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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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Friday, 15 October 2021

14th October 2021: Rossett (mod)

Well what a sorry sight greeted Megan and I as we approached The Gallery Coffee Shop start point. Three fast lads and three mods with Alan bemoaning the fact The Gallery was closed due to holidays and “no ride can start without coffee”

 As we waited, Dave Pike’s other half brought news that the Gladstone Library was open and more and more CER riders started to appear.

The fast group departed and Neil who had ridden over also did his own thing. The rest of the group then de camped 100 yds to the library.

Photo by AO

So, having consumed beverages cakes and more than a little culture the 14 strong mod group set off. 

Herding cats/ juggling monkeys or herding jellyfish must be easier than keeping this group together.

Alan led the group out of Hawarden through Buckley and Mynydd Isa down Rose Lane to Llong leaving suburbia behind and into the Welsh countryside.

The lovely experience of whizzing along quiet tree lined lanes suddenly changed when the going went vertical. By the time the group reached the summit of Treuddyn comments such as “is that the climbing for today” and “boy, that was long and are we there yet” resounded from the group.

A quick plunge into Llanfynydd through Frith and then a further drop to The Ffrwd. In Cefn y Bedd we took the back road around Alyn Waters Country Park. Bordering on Llay we took the Gresford Road turning before the railway tunnel to take the old road to Rossett, paralleling the A483 on a road which the farmer was kindling cutting his hedge.

One man down, Andy B succumbed to a freshly cut thorn, prompting Peter to say “that was the fastest tube change I have ever seen”. Always the modest man Andy replied “I’ve had enough practice”

In Rossett we dined under a Teepee at the Golden Lion. Whilst the food service was slow, the food when it arrived was first class. Dave Heath you would have loved it there, and please get well soon.

At Rossett we bade farewell to Trevor, Steve Ha and Peter.

Crossing the railway line, we headed up towards Kinnerton. A quick spin along Lache Lane and tempting close to Chester we turned left again and headed for the The river Dee.

At one point we lost Mike and Andy and the intrepid groups went from seven to five and finally three as Steve T, Megan and myself returned to Hawarden.

Thanks to Alan for devising a not too hilly route from Hawarden.

 SHu

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday, 14 October 2021

14th October 2021 : Prestatyn (brisk)

Arriving at the Gallery tea rooms it was somewhat unusually locked. Soon, there were a good number of riders, but only John and I for the brisk ride. I knew Clive was out today and not like him to be late. Decision to go to the farm shop for coffee was discussed but then Liz and Electric Tandem Dave arrive and coffee alternative soon arranged by Liz across the way.

Clive now arrived but as John and I had been cooling down for twenty minutes plus, we were ready to ride so Clive forwent his much-needed coffee and we set off on our way.

Taking the usual route to Northop, it’s out to Ewloe and along Holywell Rd and into Northop village. Whichever way you depart Hawarden it’s uphill, but I think up the Green to Lixwm is possibly the worst as it’s 10 miles of gradients.

Once over the top we’re heading for another slog from Babell to the main road to Caerwys. We take a right on the B5122 and then left towards Pen-y-cefn. We start the steep down hill ride into Rhuallt with John showing no caution on a rough and mossy lane. Into Rhuallt, it’s along the B5229 into Rhuddlan. We then taking the Clwyd riverside cycleway route into Rhyl.

A55 from the Rhuallt footbridge

We were out on Tuesday and, although we picnicked outdoors at a Waitrose in Alderley Edge, it now gets a little chilly sitting outside, so I had looked for suitable stops around the area and the Cookhouse at Prestatyn got my attention with a carvery at £5.50; so it was to this hostelry that we visited. Plenty of sitting space for 3 but it was busy. Only John and I enjoyed the carvery with Clive sticking to panini and soup.

The route out of Prestatyn is through the golf course and camp sites and along the coast between Talacre and Point of Ayr where we stop for a photo shoot at the miner and pony wood carving. Onto the main coast rode it is head down and blast with a good tail wind taking us to Shotton before joining the Greenway and home to Chester.

Point of Ayr's coal mining installation

Although the start of the route endures some little rolls, i.e. 20 miles !!!, we covered 73 miles as a round trip with 2964 feet up and 2865 down. The route back to Hawarden would have been 54 miles.

Bryan always commented at the end of all rides that the elevation levels out; well said sir! 

A good ride, dry weather and excellent companions to ride with.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Photos JW

Friday, 8 October 2021

7th October 2021: Special ride: Audlem to Ellerdine Heath (mod)

Because of the restrictions and uncertainty caused by the pandemic, we have not had a Special Ride since October 2019, so it was a real delight when Dave Matthews offered to lead a Special Ride from Audlem to Ellerdine Heath. Jane at The Priest House Café had opened early to accommodate the CER riders who gathered for the ride. The ‘mods’ consisted of Daves M & H, Steves T & Hu, George and it was a real pleasure to also see Andy Whitgreave, who was making his first sortie with CER since the start of the pandemic.

After coffee, tea and refreshments, we set off at about 10 o’clock on the Woore Road out of Audlem heading up hill for Norton in Hales and Loggerheads. From there, Dave took us down to Knighton and Newport, where we started heading west for Great Bolas and eventually arrived at Ellerdine Heath at about 1 pm, having covered 32 miles.

Following some excellent refreshments at the Oakgate Nursery and Café and having fiddled unsuccessfully to cure a strange noise that my bike was making, we struck out for home. The route took us via Stanton to the fearful hill at Marchamley. To make things even more ‘interesting’, the road surface on the hill was badly broken up and wet, so the only person to successfully ride all the way up it was ‘super – Steve’ Hughes. The rest of us got off and pushed!

Having recovered our breath and calmed the hearts, we followed the route through Ash Magna and Wilkesley entering Audlem from the east on the A525, arriving as the church clock struck four.

An interesting and entertaining day out on delightful lanes, many of which were new to us on a day when the early autumn weather was kind. Thanks are due to Dave M for devising the route and to the rest of the mods for great company.

Photo by SHu

See route map and/or gpx file download

ST

7th October 2021 : Audlem to Ellerdine Heath Special (brisk)

There were about 10 riders at the Old Priest House cafe in Audlem - about a third of CER membership - a pity more didn’t come and support Dave M’s Autumn Special Ride from Audlem to Ellerdine Heath. Well those who did enjoyed a glorious day out down lanes anew in warm dry autumn weather.

I decided to fashion a slightly longer brisk ride based around Dave’s excellent route. The brisk three, Matt, John W and myself, set off in the opposite direction to the Mods to avoid the slow slog up to Norton-in-Hales before the even longer slog up to Loggerheads. In fact the first 9 miles were all uphill. The other side of Loggerheads we split off left now down many lanes anew. The autoroute function on Plotaroute tried to send us down an unmade lane so we backtracked a little to divert via Croxton. We take Ginger Lane out of Croxton and you’ll be pleased to know that, as we have now very slowly cycled this once-metalled deep-lying lane,  you don’t need to unless you are on a gravel bike!

We'll be alright -it's only one mile downhill 

Bishop’s Offley and Tunstall come and go as we now rejoin Dave’s route just after Shebdon. We now slavishly follow his route across the flat land via Sambrook and Great Bolas arriving at the Oakgate nursery by 1230 after 33 miles.

