzle.


Lunch time discussion was on the usual state of all our aches, pains, injuries and operations: plus ça change for CER then.  We returned via Davenham and Oulton Park to Utkinton, having ridden 74 kms at an average of 20 kph, so not particularly fast overall.

To add a bit extra here, I thought I would include a link to 2 cycle accessories recommended to me and purchased recently.  First, a Cateye BM45 Bar End Mirror, £11-69 from tredz.co.uk; I have found turning my neck increasingly difficult and this universal-fitting small mirror has been a god-send.  Secondly, I defy anyone to refit Continental tyres without pain, suffering, sore thumbs and much cursing.  They are all in the past if you purchase a Koolstop tire mate from SJS Cycles for £17-49.  I receive no commission for writing this.

See route map and/or gpx file download

Macca



Friday, 27 October 2017

26th October 2017: Caerwys (mod)

Six Easy Riders gathered at The Gallery in Hawarden on a grey, overcast morning. Brian Mac was in civvies, as he’s come back from Oz with a bad knee, which needs replacing. Bryan W was intending doing his own thing, so that left four of us to carry the banner. But where to go? In the end, a type of democracy prevailed; Dave H said we should go to The Piccadilly at Caerwys (unanimously approved), Steve H found the route on his phone (we last did this only in July) and Steve T undertook the write up. Andy B provided all-round support.

So off we set, following the usual route out through Ewloe and Buckley. After a brief respite from climbing as we ran down Buckley Mountain, we crossed the A5119 at the traffic lights at New Brighton. Dave had been concerned that his brake blocks were almost down to the metal and was being ‘gentle’ with their application. This is the only explanation Andy and I could give for the fact that he ran a red light here! On reaching Mynachlog, we started some serious climbing. It’s only a short distance up to Rhosesmor, but you certainly know about it when you eventually reach the top.

Running along the ridge towards Babell, we pass close to Licswm. Andy says that, according to the locals, this is so called because miners from Cornwall settled here when they came to work in the lead mines during the 19th century. When asked what their place was like they said that it was ‘likesome’ which, in their dialect, meant ‘pleasant’.

Arriving at the Piccadilly Inn, we were greeted by the manager and his staff. One lady said to Dave ‘You look hot’, to which his instant reply was ‘All the girls say that’!  Some good-natured banter with the staff followed throughout our meal, a real pleasure in this day of political correctness gone mad. The food was excellent and the service first class, further cementing the Piccadilly Inn as a favoured lunch stop.

Over lunch, Steve H was looking at his map to see if there was a bridge or underpass in the road which crosses the A55 at Pen-y-cefyn. We decided to take this route only to find that neither are there, so we had to cross the busy dual carriageway on foot – not to be recommended! On reaching the crossroads at the A5151, another problem presented itself in the form of a ‘Road Closed’ sign. On the basis that most times, such roads are passable on a bike, we decided to press on. Our optimism was well-founded as the obstacle was merely a van and some workmen installing new cables – easily passed on our bikes.

Our route back took us on NC5 via Whitford, Gorsedd and Pantasaph, where we resisted the temptation to stop for tea, past the golf course at Calcoed and over the Halkyn Mountain. Crossing our outward route we speared off to Northop and then followed the usual route back to Hawarden via Ewloe. 41 miles and 2444 feet of climb on a day when, to quote Smokey Robinson, there was ‘no wind, no rain or winters cold’ which, appropriately, comes from the song titled ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ST



Sunday, 22 October 2017

12th October 2017: Llanymynech (mod)

Arriving at the Tea Rooms, Chirk I found all had decided on Trevor’s Special Ride for the flat plains of Southport and Lancashire.  Having pre-planned a route, where most of the stiff climbing was early on, I set off taking the B4500 up the Ceiriog valley. It was dry with a cool south westerly breeze. Crossing over the watershed into the Tanat valley I decided to follow some minor rough lanes that turned out to be the busiest in Wales. Car after car after car, sweeping up at the rear a hearse. Also, the WHA (Welsh Hedgecutters Association) were doing their best to ensure my progress would be impeded with lots of quickthorn hedge cuttings, scattered randomly.

Photos bt Mike G

At Pen-y-bont turned south crossing over into the Cain and Vyrnwy valleys and onto The Bradford Arms for lunch. I arrived as lots of people in black were exiting the establishment and the thought occurred “this is ‘Funeral Thursday’”. After a lovely lunch, they do look after their beer; set off west towards Melverley. Kinnerley soon followed then onto Ruyton-XI-Towns, Stanwardine, Hordley, stopping at the Frankton locks on the Montgomery Canal as there was plenty of time.


