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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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Thursday, 1 December 2022

1st December 2022 : Dunham Massey (brisk)

Five of us had been out on a 60+ mile loop out from Chester and back on Tuesday. This started off cold but crisp and in the sunshine along the river path. Around Wrexham, the misty gloom came down and the temperature dropped as well and never got above 5C. It would be the same today without the sunshine though.

Ivan had put together a 50+ miler out-and-back from Delamere to The Vine at Dunham Massey. I suggested a modification in that we wouldn't need to go back to Delamere (as all the riders had ridden out) but make it a 70+ miler as if we had all started from Mickle Trafford. So if you are looking for such a ride - then here it is!

The station cafe was busy as I joined Ray, Steve T and H for coffee – to warm up! It soon became much busier with a dozen or so CER members. The Brisk group consisted of Ray, John W, Richard, Ivan and myself as we set off along with the Mods, up the bumpiest road in Cheshire heading for Acton Bridge. Down Norley Lane, hedge cutting was in progress and Ray picked up what he thought was a problem with the thorns – but it was just a large thorn twig wrapped around his front brakes – a narrow miss then.

The other side of Acton Bridge, we divert westwards down Heath Lane crossing to Higher Lane. This manoeuvre we would repeat on the way back as it was the cross over point of the figure-of-eight shaped ride. Hatton comes and goes as does Walton Hall Golf club. I notice here that a lot of the trees are still in full golden autumn leaf. Now we are wiggling through Appleton and Grappenhall towards Lymm.

We arrive at The Vine soon after opening time and 36 miles from Mickle Trafford, and inside there are already two formation drinking tables in evidence. Service is brisk as we take the window seat with a view of the Primitive Methodist Church across the road. Prices have risen here I noticed; however, the food was quickly delivered and of good quality, although the “smaller plate” option was quite small..

Conscious of the gathering gloom, we set off for High Legh via the “Swan with Two Nicks” bridge transfer. We work our way around the old airfield and the Arley Airstrip towards Antrobus. The old airfield was the Royal Naval Air Station Stretton (aka HMS Blackcap). Wiki details here. As we approach the centre of the figure-of-eight transfer, I worry that the Garmins will interpret the need to go back down the outward route – but they do without a blip.

The rest of the route is straightforward once we get on the A56 in and out of market day Frodsham and Helsby all the way back to Chester. So another good day out with 70+ miles ridden at 16mph average – not bad considering the cold and the many lanes we rode down today and fortunately no incidents to report on. Back home by 1530!

So, thanks to Ivan for the original route idea and lunch venue and to Richard, Ray and John W for dragging me around the lanes.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA


1st December 2022: Tilston (mod)

It was overcast and grey as I left home to ride to Delamere Station Café, but, unlike last week, it was dry with almost no wind. At the café, there were 14 CER members, who eventually shook out into 5 ‘briskers’, 6 ‘mods’, with Electric Pete doing his own thing, Dave Matthews attending to some pressing family business and Andy B going home to attend an appointment with his wife.

My plan was a run down to The Carden Arms at Tilston, but I was slightly perturbed when Clive said he thought it might be closed. However, Steve Ha reassured me that there were a number of ‘Plan B’ options if that turned out to be the case. I was also anxious to ensure that we got back to Delamere in good time, as the light at this time of the year is falling very soon after sunset, which was due at 4pm.

So, the ‘super six’ (Steves Ha, Hu and T, Alan, George and Ray) set off to Hatchmere, where we turned left. Turning left again at Brines Brow Lane, I was confused to see that my bike computer had turned itself off, so we had to stop and re-load the route. Later on, Steve Hu explained to me that, in addition to loading the route onto the device, you have to ‘start’ the route, otherwise the thing just assumes that you don’t need it on.  This piece of information was added to the long list of technical support that Steve Hu has given me about my Wahoo computer and I will need a very large mortgage to pay off his invoices.

Things then went well and we passed quickly through Ashton, Oscroft, Waverton and Aldford. At Churton, we turned left into Pump Lane, which Steve Ha had warned me has a very poor surface. This turned out to be the case and it prompted a vocal complaint from Steve Hu. His ire was further inflamed when we lost him and Alan at the end of Aldersley Lane. They had stopped for a comfort break and didn’t see us turn left into Mill Lane, so they turned right into Coddington Lane. A quick phone call led to an agreement to meet up at The Carden Arms.

While they reached there via Barton, we went through the grounds of The Carden Park Golf Club, something we had done with Neil a few weeks ago. Steve and Alan were at The Carden Arms when we arrived at 12.10, but, although the sign over the door said ‘Open’, the doors were locked and the lights inside were not on. So ‘Plan B’ was put into action and we rode half a mile down Stretton Hall Lane to the Lost Barn Coffee Roaster café, which was a first for everyone except Steve Ha and T.

We had been there before, but only for a drink or ice cream towards the end of a ride. Their food menu was not huge, but their ‘Farmers Bap’ was popular and the service was rapid. Following, the traditional group photo, we left the café at 1.15 pm and re-traced our steps to Tilston. Ironically, the pub lights were on as we passed it and it looked like it was open – another time, perhaps.