We are shown to our reserved table and our ordered food arrives promptly and is of excellent quality. After discussing veganism at some length, Matt and John move onto the intracacies of saddle design vs Audex length vs comfort levels. I chill out in the sunshine.

Just as we are about to start to depart, the Mods turn up mumbling something about “getting lost” or perhaps I misheard what was said. Anyway, we set off as per Dave’s route towards Stanton and onwards towards Marchamley Hill. 

I had already decided to go around this hill towards Hodnet and then to Wollerton to rejoin Dave’s route at Fauls. We continue to follow the official line to the other side of Ightfield where Matt succumbs to a puncture - a very nasty thorn is the culprit. We divert off piste now to enter Audlem via Coxbank and Kinsey Heath i.e. the way the Mods left Audlem.

Audlem's staircase locks


Overall, an extremely enjoyable day's 58 miles cycling down largely dry lanes in ideal autumnal weather with like-minded cyclists. You should have made the effort!

See route map and/or gpx file download 

CA

Photos JW


Thursday, 30 September 2021

30th September 2021: Queen's Head (mod)

Having just returned from a wild and storm-tossed week in the Highlands, I did not relish a ride in today’s forecast weather: heavy rain and winds. Neither did I expect much of an attendance in Chirk given the weather and the distance needed to drive there, given the recent petrol shortages.  I was pleasantly surprised when six members turned up to join me. David M was there, having planned to arrive by train and cycle back, he had been put off by the earlier rain, and came by car. We discussed next week’s special ride from Audlem that David was going to lead. Those joining today’s ride were Steve T, Dave H, Alan, Andy and Mike.

At 10am, the rain wasn’t as bad as forecast, but was persistent and the wind was gusty. Dave was having trouble with his front tyre valve.  The diagnosis was that the valve core needed tightening, and a combined operation took place to fix it in the café’s courtyard.  Problem solved we set off.  We often leave Chirk by way of Hindhead, which involves a lot of badly surfaced and potentially very muddy lanes – not a route we wished to take on such a wet day.

We set off down Chirk Road, but by The Poacher’s Inn we turned towards Chirk Bank and then to Weston Rhyn to make for the long southerly lane heading past the Old Hill Fort and into Oswestry. A bit of suburban navigation took us to Middleton Lane, where a pick-up towing a sheep trailer forced us into the verge – we’d just been saying how polite the other motorists had been who’d stopped and given way to us. From here we passed through Maesbury, and Knockin, where Dave reminded us of the local store – the “Knockin Shop”. We passed the radio telescope and turned eastwards at Kinnerley, and then started to head back north through West Felton before arriving wet and bedraggled at our destination after 23 miles.

It was good to get out of the wet, though we’d have preferred the radiators to have been on to help dry our gear – but it wasn’t a cold day so we couldn’t really grumble. We spoke about the shortages of fuel and lorry drivers, the absence of foreign holidays, dreams and how chickens are now raised. Food and drink were consumed and soon it was time to leave.  

Photo by AO

The weather forecast had promised a respite after lunch: showers and sunny spells were anticipated.  But we didn’t notice any change, though as we followed the Montgomery Canal, we did appreciate the smooth road surface. When we then crossed the canal, it was by the steepest humpback bridge I know, and then we were in Welsh Frankton. Determined to avoid the muddy lanes mention above, we took the lanes to Old and New Marton, and arrived in St Martin’s just as the schools were closing. Navigating the congestion, we headed down to the A5 roundabout and again made our way to Weston Rhyn, in order to drop down to the Ceriog Valley and take the more pleasant route back into Chirk. 

Back at the café, Andy, Mike and I stopped for a drink and said goodbye to the others. We had completed 38 miles, and although it hadn’t rained heavily throughout the day, it had been fairly persistent; but that shows you don’t need good weather to have a good time.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Friday, 24 September 2021

23rd September 2021: Norton-in -Hales (mod)

I’ve been wanting to go to The Hinds Head at Norton-in -Hales for a while now as it’s more than five years since my last visit and I remember it as one of our ‘favoured’ lunch stops. But I had called several times on Wednesday to check if they were open for lunch on Thursday, but could get no answer. Consequently, I’d concluded that we’d have to go elsewhere. That was until Ivan told me that he’d been past on Tuesday and that they were open – hurrah!

So the mods (Daves H & M, Alan, Andy B, George and myself) set off from Alison’s bound for Norton-in-Hales. Our first challenge was to get up and over Harthill. As we approached the hill there were ‘Road Closed’ signs which, of course, we ignored. It turned out that they were clearing drains on the hill and the JCB driver was kind enough to raise his front bucket to allow us to get by. Near the top of the hill, a truck was parked across the road and the driver made no effort to move it for us, so we had to walk the bikes past it.

Onward then, with a following wind, past Cholmondeley Castle and Chorley Bank to Wrenbury cum Frith, where the bridge over the Llangollen Canal was raised to allow a narrow boat through. George reckons that it’s the first time he’s seen it up in all the time he’s been with CER! Thankfully, we went past The Bhurtpore in Aston at 11.30, which meant that it was closed. Otherwise I doubt that we’d have got Dave H to go any further!

At Royal’s Green Dave M left us, as he’d decided to go into Audlem to see Jane at The Old Priest House café to talk about arrangements he wants to make for a Special Ride he’s planning from there on October 7th, so watch out on the blog for details in the near future.

Having gone through Adderley, we arrived in Norton-in-Hales and the Hind’s Head about 12:15. The car park was almost empty, but the door to the kitchen was open and the chef was working inside, so I was optimistic. But my hopes were dashed when I tried the front door, where that was a notice to the effect that whilst they are open in the evenings, they are only open at lunchtime at the weekend. Thanks, Ivan!


Photo by AO

After a discussion about where to go to find sustenance, we adopted ‘Plan B’ and set off for the five or so mile ride to Audlem where we knew that either the Old Priest House or The Lord Combermere would satisfy our needs.  As soon as we cycled up the lane at the side of the pub, the strong northerly wind was evident, and we wondered if it was going to be a long ride home. We arrived in Audlem just as the church clock was striking one and plumped for The Lord Combermere, where we sat in the sunshine and enjoyed a fine lunch.

As we were preparing to leave Alan found that his front tyre was very soft, so he set about mending yet another puncture – his third in a week.  The problem turned out to be a slight leak from a patch where a previous puncture had been repaired. So, after a slight delay we set off for home using the normal route via Sound, Ravensmoor and Brindley, finding the wind much less strong as the afternoon progressed. A stop was made at Tilly’s in Bunbury for ‘kafee und kuchen’ before heading out on the final leg of our journey.

When we reached Beeston, George left us, heading for The Shady Oak and Waverton, where he’d left his car and at the end of Newton Lane, Andy headed off for Mold. That left a trio of Easy Riders to run the last couple of miles into Tattenhall after a very pleasant day in the Shropshire lanes at a surprisingly perky average  speed of 13.5 mph.

