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.