Photo by Steve T

We turned left into Duckington Lane and ran through there to Bickerton, joining the A534 Wrexham Road for the short run down to the Bickerton Poacher, where we peeled off left onto Stonehouse Lane. This runs in the shadow of the Peckforton Hills which, by this time, were shrouded in mist, emphasizing the need to press on before darkness came. So on we went, through Spurstow, Bunbury and Alpraham. Here, it seemed that we might have lost Steves Ha and Hu, but it turned out that a ‘mudguard clearing’ exercise had been necessary, delaying them for a few minutes. It’s that time of the year, isn’t it?

The last miles took us through Eaton and Cotebrook to Delamere, where we arrived at 3pm, having covered 45 miles at a brisk (for the mods) speed of 13.4 mph. No rain and mud-free dry lanes made for a pleasant day out with great company.

ST

Monday, 28 November 2022

24th November 2022: Lee (mod)

 Travelling from Runcorn Steve and I found the A55 completely backed up, and just about manoeuvred our way out, and head toward Cheshire Oaks. Fortunately, our running calculations on the quickest diversion route to put us back on track for Chirk worked out perfectly. On arriving at Castle Bistro we met an impressive turnout of the Fast Lads. It was very pleasant having a chat with them and Dave Matthews, who needed to ride back to Oscroft to feed his goats (or did I get this wrong!). Anyway, Dave had made a big effort to be at Chirk, and paid me for his Christmas Lunch, and this is appreciated. The guys showed us pictures of Nick on a winter training holiday somewhere warm and exotic. Unfortunately, unlike Nick, we had a very fierce wet front to deal with today, instead of decisions about whether we needed factor 50 or less. Andy had arrived from Mold, so there were just Steve Tan, Andy and myself riding as moderates. Steve Hughes, Steve Haywood and Alan had considerately given me advanced notice that they would not be riding. After a very wet, flooded return ride from Loppington last April, I had decided to do a short south east loop, and have lunch back at Castle Bistro in an attempt to miss the forecast heavy rain due to arrive, hopefully, around 1p.m. Unfortunately, I should have looked at Carol's moving weather map properly, or listened to Andy, and I would have realised that the rain was likely to pass quite quickly. Plan A should probably have been: pick a lunch stop for about 12.30, and dine while the rain passed. I sensed that was the plan for the Fast Lads, but don't you usually get showers behind a heavy band of rain, and have even more chance of flooded roads, particularly on the small lanes the moderates frequent? Anyway, we started out towards the dodgey A5 roundabout, when Ray Baird, unexpectedly, caught up in his vehicle with his bike on the back!  He had also been held up by the A55 incident on his long drive from far west Wirral. He quickly parked and sorted himself out in order to join us on the ride,

 We took a familiar, quiet route out, past Ebnal Hall to Hindford. We then headed for Old Marton, and past the attractive old railway house at Crickett, nestling down on our right. We curved down to the B5068 where I lost us ten minutes by heading back toward Dudleston Heath instead of into Ellesmere. The ride to Ellesmere took us past Beech House used by Thomas Telford when building the Llangollen Canal. The lanes had been enjoyable and the weather dry so far, but we had ploughed through a few floods already. We passed the college and started back at Lee. Our return was via Tetchill, Onston, New Marton and St.Martins. Passing the Hardwick estate I managed to get stuck in deep water, and had to walk out, rather than ride. It would have made a good photo! At this stage we had forty minutes riding to go, and the storm had arrived. Back at the cafe we were so wet that we left large puddles where we had sat. I told a waitress that our seats were wet before I left, and she was fine about it. Lunch was very good, the cafe was warm, and we were able to have a chat and a laugh.  I would, however, like to apologise to my comrades for selecting the strategy that resulted in their extreme wetness. It does make me think why we had Chirk as a summer only destination originally.  The drive home was all sunshine and clear blue sky.        

See route map and/or gpx file download               

DH


Thursday, 24 November 2022

24th November 2022 : Shrewsbury (brisk)

John W and I took the train to Chirk to meet Clive and Ken at the appointed coffee start of Castle Bistro Tearooms. Already seated and drinking, the Brisk group today outnumbered the mod riders = 3. Weather was going to be heavy rain showers around lunchtime with tropical sunshine for the remainder!!! 

We departed at the regular time of 10:30 heading down Chirk Bank then up the grind to Weston Rhyn and taking the Old Chirk Road to cross the A5 and on  to Gobowen where we were held up by the crossing gates to allow two trains to pass. Out to Whittington and to Queens Head, we are heading southerly and it’s a good headwind we are riding into. Skirting Oswestry and going through a new housing estate we find ourselves in a cul-de-sac. I blame the Garmin as too slow to catch up but I may have missed our turning. Passing the Queens Head pub, we continue Wykey then head towards Baschurch. 