ST

See route map and/or gpx file download

Thursday, 23 September 2021

23rd September 2021 : St Martins (brisk)

Those of us who lead rides find it increasingly difficult to devise a route which is not a wholesale repeat of a previous ride. As time passes, and it's more than 12 years since the inaugural ride to Frankby in April 2008 and 900+ rides, the unique permutations of start point and lunch point reduce. So when Ivan asked “have you a route for Thursday" as he had a “complete loss of suggestions”, I thought, so have I! So I looked through previous rides but not with much conviction. I then consulted the advertised wind direction and wind speeds. It was perhaps going to be north westerly and quite strong. So the decision was made - let’s go south westerly then the wind will be across us and perhaps behind us at some stage.  So that’s how today’s brisk ride towards Oswestry came about - no magic and a lot of autorouting on PlotaRoute.

The Brisk group today had five riders - a 66% increase over the last month’s usual duo or triplet. John W, Ivan, Ray and new rider Matt, were happy to be lead astray from Alison’s towards Oswestry. Out via Barton and Wetreins Lane, we ride the Wrexham Industrial Estate ring road at some speed to skirt Bangor on Dee to get into the tiny lanes towards Dudleston Heath via Lightwood Green. I can’t remember the last time I took this lane to Hindford, but it was a joy to ride despite the twists and turns and sometimes rough surface. John’s now running low on fluid so the Premier mini-mart in Whittington was a lucky find for a top up.

The original ride (which now most of the riders have on their Garmins) is showing a run down to Sainsburys in Oswestry, but I decide to change the route to cut this bit out. So they are all riding blind and playing follow-my-leader as I take them through The Park towards Gobowen Orthopaedic Hospital. A right and a left passing Derwen College, finds us nearly back on track riding towards the St Martins road. This road is ever upwards and it’s a relief when Stans Superstore comes into view at the top of the hill. 

Ivan and John have used Stan’s before but the last time they couldn’t gain entry as a serious crime had taken place and police were everwhere. This time there was no such problem except for the personal problem of choosing what to buy in the “£3.50 meal deal”. Across the road, there is a small memorial park to the miners of St Martins who worked at the nearby Ifton coal mine - the last one to close in the area in 1998. We sit in the sunshine enjoying the facilities in this surprisingly busy area.

Time to go again and a very pleasant ride to Overton, despite the very nasty dip with it’s 10% gradient at the border between England and Wales. Equally the ride back to Worthenbury is enjoyable despite bad road surfaces. With this in mind, I eschew the rat-run back to Holt in favour of Chorlton and Tilston with the pleasure of Carden Hill. This part of the ride back was slightly difficult for Ivan as his Shimano Di2 Ultegra gear train had run out of battery and thus little opportunity to change gear, nevertheless he didn't seem to slow down at all!

We were back in Tattemhall about 1445 after almost 58 fast miles (16.5 mpg avg). As Alison’s was due to close, we head for home. John, Ray and Matt split off as I persuade Ivan to seek out the Tattenhall Marina cafe. We arrive to find the road barred but sidle around this to seek out the cafe. It looked shut and as it was getting cold and the sun had gone in, we decide to give it a miss.

Arriving back in Chester environs, I remark that I will have about 86 miles on the clock. Ivan encourages me to add a loop to at least ride 90 and maybe 100 miles. However sanity (and aching legs) prevails along with the thought of a hot shower, a hot coffee, a comfy chair and the Times crossword "chez moi”.

So once again, many thanks to the group for shepherding me around, and for Ivan’s kind comment that it he didn’t think it would be possible to find a route which brought quite so much enjoyment.


Ifton Miner statue

Explantory Plaque

Link to Ifton Colliery info here

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Photos : JW

Friday, 17 September 2021

16th September 2021: Coddington (mod+)

 Meadow Lea, as usual, had a good turn out, in lovely sunshine. Nice to see Keith & Mike, who we haven’t seen for some time, which brought my rough head count to 18, could have been more.

Unusually, ride groups seemed to naturally form, which seemed to revolve around perceived pace of the proposed rides on offer. The usual fast group of Ivan, Clive & John rode off.

Dave H rode off with the easy rider group and I lead the moderate group of 7, which was 8, but we lost Dave M before we even got out of the car park. Apparently he only rides south from Meadow Lea, so when we turned North, he jumped ship to Dave’s group- Lol.

So it was Fiona, Elwyn, Steve T, Steve Hu, Alan and the new man (Tony) all heading to Manor Wood (Lakeside Cafe), great spot on a nice sunny day. The plan was for a slightly higher pace than norm, but all staying together, on a virtually flat route, except for Chapel Hill ( shock horror- Lol) I did inform the group before agreeing to follow me that Chapel Hill peaks at 16% and averages around 8-9% for 1.4 k - a piece of cake really- Lol. Several of the group had not ridden Chapel Hill before, which provided some conversation as we set about some of my favourite lanes.

We quickly got to Aston, which entailed a minor U turn, as it would appear the road had moved since I last rode through there- Lol. On up to Kelsall, when I heard somebody shout out “ how far to Chapel Hill”, “ 1 mile” was my response. After a couple of groans, Fiona piped up “can you let me know when we are about to turn into said hill” Just as I was about to inform Fiona, there was a shout of “puncture” from behind, which was not ideal, right at the foot of the climb.

Alan was having his second puncture of the day, as he had one before getting to Meadow Lea, I believe. After finding a small scrappy hole in the tyre, it was decided to apply a patch to the tyre before replacing the tube.

All fixed we set about the climb, which everybody seemed to enjoy, even Alan, who was the most anxious about it, but got up it without too much difficulty. After pointing out the llama’s in the adjacent field, we head along the Sandstone ridge for the fast descent to Cotebrook, which put a few smiles back on most faces.

We swiftly get through Eaton and on beyond Tarporley, with the sun still shining. At Brassey Green we turn left, down to the Shady Oak pub and my favourite hump back bridge. This leads us into our last little uppy bit, to the foot of Beeston Castle. Right turn takes us off toward Tattenhall, which we bypass by taking a couple of lovely narrow lanes ( or at least most of us did) We catch up with the offending individuals, just a mile down the road, thanks to Tony chasing them down and guiding them the right way. No names, but one of them was female and the other is tall with bonce like a bowling ball- Lol Now across the A41, the next shout from behind was “ how far to lunch”, which I think was Steve T, who was feeling peckish and to be fair, so was I. With the group informed that we were 2 miles away from our destination, we motor on past Aldersey Golf Course, Cuddington and arrive at Manor Wood, Barton, after 28 miles.

Surprisingly, we had the place to ourselves, which is very unusual, for such a nice spot by the water, complete with pink water lilies


Photos by AO

Lucky old me managed to bag the last Welsh rarebit, which I did offer to Fiona, after she was told she had missed the last portion. However, she turned down my magnanimous offer ( well that’s how I remember it, she probably tells a different story- Lol) Food all served and conversation in full flow, I find myself feeling like the odd one out, when the conversation turns to divorce. After a query as to why he had moved home, from a cracking spot by the Pheasant Inn, Tony informed us that it was due to divorce and that it was his second one ( still smiling though) This lead to  Fiona / Elwyn revealing they were both also double divorcees. There’s me, having recently celebrated our 38th Wedding Anniversary anniversary hence, the odd one out- Lol. However, I was to learn that I haven’t apparently learnt anything in life, as Fiona pointed out. Whereas Tony accepted his 2 ‘errors!’ in life ( his words) Fiona considered hers a fulfilling learning experience, inferring that my 38 years has taught me nothing about marriage- Lol.

