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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Monday, 14 October 2019

10th October 2019: Baschurch (mod)

After Clive's Beatles Tour a few weeks ago the moderate ride today turned into something of a Mystery Tour although we were as far away from Liverpool as we get on our normal rides. I had gone to Chirk on the train along with David M and Andy W, but David was scouting out part of a route for an Audax ride he was planning and Andy was going with him. I was pleased when Andy B and Dave P turned up at the cafe as until then it had just been me and a group of brisk riders there.

The brisk group had got themselves organised and promptly set off on their ride while the three of us hadn't even thought about where we might go. Dave and Andy didn't have any maps but I had my Garmin. However it was my first ride back after a trip to Europe and unfortunately I hadn't reloaded my British maps. I managed to find and load a route but all I had on the screen was a red line on a blank background. All I knew was that the route appeared to head down onto the Shropshire plains and was about 40 miles, two features which were acceptable to the others. And so our mystery trip began.

We turned left out of the cafe, then right and dropped down onto the canal towpath to cross Telford's aqueduct. At Rhoswiel we left the canal, crossed the A5 and found ourselves heading towards Hindford. Then it was on through Tetchill and Hordley to Bagley.

About 15 miles into the ride we started to see signs for Baschurch and I realised that we were probably heading for Ruyton-X1-Towns and the Talbot Inn. Sure enough as we approached Baschurch we turned right onto B4397. On the previous ride from Chirk, Clive had said that the Talbot Inn was closed on Thursday lunchtime and had taken us instead to Moor Farm cafe at Baschurch. Not wanting to arrive in Ruyton to find that we couldn't get any food we opted for the same alternative and ate well from the hearty menu. The pies in the farm shop looked good too (Note to self: must bring a bigger saddle bag next time!). After lunch we continued along the main road into Ruyton and noticed that the Talbot Inn appeared to be open. (Perhaps we can use it again on future rides).

If football is a game of two halves then today's ride was certainly a ride of two halves. The morning ride out had been dry but for the most part into the wind. The afternoon was just the opposite and the rain started as we headed to Wykey and Eardiston.

Now that I knew where we had been, I had a good idea of the route back. Which is just as well because as we approached Maesbury the screen on my Garmin decided to freeze. Not only was I without the maps but now I had no red line to follow either. However we found our way to the A5 crossing near Aston and then turned left towards Oswestry. I was confident that I knew the route around the suburbs of Oswestry and soon we were climbing up the road past the Old Fort.

Shortly after that we came across a car stopped blocking the road. Apparently, a herd of cattle were on their way towards us and we were advised to wait. We had to wait longer than expected and Dave decided that his light rain jacket was no longer up to the task. So he changed into his rain cape – at which point the rain stopped. If only he had decided to change earlier!

Once the cattle had passed we carried on along the top road, turned down through Weston Rhyn and found our way back to the canal for the return to Chirk. Just the three of us to complete a pleasant (despite the weather) 40 mile ride. A bit of work to do when we got home though, to wash the Shropshire mud off our bikes.


Thursday, 10 October 2019

10th October 2019: Ruyton XI Towns (brisk)

I had 10 minutes to spare before setting off by car to Chirk, so I rapidly put together a route that could be used as a brisk or moderate ride. The problem was it was only 42 miles. I thought “never mind, someone will have a suitable route”. I arrived in the car park and it was clear that the weather could do anything today, so I had a ride around to warm up the legs before going to the Castle Bistro for a coffee.

There was a reasonable crowd of CER riders there and it polarised into a brisk ride ( yes, my route) consisting of John M, Nick and a dragooned in Steve T. I explained the length dilemma and explained we would just wing it when we got as far south as I had originally planned.  I didn’t catch where the Mods were going though. So we set off down the Ceiriog Road and up and around the back lanes of Weston Rhyn and in and out of Oswestry. 

The first part of today's route was a steal from the recent Mod ride to Baschurch as we continue south and east to Melverley. My original route for today then turned north for Montford Bridge and Ruyton. So after a quick conflab, we slide across the River Severn and take the long and undulating “main” road east through Ford on the A458 to turn up to Montford Bridge. The weather is threatening now and light rain and drizzle now accompany us all the way to Ruyton XI towns with 31 miles up. 

Believing that The Talbot did not open until 1400, we stop at Cafe Eleven where I am told it will be 25 minutes at least before we can hope to get some food. I ask John to ride down the high street to check if The Talbot is open - and it is! It now opens at 1200 except on Mondays, but after the ride I check their website which states food service between 1800-2100 only. So, somewhat confused now.

We go in and food is on, and as its a Joules pub, there is delicious Slumbering Monk ale to be had. We all order Eggs Benedict (in various forms) and some excellent chips.  We talk about our ancient memories and our ailments ( do we need an Ailments tab on the website perhaps?). Warmly ensconced in the bar, it is difficult to leave knowing that the rain is all around, and my original cobbled together route is a very short run back. So I look again and plot a slightly longer route back via St Martins. 

So up Grug Hill and onto Gimpo, it seemed like the lanes have all been hedge-trimmed or tractor to death, so we have mud and thorns and debris everywhere. We hit Welsh Frankton and I remember that the obviously direct lane to St Martins is in appalling condition so we circle Perthy and onto New Marton and St Martins. It is now only a quick dash down to the A5 roundabout, then onto the canal side by the Poacher Pub to end up back at the cafe after 48 miles and 2500 ft of climbs at around 1515.

It had rained all the way home, and the temperature had dropped, and the bikes were covered in Shropshire countryside debris - so we all decided to head for home rather than take a coffee on the cafe. So thank you for being patient with my route planning today, but as ever, an enjoyable day out on the bike

See route map and/or gpx file download


Saturday, 5 October 2019

3rd October 2019: Whitchurch (mod)

There was a fine turnout for our first club visit to Alison's Country Kitchen. The staff were very friendly and welcoming, and we were accommodated in the back room. We had plenty of space for our bikes and no problems parking our cars for the day at the back. John Adam and his friend were welcomed. John decided to go with The Fast Lads, after I explained how slow I was going to be, whilst waving two coffee stained, disintegrating maps in my hand. I did have a complicated route to Ellesmere vaguely in mind, but Steve Tan, thankfully, had a former route to Whitchurch on his Garmin.

The moderate group consisted of Andy Barber, Mike Dodd, Fiona, Steve Tan, Mike Gilbert, Neil and myself. Our route took us toward Wrenbury via Beeston. There are many little lanes you can choose in order to drift down to Whitchurch, and Mike and I became concerned that every obvious right turn was being spurned. Steve was sticking to the route he had downloaded, and we were so far south-east of Whitchurch in the end, that we were close to Calverhall. Surely this hyper-loop gives the clue that this must have been a Clive route originally! Although, we never passed through any deep mud surrounded by Saddlebacks, so perhaps not. Neil thinks that my rear tyre is soft, but I am able to assure him that it is just the visual result of my rubber squashing weight perched on the saddle.

After thirty miles, The Black Bear provided the usual friendly and characterful environment for lunch. The Fast Lads made a surprise appearance outside, having finished their own lunch elsewhere in the town. They had just stopped to tweak their afterburners.