I returned to the Tea Rooms via Hindford and Weston Rhyn, cycling across the Chirk aqueduct; arriving at just after 4:00 pm having covered just over 57 miles. An excellent ride with lots of long distant views.

See route map and/or gpx file download

MG

Friday, 20 October 2017

19th October 2017: Little Bollington (mod)

Seven of us turned up at Delamere: David M, George, Steve T, Steve H, Nick, Mike and myself. Steve was nursing a knee injury, so was unable to ride. Dave was running-in a temporary bottom bracket on his exotic classic, and didn't want to chance it.

So it was, that the Not So Famous Five set out for Acton Bridge via Norley, and the quiet, homely hamlet of Onston. After Comberbach we by-passed Great Budworth passing the attractive Cock at Budworth pub and restaurant. At Bate Heath I considered heading north for High Leigh and Lymm, in order to stay in the “dry corridor” between Manchester and the next wave of wet from the west due at about 5 p.m. However, I decided that the lads may feel short-changed by an abbreviated route, so we pressed on. It was drizzling all the way to Knutsford and through Tatton Park. We had been brisk, so decided to ride for a few more miles by heading for The Swan with Two Nicks rather than eating at the restaurant by the Hall. It was around this time that Mike enthusiastically volunteered to take the photograph of three bubbly young women. He took a long time getting their photos just right, and finding the correct buttons! They kindly reciprocated by taking our picture (below). We headed for pretty Rostherne, and on to Bucklow Hill. We then cycled up the old main road, on a new cycle track, to see if it was now viable to cycle straight past Rostherne Mere to Booth Bank and Little Bollington. It appeared that the new motorway link road had chopped off that possibility. We were getting wetter and a little hungry, so we returned to our normal route via a new bridge to Hulseheath, before heading north for the last couple of miles before lunch.

Photos courtesy of Mike G

Lunch was really good, and the service was efficient and friendly. Conversation was interesting about careers education, aspiration, and the need to strengthen technical training routes. We sat in front of a wood-burning fire, trying to dry our outer garments. George was so close to the fire that he began to sizzle.

For our return, I promised the lads that we would be in the dry corridor, promised by Diane and Carol, within five miles of heading west. We rode to Lymm by largely following the Bridgewater Canal, and left Lymm by the little lanes to Sworton Heath. After Swineyard Lane we negotiated a maze of muddy little lanes to Frandley, and on to Little Leigh. Mike thought I had caught the Clive virus, which leads to meandering endlessly in the muck until the wet, shivering weaklings in the group start hallucinating about a warm black taxi suddenly appearing from a wet-leaved, sodden side lane. Tanny and I had not come with mudguards, and were paying for our stupid optimism. Needless to say, the rain got heavier and heavier, and our last miles were direct via Crowton and Norley. The roads were flooding in places, and going through the forest an oncoming car submerged me totally in a wall of water. Nobody stayed for a cuppa at Delamere, as hot showers and dry clothing a.s.a.p. was top of the agenda. When we got to Steve's house I showed him the state of my front car seats: very muddy and very wet. Despite sponging and the use of a hairdryer, the car still smells like an old wet dog, days later. To top it all I fell over my bike and into Lynne's car when I got home, and gave my knees a good mashing. Still, I so need the exercise and enjoy the company, that I am glad I turned up to ride. My trust in Carol is no longer so unquestioning however! We managed 51miles. 

See route map and/or gpx file download

DH

Sunday, 15 October 2017

12th October 2017: Special Ride - Ainsdale to Wrightington (mod)

For our final special ride of the year I offered a mostly flat ride from Ainsdale that I had done myself several times. Because of family connections I knew Ainsdale fairly well and finding a café to start from was no problem at all. As a cycling group that always likes to start out from a café the ideal place was Mecycle, a café and bike workshop opposite Ainsdale station. Ten cyclists had signed up but at the last minute two had to pull out. One couldn’t get the time off work. It’s a shame when work interferes with your social life. So with one late addition nine of us turned up on a lovely sunny but windy October morning. These were Dave H & Dave P, Steve H & Steve T, Bryan, Jim, George, Nick & me. We were provided with a warm welcome along with teas, coffees and a variety of pre-cycle snacks to fuel the first half of the day.

