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.

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Sunday, 19 August 2018

16th August 2018: Special Ride - Bowland & Wyre District

There were some frantic last minute arrangements with regard to transport, but on the day it worked out just dandy! Ken gave Ian a lift, Mike and Dave Pipe met on my drive, Keith came in my Berlingo, and Nick was staying in Clapham, so he was arriving solo. Everybody arrived at Longridge early or on time, including Dave Pipe, who collected witness statements to prove that he had, indeed, achieved his punctuality goal after ten years of striving. We started at The Potting Shed cafe where the staff kindly opened early for us. The entrance is easily missed, so I had tied two yellow dusters on an iron rod at the entrance to catch the eye!

We were soon climbing up the south west ridge of Longridge Fell with excellent views all around, and then diving down Jeffrey Hill heading for the lovely village of Chipping. We left the village on a designated “Quiet Lane” wondering what this actually meant. Did we have to talk more quietly? Could one of those giant tractors still roar round the next corner with impunity? Our route took us on the side of the fell above the Hodder Valley, with some steep banks passing the Wild Boar Farm, an isolated old red phone box and Knot End. Before the plunge down to Burholme Bridge the view is spectacular, particularly ahead to the peaks of the Yorkshire Dales.

At Dunsop Bridge we headed north-west for the challenging climb through the Trough of Bowland. It turned just a little wet at this stage, and I apologised to Ian for my unguarded back wheel spray. If I had been on CTC ride I would have certainly failed their mudguard and long mudflap protocol, and probably been confined to the car park at the start! My only bike with guards didn't have the gear ratios to get me up this climb to the Lancashire/Yorkshire border stone (see photo).

The weather improved as predicted on our next leg to lunch at Scorton Barn which had some faster downhill stretches, but also a lot of strong headwind miles. We could clearly see Heysham nuclear power station, and across Morecambe Bay to the southern Lake District. Riding on these largely unpopulated fellside roads encapsulated that feeling of real freedom when cycling in wild country. We swooped into Scorton like a Skytrain, and dead on schedule. Mike had originally suggested Scorton Barn for lunch and we had recced this the week before. It was an excellent lunch stop, and we had a very convivial break.

Mike tried to begin the afternoon session with his helmet back-to-front. I suppose this was preferable to last week, when he didn't realise that he had left it at Dutton Locks! I wasn't too enamoured with hearing the M6 for a number of miles when heading back south last week on our recce.  I had asked Mike if we could ride a loop in the northern Fylde area instead, and he came up with an ideal rural route, initially heading out west past Winmarleigh Hall towards the coast. It was quite hard work, as this flat plain gave limited protection from the strong westerly wind. We came across a stationary huddle of ducks and ducklings on the road close to the hedge. There was a buzzard overhead, and they may have been hiding from it (see photo).

Photos by Mike G
We eventually headed south at Moss Edge to Ratten Row, and then, thankfully, with a strong tailwind toward St.Michael's on Wyre, and Bilsborrow. We were soon crossing the A6 and M6 and heading in the direction of Longridge. We stopped at Inglewhite, where there was a possibility of a picturesque route extension around Beacon Fell, but as one of those who doesn't do enough miles to be a contender, I had done enough, and fancied the cafe and a reasonably timed start for the drive home. As it happened, everyone was in agreement, although we still had a few miles to cover. I have absolute confidence in Mike's local knowledge and navigational abilities, so I'll swear he did some deliberate Clivesque extra miles before we got back to The Potting Shed!

The cafe gave us a warm and friendly welcome once again, and we had a selection of two blackboards of cakes with our coffees. Keith thanked the guy with the tree service at the front of the site, who had agreed to only lock the gate when the last car had gone if we had returned late. We had ridden nearly 54 varied miles, with one big challenge and some lovely scenery.  It was, as ever, a pleasure to share the company of both faster and moderate riders as one sociable club, as we still make the effort to do from time to time. I was grateful for the support, with many being unavailable in this holiday season - it made it all worthwhile. I am particularly grateful to Mike for co-leading and planning the day.
See route map and/or gpx file download


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