The return starts with a surprisingly stiff climb to Wirswall, and as we briefly stop, the view is smashing. Looking out from this quiet leafy lane across Cheshire, the moment encapsulates the essential experience of riding with Chester Easy Riders: quiet, scenic routes, and a relaxed pace in convivial company. We cross the A49 at Bickley and take on Harthill before whooshing down to Tattenhall and just beating the expected rain. Unfortunately, Alison's has stopped opening all day, so no coffee and cake. Never mind, about forty-five very enjoyable miles. Many thanks to Steve for an excellent lead.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday, 3 October 2019

3rd October 2019 : Whitchurch (brisk)

It was an unwelcome chilly start this morning, but a huge crowd of riders had descended on Alison's Country Kitchen cafe in Tattenhall for the first visit to this "new" starting point in Tattenhall.  John M asked me "if I had a route", to which I answer " I always have one (even when I haven't actually prepared one) ", so the brisk ride was sorted!

Today, Ivan was just out for a solo ride before he went to Liverpool to "meet" Bradley Wiggins for some riding tips. So our group consisted of John W, John M, Nick, Elwyn and a potential new member, John A. Too many Johns and Daves now!

The route had been prepared by using the new features of the Viewranger app which allows one to create a route on the phone directly, and it will auto-route for walking, cycling or motoring. It will also allow you to edit the route once saved. So we set off out of Tattenhall and up and over Harthill bound for Bickley. It's about here that I realise we are going out out on the return loop of the ride, but no matter I correct, re-set the direction of travel, and we head for Ashton via a circuitous route through Marbury. It is now  along run down Steppenhall Lane. Checking again I realise that we shall be at Calverhall far too early for lunch and with not enough miles ridden. So a quick re-route takes us out in a loop to arrive in Calverhall after 25 miles. As it is still only 1230, I ask for permission to cycle on the Whitchurch town.

So off via Ightfield and the twin Ash villages, I dive off left down and through Brown Moss Nature Reserve to enter the back of Whitchurch and thence to The Wheatsheaf in Green End. We have been to this welcoming pub before and we are soon seated with food orders taken and drinks delivered to the table. There is the usual lunchtime banter, and Elwyn then informs me that the Mods are up the road in the Black Bear pub - so that is why there is a photograph of us outside it!

This was taken outside the pub where we didn't have lunch in Whitchurch!

At lunch, I had abandoned the planned route and put together an "improved" return section counter-intuitively going away from Tattenhall towards Fenn Bank via Alkington. We are soon heading in the right direction now with the wind behind us in the hilly borderlands of the Wyches. Pretty soon we in and out of Malpas heading for Brown Knowl and the hillside lane behind Bolesworth Castle

We arrive back into Tattenhall about 1530 to a closed cafe. It is then I recall that when I had last visited the cafe they said that on this particular Thursday they would be closing early.

So John W and A head off home as I promise a hot drink via the Spar shop, only to find their machine was "being cleaned". So John M and I settle for a cold chocolate drink to fortify us for the return to Chester in light rain.

The route around was 53 miles and at 15.6 mph with a surprising 2630ft of climbs - something to do with Harthill and Brown Knowl I suspect. Riding back to Chester I find that if have ridden 79 miles and my trusty Trek Pilot has just turned over 30,000 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Photo JW

Thursday, 26 September 2019

26th September 2019 : Beatles Tour of Liverpool Reprised (brisk)

A few weeks ago, Ivan had mentioned that it would be good to re-ride the Beatles Tour of Liverpool. Brian Mac had expertly constructed a route around the Fab Four's birthplaces and other significant sites.  See this link for the original blog.

This ride was in July 2012, and unfortunately the gpx file was lost when BikeRouteToaster abruptly ceased to be available and all our previously stored routes were lost. So I spent some time reconstructing the route from my live recording of the route and adapting it to start from Ness Gardens rather than Chester Station.

The Fab Six brisk riders were John M, John W, Ivan, Nick, Ray and myself. Ken, Dave M, Andy B, Andy W and Dave P were just out for coffee today so missed a memorable ride! We set off via Raby and Clatterbridge to mosey passed Port Sunlight village and thence onto the Wirral Circular cycle path.

At Lower Tranmere, we stop at Cammell Laird's shipyard as there are myriads of people funnelling into the yard to see the naming ceremony by the Duchess of Cambridge of the "Sir David Attenborough" polar exploration vessel in the presence of the Duke of Cambridge and Sir David himself. We could just catch a glimpse of the ship painted in a day-glo Post Office red. Onwards via Birkenhead Priory, we wend our way to Hamilton Square Metro station for the single stop sub-Mersey transfer to James Street station.

Safely on the river front, we cycle through crowds of tourists to exit north and surprisingly uphill, to Toxteth and the Dingle area to arrive at Madryn Sweet. This is where Ringo Starr was born but today he wouldn't recognise it as we couldn't as it has had a marvellous make-over. We could actually get up Madryn Street as it was closed off and for builders only. So we cycle up the next road which had had the refurbishment. We have an informative chat with a local tenant who tells us that the two-up two-down original layout has been transformed in the three or even four bedroomed properties. 

The streets around here all have Welsh names and the reason why can be found here. We also ride to the Empress pub where his mum worked next to where the Starr's had moved from Madryn Street.

Voelas Street -original and recent  (ex Wikipedia)
We also ride to the Empress pub where his mum worked.

Empress Pub - note the number of cyclists (ex Wikipedia)

We press on now via Sefton Park and Penny Lane to Picton and its clock to find George's house in Arnold Grove. Quite a sad area really. Next comes a long run to Woolton to St Peter's Church and its hall where Paul was introduced to John in July 1957 -  Yes, 62 years ago! There were Beatles tour taxis here discharging sightseers as well.

Retracing part of the route, we stop briefly at John's house (now a NT property) before moving on to Paul's  house in Allerton also NT. It's here that I realise I have cycled passed Strawberry Fields -  but is that thunder I hear or empty stomachs? So we head off for the Greenhills pub for a carvery or pizza lunch. 

The real Macca's boyhood home
Outside John's boyhood home

During lunch, there is a scene reminiscent of the meerkat TV videos as periodically one concerned cyclist after another stands up to look out of the window to check that the bikes are still outside! 

We decide to go back a mile to Strawberry Fields and stand outside the gates for the obligatory photo also noticing there is a rather modern building now in the grounds owned by the Salvation Army.

At Strawberry Fields Forever
It is now a straight run downhill to Aigburth via West Allerton to the Merseyside cycle path. I hear a "rifle shot" sound emanating from behind me and wonder if the natives are restless and don't like non-Scousers, but we did had two of them riding with us. It was Ivan's high quality rear tyre, which had sustained an explosive decompression. The side wall of the tyre was split as was the tube. John W and Nick offer to go and find a suitable replacement from a bike shop about 1.5 miles away. This they do and a suitable replacement is fitted and we are on our way again.

The plan now was to circle back into the Georgian Quarter to marvel at the Victorian Gents in the Philharmonia Rooms pub (and have an obligatory swift half), but we had lost about 45 mins with the puncture, so we headed for James Street station. Safely back via Hamilton Square, we head uphill via Victoria and Egerton parks to Storeton. It's now a short hop via Raby to get Nick, Ivan and John W back to Ness Gardens.  Ray, John M and myself head back via the back lanes of Capenhurst to Mollington.

So a fabulous day out with some very patient cyclists cycling through our musical heritage all  thanks to the Fab Four and other Liverpudlian artists. Who can forget hearing "Please Please Me" for the first time! And No - no-one was heard singing "Ferry Across the Mersey"

The weather was kind in that we seemed to miss the showers and find some sunshine in our 47 miles jaunt.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Photos; JW, JM and ℅ Wikipedia

Friday, 20 September 2019

19th September 2019: Maesbury Marsh (mod)

On what will probably be the last warm and sunny day of the season, there were plenty of Easy Riders gathered at Cleopatra’s. The mods were destined for The Navigation Inn at Maesbury Marsh, following a route that I’d pulled from the blog some time ago. I’m not sure who devised it, but as we followed the route, it had all the feeling of one of Clive’s. When it was first done, I do not know and it would take forever to sift through all 790 on the blog to work that out.