Photos by Trevor C

Well satisfied with both the service and the refreshments we set off down Shore Road before turning right onto Coastal Road. It soon became clear that we would be safer off the road and so crossed over to the cycle path on the other side which fortunately was relatively free of pedestrians and other cyclists. Coastal Road gave way to Marine Drive and after ducking under the Pier at Southport we were treated to uninterrupted views across the Ribble Estuary to Blackpool with its prominent tower. On a clear day you can see the hills of the Lake District but it was not to be today.

At the end of Marine Drive we turned left and followed Ralph’s Wife’s Lane towards Banks. Some say that Ralph was a fisherman and others that he was a smuggler. Maybe he was both but they all agree that he was lost at sea and that his wife’s ghost still wanders about the area looking for him. Hurrying on in case she made an appearance we passed through Banks, turning right into Hundred End Lane. The wind that had blown us quickly up the coast road was now in our faces as we headed inland. The open farmland that we were now passing through gave us little protection and our pace slowed. Soon we crossed the A565 at Holmes followed shortly afterwards by the A59 at Sollom. The quiet back lanes took us south of Bretherton, meeting only dog-walkers and fellow cyclists along the way. We emerged back onto main roads near Croston where we turned left. A right turn at Ulnes Walton took us towards the village of Eccleston. As we entered the village I checked the time and worked out that we should be at our lunch stop just about 1 o’clock, the appointed time. Too soon! As we turned off the main road at the far end of the village I counted our cyclists coming round the corner but only got up to eight. Jim was missing. There was no sign of him coming up the road and a quick phone call confirmed that he had been stopped by a puncture. Steve H and I went back to help him and we were soon back on our way to a slightly delayed lunch.

Up to now we had done 24 miles with hardly a hill to climb but now we were climbing up to High Moor and our lunch stop at the Rigbye Arms at Wrightington. Our reserved table was waiting for us with an interesting menu with dishes that included Venison, Grouse and other Game as well as the usual pub fare.

After lunch we were faced with our longest and steepest hill so far. Fortunately we were going down it and within a few minutes we had lost all the height we had struggled to gain before lunch. We passed through Bispham Green and Hoscar before ducking under the Leeds-Liverpool canal to arrive at Newburgh. I had promised the others a few ‘undulations’ after lunch and a few we had as we passed to the north of Skelmersdale. Then there were a few cars to dodge as we passed through the southern edge of Ormskirk just as the school run was beginning before crossing back over the A59 at Aughton.

Any hills were well and truly behind us by now and we were now back on the flat for the final part of our cycle, the wind becoming a significant factor once more. We crossed the Leeds-Liverpool canal twice and, eager to get back to the café before it closed, almost missed the turning into Eager Lane. We passed Downholland Cross and crossed the Leeds-Liverpool canal for the fourth and final time to reach Halsall. As we cycled along Plex Moss Lane on the final run into Ainsdale we were treated to a fly-past by hundreds of migrating geese.

At the end of the lane we crossed over into Coastal Road then back up Shore Road to arrive at Mecycle with 54 miles completed. We were now faced with a simple choice. Head home and sit in the traffic trying to cross the Runcorn Bridge or sit in the café and enjoy a coffee and cake. I will leave my readers to guess which option we chose!

Footnote – It was only after returning home that I discovered that Mecycle is actually a charitable concern run by the Autism Initiative and providing work for people with autism as well as raising money. Well worth a visit if you are in the area, whether you have a bike or not.

TC

See route map and/or gpx file download

Friday, 6 October 2017

5th October 2017: Welshampton (briskly mod)

It was a bright and very breezy typical autumn's day. I’d zoomed to the Ice Cream Farm averaging 17.5mph with little effort. There were Dave H, Andy B, Ken, Bob, Jim, and Trevor waiting for the place to open. We were soon joined by Dave P in full CER regalia. Given that there was a strong NW wind, I’d prepared a N-S route to the Sun Inn at Welshampton. Dave M had previously recommended it, and, on the pub’s website, there was a “Cyclist Welcome” sign. So the lunch stop was sorted, and it would make a pleasant change to Ellesmere’s establishments.

We start to go a trifle late, only to be told by Dave that he couldn’t find his car keys. Apparently “losing things” is Dave’s “forte", so we were not too bothered about it, except this time he had really lost his keys. After searching high and low, we concluded that he had probably locked them in his car’s boot. Manfully, Dave urges us to ride off saying he would meet us for lunch. So off we go minus Jim who is heading for home.