                           

All joking aside, lunch was now finished, even Elwyn, and the conversation went to who was heading back and unusually, nobody was. This lead to a lengthy discussion on possible routes home.

4 headed right toward the Cock ‘O’ Barton and onward to Wetreins Lane and Holt, in order to get across the River Dee and head home to Lavister & Chester for some. I turned left with Steve T & Tony, who I left only a mile later, as they went left for Bumpers Lane ( Churlton) and me to Tattenhall. I ended up with a total of 47 miles and less than 500 ft of ascent, despite Chapel Hill.

Great day, with some good banter amongst friends-Lol.

By the way, the Welsh rarebit wasn’t actually that good ( to much mustard cream-Lol)

Cheers all.

Neil.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

16th September 2021 : Knutsford (brisk)

The Brisk group was thin on the ground again today at Meadow Lea - just Ivan, John W and myself. We set off in sunshine bound for Manley then upwards over the hills to Kingsley. Here, I learnt via Wiki, that one famous local was Paula Radcliffe! Off to the Weaver Navigation, the path is a bit muddy but OK. At the lock transfer, Ivan becomes engaged in conversation with some silver walkers i.e. older than us! There is a massive tracked crane in the Weaver sitting on a large metal raft and more hardware up by the swing bridge, so maybe the rotting boats and barges are going to be removed at last.

Comberbatch comes and goes as does Antrobus, until we arrive at the Tabley Interchange at J19 of the M6. We fly over the M6 via the farmer’s bridge to take Moss Lane. This has to be the worst “surfaced" road in Cheshire as we bump away along it. We now run down along side Tatton Park and into Knutsford proper. I had selected Booth’s Supermarket cafe for luncheon and it didn’t disappoint on price, quality or quantity.

The route home is south out of Knutsford down the quiet Sudlow, Pinfold and Back Lanes before turning west to Lach Dennis and into Davenham. Here on Tuesday, I nearly become a cyclist sandwich between a parked car and a moving car which had overtaken me extremely closely. The elderly lady driver had no idea what she had done when I caught up with her a little further up the road.

We exit Davenham via Moulton and via the gravel track down under the railway and over the Weaver Navigation. Here at the locks, there are “fishermen” using strong magnets on lines to drag the canal to ensnare metal artefacts - strange hobbies these days! Up the road we take the Whitegate Way and stop at the community cafe for a well-deserved Magnum ice cream.


Real fishermen!


Weaver Locks



                                                       Whitegate Way

In and out of Little Budworth and Cotebrook, we then take the very familiar route back to Christleton via Utkinton. At Duddon, we notice a farmer flailing the hedge. In Christleton, I notice John’s back tyre is looking decided flat. A massive thorn is extracted from the tubeless tyre and John plugs it and re-flates and off we go again. However at the other side of Christleton, the tyre is slowly deflating once more. Upon inspection there was a tiny hole in the side wall where the large thorn had been extracted. Luckily, the tubeless sealant was persuaded to do its magic and get John home with unfortunately now a useless £40+ tyre.

 The culprit cf to a Garmin

Once again my thanks to John and Ivan for dragging me around the official 59 miler which turned out to be exactly 70 miles when I got home.


CA

Photos JW and ID

16th September 2021: Aston (mod)

A good turnout at Meadow Lea this morning generated at least three separate rides.  The main mod contingent comprised myself, Dave H, George, Peter and Mike, just back from several weeks in Germany. We were also joined for the start by David M and Dave & Liz P. I had in mind a trip to the Bhurtpore at Aston.  I know the club regularly visits this establishment, but I hadn’t been there for some time, and as usual Dave H was keen on the destination.

We took the route out via Waverton, then Hargrave and Huxley.  We descended past the Shady Oak, up to Beeston Castle and into Bunbury, where Mike was nearly “van-doored” by a negligent driver.  From here the core contingent of 5 continued and took a suspension testing ride past Haughton Hall. Next it was Swanley Bridge and through Ravensmoor as we followed two cyclists with heavily laden paniers, before turning right before Sound to enter Wrenbury (which according to The Sunday Times is one of the 50 best villages in the country). We were back on bad surfaces as we rode past Wrenbury Station, but then were soon at our destination. 

We chose the outdoor seating and ordered a mix of curries and other food.  The pub has restricted opening hours due to the widespread lack of staff – something we also heard about last week at Cleopatra’s and would hear again later today. Another customer kindly took our photo. We were quickly served and, refreshed, we took to the road again. 

Photo by SH

The return route took us over the Shropshire Union canal via the lift bridge, and then on to Chorley. Crossing the Nantwich Road at Brindley, we carried on to Spurstow and then Peckforton. Touching our outward route at Beeston, we headed for Tattenhall Marina.  We made for the Marina Café, but their usual cakes were not available – staff shortages meant there was no-one to bake the cakes. We made do with hot drinks with the odd chocolate bar and ice cream, but enjoyed the view across the Marina. We tried to exit via the gate next to the railway bridge but it had just been locked.  Dave applied his charm(!) and persuaded the gate guardian to unlock it.  

The rest of the route was straightforward – along Long Lane to the hump back canal bridge, into Waverton and back onto our outward route. You could say it had been a ‘Goldilocks ride’: not too warm and not too cold, not too windly, not too hilly.  In fact, a 'just right' 55 miles,

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


Friday, 10 September 2021

9th September 2021 : Ellesmere (brisk)

Today's brisk riders are the dynamic duo called John W and Ivan. The remaining brisk riders are all enjoying leisure pursuits North and East of the country. So John and I ride out from Chester to Cleopatra’s at Holt. Not too many riders congregating probably due to forecast of rain and thunderstorms.

Undeterred, John and I set off leaving the moderate riders and head towards Bowling Bank and Cross Lanes. Across to Eyton and there the start of 5 miles of steady climbing. There are no algorithms to the ride today except ride easy, so it’s steady onwards and upwards chasing zero KOM points. It was my intention today for a different route to Ellesmere and John was convinced we were heading Llangollen way.

From Pen-y-cae we are enjoying a long descent to Trevor before the uphill to Pontcysyllte. Crossing the Dee we stop for photo opportunity of the aqueduct and a rider visiting from Norfolk offers to take photos of us and the views. Advised him we only wanted a scenic shot but had a good chat with him. Clive wouldn't have departed as quickly! 

The Dee plus Aqueduct

It’s upwards again up Gate road running parallel to the canal before we join the cycleway and rejoin the road leading to Chirk. It's still feels like riding uphill passing through Chirk and traversing the busy roundabout to take us up to St Martins

A suggestion to stop at Stan’s for lunch was discounted as, passing the petrol station, it is very busy with police activity. Later we found out that a serious incident had taken place. Turning right, we head along Church Lane and the impressive St Martins church, and then ride 6 miles of lanes to Ellesmere.

We head to the Texaco garage and enjoy coffee and hot sausage rolls and cake. Quickly back on the saddle, it’s riding now towards Penley. Crossing the Whitchurch Road, then Sarn, Threapwood and Shocklach and we're back at Farndon before 14:00.