We now have 8 miles of straight roads and lanes to take us into Shrewsbury via Coton Hill. Approx. 20 minutes out, we stop to don our rain jackets and arrive at Wetherspoons Montgomery’s Tower just as the rain starts to get heavy. We had abandoned the planned ride around by the riverside park to dash directly to the pub. Quickly seated and lunch ordered, we enjoy the ambiance of Christmas décor in the establishment warm and cosy whilst it's duly raining hard outside. 

Raining hard outside: Hydrating inside

Completing our lunch coincides with the rain stopping, so we again get our gear on and ride out via Shelton along the Holyhead Road. Arriving at Montford Bridge, we encounter the first serious flooded road but we are able to surf our way through. The rainfall whilst we were indoors must have been heavy as there are several more lanes that we had to navigate our way through. 

Passing through Ruyton XI Towns we ride through familiar haunts of Knockin and Newbridge. Fortunately, we are riding with lights and at 15:00 the sky is dark from Morda to Oswestry. Here it is dark enough to enjoy the Christmas lights and had we not been riding through the rain and having to continually wipe the drops from our glasses then we might have enjoyed them even more. We continue to Weston Rhyn exiting on to the Ceriog valley road and return into Chirk. 

John and I head back to the station with 10 minutes to spare, and Clive and Ken head to the car park to retrieve their cars. We’ve not had a long ride today. The route was 53 miles and just the usual climbs of most rides. 

The rain wasn’t too bad as we all have good weatherproof clothing and completed our ride relatively dry and warm. A good day out and excellent lunch with good friends on a club ride.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Photo JW

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

17th November 2022 : Tattenhall

No ride this week - just three riders and a lot of rain!


Thursday, 10 November 2022

10th November 2022: Barton (mod)

Here we go again. Today’s starting venue was Meadow Lea (ML) on a day when the weather men were forecasting near record temps for this time of year. Another unusual fact today was that the total number at ML (15) was less than the total seen at our lunch destination, which will become evident later on - Lol. There was little conversation as to a destination and route, as I was asked to lead a route to a specific location, once we convinced DH to put his paper Garmin away- Lol. The sight of DH’s pile of disheveled maps, had Mike G feeling sorry for him, once we had finished laughing that is. I seem to remember Mike hoping to find some spare copies for DH (apparently Mike has a vast collection- each to his own- Lol)

The 3 fast boys had already left, although that wasn’t the last we saw of them. DM set off on his own, as he had a lawn that desperately needed mowing however, that wasn’t the last we would see of him either- Lol. So, the 12 of us Mods set off, via Mickle Trafford, ultimately heading for the Cock ‘O’ Barton (COB - one of the best pubs in Cheshire, in my opinion). However, after only a few hundred mtrs, we had to stop, in order to reboot my Garmin again! I can hear DH saying under his breath “never needed to reboot my map”- Lol.

Anyway, back on track and now in our stride, we turn off the A56 heading south for Great Barrow. I was trying hard to avoid any mucky/possibly flooded lanes this week -Lol. This meant a somewhat tricked up and now signature meander, for me at least, but with my trade mark tail wind finish, all the way back. Now past the Bluebell Cafe and crossing the A51 (my first deviation- Lol). I had intended to ride through Tarvin, but I forgot to look at the Garmin - Plonker! And that’s why we saw DM again, just dismounting at his house, in Oscroft, having gone his own way. This minor deviation added another mile to the route, which meant that Steve Hu would be asking “how far away is lunch?” A little earlier than usual (always him- Lol)

Regrouping again, just after Okell’s, before passing over the river Gowy, we turn right and head uphill past Walk Mill cafe and turn left toward Huxley. Our route now becomes more of a zig zag across the county, which meant there weren’t too many, full on, head winds- Lol. Now in Huxley, heading toward Beeston, we pass the absolutely fab, Huxley Inn, possibly the best pub restaurant in the county, for both style and food. Apparently it took the owner 8+ years to clear and build on the site, which I believe was an old pub, the Farmer’s Arms, although I have heard other stories as well. One thing for sure, he spent a fortune on it (lovely venue, worth a special dinner night) Consequently, it is not cheap (again I can picture DH groaning in the background- Lol)

On towards Grassy Green and my favourite little stretch, past the Shady Oak pub, over that gorgeous little hump back bridge and uphill to Beeston Castle (just love it and a perfect bit of tarmac as well). We regroup under the rock face of Beeston Castle and then head toward Tattenhall past a magnificent dahlia garden on the right, still in full bloom, this late in the year. We again regroup at the end of the road, after a 3 mile stretch from Beeston, with a diagonal headwind. Normally I would have led the group around Tattenhall, but I sensed that lunch was becoming more of an interest than the lovely scenery around here, so we pass right through Tattenhall and up the short drag to the A41 crossing.

Below Beeston Castle, photo Mike G

Bit of a nasty crossing however, today was easy and we were soon gliding down Dog Lane, which was the better option as opposed to Holywell Lane. Dog Lane can be very mucky, particularly around the farm (affectionately known as ‘gold fish farm’, by Paula and I) This is due to the gold fish in the cow trough of course- Lol, which we always check on, every time we walk past. The farm house here was built in 1601 and a Tudor gem (1601 is a common historical date around these parts it seems).