Around Bolesworth, Trevor and Dave P decide to take it easy with a local ride somewhere, so we four now head up to Brown Knowle. Andy needs to get back so he peels off bound for Mold. So “we few, we happy few” press on down to the outskirts of Malpas and, turning down Ebnal Lane, end up on the A41 just south of No Man’s Heath. The lane to Bradley takes us down to Higher Wych ready for the slide across to Eglwys Cross. This was the crossing point for the return route, so I decide to take the lane to Arowry. Wrong decision! The lane is substantially now agricultural, with mud over a poor surface everywhere; but once down some of it, I decided to plough on. Bob unfortunately succumbs to a slide off to inspect the surface but is not seriously hurt, just a little muddy. The misery continues for nearly 2 miles - a lane to put on the blacklist in any weather!

We now cycle down dry roads to Bettisfield circling back down new lanes to the welcome arms of the Sun Inn. It’s very pleasant inside with a ready welcome, and a comprehensive menu of food and ales. Worth remembering as an alternative to Ellesmere as it is open seven days for lunches. We settle down to generous plates of food and discuss world events whilst wondering how Dave is getting on.

Just as we are stirring to leave, an apparition in yellow appears into view - it’s Dave! Despite seeing our bikes outside, and walking right passed us in the pub, and being pursued by Ken, he ends up in the deeper recesses of the pub! He was happy that he had been reunited with his keys. It turned out that he had somehow dropped his keys, which then had been handed into the shop at ICF.  Time is getting on so Bob decides to stay with Dave as they both need to get back to ICF area. So abandoning my planned route back due to a suspicion of more very muddy lanes, Ken and I head for home via Ellesmere, Overton, and Borras Hill.

So a very careless day of me “losing” five riders and, in truth there were three different rides today. The published route of 45 miles, attached, is a beautiful ride showing the best of the Cheshire, Shropshire and Clwyd countrysides. The autumn colours were beginning to replace the summer greenery; there were leaves and acorns all over the lanes; and the farmers had left their tracks from ploughing activities. The weather was cool, bright and breezy and, apart from my last mile home, dry.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA



5th October 2017: Grindley Brook (mod)

The strong winds were always going to be a factor today so Jim and I shouldn’t have been surprised after setting off for leisurely ride to the Ice Cream Farm when we arrived 10 minutes early. Eight members turned up and Clive suggested a ride to Welshampton. Dave H and I decided that we could control the pace from the back and Dave P was going to get as far as he could, being still in recovery mode following his heart surgery.

At the last moment Dave H misplaced his car keys so Clive led off with 3 brisk riders, Dave P and me in tow. It soon became apparent that the brisk riders were going to be too brisk so after catching up with them for the second time at the back of Bolesworth castle Dave and I decided to let them go and do our own ride. Our initial idea was to head down to the Wheatsheaf at No Man’s Heath and if that was closed carry on to Malpas. So as the brisk riders disappeared into the distance we carried on to Brown Knowl and down the old coach road.

As we approached No Man’s Heath it was clear that we were far too early for lunch and Dave suggested carrying on to Whitchurch. So we zig-zagged across the A41 several times as we made our way south, eventually reaching Grindley Brook. Rather than carry on into Whitchurch we decided to lunch there and received a warm welcome and good food at the Horse & Jockey.

After lunch we were heading home into the wind so the shortest route possible seemed the best idea. We rode up towards Malpas then on to Tilston, Barton, Coddington and Churton before turning right at Aldford towards Saighton. At Saighton Dave turned left towards the city and home and I turned right towards Waverton and home. 48 miles completed and probably about the same for Dave, a new personal best as he continues to recover from his operation. Well done Dave.

TC

28th September 2017: New Brighton

Eight of us met at Ness with an acute shortage of route ideas, or of maps with which to conjure some. Dave Matthews, Clive, Nick, Steve Tan, George, John, Keith and myself were present. John and Dave Matthews were going their own way at 10.30. John's ticking, creaking sound on his bees knees bike was traced to his swish, Swiss wheel spokes. I must say, that the degree of bending of outside spokes over the inside ones didn't look right to me. Anyway, it was thought that the fretting at the point of crossover was causing the noise under torque. Perhaps, a touch of lubricant would help. No doubt, Dave Pipe would have individually wrapped each spoke with electrical tape from his magic panniers!