We decide to ride on to Chester. I enjoyed a overall ride of 66 miles in mainly very sunny 18/20C and 98% humid conditions and slight southerly wind speed of 4mph. This route round was 45 miles however.

Only a few rain spots fall when we were at our lunch stop but we are under the garage canopy. A good day out, and glad we were not put off by the weather forecast.

ID

Photo by ID

9th September 2021: Loppington (mod)

It was good to catch up with John and Ivan before they set off on their own trajectory. It was also a pleasure to have the company of super-slim Dave and Liz for a while. There was a  lower turnout than of late for various reasons. Undoubtedly, the likelihood of being struck by lightning and suffering torrential downpours, had led some to lily-liveredly buttering another round of toast and hunkering down at home. The moderates consisted of Steve Haywood, Alan, Peter and myself. Loppington was the chosen destination.  Peter was accompanying us only part of the way, as he too was running frit of forecast deluges.  It was difficult to know what to wear, as it was likely to remain warm even if we were soaked through. We drooled over John's neat GoreWear black jacket from their Rich City Slickers collection. Evidently, it remains totally waterproof in a tsunami, yet retains the ventilation comparable to travelling in an open Ferrari Portofino at a steady199m.p.h. Some would rather have the fluorescent yellow safety of a Decathlon waterproof jacket on a dark, wet day in winter, and put the hundreds of pounds saved in the tin marked, “Winter Holiday in Barbados.” To be fair, John covers more miles than most, and being soggy and sweaty for many hours is not pleasant.

We were a little late setting off as we inspected the Pipe's electrified tandem, which I thought smelt of burning. My route was through Tilston, Malpas and Higher Wyche. The sun had appeared and was pretty hot. I had left my helmet behind at home after the distraction of my daughter's dog escaping as I went to the car. Alan kindly lent me a cloth cap to spare my burning bonce, and we made good progress toward Whixall. Alan had hopes that if we could just make lunch before getting wet......Then, the heavy rain started, and we sheltered under some trees as it really began to pour down. It was time to forget further meandering on intricate lanes toward Wem. We cut across to the B5476 and rode south and straight to Wem and out the other side to Tilley. We passed the Tilley Raven where we once arrived late, but the chef left a good helping of chips for us as he left for home. We sped down the back lane to Nonely, as the rain eased off, and reached The Dickin Arms shortly after. We could have sat outside under canvas, but Steve preferred a wasp free lunch, and we agreed to eat inside. The food was very good and excellent value. The standard of the cooking, and the class of the clientele is definitely up a notch on most pub stops. We were the only plebs, and the only ones looking like drowned rats. 


Photo by AO

The narrow, well-surfaced lane to Lyneal was a scenic delight on the way back. Alan kindly took the photograph, and the sun was out again. The dirty little lanes towards Tart Hill were given a miss, and we headed for Hanmer via Northwood and Bettisfield. We continued to push on through Threapwood, conscious that a lot more wild rainfall was looming. Steve persuaded me that the direct route to Shocklach was a bit rough, and that he had a nicer little detour! So it was that we cycled down Chapel Lane to “The Holy Land” and then ploughed on north for Farndon and Holt. Thanks to Steve's cute diversion we failed to beat the next heavy rainfall, which hit us at Crewe-by-Farndon, minutes before reaching Cleopatra's! Steve may well have led us to the Holy Land, but, for me, he now still needs to find the Road to Redemption. Perhaps, I am being a bit harsh, perhaps, I am being that “typical Scouser” from home that usually blames others if things go wrong! At Holt, Alan headed for his car, and Steve and I had a last coffee and a chat to Helen. Steve reminded me of my once forgetting to bring my jacket to this venue, on a very cold day. I asked the staff if they could spare me a bin bag, and I then made a gilet from this. Helen took pity on me and lent me her partner's cycling jacket. Today, Philippe made an appearance from the kitchen to amuse us with some inane trick questions. If you don't know why Philippe left South Africa, and how he met Helen, read their 'Journey' on Cleopatra's website. The drive home, across country to Steve's at Kelsall, and then to Runcorn was extremely frought with deep, swirling floodwater everywhere, but fortunately the old Berlingo made it. Despite everything, we were never cold, the scenery was enjoyable, and I am sure that the three of us were glad that we had made the effort. We had covered nearly fifty miles, the majority of them dry, surprisingly.                                       

See route map and/or gpx file download

DH

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

2nd September 2021: Wrenbury (mod)

Good turn out at Rose farm (no head count today).

Lovely to see Mr. & Mr’s. DP complete with Tandem or should I say” E- tandem, after Dave had added a motor (nice one Dave- I wonder if  it complies with the 15 mph max rules? -Lol)Also nice to see Trevor there (1st this year!) By the way mate, you owe me a pint, after finding that £20 you dropped- Lol.

Well I never, 2 E bikes at the meet, as Peter turned up as well, all we need now is Paula and we have a group (unfortunately she is not interested in larger group rides). Notable absentees, were the Runcorn lot (rumour has it, they all had something more interesting to do, which can’t be true, surely- Lol). The fast group of 2? Set off to an unknown destination, Steve H lead out the main Moderate group, East.

My easy flat moderate ride, to the Dusty Miller, became a ride to ‘#18 The Park’ in  Wrenbury- Cum- Frith, after Dave M decided to join my group of Fiona, Elwyn & myself. However, there was a last minute desertion by F&E (turn coats, who decided to join Steve’s ride- what happened to cycling loyalty- Lol). So, me & Dave set off for a new cafe experience, which I might add was fab, more of that later.

We head out left on my original route, leading Dave up the steep-ish hill into Tarporley ( never thought I would ever see Dave grinding that tiny granny ring on his lovely Colnago, but I did). His feet were spinning so fast, I thought it was ET in front of me. Once through Tarporley, Dave came up with an alternative route, being as I had shortened my original plan and was winging it a little- Lol.

So Dave now leading, we end up on 2 main roads, instead of the easy, traffic free route through Bunbury (just didn’t get it, but I humoured him, as he is a bit senior to me, in many ways- Lol). However, he was forgiven after the cafe stop (bit more upmarket than most, could say posh even, with lovely knee blankets for outside. Good job Dave H wasn’t with us, we would have had to leave him outside- Lol.

They have a large covered decked area with plenty of tables and additional picnic benches on the grass, so ideal for large groups of cyclists (closed Mon & Tue, by the way, as we found out today, when I lead F&E there, much to my embarrassment- NOT- Lol). Wrenbury needed a cafe to be fair (no more stops at the post office- Lol). We discovered that it’s been there since late 2019, but due to the Pandemic, they have only really got going in the last month or so. Lovely looking carrot & coriander soup for Dave and choc cake for me, which was all good, apart from the wasps, as usual.

Lunch done, we set off again in opposite directions, as both of us preferred a route that took us home, as opposed to Rose farm. I headed virtually direct to Harthill via Bickerton and onward to Milton Green. Dave headed out toward ‘Sound’ & on up toward Bunbury & home to Oscroft.

I ended up completing 42 easy flat miles, after another nice day.