I think it was about this time when ‘Tail End Charlie’ asked me again, “how far was it to lunch”- Lol. “3 miles”, was my response- Lol. As usual Andy was roughly aware of our location and knew that 3 miles was perhaps a bit of a fib, the moment I announced we were going to ride through the centre of Carden Park yet we were only half a mile from COB. I thought CP would be a pleasant change and completely new for some. It was a first for me as well, despite it being my golf club (tricky to carry the clubs on a bike- Lol). Even if you are not a golfer Carden Park is worth a visit, not just for the scenery and the new mega Spa, but for the ‘Art Garden’ (in front of the hotel) which I pointed out, as we cruised up past the Spa. The owner, Steve Morgan, of Redrow construction, has spent more than £250,000 on some of the pieces in the garden and there must be at least 30.

Anyway, now through Carden Park, heading down Stretton Mill Lane, we are soon at the junction that delivered us to the COB. However, before I could inform everybody that we only had a half mile to go, Steve Hu piped up “how far was it to lunch”, for the third time I think- Lol. Apparently he was about to bite his arm off, if we didn’t get there soon (it was only 1pm and he had breakfast- Lol.). We arrived and there was no problem catering for 12, as I hadn’t booked, taking a risk because there was always the backup option of Manor Wood cafe, only 500 mtrs down the hill, which is a good cafe on the lake. Bikes all locked up, we eventually enter the pub, only to find Steve Ha sat down already, with a pint in hand- Lol. I didn’t know he had slipped off the front (crafty bugger-Lol)

Despite it being unusually quiet, our food took ages, although that was more to do with how long it took to take our orders (we surmised it was due to being mid week and therefore limited staff, as I pointed out it is busy in the evening and never any issues). Despite the slow service everybody seemed well happy with the food and at a fair price. It wasn’t just the Mod group at the COB, as the fast group dropped in to say hello and Fiona & Elwyn met us there as well (which surprised me, until I remembered she can track me on 360) - handy app to have in a cycling group, if you are not aware, not as good as ‘ What Three Words’ , for precise location, but useful on a day Iike today. Anyway the slow service didn’t seem to bother anybody, going by the noise we were all making however, it did lead to Andy making tracks before the rest of us were ready.

Photo by Neil T

We left the pub with only a short 15 miles (does that mean it was a shorter 15 miles than a normal 15 miles? - Lol) and with a tail wind all the way back. We head down Wetreins Lane and across the main drag to Wrexham, which leads us past Farndon (for some of us- Lol). We suddenly realised that Steve T, Ray & Trev weren’t with us as we by-pass Farndon. I simply thought they had decided to follow Fiona & Elwyn, wrongly assuming they lived on the other side of the River Dee. No sooner had we realised when we got to the junction leading us up to Churlton and Aldford beyond. As we hit the junction, who should ride past but the 3 amigos -Lol. Now we were 7 again and cruising along with a nice tailwind. 2 miles later we were crossing the Dee bridge at Aldford, which got badly damaged in the 2020? Floods.

At this point I expected to lose Mr & Mrs Pipe, thinking the tandem would go straight up into Chester and home. However, we were still 7 heading for Bruera, where I decided to leave the group.

I had intended to drop off at Waverton, but I wasn’t feeling that good to be honest, after 10 days off the bike and a stomach bug. This left Steve Ha / DH to lead the group back to ML (thanks guys). I got home with 55 miles on the clock, feeling a little tired in the legs, but more importantly a clean bike- Lol. However, I can’t help feeling my tired legs might have been due to the extra weight I was carrying. Steve Hu’s charity donation of £5, just before we set off, was £ coins can you believe. I reckon he was off loading weight on to me- charity donation my foot- Lol Lol. I promised a clean dry ride and I think I achieved that. I hope everybody enjoyed the COB and that it becomes a CER pub venue in future.

Great day out and no rain. I apologise for the incessant squeaky disc brakes from me, which I have now fixed, just needed the calliper adjusting, using the credit card cheat- Lol (rode today and it was whisper quiet)

Is it my imagination or is my occasional diatribe getting longer- Lol. Till next time,

NT

See route map and/or gpx file download


10th November 2022 : Wrenbury ( brisk)

Where to ride to today? Ivan was busy elsewhere, Nick was practising his breast stroke, John W was also not out like John M. Ken said he would be out and had suggested a ride that he had purloined from a previous CER ride to that infamous curry pub. We both agreed that we would give the curry a miss and go upmarket to No 18 in the Park in Wrenbury.

Richard was keen to tag along on this 52 miler as Ken lead us on a winding route out down familiar lanes towards Wrenbury. We arrive unscathed, fighting the headwind, to a very full car park. Ladies that Lunch were out in force today – but we had the last table opposite the cake counter. It took awhile to get our repast but it was worth it as the quality here is superb. 