Clive nobly took responsibility for making up a route and leading. We headed north past the impressive Thornton Manor estate and onto Brimstage. From Storeton we turned south-west  to Barnston, as even Clive baulked at the obvious, but no doubt very muddy, Landican Lane link. Clive  forged  ahead up to Thingwall on the A551, stopping at the side of the road in order to give us a short history lesson on the Viking origins of the name“Thingwall”. However, as we thought he was only waiting for us to catch up, we carried on past him, regardless! Clive had stopped at Cross Hill adjacent to two reservoirs. He would have told us stuff like, that the name Thingwall derives from the Old Norse meaning “assembly field.”  Cross Hill was a major meeting place or parliament for Viking communities on the Wirral, and perhaps from as far as Helsby, Whitby and Talacre. “by” is a suffix meaning “village”, e.g. Frankby(Franki's settlement), Greasby(wooded stronghold) and West Kirby(west church settlement).

We worked our way through the supposedly notorious Woodchurch estate, and then meandered towards Bidston via a snaking, largely green route. We passed under the spaghetti junction of exit 2 of the M53, but eventually reached the promenade at New Brighton on this route that only Clive would be able to repeat without the assistance of GPS and a water diviner.

The weather and the view across the Mersey was very attractive, and soon we were making the choice between Weatherspoon's, or the traditional fish and chip Nirvana of The Seaside Cafe. Fish and chips and tea it was.
Photo by Steve T

We were unusually into the wind on our initial riverside return.  I was soon lagging behind with Keith, as we favoured a more relaxed pace on a full stomach. Visiting New Brighton is always a little nostalgic for a lad born in Liverpool in the forties. I remember the ferry well, and the Tower Ballroom where The Beatles and Joe Brown and his 'Bruvvers' played at some time in the sixties. The  Tower itself was before my time, and at 544ft. high was the tallest in the country, before closing in 1919. As a kid, I particularly remember the daring Wall of Death riders in the old fairground.  Guinea Gap baths I also remember from sixty years ago. Evidently, the baths are over 100 years old, and originally used sea water. Between 1908 and 1957, 205 world and national swimming records were achieved here.

The swing bridge between East Float and Alfred Dock was missing at Seacombe, so we had to divert to the next crossing. We eventually returned to the river front before Birkenhead Woodside ferry and bus terminus. At Birkenhead Priory a very welcoming guy told us the opening hours, and I was pleased to know that the tower overlooking the famous Cammell Laird shipbuilding site was once again open to the public. Rock Park with its magnificent old mansions overlooking the river is a real gem, hemmed in by less glamorous urban and industrial development.

We eventually reached Brimstage for tea and cake at an establishment in the far corner. We were served by lively young people and sat outside in the sun at the back. The conversation was informative and wide ranging, from Clive's historic references about the Vikings and more, to an analysis of the attractions and limitations of  Barcelona and its environs, conducted mainly by George and Steve, as I recollect.  The lad on the till was enterprising, as not having the correct change, he suggested that they owed me until my next visit! Shurley some mishtake there!(As the late Bill Deedes would say). Clive couldn't resist the muddy link past Oaks Farm, so earning a few more points for his brown polka dot jersey as King of the Grime (urban and rural). Somewhere along the line we lost the agreeable company of George and Nick, as four of us headed toward Clive's home village of Mollington. From there The Runcorn Three clocked up 60 plus miles back to Guilden Sutton via the Greenway. This was the furthest Keith had recently ridden  without breaking anything!  A really pleasant day, expertly led.
                                                                                                         
DH

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 22 September 2017

21st September 2017: Hanmer (mod)

It was raining heavily as I rode towards Holt and it was forecast to continue for the rest of the morning.  It wasn’t a bad turnout therefore when five of us gathered in Cleopatra’s: Ken, George, Keith, Steve T and myself. Ken was recently back from a cruise to Greenland and points west, and was only out for a brief ride.

I had seen a report on Google that the Hanmer Arms had re-opened, and keen to investigate whether what had been one of our favourite pubs was still as good, I suggested this as a venue.  Given the weather we agreed to take a fairly short route there and hope things would improve after lunch.

The way out was through Farndon, then Tilston and into Malpas from the west, where Ken left us. Next through Lower Wych to the A525, where we saw we were likely to be too early for the pub. We took the road to Arrowy intending a short loop through Bronington to take up the time.  Now we are used to muddy lanes, but these were really, really muddy: hard work and limited traction.  The only solution was to abandon the loop and make for the main road as the cleanest way to Hanmer.