So Andy B, Andy W, Dave H, Dave M, Peter, George, Fiona and yours truly set off through Farndon, heading for Shocklach, Worthenbury and points generally south. Apart from the odd missed turn, things went well, at least to begin with. We even went ‘off piste’ near Penley and found a small lane about which Dave M waxed lyrical before rejoining the pre-ordained route. Stops were made occasionally to make sure we didn’t lose anyone along the way as we meandered down the quiet lanes of Shropshire.

Crossing the A495 at Welsh Frankton, we crossed the Llangollen Canal at Lower Frankton. However, things went wrong at Rednal. Andy W, Fiona and I were a little ahead of the others and they missed us as we turned down the lane going to West Felton. By the time we reached Grimpo, we could no longer hear Dave H’s dulcet tones, which I’d been relying on as evidence that the group was still together (bear in mind that I can’t look backwards these days as the surgeon sewed my head back on facing strictly forwards.) So, I back-tracked for some distance without finding the rest of the group, but then I had a call from Dave H to say that they were at Queens Head, but it was OK as he had his maps with him and could find The Navigation Inn OK. I headed back towards Grimpo only to find Andy W and Fiona in telephone conversation with Dave M. ‘We’re in the Queens Head’ he was saying. Andy thought that the lunch stop had been changed until I told him that Queens Head is a place as well as a pub and that we were going to The Navigation Inn as planned.

So we pressed on through West Felton and came across the rest of the group at Woolston, just a mile or so away from our lunchtime destination, 29 miles from our starting point.

The pub (who we’d phoned earlier) was very quiet with only one person on duty, so I was a little concerned about how long it might take to get served. The guy took our orders for drinks and food and at one point, Dave M asked if his wife was slaving away in the kitchen preparing food for us. ‘That’s my husband!’ was the reply at which point tumbleweed could be seen blowing through the bar…….

In the event, no harm was done and our food came quite quickly and was of good quality. We ate outside in the warm sunshine, next to the canal. A young couple were there with a dog, but they soon left, claiming that they needed to get back for the school run. A likely tale! By choice, George sat on his own in the shade, listening to the conversations going on around the two tables we were sitting around. Saving nuggets of info for future use, no doubt.

As we gathered for the traditional photo, a nice young lady offered to take one including us all, which makes a change. I’m sure you’ll be impressed with the composition, with Andy B and George posing on the steps.
Photo by CER

Our route back was a little more direct, with less meandering and some busier roads. A wrong turn at Whittington (I blame reflections on my screen) meant that we had to turn around and make a right turn at a time when every large wagon in Shropshire seemed to be coming around the same junction.

On we pressed through St Martin’s and Overton, where Dave M left us to make for home. We went on to Bangor-on-Dee where we crossed the cobbled bridge against the flow of traffic and joined the A525 for a short distance before turning right to skirt Wrexham.  At Bowling Green our plan was to take a route along small lanes which run approximately parallel with the B5130. Fiona needed to get home, so she opted to take the B-road route back for Holt. Andy W told me ‘the thing to remember about this bit is that you turn right at every junction……except for the first one where you turn left.’ And so it was that we trundled into Holt at about 4.20, having covered just over 54 miles.

Andy W left for home whilst the rest of us stayed for a well-earned cup of tea and (for Dave H only), a slice of cake.

A great day out in warm sunshine and, once again, no need to clean the bike. As George said, we’ll remember that bonus fondly was we sluice mud, cow muck and other detritus off our bikes in the coming months.


Thursday, 19 September 2019

19th September 2019 : Baschurch (brisk)

Today's ride was meeting at Cleopatra’s coffee bistro at Holt. A good turnout of mixed riders to enjoy the late Indian summer's day with expected blue skies and little wind. A selection of routes were proposed for the Brisk riders and the 57 mile ride to Baschurch was the ride we agreed upon.

Setting of were Clive, Nick, Ken, with the welcome addition of Neil and Elwyn and yours truly. The ride out was via Threapwood, Tallarn Green and Penley before heading towards Loppington and Myddle.The lanes were very quiet of normal road traffic, but a few tractors were vying for the same little lanes.

There were a few bumpy lanes but overall pretty good. Not too many steep gradients to grunt over and before 12:30 and 35 miles covered, we arrive at the New Inn at Baschurch. Today we were able to sit round a very big circular table and enjoy an alfresco lunch of six different menus all very different and excellent quality.

The problem with such good hospitality afforded was that we had to again get on our bikes for the return ride back to Holt. A good job it was only 25 miles and all down hill!! From Baschurch we travel on very good surfaced lanes to Ellesmere then then on to Bangor-on-Dee.

We stay on the A525 to Pickhill Lane, cutting the corner at Cross Lanes to Talwrn, then joining the road back to Holt. Here we went into a sprint finish with Elwyn leading with Nick close on his wheels and me lagging behind. Sensibly Ken, Clive and Neil rode with style and arrived at Cleopatra's much more refreshed and able to enjoy coffee and cake without soaking everything.

The Sextet safely back at Cleopatra's
Thanks for the company and I only wish we could enjoy more rides in the sunshine.The ride back and to  Chester was 78 miles with an average of 16.6 mph. It wasn’t quite as flat as we thought as there were 2703 ft of ascent covered.

A ride from Ness next week – let's hope we still have the Indian summer.


Photo taken by a passer-by

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

12th September 2019: Aston (mod)

It was good to see a mix of old and new members at ease, chatting and supping at Rose Farm cafe. Michael Dodd had rung me the night before, and I was pleased to see that he had turned up. Our recruitment has been very idiosyncratic recently. Peter joined after Trevor gave us a plug on 'Countdown', and Michael on reading our blog,  figured that Fiona and Elwyn must be his friends from the same Chester gym.  Steve Tan had a possible ride, and Clive had a route to Alsager, but I had a cough and cold and needed moderate pace and distance, even if it meant peeling off on my own at some stage. Fortunately, Andy Whitgreave likes to take it easy, and Fiona enjoys the lack of pressure compared with proper road club sessions. Actually, Andy who is often touring abroad and is cycling fit, enjoys very easy riding so much that he had arrived on a swanky electric bike. It turned out that a route to the Bhurtpore Inn was an acceptable moderate ride for Andy, Fiona and Mike and they opted to keep me company. 

The route was familiar and relaxing: down to Cotebrook, skirting the southern edge of Oulton Park and on to Wettenhall. There were people below, enjoying tea and a bite at canal-side tables, as we crested Cholmondeston Bridge at Venetian Marina. At Reaseheath College, I pointed out where we are no longer allowed to ride through (at point of prosecution). It was very mild, and garment removal was beginning. We were soon passing Henhull Hall. At this point I decided that the ultra swish bikes of Andy and Fiona should not be subject to the grit of parkland in order to skirt south of Nantwich.