Ken was going to drop off the original route to go back Rossett way. Richard and I didn't need to go back to Mickle Trafford, so Ken and I agreed a cunning route back that would harness the freshening winds and get Ken within striking distance of Rossett.

We set off bound for No Mans Heath and take the cut through via Ebnal to Kidnal. Soon we are in and out of Tilston and parking up at the Cock o' Barton where the Mods were enjoying their lunch. Having purloined a few chips, Richard and I are soon off back to Chester and Ken to Rossett.

I arrive home at 1500 with 60 miles ridden. Those sixty miles have just taken me over the 50,000 mile mark since I started cycling with CER back in Oct 2009. Little did I know then that 802 rides later, I would still be riding with Chester Easy Riders! On my first ride I met Dave Heath and Macca. There are many riders who joined Easy Riders before me that are still riding with Easy Riders today.

No photos today on a largely grey but strangely warm mid-November day with dry lanes and no rain.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Saturday, 5 November 2022

3rd November 2022 : Ruthin (brisk)

Today’s club ride was out on the Wirral, but the brisk riders today decided that due to favourable weather conditions, we would do a hilly 3AAA audax ride used by JohnW. 

Nick, John W, Richard, and I met up at Blacon station on the Greenway, and cycled along the Greenway to Flint where we re-joined the main road taking the turning before Deeside college up to Northop.The sun was beginning to show through the clouds and a prospect of good weather was encouraging. 

Today's ride is achieving over 3000ft within 45 miles and since leaving Northop it is certainly going upwards. The Cilcain Road is a long drag all the way to Loggerheads before joining the Penbarras road up to Moel Famau. During the ascent up to the car park the weather changed and we were in a deluge of water coming down from the sky and also running as a river along the road; so wet feet !!! 

On arriving at the car park the rain ceases and the sun is out again, but the road is too wet to hammer down nevertheless JW leads the descent.  Although the roads were wet, the only poor surface road was not experienced until approaching Ruthin. It was a very poor surface and combined with bright sunshine flashing through the hedgerow made cycling conditions poor. 

However, on arriving at our lunch stop “Chatwins Bakery” all is forgotten as we tuck into hot pie and cream cake. On leaving our stop, we again climb out of the town towards a place called Llanfwrog!! A steep climb but on excellent road surface. Strava calls this area – Mwrog Street Climb and that says it all really. 

We leave the climb NEAR the summit and we’re back on off-road surface plummeting downhill. JW showing his downhill skills of speed succumbs to a puncture giving us time to relax and take a couple of pictures of our location. We are in a valley surrounded by hills and the autumn colours are stunning. However, it doesn’t take long to fix and we are on the move again. 



Quality Welsh Lanes


Quality Riders!

Our next climb is from London Bridge over the top of Coed Llangwylan. Again, we endure an uphill ride in the wet. It's strange how we fell foul of the weather then as soon as we complete a long climb, its blue sky. Thankful for small mercies! 

Rattling downhill to Nannerch, we’ve competed 6 out of 8 Strava climbs but the final two are only rolls in comparison. Rhes-y-cae and Windy Hill are nothing in comparison and stopping at the top we take in the splendour of the Wirral in full sunshine and wonder if we made the right decision. 

We enjoy a down hill flight al the way to Flint where we join the main Chester old road to take us back home. No stopping at Flint for coffee and cake today but straight on to Connah's Quay and re-joining the Greenway back to Chester. 

An excellent day with many challenges but in good company all was enjoyable. A 60+ miles out and back but if anyone is interested in a Flint circular for this ride it is under 40 miles. You will still enjoy 4380ft of ascent and less descent so not a flat ride. 

Thanks to my brave colleagues for today’s ride.  Back home to clean the bike again!!

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Friday, 4 November 2022

3rd November 2022: New Brighton (mod)

A keen group of seven mods presented at Ness Gardens this morning. New member Ray, Dave H, Steve T, George, Steve Hu, Steve Ha and ride coordinator Alan. Steve Ha was on a three-line whip to attend a family event later in the day so only joined us for coffees.  A notable absentee was Neil T, we were all hoping for a hat trick of ride led by Neil. Maybe it was the stern warning of muddy lanes from Steve T or Alan’s dry cleaning bills that kept him away LOL!

Both Alan and Steve T had a similar route, however Alan’s promise of a “new lane “by Bromborough Pool swung the vote. So the famous five set out towards Ness. A quick right turn found us heading towards Williston on Damhead Lane a lovely quiet lane with good road surface. Soon we were winding our way into the back of Eastham Rake, and past St Mary’s church which features a Yew tree mentioned in the Doomsday Book. It was at this point Dave Heath introduced the concept of three volumes of interesting places to visit, none of which mentioned Eastham so we were a little confused at this time. A quick photo stop at Eastham Ferry was hastily arranged before we plunged into the woodland which borders this section of the estuary. Following a brief ride through the industrial units bordering Magazine Road Alan found the entrance to the new “lane”. This old railway track /lane parallels Bromborough road and was an idyllic ride with autumn windblown leaves creating a fantastic carpet.  A point to note Neil T, no mud was present on this lovely stretch. 