Add caption

The pub was welcoming in spite of our sodden condition and we were quickly served with good reasonably priced food and I had an excellent pint of Dick Turpin. The only problem was the lack of a fire, not that it was cold, but we could have done with it to dry out our gear.  We agreed to place the pub back onto our list of favourites. We were happy with a fairly short route back, even though the rain had stopped.

A few days before I had watched a natural history programme called ‘Swarm’ on the powerful collective intelligence of animal groups.  Unfortunately the collective intelligence of Chester Easy Riders was sadly lacking when climbing the hill above Sarn Bridge, Keith’s rear mech snapped off.  Our initial plan was good: remove the mech and shorten the chain.  Our implementation was lacking.  We faffed about trying to detach Keith’s quick link, then puzzled over how to use a chain splitter, then were perplexed over how to reconnect the shortened chain. Eventually we were able to fashion a working though rather loose chain, good enough to get us back. 

Grateful to only have a short direct route back to Holt, we passed through Shocklach, and on to Farndon without the usual race over the last few miles. We had only completed a little over 30 miles, but were grateful to celebrate our ride in Cleos with a round of hot chocolates, courtesy of George.  It had been a day worth getting out for despite the weather.


SH

Friday, 15 September 2017

14th September 2017: Scholar Green (mod)

We were sitting in Rose Farm Café watching the rain come down when Steve T reminded us, with utterly unfounded optimism, that our last outing from here had started wet but turned into a fine day. So it was that as the rain stopped, Steve T, Trevor, Clive, Andy B, Dave H and myself, left David M in the café to recover from a cold, and took to the highway: destination The Rising Sun at Scholar Green.

The route took us through some tedious streets in Winsford and Middlewich before hitting open countryside as we passed through Brereton Green.  Approaching Spen Green, the bulk of Mow Cop rose above us. We had done a similar ride to this in 2016 when the party had split, with half taking the ‘easy’ route up Mow Cop and the remainder heading direct for the pub.  This time, as we approached, Andy B and Steve T left us to take the 'hard' way up Mow Cop.

The sensible four arrived at the pub and were tucking into good and substantial sandwiches and drinks, when our ‘summit party’ joined us, with tales of their successful ascent. At that point the heavens opened and we looked out from the safety of our ‘base camp’ at torrential rain. We hoped that this shower would be all that nature would offer and hoped that Steve’s earlier optimism had been justified.

Foolish us! The return soon confronted us with a strong gusty northwesterly headwind.  It did however remain dry as we passed Rode Heath, Wheelock Heath and skirted the north of Crewe. We paused near Bradfield Green to decide which café to call at later. Then travelling through Church Minshull our luck broke and we were hit with a strong gusting hail storm.  This eased but spasmodic rain continued through Wettenhall until we arrived at the Shire Horse Centre Café at Cotebrook just in time at 4.10pm (it closes at 4.30pm).

Having recovered with coffee and cake, it was a short ride back to Rose Farm, clocking up a total of 53 miles, albeit a much longer one for those who had to cycle home especially for Andy.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


Friday, 8 September 2017

7th September 2017: Llangollen (mod)

There were only seven of us at The Gallery cafe today, and as Bryan W was just out for coffee, this left six of us for a ride to Llangollen. Steve had prepared a ride to St Asaph, but I convinced him that my proposal was a “flat” ride of only 3500ft of ascent! So in pleasant but cool conditions, Johns W and M, Steve H, Trevor, Tom and myself, set off bound for Wrexham via a mixture of back lanes and quietish main roads.

In Penyffordd, John W pointed out Jemoley’s Cafe, which was to feature later in the day. So out and along the back lanes to Hope, we take the Alyn River park bypass then circle around Caergwrle castle - all hidden in the trees - but there is a footpath up to it I notice. Nearing Alyn Waters park, we take the steep climb up Windy Hill to Summerhill and thence the long run down into Wrexham at the Sainsburys roundabout. A whiz around by the hospital, finds us turning off at Bersham.