NT

Thursday, 2 September 2021

2nd September 2021: Spen Green (mod)

 There was a bit of confusion at Rose Farm as various cyclists seemed unsure of where to ride and who with – but then this is not unusual for CER. Eventually my suggestion of heading for the Rising Sun at Scholar Green, beneath Mow Cop, found a number of takers. The mod group comprised myself, Andy, Fiona, Elwyn and Peter.  Trevor, who it was good to see after a long absence (apparently due to the competing attractions of bridge), chose to join us for the initial miles.

We left on the usual route to Cotebrook and then past Oulton Park to Marton Green and along the Whitegate Way onto Winsford. We negotiated the big roundabout to then passed through Clive and on to Middlewich. We weaved our way through its estates to emerge into more open country. At some point I phoned the pub to see if they could accommodate the five of us. No, they couldn’t! It’s a good pub in a popular location beside a canal and the Gritstone Trail and they were having a busy time. The decision was made to carry on and in the words of Micawber, “hope for something to turn up”.

We caught our first glimpse of Mow Cop as we crossed the M6. Then it was on to Brereton Green and Spen Green. Here about four miles short of the Rising Sun, we noticed the Blue Bell Inn. A quick check confirmed they could feed us and we settled on of their many outside tables. Orders were taken outside and we chatted generally about bikes and when Rose Farm gates would be locked for Fiona and Elwyn had left their car there.  The internet informed us that they were safe up to 6pm. Our food and drink had arrived and the consensus was that our lunch was good value and the beer drinkers appreciated their ale.

Photo by SH

We continued towards Mow Cop discussing various routes of ascent, but with no-one willing to take on the challenge. We passed through Scholar Green and Rode Heath, before entering open countryside again. Wheelock Heath came next, but we were brought to a halt by an extremely busy A534. It was only due to a kind motorist that we were able to cross. Next came Clay Lane, “the worst surface in Cheshire”, partly due to subsidence but there is no excuse for the dreadful surface.  At least, afterwards we appreciated smooth roads more. The northern suburbs of Crewe followed, then Church Minshull and Wettenhall, before we rejoined our outward route near Cotebrook. It should have been a straightforward return, but for major potholes near Utkinton Hall, but somehow we lost Fiona. Elwyn tracked her down using Strava on her way to Tarporley, and we all eventually made our way back to the start.

We had covered a total of 53 miles. The morning had been cool and overcast and we were starting to feel the chill as we left the pub.  But then, we caught a few rays of sunshine, and as we continued our ride it became noticeably warm. With very little wind it was a pleasant ride through a landscape that was largely unfamiliar to Fiona and Elwyn.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH



2nd September 2021 : Audlem (brisk)

Last week, I expounded my riding algorithm and used the Speed vs Hills formula - this week I am using Distance vs Speed on the ride to Audlem.

A good turnout on a grey day at Rose Farm, with the happy return of Trevor (he’s been playing bridge on Thursday mornings - Yes, I know - Why?) and the arrival of Dave and Liz on their now battery powered tandem. Dave has installed the system himself  - much impressed by his engineering skills.

Just a trio today for a Brisk Group - Ivan and John W were the outriders today on a very brisk ride to Audlem. The route was deliberately designed for maximum velocity i.e. few hills and long lanes. So we set off directly into Tarporley via Tilstone Fearnall towards Bunbury then down the aptly named Long Lane to Burland.

Ravensmoor came and went as we hustle through Wrenbury and Aston for the long run down Sheppenhall Lane.  We round a bend in a wooded section to find the road blocked by a contractors van - no warning signs but we were fortunate to be able to stop in time. Crossing the A525 Audlem to Whitchurch road, we run down Wilkesley Lane until Heywood Lane appears on our left. 

I can’t recall ever riding this pleasant lane, with a decent surface for once, which brings us to Swanbach just south of Audlem. It is before 1200 so will the Fish and Chip shop be open - it is, but Ivan remarks that he has had his fill of F&C meals this week (on grandchildren duty) so we head for The Old Priest House cafe on the corner opposite the church.

This is a well-known and tiny cyclist’s cafe with a built-in sweet shop at the front. The cafe part is small - only three tables due to Covid screening in place - yet it is welcoming enough with a range of typical cafe fare. John and Ivan take the All-day breakfast and I take the delicious Cheese on Toast. Very good food at economical pricing - but cash only!

Off again, the way back has the same formula of long lanes as we take Coole Lane all the way back to Nantwich. A wriggle through the water park and I amend the route on the fly to eschew Welshman’s Lane for a diversion up Chester Road and then Poole Hill Road to  access Wettenhall Road. We have 6 miles of dreadful road surface to endure now. We ride round the back of Oulton Park via Ruston for the drag up to Utkinton at Cotebrook.

So only 45 miles but at 17.1 mph average - we could have edged this up a bit but for the rapidly deteriorting road surfaces found on the long lanes we used today. We almost need gravel bikes over road bikes if they deteriorate further.

We were back in Chester with 70 plus all-round mileage by 1515, where the sun finally came out. Next week I plan to use the third algorithm of Hills v Distance but luckily I shall be away in “flat’ Norfolk. So I will have to forgo the pleasure of grinding up long hills - I’ll leave that to John W!

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Friday, 27 August 2021

26th August 2021: Bangor-on-Dee (mod)

As always there was a warm welcome at the Gallery Cafe in Hawarden. A fast group of four were debating their destination and the mod group were still enjoying the coffee.

 Alan advised he had an off piste route from Hawarden eg not out amongst the hills. The destination of the Royal Oak was suggested and seized upon by the flat riders.

 So a mod group consisting of Steve T , Steve Hu , Andy, Alan, Peter and Mike G. As we left Hawarden Mike G let it slip he had just ridden in from Rhos only 37 miles, whilst Andy had been conducting hill reps up Tinkersdale road to warm up. The scene was set for a brisk day!

 The route took us up out of Hawarden only to stop at an unknown grave near Shortly. From here we headed for Rossett; on arriving at Rossett we were advised on the need to climb Marford Hill, this went down well. From here the route took in some fantastic small lanes before arriving at Cross Lanes. Unfortunately Steve Hu new bike decided to present a slow puncture. at this point the entire group were privileged to witness a masterclass in puncture repairs. 

Photo by ST
 Photo by ST
Some bystanders said “at no time did Steves hand leave his wrists”, repaired and ridiculed we set off again.

Photo by SHu
A quick blast on Bangor road brought the Royal Oak into view. A splendid lunch left us ready for the ride back to Holt , riding back through Bowling Bank Sutton Green and finally Francis road we arrived at Holt.

 With the Elite rider group currently baying for more we made quick progress to Kinnerton where Peter departed. The group of five then battled the A road to Handbridge where 5 became 3 as Mike left to set off to Rhos and Alan decided to remove his crank arm whilst doing 25 mph!. Lots of multitools and we were off again , around Handbridge , the Dee path and finally Hawarden for a well deserved rest. The mileage was 47 miles at a respectable 13.3 mph.

 S.Hu

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday, 26 August 2021

26th August 2021 : Caerwys (brisk)

It’s trendy these days to have an algorithm  - mine is Hills vs Distance vs Speed: = I can do two out three, but not all of them so I try to perm just two out of the three.