The alternative took us to the fine old church at Acton, down Ravens Lane, across to Swanley Lane, past Ravensmoor and into the Bermuda Triangle of Sound Heath. I remember being here with Dave and Liz and Dave's clockwork GPS; our heads began spinning, and we nearly disappeared up our own butted tubing. Andy and I decided that the extra loop south east of Aston would give us a few more pleasant miles before lunch. We headed in the direction of Audlem, and I tried to draw attention to the moated Hall o' Coole. This was the second time I had tried to educate the peasants, a la Brian Mac, but failed to muster any interest! The first time was when we passed Madam's Farm on the Dorfold Hall estate. When we reach The Bhurtpore, I'll tell them to look up the history on t' internet! We turned north west up Back Coole Lane to head straight for lunch in Aston. We always feel welcome and at home in The Bhurtpore. My curry was plain, but contained plenty of decent chicken, and the service was friendly and efficient. It was good to chat to new riders, and get to know each other better. It strikes me that we have been very lucky lately in the personable nature of the riders who have joined us.

The return was intended to be shorter than the 25 miles to lunch. Andy marvelled at the lightness of Fiona's bike, and they wondered how a light, fit rider would fare on a hill against old Andy and an electric motor. I had no plans to return via Harthill, for instance, to test out their imagined joust! Our return was via Wrenbury, Chorley, Burland Green and Radmore Green.  I led a little diversion down a backwater to see   Haughton Hall. Steve Tan rang to say that The Fast Lads were back at Rose Farm. As Elwyn was sharing a car with Fiona, and Steve with me, it looked like the partaking of coffee and cake at Tilly's or the Old Fire Station would be a mite inconsiderate. No matter, if anyone in the club needs less cake, its me!  The sting in the tail after Bunbury is the sharp climb at Tilston. This was a chance for the Andy and Fiona contest. I am not sure what happened, but Fiona flew up like a bird, Mike did a Vettel block on Andy, and then they disappeared around the corner. We returned on the narrow lanes to Rhuddall Heath and Tarporley before climbing back to Utkinton, with Andy peeling off for home on the way. We covered a very pleasant and sociable 45 miles on mainly quiet lanes, and managed to find a sheltered route where we hardly noticed the the strong wind. I hope Mike joins us again, when he is not in Germany.


Thursday, 12 September 2019

12th September 2019 : Alsager (brisk)

It becomes more and more difficult to prepare routes which contain "new lanes" these days. There are 790 blogs on our website that have been posted over the last 10+ years. Bryan W used to mark up his OS maps with a highlighter to show the lanes and routes ridden. Maybe he still does! Its a pity that we can't collate all routes from these 790 posts to prepare an electronic version of Bryan's highlighted maps to make the ride compiler's job easier!

Notwithstanding any of the above, I believed I had cracked it today with a brisk run to Alsager down some new lanes. Steve T and Elwyn were up for it, but I had to persuade Neil that the 51 miler was flat and if he were to peel off for home near to Alpraham, he would save at least 5 miles off the out and back trip. He was a little hesitant but decided to give a try. "Oh ye of little faith!*

So we four set off out via Little Budworth on our way to Blakeden Lane to skirt Winsford. Its not a pretty place neither is Middlewich which we had to skirt via the multitudinous housing estates. At Brereton Green, and after 16 miles, we now take the "new" lanes of Moorhead, Brookhouse and Moss End lanes. We now cross the A50 and run west of Rode Heath and south in deep lanes shielding us from the brisk SW winds.

Alsager comes up and we slide passed the Wilbraham Arms, a pub I had used before but service was so slow that today we would use The Plough at the western end of Alsager. Here you can get a full carvery roast at a very reasonable price if so minded. We four didn't indulge, but my small fish and chips was enormous. Lunchtime banter reflected on the present housing market and the fact that it felt like "they were being built everywhere we cycle".

So to prove it, we set off through a housing estate, diving off a little lane and over the M6 and down the lovely lanes of Oakhanger to Winterley. We're back into Crewe suburbia now circling Coppenhall on our way to Church Minshull. I change the course on the fly to get Neil closer to Alpraham to ease his run back to Tattenhall albeit directly into the gusty SW winds.

We three carry on to Eaton and thence into the back of Tarporley where I can't resist a climb up Cobbler's Cross Lane. Elwyn shoots up this even after nearly 50 miles of fairly brisk effort. The Heath Green transfer finds us close by Rose Farm at just after 1500 with 51 miles and a surprising 1938ft of ups and downs.

No cycling problems today, with lots of long quiet lanes in a quiet day for weather, except for the wind that is. As I cycle back to Chester, its full force dulls my "brisk" efforts and I am grateful that home arrives after "only" 79 miles.


* Neil saved six miles!

See route map and/or gpx file download

Sunday, 8 September 2019

5th September 2019: Holt (mod)

Today’s meet was at The Gallery cafe, Hawarden, so I set thinking it’s going to be a dry one. Well it was after a little shower, the one that came as all six of us set off to the cafe.  Only two got caught as they rode out: Brian W but he boxed clever and put a waterproof jacket on and Dave M took shelter in a factory on Broughton Industrial park. You know the thing dressed as a cyclist not looking out of place, ha ha, but at least he kept dry. 

So at the cafe was myself, Brian W, Fiona, Elwyn, see I did listen this time on how to spell your name bud, oh while I’m at it he came with us but is really a fast lad so had to put up with us other mods, Peter on the electric bike like Brian’s, Dave M and me.  Dave said he has been out for an early bimble and was heading to Holt for lunch, so as Brian wasn’t riding with us and we didn’t have a  plan we asked Dave if we could tag on. So we set off on a 15 mile route to Cleopatra's via Lower Kinnerton, Rossett, etc. Here we had a light lunch.  We took a route that Fiona and Elwyn knew, liaising with Peter, back to our start, meandering  around the back lanes of Rossett up to the cafe and cars in Hawarden.  

It was only a short ride, about 30 miles due to people chatting and us not having a plan B.  Now I know what Pep and Co go on about having a plan B.  Anyway the day turned out great as the rain went, the sun shone and the company was good.  Today's blog is short and not much info but the reason is a quirky one, as except for at the cafe where big bad Brian was and he knew me and big bad Dave, all the others were new to each other so on the ride it was a case of getting to know each other, being sociable, chatting, etc. I think I know the reason individuals didn’t get to the ride as they were lording it big time as having been put in their place by 1/2/3/4/5 year olds for the last six weeks.  So they have now gone away on a break asking what happened there.


Friday, 30 August 2019

29th August 2019: Over Peover (mod)

A large group of riders assembled at Delamere Forest Station Café on a warm bright morning. Once we had sorted out who was riding and who wasn’t and who was ‘brisk’ and who wasn’t, it looked as if there would be six for the moderate ride to The Dog at Over Peover – except that Dave P had arrived telling us that Peter had ridden with him from Chester, but he’d picked up a puncture about half a mile away from the café and was in the process of fixing it.

There followed a lengthy delay whilst we a) located Peter and checked that he could fix his puncture, b) got him to the café with it fixed and c) examined the cuts in his tyre(s) and established that they were too serious to allow him to continue with us. So, in the end, we would be six and not seven.

So it was 11.00 by the time we left Delamere heading, inevitably, towards Hatchmere and thence Norley. By this time ‘we’ consisted of Dave H, Dave M, Dave P, Fiona, George and yours truly. Taking the pretty Gallowsclough Lane in Norley, we headed across the A49 at Cuddington and the A556 at Sandiway. I had been anxious to make up for our late start so had been pressing on. At this point we’d averaged almost 15 mph – a supersonic speed for the mods. Things slowed down a little as Dave M led us over the River Weaver at Bradford Mill and up the rough path under the bridges leading up to Moulton. At Davenham we picked up Cycle Route 573, which runs east towards Congleton, passing through Lach Dennis and Goostrey.

Passing The Crown at Goostrey, we looked but couldn’t see any sign of the brisk riders who had planned to stop there for lunch. Either they were hiding from us or they were lost on the Whitegate Way.