Here there is an idyllic Elizabethan house set by the Clywedog river that powered the nearby ironworks and water mill. It’s a pity that the A483 almost literally runs above it casting it into a shadow of its former picturesque glory. The lanes take us in to Rhosllanerchrugog. We now start the pleasant undulating climb, via Penycae, to the Prospect Farm cafe gates. Peaking at nearly 1000ft, the panorama of the “Panorama Walk” lane now comes into view.  We stop for a photo opportunity relishing the fact that it really is now all-downhill to lunch.
Photo by John W

Photo by John M

Sliding off the Panorama at Dinas Bran Castle, it is hard on the brakes for the steep drop down to the arms of the Llangollen Wharf cafe. The local delicacy of Welsh Rarebit with a bacon topping is a firm lunch favourite. Soon it is time to go back and we enjoy the long flat canal side ride back to the Aqueduct. There are quite a lot of canal boats on the canal today and a few fellow cyclists as well.

Rather than running back through the usual route of Cefn-mawr, we take the main road via Acrefair and thence towards Overton. As we leave Acrefair behind, we notice the heavy clouds amassing over the Berwyns behind Llangollen but, in the end, the weather behaved itself with only a few minutes of heavy mizzle.

At lunch, John W had asked where are we going to stop for “tea and cake”; so I suggested Erddig and he suggested Jemoley's. So the route is re-planned to take in a tour of Erddig. It is a bit too early after lunch when we get to Erddig, so we press on. In Wrexham, Steve and Trevor decide to head for home via Holt as we remaining four wiggle through Wrexham bound for Llay.

We are now heading for Jemoley’s at Penyffordd but John M decides to drop off at Kinnerton to go home. Jemoley's lights are on but they are “closed” so I suggest Hawarden Farm shop, so we head for this along the main roads. So we have ridden a very pleasant 51 miles and acheived 3500ft of climbs.

As we leave, Tom buys a very nice looking pie for his evening meal - if he can get it back home in one piece that is. John and I make our pie-less way back via Airbus and the ferry bridge to Chester environs.


CA

Friday, 1 September 2017

31st August 2017: Prestbury

The day did not look promising. The forecast was for some heavy showers or worse, and it was raining as I left home, though this stopped when I arrived at the Delamere Station Café. Keith was already there and we were shortly joined by John W, Tom, Trevor, Clive and David M, who was concerned about his heart rate. We variously made muddled attempts to take his pulse, before succeeding and confirming that he was still alive, but that he should cut his ride short today.  Trevor was also just out for the café, and John W and Tom were planning their own route.  Dave and Liz P then arrived in civies and it was good to hear that Dave’s recovery was progressing well, with a 30 mile ride already under his belt.

This left just me, Clive and Keith as riders. I had been looking at destinations which I hadn’t been to before with CER, and decided on Prestbury. Common opinion had it that pubs in the area would probably be too expensive and too posh – a bit of research suggested that this was true, although I did find that Ye Olde Admiral Rodney seemed reasonable.  However, I chose instead to head for the Chocolate Box Café, which I’d visited before. (Maybe we should try the Admiral Rodney on another ride.)

We headed out over damp surfaces, expecting rain, crossing the Weaver at Acton Bridge and into Comberbach.  I had planned to pass through Marbury Park, but the idea of wet muddy surfaces put me off, and so we took the route through Pickmere to arrive at Plumley and on through relatively familiar lanes to Ollerton.  We were enjoying the unexpected dry conditions as the bulk of Alderley Edge appeared before us. As we started the climb we decided on a slow and steady approach up this long hill. We eventually emerged at the top in front of The Wizard pub. From here it was an easy downhill(ish) into Prestbury itself, after about 30 miles.

Prestbury is indeed posh (and WAG-ish), but the Chocolate Box was welcoming and served us good quality, good value food. We all agreed it was a good place to stop, and maybe should go onto our favourites list.  It’s also worth noting there is a new bike shop in Prestbury, where Keith was tempted to take his machine, as it had been playing up. He however decided to soldier on for the day.

The afternoon’s route took us through the outskirts of Macclesfield and past Trevors Close Farm (no connection I assume Trevor). Then into Gawsworth, where we travelled along the memorably named Maggoty Lane, which as salubrious addresses go, reminded me of Offal Pit Lane near Kingsley. We then cycled along a series of lovely long flat lanes towards Twemlow Green, enjoying the fine weather and the virtual absence of any wind. To the east we had good views of Shining Tor and the Sutton Common BT tower.

Eventually our luck ran out as a light rain started and became persistent.  I pushed on hoping we would soon cycle through it and unaware of the closing time of the café I planned to call at, just our side of Davenham.  We did in time cycle through the rain, and slightly damp made it to Shipbrookhill Farm Café before 4pm (they actually close at 5pm). Caffeine and cake was taken on board sufficient to sustain each of us back to our homes.