So today’s route was going to be hills and speed (for the Brisk Group) but not distance. I think the last time I was at Hawarden was about year ago, so my ride over the Halkyn’s today would allow me to revisit some of the old lanes.

Ken, John W and Matt agreed to look after me today as we set off out of Hawarden up the curiously named Level Road towards Burntwood Hill. We rush through Buckley, then down the hillside to Llong and along the hillsides to Nercwys Road. The short sharp double chevron on Fford Pentre Bach catches the two younger members of the group out though. At Gwernymynydd, a left and right takes onwards and upwards towards Cilcain.

We then enjoyed the very sharp downhill  run to cross the Alun river, but the chevroned climb out catches my chain out as it comes off otherwise I would have burnt up this hill in seconds. In reality it was a struggle when I set off again after the trio now resting at the top. Exiting Cilcain northwards, there is a largely downhill run to the A541 (Mold to Bodfari) road. 

We motor along it until turning into Nannerch, then finding more chevroned lanes to climb down and out of before rejoining the A541 just before the Caerwys turn. There is a 1 km drag up into Caerwys which is the lunchtime venue. We decide on "On the Corner"  cafe which John tells me is very much a cyclists' cafe. We sit outside with our filled babs and coffee allowing our legs to recover from all of the hills.

After lunch, I had decided that I had enough of tiny gravel-strewn lanes so re-route on the fly to Gorsedd to rejoin the planned route at Pantasaph. It’s too early to stop for a coffee at the friary alas, so we motor on ever upwards to ride through Holywell Golf Course. I also decide against turning down to the Pet Cemetery cafe at Brynford as it is still too early to stop, so onwards and upwards to Halkyn Mountain topping out at 900ft.

The usual way back from here is down the deep lanes from The Bluebell to Northop. John and Matt need to motor on, so Ken and I take the more relaxed route back via Brookside. The route round is a modest 38 miles but with 2900 ft of climbs featuring several chevronned hills. Ken heads for home as I do which I reach at 1500. 

A satisfying day all round having re-visited those Welsh hillsides after a Covid-forced exile. The trio of support riders did a great job in dragging me round though.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA


Sunday, 22 August 2021

19th August 2021 : Wrenbury (brisk)

A What’s App chat confirmed that the brisk group was likely to be thin on the ground today;  myself, John W and Nick.  A last minute cancellation text from John reduced the 3 to 2.

Leaving the Moderates to sort out their itinerary and configurations  Nick and myself departed on our 70km route around Nantwich and Wrenbury but within two kilometres of starting  we had to don rain jackets and these were on off all morning.

From Delamere we  skirted around Oulton Park  passing through Wettenhall straight into  Nantwich. After crossing the Nantwich bypass we meandered along the cycleway, following the River Weaver, until we joined Marsh Lane and then headed out through to Ravensmoor and Sound.

The cafe at The Dusty Miller in Wrenbury was the initial choice for the lunch  but in view of the rain Nick suggested stopping at The Park as they have a covered patio area .The Park is a family run business in a lovely location overlooking the Cheshire countryside and close to the canal. The service was efficient and the ordered food and drink came promptly although the food we chose was  uninspiring. 

As we left Wrenbury the rain clouds gathered threatening to soak us again but as we turned east to cross the A534 at Faddiley the conditions improved and, by the time we reached Bunbury, the rain jackets and arm warmers were all neatly stashed away.

From Bunbury we went along College Lane, crossed  the Shropshire Union Canal at Tiverton lock and then briefly joined the A51 before escaping along the delightfully named Rabbit Burrows Lane into Tarporley. It was here Nick and I parted company each of us going separate ways to collect our cars.

Although the rain showers were annoying it was an uneventful and enjoyable day on the bike. The enjoyment was  especially highlighted for me given this was my first CER ride for nearly 18 months .

See route map and/or gpx file download

KP


Friday, 20 August 2021

19th August 2021: Delamere to Comberbach (mod)

 Steve Tan, Dave Matthews, George, Steve Hughes, Mold Andy and myself were the potential moderate group. It was good to chat to Nick and Ken. Ken has made a successful recovery from his lymphoma and subsequent gruelling treatment, but still has to be particularly careful to avoid Covid. Amazingly, Steve Tan had turned up for a short ride after spending three days in Warrington Infirmary! The moderate group who were available for the day's ride consisted of George, Steve H, Andy B and myself.

Heavy rain was likely, so I asked the troops if a meandering route to The Spinner and Bergamot at Comberbach was acceptable, on the basis that a short, quick return route was then possible if the heavens opened. My suggestion was accepted, and we headed for Acton Bridge via Norley Hall, Crowton, Ainsworth Lane and Cliff Lane. Steve Tan had visitors due midday, apart from any health concerns, so soon spun off for home.  From the A49 crossing of the Weaver Navigation we rode north-west, passing the impressive, but discretely screened, Cogshall Hall. Proper little quiet lanes led to picturesque Higher Whitley with its attractive duckpond in front of the handsome, old farmhouse. We continued to use off-piste narrow lanes towards Whitley Reed and on to Barber's Lane, crossing Arley Lane. I was able to point out the hangar at the bottom of a garden where two vintage German planes were housed. The weather was a bit minty for private flying, but perhaps we will be lucky and see them in action in the future. We circled back south passing Garland Hall, Crowley Lodge and the Georgian Pole House before reaching Comberbach.

Lunch was very good at The Spinner and Bergamot after clocking up about twenty-three miles.I should have ordered something smaller, as I couldn't finish it in good time. Steve volunteered a small plastic bag, and my daughter's dog thereby enjoyed some tasty lamb for tea. 


Dave's 'lite lunch' 

The weather looked good when we remounted our bikes, so we headed away from home through Great Budworth and  close to Pickmere before cutting through the grounds of Arley Hall. We then turned south back through Antrobus and Frandley, and rode alongside the river to Dutton Lock. 


Dutton Locks
Photos by SHu

Here we crossed and proceeded through banks of colourful wild flowers with Pickering's Cut on our right. A pleasant diversion, and a 'first' for Andy and Steve. Stiff climbing from The Weaver can't be avoided, and we headed straight up the quiet, little lanes of Crewood Common Road, Beech Lane and Forest Lane. We had not suffered any serious rain to until then, but a heavy burst had us sheltering under some big trees for a few minutes. We were near Hatchmere at this point, and three of us had vehicles not far away, so we avoided a proper soaking. Andy, however still had to ride to Mold. The route was about 45 miles.                                                                                      

DH

See route map and/or gpx file download

Friday, 13 August 2021

12th August 2021: Melverley, Edgerley (mod)

Today’s ride started from the Castle Bistro in Chirk – always a welcome opportunity to get outside our usual Cheshire territory. There were seven moderate riders: Dave H, Dave P, Andy B, Alan, Steve T, Steve Hu and myself. I had in mind two possible destinations – The Old Hand and Diamond at Coedway and the Royal Hill at Edgerley. In truth both of them offered similar rides as the same route leads to them, you just need to travel a little further to Coedway. Incidentally, the proper address of the Royal Hill is Edgerley, though on the map, Pentre or Melverley seem the more obvious locations.