Eastham

'New' lane to Port Sunlight
Photos by AO

The old lane emerged right in the centre of Lord Leverhulme’s  garden village Port Sunlight. This village was founded in 1888 by William Hesketh Lever. It was created by the forward thinking industrialist to provide decent sanitary housing in a considered architectural form. To this day the village has lost none of its charm, with a group of schoolchildren getting ready to enter the art gallery and a pop up coffee stall manned by a local charity group. Ray mentioned the museum by the art gallery was worth a visit. 

The route now took a different turn as we entered Rock Ferry and rode past the wasteland where a number of shops stood just before being blown up in a large gas explosion a number of years ago. The road along Rock Park Road always reminds us of the grandeur of some of the 1900’s river facing houses that line this road. It must have been a very desirable place to live at one time.  The route took on a maritime theme as we skirted Camell Lairds to see a Fred Olson liner in to have her “keel and hull cleaned” before returning to service. There was also a military vessel in, it was good to see the shipyard so busy. A new route through Seacombe Ferry terminal advised by Ray led us onto the Seacombe Promenade and the stunning views of the Liverpool skyline. Ray pointed out the new £500 million Everton ground which will certainly bring football close to the city centre. 

Lunch was accommodated at the Seaside Cafe in New Brighton, however the “cash only “ policy caused a series of members to “copper up” for those who only carry plastic. Fortunately I always carry a few gold sovereigns in my saddle pack, so a fish special was sorted. 

Reminded of the need to carry one’s bike over the bridge at Bidston railway station prompted a re plan by Alan to take a much less onerous route. Fender Way is a brilliant small off road route which borders the motorway and has a great road surface. Just outside Irby a lovely lane turned into a bridle path (a common issue when mapping rides I find) this necessitated a replan. At this time Ray’s local knowledge came to the fore and Alan and Ray navigated us across the busy Telegraph Rd outside Heswall and dropped us through lower Heswall to Gayton. As we approached Neston, Dave, Steve T and Ray carried on to Ness Gdns, whilst Alan, George and Steve Hu carried on to Burton Marshes and then into the majesty that is N.Wales. 

A great ride led by Alan, a tad under 40 miles which is respectable for November ride on clean mud free lanes. 

See route map and/or gpx file download 

Steve Hu


Sunday, 30 October 2022

27th October 2022: Ellesmere (brisk)

A  promise of a bright warm day contributed to a good turnout at Cleopatras. The brisk group John W, Ray, Ivan and myself, headed off to an old favourite, the Red Lion at Ellesmere, on a route devised by Ivan. We left Holt at a steady pace and headed out towards Ridleywood then followed Francis Lane into the Industrial Estate and left it via Redwither Lane, cutting through Caia Park, Marchwiel, and Sontley before arriving in Ruabon. The Ruabon to Chirk road was traffic free thanks in part to the road closure at Newbridge. This is where a landslide took a large portion of the road away in last years winter storms and consequently closed it to all traffic.

We  had made excellent progress towards our lunch stop but our luck  changed as soon as we left Chirk. At Black Park road we crossed over the A483 and came to the roundabout at Halton where we went straight over onto Colt Lane. (Don’t be tempted, find a detour!) This lane is narrow and steep with a very degraded surface that tests both nerves and bike handling skills. The lane started innocently enough but then as we descended became steep, muddy, and dark. Just staying upright felt like an achievement. Fortunately the T junction at the bottom of the lane provided some respite .

Crossing over the River Ceiriog we commenced the climb out of the valley on a steep incline which was in no better condition than the previous lane  and was much darker due to the dense tree canopy. This punishing climb was 15% and our pace was barely at walking speed - our Strava  time for  this 2km section was 3kmh! 1/2 way up, in near blackout conditions, Ivan  came to a halt with a rear wheel puncture. The change of tube took longer than usual to due to the conditions and once completed we  then had to walk the rest of the climb. The sunshine and a real tarmac road surface  at the top were bliss.

Back on tarmac we made good progress cruising through St Martins and into Ellesmere along Elson Road where  I made a brief stop in order to photograph some fine tree art. The staff at the Red Lion were as welcoming and accommodating as ever allowing us to store our bikes in the rear beer garden. We all ordered food from the pensioners menu which arrived promptly and the main topic of conversation was inevitably all about the  trials and tribulations of the morning.


Photos by KP

We departed Ellesmere in the warm sunshine and started our return along the main road to Welshampton before joining quieter lanes that lead us through Penley, Cloy to Overton Bridge. At some point along here I picked up a rear puncture but we attended to this reasonably quickly - what a difference warm and dry conditions make. Our route then meandered along quiet lanes past the “Boat Inn” at Erbistock through Eyton and onto Cross Lanes. Here the pace dramatically increased and was led out by the usual culprits, Ivan and John; although I did put my nose in front a couple times to try and help but frustratingly my legs gave up just short of Holt. Outside Cleopatras the group split -  Ivan and Ray making their way back home via Pulford and John  accompanying me into Rossett before heading back to Chester.