We crossed the A556 and rode into Hartford, then taking the old main road eastwards.  Here Clive left us to take the quickest route back into Chester, and Keith and I continued into Cuddington and Norley.  Here Keith headed home to Frodsham, and I back to Delamere and on the Kelsall.  The return route from Delamere was 66 miles, though Clive would have done closer to 100.  It had turned out to be a good late summer’s day for a high mileage, in later months the weather may limit us to shorter outings.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

24th August 2017: Ruyton XI Towns (mod)

It was a select group of four Easy Riders who met at the Castle Bistro & Tea Room in Chirk. This was to become even more exclusive when it became clear that Dave M, having ridden from Tattenhall, was merely passing through Chirk on his way to Llangollen, the Old Horseshoe Pass and points Welsh on a recce for an Audax that he was preparing. So Ken, Trevor and I were left to decide where to go. Both Ken and Trevor had a 41 mile route to Ruyton XI Towns on their Garmins, so that became our destination, with Trevor leading and the Talbot Inn as the lunch stop.

We crossed the aqueduct over the Ceiriog valley and followed the tow path alongside the Llangollen Canal. Leaving this at Rhoswiel, we were soon negotiating the busy A5 roundabout and heading off on the B5068 towards St. Martins. Soon off this, we passed some very grand looking holiday lodges  at Henlle Hall after which we were down the quiet Shropshire lanes running through Hindford, Tetchill and Hordley, where the simple but pretty Norman-built St Mary’s church dates back to at least 1160. It’s hard to see where the congregation comes from in this sparsely populated area, but services are held here on the second and fourth Sundays of each month. Pressing on through Lower Hordley and Bagley, we could see rain across the Perry valley. This was in spite of the BBC weather forecast insisting that the day would be fine and dry. Trevor made a great attempt to steer us around the rain, but entering Weston Lullingfields, we got caught by a heavy shower. A complaint to Carol Kirkwood seems to be in order.

By the time we were approaching Baschurch, the rain had stopped and the roads were dry, no rain having fallen here. Before entering Baschurch, we swung right along the B4397 through Brownhill, arriving at Ruyton XI Towns and the Talbot Inn soon after opening time. A man followed us into the pub with two full-sized poodles. He was clearly a regular and he recommended the Scotch Eggs which are home–made at the pub and have a great reputation. When it became clear that these were in short supply (only one was available) there was some good natured banter about who might have it. Being good natured souls, we chose other dishes from the menu, leaving the Scotch Egg to the local.

The food was good - the Talbot is on the list of favoured lunch stops. Over lunch, Ken gave me a short tutorial on the Viewranger app which I have just downloaded on to my phone. It’s clear that I have a lot to learn, but it looks as if I will finally drag myself into the 21st century and start using ‘emaps’.

Photo by Steve T
Much has already been written in previous blog reports about Ruyton XI Towns, so I will not say more here. But there is a board in The Talbot which lists the other ten towns that Ruyton banded together with to fend off invasions in the 12th century by the Welsh, something I had not seen before – the list that is, not the Welsh.

Suitably refreshed, we started for home, leaving up Park Bank in what was now warm sunshine (better late than never!). The lanes through Wykey and Eardiston were quiet and we even managed get back across the A5 without difficulty. Harvest time is in full swing in this part of the world and combine harvesters could be seen in several fields. We passed several large tractors and parcel delivery vans along the narrow lanes during the day and all of them either stopped or gave us plenty of room. We had to dismount at one point to edge past a slurry tanker, but this proved to be no difficulty. Pressing on through the Maesburys and Aston, we approached the ‘Oswestrian suburbs’ (© Trevor). These were navigated with supreme confidence by our leader and we soon emerged on the road past the Old Oswestry Fort which took us on to Hengoed and Weston Rhyn. Then it was just a matter of gliding down Chirk Bank and back along the canal tow path to the aqueduct, where we had to squeeze past a few pedestrians. The sting in the tale was the short but steep climb from the end of the aqueduct on to Castle Road. Ken threatened to deduct points from the ride score for this, but, personally, I think this would have been a bit harsh. After all, we did ride down it at the start of the ride.

So 41 very pleasant miles in good company. Thanks to Trevor for leading and to both Trevor and Ken for their excellent company.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ST