Passing close by Jodrell Bank, we arrived at The Dog in Over Peover at 12.50, having covered just under 25 miles in less than 2 hours. As usual, the food at The Dog was excellent and the service friendly. There was some discussion about the multitude of ‘Peovers’ in this area.  According to Wikipedia, Peover is a rural area in Cheshire, southwest of Chelford and northwest of Jodrell Bank. It contains Peover Superior (also called Over Peover), and Peover Inferior (also called Lower Peover or Nether Peover) and Peover Heath.  Peover is mentioned in the Domesday Book as "Pevre", from a Celtic word meaning "the bright one" referring to the Peover Eye, a local brook.

Photos by Steve T

Suitably refreshed and photographed for posterity, we made our way out of Over Peover to Lower Peover. Here Dave M took his leave to ride back to Oscroft by a different route. We pressed on over Plumley Moor, crossing the busy A556 at The Smoker by wheeling the bikes over the pedestrian crossings.  Riding the short distance on the pavement alongside the A556, we turned right into Linnards Lane and followed this into Higher Wincham. From here we took the familiar route through Pickmere, Great Budworth, Comberbach and Little Leigh to take us down to the River Weaver at Acton Bridge.

Given the choice between riding up the very steep hill into Acton Bridge, or taking the riverside path to Dutton Locks and the more gradual climb back to Delamere, we stuck by the moderate group motto of ‘never take the hard route when there’s and easier one’ and rode down to the river. Fiona thought she was going to have to swim across the river, but found the crossing at the locks a novelty. She was less impressed by a muddy section of the path as we cycled towards the railway viaduct!

The climb out of the Weaver Valley up first Crewood Common Lane and then Norley Lane is certainly less steep than taking Acton Lane, but it’s quite a long grind, so it was a relief to reach the top and freewheel down to Hatchmere. Here we directed Fiona back through the forest to the café where she’d left her car. There rest of us split up like the Red Arrows, heading back home after 46 pleasant miles through the Cheshire countryside on a sunny summers day.

Thanks to Dave M for his guidance on the early sections of the route and to all on the ride for their company on a classic moderate ride.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday, 29 August 2019

29th August 2019 : Goostrey (brisk)

Earlier in the week I had been out with John W and Ivan exploring some off-road routes. As it had been quite dry of late, I decided to trail the Weaver Navigation canal and then Ince Marshes NCR5 from Frodsham to Elton. The Weaver route was OK - the Ince Marshes was dry but a very rough track - for a long way!  Continuing the “it’s been dry” theme, I had put together a route for today’s ride to cycle more of these official cycleways which are best ridden in dry conditions.

I had ridden out to Delamere with John W, and as I was bemoaning the poor state of the road through Delamere Forest, John suggested we cut through to the Station Cafe via the forest tracks. This was an inspired idea as the surfaces were no worse than the roads and it was a mile shorter. So we find ourselves at the cafe with lots of CER members supping in the sunshine.

The brisk group formed around John W, John M, Ivan and myself; I then persuaded Neil and potential member, Elwyn, to join us. We shoot off up the bumpy road to Hatchmere, then turn right into Norley proper. I like to take Gallowsclough Lane here, and usually find horses and riders on this lane - I wasn't disappointed today either. Dropping down the hollow on Norley Road, we turn right down aptly named Waste Lane, where the group are wondering where they are going to now. It is 5 miles of flat riding down the whole of Whitegate Way. This upper section can be muddy when wet, but today it was near bone dry all the way to the outskirts of Winsford.

Riding the Whitegate  Way

Out and towards Middlewich, it is now a long run on cycleway 71 to the edge of Swettenham. More off-road via The Davenport Hall transfer is now employed to get over the Dane River valley and into Swettenham proper. 

Dane River Bridge at Davenport Hall
One more diversion down Sandy Lane takes over the ford and on our way, via Twemlow Green, to "The Crown" in Goostrey. As ever "The Crown" doesn’t disappoint - always a friendly welcome and a very good meal at value prices.

The route back is quite straightforward taking in Lach Dennis and Davenham. As we approach the Blue Bridge over the Weaver Navigation, we drop down the side of it and turn right on the canal path towards Northwich. John W and I had ridden this path on Tuesday but from the opposite direction - so as everyone knows, going the opposite way creates a whole new route. It is idyllic recovery cycling sliding passed the dock and repair yard near Kingsmead, Northwich Rowing Club and the rear of St John Dean’s College. 

The double canal locks transfer at Hunt's Lock takes us through a dreary housing estate and onto Hartford and Weaverham. We power passed Acton Bridge and Crowton towards Kingsley then, as there was quite a strong headwind and ignoring the drag up exposed Norley Lane, we take the hedge protected and delightful Beech Lane, thence Forest Lane, to run into Hatchmere and back to Delamere Station cafe.

So, 50 miles all round, with many miles of flatness (2000ft) via the Whitegate Way and the Weaver Navigation, we take a welcome drink and break for home. For those four of us going back to Chester, it will be 75+ miles today. 

See route map and/or gpx file download

Photos JW

Monday, 26 August 2019

22nd August 2019 : Montford Bridge (brisk)

Clive cycled over to Rossett and joined me in the car for the last 30 km’s to Chirk. When we arrived there were plenty of bikes tethered to the railings outside the cafe which belonged to the  Moderates group who outnumbered the Brisk by 4 to 1. Dave M had arrived by train for coffee and  planned  to return home by bike. The eight or so moderates, led by Clive, headed off to Baschurch for lunch whilst Nick and I decided to grace Montford Bridge with our presence. 

We got off to pretty poor start due to ‘yours truly’ taking the wrong road from the cafe however we did enjoy a lovely circular  tour of Chirk in the summer sunshine. Eventually we exited the town via the short but steep climb of Chirk Bank and continued south. At this point the wind was against us but fortunately the high hedges provided some shelter as we  made our way into Oswestry. 

Our route through the town was straightforward and we were soon bumping along Maesbury Road before crossing the busy A483. A short unintentional detour then led us directly into Maesbury which is a pretty village with  a river running through it and a canal nearby. Taking a a south west heading we skirted around Maesbrook before hooking back east towards Nesscliffe where cycle route 81 led us into Shrawardine and onto Montford Bridge, our lunch stop.

Although the Winfield Arms looked closed, it was open, and as we were the only customers, we were quickly served and seated. This venue  is best be described as adequate which is a pity as the village is in a lovely setting on the banks of the river Severn with a bridge designed  by Thomas Telford - it was his first bridge design and was constructed between 1790 and 1792. The lunchtime chatter ranged from education to the transport issues Nick was experiencing whilst planning  his trip to Switzerland and France. 

For our return journey we headed north towards Ellesmere before turning west to Chirk. The high hedges again seemed to be sheltering us from the wind although it’s direction seemed to be more of a help than a hinderance. 10 km after leaving Montford Bridge we passed through Baschurch but found no evidence of the Moderate group. 

Keeping to our northerly course we cycled along some lovely quiet pothole free lanes that linked the small hamlets of Bagley, Hordley ,and Lee, brought us into Ellesmere. From here the last 15 km were through quiet lanes to St Martins before descending and crossing over the Ceiriog River. The final climb up over the A5 had  both of us puffing hard however  we arrived at the  Chirk cafe  shortly after and had recovered enough to manage  coffee and cake.