Photo by AO

Our way out was familiar: over the busy A5 roundabout, out to Hindford and then to Welsh Frankton. The Hindford to Welsh Frankton road has been awful for ages, but today we were mainly contending with thick gravel and potholes, and not the thick mud that you can meet there. Things seemed to be going fine as we descended from the junction with the A495, until we heard the unmistakable crunch of a bike hitting the tarmac. Alan had suffered a nearly calamitous jammed chain leading to him tumbling off his bike. Fortunately, Alan himself only had minor scratches and bruises, so we pulled into the driveway of a friendly local villager while we assessed damage to the bike. The main problem seemed to be that several links in his chain had become twisted, though not so badly that he couldn’t ride. We carried on cautiously

We arrived in Bagley where we took the turn to Stanwardine-in-the-Fields and travelled through some lovely countryside on quiet and smooth lanes.  After Stanwardine, came Baschurch, and then Little and Great Ness before we crossed over the A5. Here we could see a densely packed herd of sheep on the opposite hillside. Though as we approached their movements looked unnatural, and it was only as we got closer that we could see they were in fact a flock of white geese! We continued, passing by the army camp and arrived at our destination.  

The Royal Hill is in a delightful south-facing location on the banks of the River Severn looking towards the distinctive Breidden Hills on the far bank. Atop the main hill is Admiral Rodney’s Pillar, erected to commemorate his victories in the American War of Independence. Obviously, his battles went better than the rest of the war. 

Photo by SH

We sat on benches outside. It was warm, quiet and relaxing in the sun. The Severn was close by, though we had to look over a hedge to see it. A chap came over to talk and ask whether we were from Shrewsbury.  He had arranged to meet members of a cycle club there for lunch and was checking to see if we were them. We admired his car, a classic open-top maroon Mercedes. Food arrived quickly and was enjoyed. Before long it was time to leave.

Our return took us to Melverley, where previously Mike Gilbert (I think) had shown us to the church, an ancient half-timbered structure on the banks of the river.  Today, we passed by and made for Maesbrook, then Maesbury and into Oswestry from the east. Negotiating the back streets we emerged by Old Oswestry Hill Fort, and took the road to Weston Rhyn. Avoiding the busy main road, we dropped down to the Ceriog Valley and climbed back up to our starting point. 

We covered 43 miles in some lovely weather and pastoral scenery, and with good company.  An excellent ride.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


12th August 2021 : Montford Bridge (brisk)

Back on 29th April, Ivan lead a ride around the hills of Wales to Montford Bridge. We ended up at a biker's cafe just off the A5 at Montford Bridge. With this in mind, and an urge to remove the Welsh hills, I crafted a 62 miler basically running SSE of Chirk through the glorious Shropshire countryside. I only had two takers for this ride, John M and Nick, but they were up for a flat ride in the August sunshine. 

Getting out of Chirk, we first go up to Weston Rhyn then down to Gobowen cycling along the busy line of Wat's Dyke then heading for the orthopaedic hospital to enter Oswestry from the east. We slide around the town through acres of housing where the quiet lanes start at Maesbury. I can’t resist a route taking in Knockin and its large satellite dish, nor the eponymously named shop. 


Knockin Shop -they were in and out in 5 mins!

We now have a long list of tiny village names to cycle through around the edge of Nesscliffe army training area. I have to re-plot on the fly as the planned route turns out to be a rough track; so we head for the River Severn then turn west to get back on route to go over the Melverley bridge into Wales again at Crew Green.

The wind was supposed to be SSW but it was more westerly which didn't help most of the day even on the return, but Nick was keen to take the front as we go up and down along the B road to Alberbury. We slip off to the right now going down lanes anew for the next 18 miles. Through Stoney Stretton and tiny Edge and Hinton, we are soon at Lea Cross. After Shorthill and Annscroft, Hook a Gate bring us into the SW corner of the burgeoning Shrewsbury metropolis. The tack NW takes us through acres of established and new housing estates before ending up at Montford Bridge. 

To get to the cafe, there is a half mile contra-directional dash along the busy A5 then wheeling off left, down and under the road to the cafe. As before, the food is wholesome and of good value as we refill our liquid reserves after 40 miles of delightful countryside. Back on the A5 re-tracing our route to Montford Bridge, we then take the NW long lanes to West Felton going via Ruyton -XI-Towns. Here Nick is keen to push on so goes off on his own route back to Chirk at apace. John and I meander up Grug Hill and near Eardiston, Nick appears at a crossroads behind us! He shoots off again towards Queen’s Head.

The route to Gobowen via Queens Head is the old A5, and it's a long straight drag to Babbinswood and Whittington, but up ahead we see Nick battling on in the distance. After Gobowen, we sidle passed Hennle Golf Club and head straight for Chirk via the canal side at the Poacher pub.

John informs me later on, that we had broken some previous Strava segment speeds on the route we had taken, which was surprising given that we had enjoyed viewing the new countryside. So thanks to both Nick and John for their company today and  for Nick taking the front on several occasions - is he in training for something I wonder? We rode exactly 100km!

CA

Thursday, 5 August 2021

5th August 2021; Hanmer (mod)

The forecasters had promised us strong SSE winds gusting to nearly 30mph, plus heavy rain from noon. Given this poor forecast there was a good CER turnout at Alison’s in Tattenhall. It was especially good to see Bob for the first time in some months. He is moving to live near Chorley, and we wish him well in his health and his new life in Lancashire.   

The anticipated weather affected our choice of route: either a longer trip south-westward in a crosswind to the Greyhound in St Martin’s, or a shorter route that minimised the time we would spend in rain.  The latter was chosen which meant a trip southward to one of our favourite destinations, the Hanmer Arms. The group comprised myself and the other two Steves, Dave H, George, Alan and Andy, plus Neil who was only able to join us for part of the ride. We headed off over the hills by Bolesworth Castle and then to Brown Knowl.  Although having not long been riding, we managed to lose both Alan and Steve Hu by the time we reached Broxton Old Hall. Luckily telephone communication was established and they re-joined us shortly afterwards. We continued on to No Man’s Heath and began the climb up to Malpas.  Here heavy rain began to fall and we donned our waterproofs expecting to be wet for the rest of the day. The route took us through Lower Wych, by when the rain had petered out. It didn’t take long to reach Eglwys Cross and join the A-roads that led us into Hanmer village by 1230. Although we had often been riding into the wind, it didn’t cause us too many problems, perhaps we had been sheltered by the landscape.

We had called ahead to alert the pub, but need not have worried as initially we were the sole customers. Drinks and food were ordered, the light bite fish and chips proving most popular and very tasty. Conversation ranged widely but, after George described having watched Jeremy Clarkson’s Farm, tended to focus on farming.  Specifically, Clarkson’s lack of farming aptitude and the massive cost of farm machinery, narrow margins and where did farmers make their money. 


Photo by SH

It was still not raining when we left the pub. We headed for Tallarn Green and Threapwood, noticing, as we leave Chapel Lane and join the B-road, a substantial house oddly named “The Holy Land”. From there we made for Tilston and Stretton, passed by Manor Wood café, and were soon back in Tattenhall. We’d only covered 34 miles, our return helped by a strong tailwind. The heavy rain hadn’t materialised, though when I reached home, I found it had fallen there and much more would later in the day.  I think we’d been lucky. 

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH