Looking out before setting off on my ride to Delamere, the weather looked promising but as the forecast was sub 15 degreees I opted for longs. However, on arrival at the Station cafe several pairs of winter bleached legs were on show….brrr. This club has some hard members!
It was encouraging to sit outside in the pleasant sunshine and the three briskers soon settled on Ivan’s circuitous route to Dunham Massey. Turning left out of the car park, Nick was already saying his legs were heavy and his mood was not improved by being cut up by a speeding car. He managed to stay upright and soon we were cruising along though Norley and Cuddington, Weaverham and Winnington. We had a cultural stop to admire the engineering wonder that is Anderton Boat Lift and reflected on the faded glory of the former salt works. As an aside Nick questioned the sustainability of so many new housing developments on former industrial sites and pondered how all these new residents were employed. Surely they all can’t be in the new sweat shops otherwise known as call centres!
Anyway, us free souls had no such labours to worry about as the following breeze helped us roll past Marbury Country Park, Comberbatch and Antrobus. We then were heading for our next cutural visit. This time through the grounds of Arley Hall. None of the tracks seem to take us close to the big house but we went past several other very attractive timber frame dwellings and a pretty lake before encountering a “private track” sign. This was duly ignored on the basis that it probably applied to motorists!. Very shortly afterwards we were back on public roads and over the M6. This seemed to serve as a firing gun for Ivan, who true to form, scenting beer lead a speedy 6 mile sprint to Dunham Massey and the Vine Inn.
The pub has an inviting exterior and pleasant gardens. Inside it is simply but very comfortably furnished with 1950s flowery wallpaper. It reminded us Cestrians of the Albion public house minus the truculent landlord. Despite Ivan’s joke that lycra was amongst the banned attire, we were allowed to join what seemed a happy band of mainly local drinkers and diners. The cause of their content was soon discovered when we learned that it was a mere £2 for a pint of Sam Smiths best. We also went for pies from the local butcher, with mash, veg and gravy which were very good indeed. Now fully laden we resisted the temptation of more cheap beer and decided it was time for the return leg knowing that our outward friend the wind was about to change sides.
We headed south east through posh Bowden and Hale which has some of the most imposing houses in Cheshire and some of the most pot-holed roads! The breeze was felt most keenly on the straight 4 mile run between Ashley and Over Tabley passing alongside Tatton Park. Taking shortish turns on the front we managed to keep up a good pace. Soon enough we passed through Comberbatch for the second time and on to Little Leigh and Acton Bridge. I was thinking this is going well we’ll soon be in Norley but had forgotten that it gets a bit hilly in these parts. Ivan reckoned we took the easiest option but the big roller coaster up to Norley took its toll late in the day. Not to worry as the pain was easily forgotten as we were soon enjoying cake and coffee back at Delamere Station.
The weather had one last surprise as we set off for home the sky darkened and spots of rain began to fall. Nick was fortunate to have his car nearby but Ivan and I got a little wet as we rode along the forest road. It was a somewhat chilly but not too bad and certainly not enough to spoil what had been and excellent ride. The route from Delamere and back was about 55 miles and Ivan and I had done close to 80 on arrival in Chester at 16.5 mph average. And yes, we did also enjoy the culture and scenery!