Todays route was 80km (50miles) with 540 metres (1700ft) of ascent at an average speed of 26kmh (16.25mph)

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 23 August 2019

22nd August 2019: Baschurch (mod)

Chirk proved as popular as ever as a dozen of us sat around mulling over where to go with our coffee and teacakes. Dave M came out on the train and was riding home; Ken and Nick were looking for a brisk route; so the rest of us took up on my suggestion of 51 miler via Baschurch. We set off on time down the Ceiriog Valley road. There was George, Dave P, Dave H, Steve T, Trevor, Andy B, the two e-bikers, Peter and Graeme and myself - so nine of us ground up the hill into the hinterland of Weston Rhyn bound for Oswestry. It soon became clear that the planned route into Oswestry wasn’t going to work with 9 strung-out riders, so at Hengoed, I opted for the Iron Age Hill fort transfer. After successfully negotiating the town without losing any riders, we head due south, and after a brief ride on the A483, run parallel to it in lanes anew.

The area is delightful in that the lanes are pretty good, and the hedges were high to fend off the stiff south westerly breeze. We head south east on a long run of quiet lanes closing in on the River Severn at Severnside, and now heading for Shrawardine passing the hidden ruins of Castell Isabella built in Henry I reign. The route now is to Montford Bridge which was Thomas Telford's first bridge design over the Severn river built around 1792.

We now head north-east with a following wind as 30 miles finds us just west of Baschurch and Moor Farm shop and cafe coming into view. I was glad I had telephoned ahead for a table as the place was packed - always a good sign, which proved correct. The food and service were very good, as looked the pork pies in the adjacent farm shop - but no room in the saddle bag unfortunately! Wiki told me that Agnes Hunt was a prominent local Baschurchian. Along with Dr Robert Jones, they founded the orthopaedic hospital at Gobowen where Steve T and myself have used their excellent services of late.

As we are leaving, we notice that a major equestrian event is to be staged over the holiday weekend on the adjacent equestrian centre. Earlier we had passed a steam traction engine puffing its way towards Shrewsbury - no doubt for another Bank Holiday event. A few drops of rain threaten as we circle around the PGL young person’s adventure holiday park at Boreatton (www.pgl.co.uk). When he was 18, Steve T enjoyed a PGL holiday in France apparently, but enough of ancient history.

The rain soon passes and more long lanes with wind assist find us circling Rednal airdrome and onwards to Tetchill. A North Westerly ever-upwards track finds us at the edge of St Martins. I offer a choice of a largely hill-free route back to Chirk, or the descent and ascent in and out of the Ceiriog river valley and into the back of Chirk. Surprisingly, all elect for the latter as we enjoy this delightful valley with a fairly strenuous climb out.

So, plenty of new and quiet lanes today, and new lunch venue and largely a wind-assist all day, and a light sprinkle of rain. A few more sunbeams would have made the 51 miler a perfect CER day out.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Monday, 19 August 2019

15th August 2019: Special Ride Ribble and Hodder Valleys - Whalley to Waddington

We weren't supposed to be here! Last Thursday I had ridden a recce in the Peak District in order to clarify a route for today. Steve Tan had kindly accompanied me, as we rode above Toddbrook reservoir, the one with the damaged dam, at Whaley Bridge. Most of the roads were open, but Lyme Park was strictly closed, and we had climbed over 4,000ft before returning to our starting point at Redes Mere. We had a fine day out, but the many steep climbs made it too hard a route for us to relish riding again in seven days’ time, never mind inflicting on others. Hence, we were now sitting in Tastebuds cafe in Whalley, as part of 'Plan B': to ride an alternative scenic route, this time in Lancashire, and not as severe.

Everybody had enjoyed a relatively straightforward journey, although Graeme's car was spotted coming into the village from the wrong direction, having missed their intended turn through chatting. From well inside the cafe, I thought I had seen Andy pass by. Then he bobbed into view travelling in the opposite direction. I managed to get to the door in time to give him a shout. It felt like the fairground stall where you needed a pole with a hook to catch the passing ducks! We were soon tucking in to bacon rolls, giant teacakes and coffee. The party consisted of Andy Barber, Graeme, Jim, Dave Pipe, Steve Tan and myself.
Photos by Andy B

I had planned to stop and look at places of interest, so first off we visited Whalley Abbey, on the banks of the River Calder. The abbey was founded in 1296, when the Cistercian monks of Stanlaw (Stanlow) moved there from a flood-prone site on the on the Cheshire shores of the River Mersey near Ellesmere Port. It is interesting to note that Whalley has suffered some bad flooding in recent times. I am not sure how this may have affected the site of the abbey.  Next stop had us swooping down the lanes, past Salesbury Hall to Ribchester Bridge. In Ribchester we viewed the Roman Baths and stood above a big sweep of the River Ribble.  A fort had been built here by the Romans in AD72, and it was a crossing point for Chester, York and Lancaster roads.

Back on our bikes, we were soon wandering up a rural cul-de-sac to view the attractive almshouse at Stydd. Built by the Shireburn family in 1728, it originally housed The Poor, and is now converted to four flats. Cue more photographs. We climbed up to Hurst Green, passing another lovely almshouse before passing the gate posts of Stonyhurst College grounds. Turning the corner at the top of the hill and viewing the magnificent baroque building below is a stunning site. Please use Google if you would like to know more; there is too much history to tell here. The list of famous alumni is impressive in itself.  By the time we had whooshed down past Cromwell's Bridge on the River Hodder, and then climbed back up, and passed Bashall Town, it became obvious that we had a dilemma. Despite our modest mileage, our sightseeing and leisurely winding up lush green hills, meant that it was time for lunch already! There was a definite 'Last of the Summer Wine' feel to our progress. To be fair, left to their own natural pace, Andy and Steve would have been miles up the road tucking into lunch at The Inn at Whitewell by now. The Higher Buck at Waddington had always been a considered alternative, and the staff were friendly and the food very good.

Lunch hadn't been quick, so after consultation with Steve who had been in this area with me before, we decided to give pretty Chipping and its high, quiet lane out, a miss this time. We wended our way past Colthurst Hall with views across the valley through sun dappled leaves. There was one 'arrow' I had forgotten at Talbot Bridge! We passed Browsholme Hall and turned onto the straight course of the York to Ribchester Roman road. A beautiful, wooded, downhill cruise alongside the waters of The Hodder and past The Inn at Whitewell followed. The inn was a manor house in the 14th. Century, lived in by keepers of the Royal Forest. It is still part of the Duchy of Lancaster estate and owned by the Queen. The strong wind was more in our favour now as we headed for Dunsop Bridge, Newton and Slaidburn with the Yorkshire Dales in sight beyond. The sun was out and the scenery cycling up the valley was delightful. There were plenty of large undulations to tire the legs, mind you! Slaidburn is a lovely village, but there is a sting in the tail if you wish to continue towards Ribblesdale: a hard, hairpinned haul uphill. We neared our turn-off to head over the shoulder of the fell and then pile downhill, hopefully for coffee and cake. Jim announced that he was 'knackered' at this point. I told him that it was nearly all downhill from here, but he was as reluctant to accept my words as if his GP had made the same judgement! There is a good cafe/restaurant at Holden Clough Nursery, less than four miles away, but we needed to get there before last orders at 4.30p.m. The last two miles are an outstanding downhill run. Steve, Graeme and Andy scouted ahead.