Ivan’s route totaled 83 km with John, Ivan and Ray completing closer to 120km.

See route map and/or gpx file download 

KP

Thursday, 27 October 2022

27th October 2022: Erbistock (mod)

This week’s ride venue was Cleopatra’s, on a day that looked to be potentially awful, from a weather perspective that is, however not a drop fell on our group all day or at least not from the sky that is- Lol. More about that later.

Firstly, there were 14 of us in total, by my head count, which included Dave & Liz P (on the tandem), Jim, who was doing a prescription ride to the chemist? And 4 or 5 fast boys. For the second week in a row, yours truly, got to lead the moderate group of 8 (2 on the tandem) My promise of an interesting meander to the Boat Inn at Erbistock, clearly appealed to the majority, although some probably lived to regret that decision for several reasons that I will endeavour to expand on later- Lol. Notably missing this week was Steve Hu (the wimp from last week- Lol) Turns out, bless him, that he really wasn’t well last week and still isn’t. Unbeknown to him, he was coming down with a bug that has made him very weak/ tired (including his wife, I later found out- their symptoms sound like the Noro virus to me, which is doing the rounds apparently).

Time for the off for what I intended to be a very interesting and scenic route (hopefully confirmed by the group) although I didn’t expect quite so many mucky lanes- seriously- Lol. We head out of Holt via the main road in order to allow us to quickly head south on the B5130 (the first bit is no longer potholed and narly- this would be the 1st of 3 lovely stretches of resurfaced lane, which didn’t go amiss by some).

It wasn’t long before we were at Cross Lanes, followed by Cock Bank, where we would turn off into, let’s say, “adventurous lanes”. These lanes were later stated as being worthy of a ‘Clive ride’ (what did they mean Clive? - Lol). Not only that, Steve T, after our our lunch stop, even threatened to have words with me if we came across anymore mucky lanes on the return leg.  I guess this was because I promised a lovely dry clean 20 miles back, which I believe it was - Lol. The mucky lanes were a consequence of my scenic detour through Erddig Park. Unfortunately, EP was unusually busy with cars, there must have been an event on, as I have never known it like that. So it wasn’t quite the peaceful scenic meander, as we had to stop a few times.  I did feel a little sorry for the tandem, as it’s not so easy to keep stopping & starting, even with an electric motor.

Once we were through EP we turn left and head towards the Boat Inn by way of Sontley Lane, which was a rather slippery muddy affair. It was shortly after this that we had to make a U turn, as I missed our left turn down to Park Eynton. “Oh no, we haven’t got to go back through that lane have we” was somebody’s cry. Fortunately, I had only over shot our turning by 100 meters or so, “no was my cry”- Lol. We had a half mile on the A539, before we head right up hill into Chapel Lane. This is a lovely steady uphill bit (nice views heading the other way - Lol) leading to a nice descent into Erbistock Vale & a final short steep descent into the Boat Inn, which lies, just 50 feet above the river Dee (somewhat idyllic spot, right next to St Hilary church).







After briefly admiring the river view and considering sitting outside, we find our reserved table inside, which didn’t seem warranted at first. However, by the time we left the place was virtually full. Once the prices on the menu had been digested- Lol, everybody set about their choice for lunch. The Korean roasted cauliflower was the most popular dish. Both Andy and I were quite taken by this. I also got the impression everybody else were just as satisfied with their choices. That said I think DH made a mental note to not come back- Lol. I believe I heard him mutter something about needing a mortgage to eat there. And he wasn’t the only one- Lol. I was so taken by the setting and food that I can only remember a brief conversation about my choice and the ensuing story I told of how I discovered a Korean vegetarian restaurant in the back streets of London, some 35 years earlier.

Lunch done and the temp getting even warmer, we set off to the comment of “we haven’t got to climb up that hill have we?” “There is only one way in and out”, was my response- Lol- Lol. No sooner said and we were at the Cross Keys pub, on the bridge of the river Dee. We turn right up a slightly longer and the only real climb of the ride. After a regroup at the top we turn left onto another lovely stretch of resurfaced lane that allowed us to detour Overton.  It wasn’t long before we were swinging downhill into Threapwood, after crossing Wych Brook, another favourite little stretch of mine and I think our 3rd river crossing, which is often a feature of my rides- Lol. The wet, muddy lanes before lunch were now becoming a distant memory as we settle into the promised dry lanes.

With Threapwood behind us and Tilston not far away, I canvassed everybody for a cafe stop at the Lost Barn, which seemed a popular choice, despite only being 3 miles from Holt. By this time DH had found his top gear and was now leading the charge. He was clearly feeling the need for a good coffee, even jumping the road works traffic lights at Tilston- Lol. We all decide to stop at the red! light- Lol and then chase after him, which was only a few hundred metres to the cafe. After a bit of shuffling of bikes, akin to musical chairs, we all finally settle on an outside table with the sun beating down on us all. 


