I was expecting dozens of CER riders out at the Ice Cream Farm given that the day’s weather forecast was for 20C and sunny, but “only” about 30% of our membership turned out. After being in sheep mode for the last few rides, I had prepared a route to the Olde Jack at Calverhall. The Mods were off Loppington way, or was it Tilstock. So at 1030 prompt, I set off by myself while the rest of the Brisk Old Wives were still chatting with the Mods. Eventually we become five as John M, Steve T, Nick and Tom catch me up on the road towards Bolesworth Castle. By the time we are up Brown Knowl, there is a brief stop to partially disrobe as the heat of the sun warms us up from the chilly start. Passing Cholmondeley Castle, we’re on our predictable way to Wrenbury and Aston.
In Aston a smell similar to malting barley is emanating from the H J Lea Oaks plant, but I find from their website that “HJ Lea Oakes is one of the longest established independent animal feed manufacturers in Britain, with a history dating back to Swettenham Mill in 1675 where the Lea family began milling feeds to supply the Cheshire farming community”. Maybe I had a pint or two of ale on my mind!
Crossing the A530, I pick up a slow puncture, so we stop to fix it, annoyingly not finding any obvious reason for the slow. It’s now a 10 mile straight run down tiny lanes passing Shavington Park and Wilkesley to the Olde Jack. Tom mentions that he needs to find an ATM so, knowing there will be none on the planned route, I re-route to Market Drayton adding several more miles to the route. Still the Following Four look happy enough, so we plough on to Longslow and into the metropolis of Market Drayton. With Tom’s wallet replenished, the Red Lion now beckons. What’s not to like about this pub: the Joule’s brewery is spewing out spent grain, the “ Slumbering Monk” ale is crystal clear, the food is plentiful and delicious, and the service is first class, it’s still sunny so we sit outside enjoying the rest after 28 miles.
My odometer is showing 40 miles out, so that’ll be a 80+ miler today then. I can’t face the usual way back to Calverhall via the ever-upwards Newstreet Lane via Longslow, so re-programming again, I opt to get to Calverhall via Moreton Say. We are passed by a rather attractive young rider who now acts as pace leader as we all try to catch her up. We do so, just as she is turning off towards Prees. Now in Calverhall, passing the Olde Jack, it’s a straight run northwestwards to Whitchurch through Ightfield and Ash, Parva and Magna.
The legs are up to another hill, so out of Whitchurch, we grind up Wirswall Hill passing the golf course and to the pleasing vista at 500ft overlooking Marbury and the Cheshire plain with the Peckforton Hills in the background. Steve takes a rather good photo of us all resting at the field gate. The route back now crosses the out-going route by Cholmondeley Castle but goes anticlockwise around the Peckforton Hills towards Beeston Castle and the Ice Cream Farm.
|Photo by Steve T|
So the route is around 56 miles and 2220ft of ascents as we settle down for a drink or an ice-cream. Steve finds out that his lift back to Runcorn is still in Ellesmere, so opts to ride back to Runcorn adding a further 20 miles to his tally. Nick heads for Tilston, and we three head for Chester with 80+ under the tyres and 16 mph average.