Thankfully we all made it, and we received a friendly welcome. The Bakewell tarts were the best Graeme and I had ever tasted. Behind schedule, but suitably fortified, we headed home via Sawley Abbey, the side of theA59, Chatburn and Worston. Just a few, flat miles back now. In the interest of time and Graeme's bike battery, the valley side route through Pendleton and Wiswell was rejected. Despite winding the pace up with Dave Pipe over the last stretch into Whalley, it was still 6pm when we reached the cars. Steve tells me that we covered 49 miles and climbed 2,600 feet. When so many were on holiday, I appreciated the support and excellent company of those who made the effort at short notice.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday, 15 August 2019

15th August 2019 : Pickmere (brisk)

It didn't rain and the afternoon was quite sunny but it was very windy and gusty. I turned up a little late for the last meet start at the Ice Cream Farm  - NB : It's Alison's Cafe in Tattenhall next time!

Neil was sitting there like Billy No Mates with a coffee wondering if anyone was going to show up today. I said I would be there, but he was starting to doubt that until I actually showed up. No one else turned up, so we two set off via Tarporley bound for Pickmere.

The route was unexceptional passing thorough Eaton, Rushton and Little Budworth on our way to Whitegate. Traffic was very light - unlike the strong NW wind. This was great if it was behind you as I can attest as I averaged 18mph on the route out to ICF over 16 miles.

In Whitegate, I take the forest footpath transfer to access Vale Royal Golf club to introduce Neil to the Dave Mathew's "Golf Club - Weaver"  transfer route. We hang right to cross the Weaver over the massive locks and ride along the pleasant footpath with bike unfriendly gates. Up the hill by the Blue Bridge, we are soon in and out of Davenham bound for Lach Dennis.

A left up Common Lane takes into the by-roads of Plumley and we are soon at The Smoker pub on the busy A556. I'd thought about having lunch here but opted to go on to Pickmere to the Red Lion (part of the same group of pubs as The Smoker). So we arrive around 1215 having left Wincham behind.

Service was very prompt and the fare reasonably priced and wholesome. Neil chatted about his 25 yrs experience of working in Saudi Arabia training the Saudi Air Force pilots and technicians. I reflected on the long weekend I spent in Riyadh and Jeddah in the 1990's and how I was addressed there as Mr Al-Bany ( obviously I'm now of Arabian extraction!)

We are soon back on the bike and heading mainly into the wind as we slide through Great Budworth on our way to Little Leigh and the big hill up to Acton Bridge. At Crowton, we take Norley Lane for the inexorable climb up into Norley and use the Dave Heath transfer via Town Farm Lane to journey on to Flaxmere and Delamere Forest.

There is "just one more climb" up and into Kelsall where Neil carries on via Willington to complete the 49 miles route on his way home. I slide off bound for Oscroft and permutate the best way to avoid the head-on wind back to Chester.

So thanks to Neil for his company today, and 70+ miles for both of us probably.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Saturday, 10 August 2019

8th August 2019: Parkgate (leisure)

The four leisure riders, Trevor, Graeme, John B and myself chose a day at the seaside in preference to the moderates' choice of the flesh pots of Whitchurch, and accordingly set off in the opposite direction towards Hoole bank.

Swinging round to the east we skirted the zoo, over the canal and up to Backford. The route then followed the Sustrans track alongside the railway, still with all those gates, and on to Capenhurst. Rather than joining the Wirral way here we continued on to Willaston, past the old windmill and up to Thornton Hough. We then cut back west towards the coast to Parkgate and our lunch stop, The Boathouse, which we used for our Xmas dinner a few years ago.

Lunch was very pleasant sitting on the terrace overlooking the Dee and the Welsh hills in the sunshine, but there was a stickiness in the atmosphere preceding the forecast evening's storms.

However, the afternoon continued to be warm as we took to the Wirral Way briefly before cutting through the residential areas of Neston towards the Greenway. Coming in the opposite direction we passed a guy on one of those Boardman bikes - in fact it was Boardman. Clearly with no time to chat he sped off towards his mansion while we negotiated the industrial estate and gained the Greenway. No route finding now as we were blown eastward by a pleasant tailwind back to Meadow Lea. With time for a coffee and cake we watched in horror as the last two pieces of chocolate cake were snaffled up by two rather large ladies in front of us. Then to make matters worse a wasp took a bath in Graeme’s flat white which would certainly have added a little piquancy to the taste had he not noticed and removed it.

Overall a pleasant ride of 36 miles - I suppose we should have gone for a quick burn round Great Barrow to bring it up to 40 but we were greatly disinclined at that stage.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 9 August 2019

8th August 2019: Alkington, Whitchurch (mod)

Well where do I begin? Sorry if I have missed anyone out or upset anyone, but this is my first post. 

Ten mods set out, yes that’s right, 10 heading to Whitchurch via lots of little hamlets of Cheshire and Shropshire.  Well I was just meandering along in my own little bubble, like everyone else, even our leader Andy W, so when we went off course it was our fault for talking to him and he told a white lie saying we are missing Harthill and other little pimples, but guess what, we went via Harthill and any other pimples on route.  Anyway we got our lunch stop at the garden centre lake at Alkington, I didn’t pay attention as to where we were, takes me back to my school days ha ha teachers!!  We went here in sunny June, the time Clive went for a paddle with his bike through a very large puddle and Brian W would not go through it and Clive wouldn’t come back (electric bike). 

Photos by Mike G
The garden centre did us proud as it was very busy with people sunning themselves this time.  Well we got 3 benches easily outside for us to sit.  Later Andy B did say the reason was they were directly in the sun and had no parasols, not like everybody else's, bless us! This is where I knew some of the crew need carers to fetch cutlery, water, etc.  As I said the girls did us proud here, food came quickly, they got cutlery and water for some, obviously they have parents of the same ilk.  We then set off for home when our leader asked if we would like tea and cake at Hanmer lake, soft question really!  This is where I realise some of the older generation shouldn’t drive, those of us there know what I mean - old lady etc parking in the middle of a junction due to us being in her parking spot then detouring to swerve at us and shouting - she loves us I think!!!!!

Well we got going back to Meadow Lea and our separate ways, I know some peeled off for home earlier. Anyway it was a fantastic day, again good mileage 60 plus, then everyone had extra to home, So cheers to Andy W for superb route, Andy B from Mold, George, Dave M, Dave P, Neil, Mike G, Fiona O'Keefe plus her partner who’s name I can’t remember, sorry, it sounded Welsh.  I think North Wales police had an easy day, due to all our Welsh members meeting at the cafe first off.


Saturday, 3 August 2019

1st August 2019: Burlton (mod)

An absolute host of CER members turned up for the moderate ride, comprising of Clive, Jim, Graeme, Andy B, Fiona, Neil, Dave H, Trevor, Steve T, Keith and George. And we were joined by two guest riders, Jerry and Peter who I hope were made to feel welcome. Peter came equipped with an e-bike, so it seems this mode of cycling is gaining pace – literally!

After some discussion, it was agreed that we would follow a route to The Burlton Inn at Burlton, originally devised by Dave H and last ridden in August 2017, which I had uploaded onto my phone ‘just in case’. So it was with a degree of trepidation that I lead this phalanx of riders out of Holt to Tilston via Crewe-by-Farndon. From there we rode to Threapwood by way of Chorlton Lane, stopping occasionally to a) check the route and b) to make sure we hadn’t lost anyone. We had a longer stop at Tallarn Green so that Clive could put the route to Burlton onto his phone to make sure that, if the group got split up, then someone else would have the route. From Tallarn Green we cycled south-west to Drury Lane and across to Whitewell, an unusual, but quiet and scenic route. About 12 o’clock, Clive rang the pub to make sure that they could handle our large party, which they said they could, so it seemed that all would be well.

Pressing on through Fenns Bank, we came to Dobson’s Bridge. As Clive and Neil came round the corner and down the hill towards the bridge, there were two horses in the road coming up the other way. One of the horses was startled by their sudden appearance and reared up, almost unseating its rider. The rest of us went past as gently as we could to avoid upsetting the horse (and rider) any further. This was now prime Shropshire easy riding, wafting along in midsummer on well-surfaced roads running through lush green countryside. We were soon through Loppington and arrived at Burtlon just after 1 pm.

Reading Dave’s report of the ride in 2017, he said ‘The staff at The Burlton Inn were friendly. The eating environment is attractive, and the food is consistently very good. It took a while to prepare, because we were such a large group, but this pub is certainly one of our favourites.’ And it all held true on this visit, so it was nearer 2.30 by the time we’d posed for the group photo and got on our bikes again.

Photo by CA
By now the sun was shining and it was quite warm as we made our way back to Penley through English Frankton, Lyneal, Welsh Hampton, Breadon Heath and Tarts Hill. Just before we reached Penley, the ‘advanced party’ consisting of Steve T, Fiona, Neil, Andy B and Jerry stopped at a junction to wait for the others, but after several minutes, they didn’t show up. So we concluded the return route that Clive had put into his phone using ‘Plot a route’ must have taken them on a slightly different route. So we pressed on, assuming that they were well behind us, only to find them ahead on the road at Little Green!

The rest of the route was a brisk, familiar ride north through Holly Bush, Worthenbury and Shocklach, where Graeme and Jim left us for Malpas, the former for home and the latter for cat sitting which, funnily enough, he was doing 2 years ago on this same ride!

As we got closer to home on the road from Shocklach, the faster riders (Neil, Andy B and Jerry) pulled away from the ‘advanced party’, spurred on by the fact they we had been overtaken by two ‘proper’ cyclists. Steve T and George vainly tried to keep up and Keith and Fiona following on behind them. The rest of the group rode at their own pace, so our original phalanx was now quite scattered. On reaching Farndon, Clive, Trevor, Keith and Peter all headed for home and the rest arrived back at Cleopatra’s having clocked about 54 miles.

My thanks go to Dave H and Keith for acting as ‘tail-end Charlies’ so that none of this large group got lost or left behind and especially to Clive to doing the same thing, but also for his help on the navigation front. I couldn’t have done it without you!

See route map and/or gpx file download


1st August 2019 : Llangollen (brisk)

There were going to be four us of starting out on this route, but Clive saw some significant climbs in my route so went with the mods. Turned out a good choice considering I had meant a much easier climb out of Ceiriog; I had plotted the wrong road up but hadn’t noticed! I was asked about the lunch stop, (the Mill at Llangollen), but John keenly recommended the Special Welsh Rarebit at the canal-side tea room.

So myself, Ken and John set off in improving weather towards Chirk via the familiar route of Bangor on Dee and Overton. Passing the A5, we skirted Chirk by going to Weston Rhyn and along a delightful lane taking us into the scenic valley of the Ceiriog. Taking turns at the front due to a headwind we soon arrived at Pontfadog. A sharp right turn took us straight into double digit gradients, with some sections between 20 and 25%. A mile later and 800ft higher, we topped out with an impressive view of Llangollen and the limestone escarpment leading to our next climb, at World’s End.

To John’s relief, after bigging-up the proposed lunch, the rarebit in Llangollen was indeed excellent and spot-on cycling fodder. Soon, in increasingly hot sunshine, we set off up to the Panorama road. At the ford at the base of the climb, we chatted to a cyclist who said he had walked across due to the slippy algae on the concrete, so of course we rode across. I crossed first but then heard a splash behind to see Ken lying in the river with his bike on top! Naturally, when you see an accident like that, the first thing you do is get your camera. Fortunately un-injured (bruises perhaps?), Ken managed to pick himself and bike up before I was ready. I requested that he go back in and lie, with bike, in the stream, purely for accurate photo-journalism and the benefit of you good readers. I missed what he said, but I think the gist was a No!

After the rigours of the earlier climb, the climb out of Worlds’ End didn’t seem too bad, and we were soon flying across the moors above Minera with Llandegla Forrest to our left. On descending, John split off and turned left to go to Chester to pick his car up, we turned right then 2 miles later left down a very rough track to yet another ford. This was quite a deep one, so an easy decision to walk. 

We then passed down a beautifully wooded valley following the River Clywedog and Nant Mill. Abruptly emerging at the bypass, Ken navigated us through Wrexham, himself then to Gresford, me to Tilston.

An excellent days cycling with good banter aplenty, my route (Tilston to Tilston) was 58.5 miles with 3,850ft climbing, averaging 14.4mph. This route is 53 miles.


Photos NH and JW

Sunday, 28 July 2019

25th July 2019 : Nantwich (brisk)

Over the previous 48 hrs ‘Whats App’ chats confirmed that the brisk group would be low on numbers for Thursday’s ride from Rose Farm. So a decision was made that the remaining trio (myself, Ivan and John W) would start from Meadow Lea. For several days the Met Office had forecast Thursday to be the hottest day of the year, in the region of 30c, so our discussion over coffee determined our best option would be a moderate paced ride towards Nantwich.

We left at 11:00hrs and headed out towards Guilden Sutton. Here, a buzzard swooped low over our heads, glided down to the road  directly in front of us and picked up a mouse that was hiding in the roadside grass. It was an impressive sight from one of our most common raptors but it was a shame that we couldn’t capture it on photo.

After crossing the busy A51, we rode at reasonably brisk rate through Brown Heath and Christleton. Riding past Eaton Golf Club, we saw Bryan Wade then a few minutes later Andy Barber both, presumably, returning early from Rose Farm. Heading on through Greenlooms, we  joined Cycle Route 70 and followed it to Tiverton  before passing the very empty and sad looking Wild Boar Hotel. We continued the brisk pace through Bunbury  to Burland where we  turned left along the main A534 into Nantwich.

The lunch venue was The Bowling Green pub, a venue not previously visited by the CER .We elected to eat inside to keep cool, the heat outside was now oppressive and around the 30 degrees. The Bowling Green is more of a drinker's pub with a limited choice of food, but they had two draught beers on tap and the  food was reasonably priced and  served promptly. Over lunch we deliberated over our return route, the options being via Wettenhall or  Wrenbury/Tattenhall. We chose the latter.

Unlocking our bikes, the soaring heat felt as though it was burning everything and we were keen to get going but John managed to become entangled in a climbing rose! I know the saying is a rose between two thorns but in this case he was ‘a thorn between two roses’ (Sorry John ,but the roses were really lovely!) which you can see in the  photo.

Leaving Nantwich we followed the cycleway alongside the river to join Cycle Route 74 through  to Ravensmoor and Wrenbury. The canal bridge by the Dusty Miller was up allowing time for another photo. Leaving the canal behind, we were all now taking a turns on the front enabling each of us to benefit from the draught  while maintaining the speed. Tattenhall arrived in quicktime and after a brief chat Ivan and John decided that they would accompany me through to Rossett before making their way back to Chester.

Of course, it would have been unforgiveable to pass Cleopatra's without stopping for drink and cake but as soon as our orders were placed the thunder and seriously heavy rain started. Unable to wait around any longer, we set off on the last leg along heavily flooded roads with zero visibility in pelting rain. 

Arriving home totally soaked but actually still quite warm I had completed 104km at an average of 26kmh. Ivan and John will have recorded similar figures. Thanks guys for a hot , wet, and  very good day out.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Photos ID