What a lovely finish to our ride, as this was effectively the point where some of us departed for home. Both Steve Ha & I leave the others at the top of Wetreins Lane (only 300 meters up from the cafe) and set off for Tattenhall and in Steve’s case, Kelsall beyond. I got home with 52 miles on the clock and a surprising 570 metres of assent (I thought it was a flat ride- Lol). The likes of Steve Ha, Allan and Andy must have got a Grand Fondo in at least, as they all rode in further than I did - well done guys.

So, from what looked to be foolish to set off cycling at 9am, a great day out was born, if a bit mucky and slippery in places, made much better by the company- Lol- Lol- Lol. Thoroughly enjoyed the route, with some great scenery & even architecture (added an extra picture just for DH-Lol).


The route is even better in a clockwise direction, as the up & down bits work better with the views, in my opinion. Great to see you all as usual and look forward to the next ride.

NT

Photos by NT

See route map and/or gpx file download 

Friday, 21 October 2022

20th October 2022 : Great Budworth (brisk)

What to write about today's ride from Rose Farm to the Westage Ice Cream Farm in Great Budworth? Well, there were three of us, Ivan with John W and myself, and it rained nearly all the time.

Starting out towards Little Budworth, there was misty rain and then it started to rain all the way on this figure-of-eight route. Why are the two Budworth's 15 miles apart? – Wiki has info on both if you are interested.

So like Jeremy C, I'll not write much about this ride – did I mention the rain? – I'll tell you all about the magnificent ride the Seven Fast Boys rode on a gloriously sunny Tuesday this week. Setting off from Whitchurch, we enjoyed a 60 miler that went clockwise via Market Drayton to end up in Shawbury for lunch in the Bakery. Lots of Salopian long dry lanes, passing by Ellerdine Heath, to Shawbury where we had a Special Ride in October 2015. You can view the ride here.

Back to today's ride, Winsford and Wharton aren't particularly pretty in the sunshine, so today's visit wasn't a visual disappointment. Out in the country now via Davenham and Lach Dennis, we zoom through Lower Peover to arrive at the big new roundabout on the outskirts of Knutsford. Using the Tan Tabley Transfer, we head west to the warm embrace of the Ice Cream Farm. 

We sit inside and enjoy a hot meal and drink whilst setting the world to rights as per usual – although at the moment I don't think it is possible to do so given the mess we are in. Back on our bikes it's now 1300 and, given that it's still raining, we split for home eschewing the rest of the route back to Rose Farm. So it's the direct route back via Little Leigh and a dripping Delamere Forest.

We are back in Chester shortly after 1500 with 65 wet miles ridden. For me it was instructive as I was still trialling my new steed and it performed well I am pleased to say.

So thanks to Ivan and John for leading the 16 mph average speed charge and for finding all the big hills on the way home.

See route map and/or gpx file download 

CA

Thursday, 20 October 2022

20th October 2022: Barrowmore (mod)

A somewhat strange day for our meeting at Rose Farm for several reasons, not least of which was the very dull & foggy outlook from our start venue. At least a dozen of us turned up at the start, with Andy arriving later, looking slightly bedraggled, which meant he had to leave his cuppa half full- Lol. I think there were 4 fast lads, who did their usual thing. Our new E-man, Ray was also there, along with most of the usual Mod suspects and of course DM, who did his own thing as well. Notably missing was DH, as he is such a stalwart of the club, that it is very obvious when he is not there, not unlike Steve T to be fair, who was busy on the phone, trying to find out if our illustrious leader was on his way or not. The irony was that Steve T wasn’t riding with the Mod’s anyway, as he had to get back to sort his car out-Lol.

So, with the back bone of the club either not riding or with no route, it fell on me to lead the Mod’s, which I didn’t mind at all. I think Steve Ha simply fancied following for a change, as we were in his patch and he wouldn’t have to think about it. However, I did warn the group that it would be a bit hillier than usual, which later hit home, once the heavy breathing started-Lol. Fortunately I had a local  route that would keep us within a 10 mile radius, hence, a hilly prospect, on my favourite Sandstone Ridge. This would allow us to short cut back to Rose Farm, if the forecasted rain prevailed. My destination was the lovely Blue Bell café (BB) with an alternative option of Walk Mill, because I had not booked the BB. The BB wouldn’t be a problem for my usual small group, but now I had inherited the main Mod group, a back up plan was needed, although Steve Ha did have a pub up his sleeve- Lol.  

It wasn’t long after our group of 7 set off, when we lost our first rider, as Steve Hu wimped! out. He steamed up the first rise through Utkinton, with me giving chase and he clearly burnt himself out, as eye witness accounts saw him turn for home with his tongue hanging out, apparently! He didn’t even say goodbye can you believe- Lol- Lol. I found out just a mile or so down the road at the junction of Willington Hall, when we regrouped. Allan informed me that Steve had struggled a little riding over to Rose Farm in the first place, so it wasn’t a surprise that he bailed after a few miles with us and to be fair to him, he slipped to the back, after his first effort up the hill hence, I didn’t realise he had left the group until the next junction (perhaps a bit of long covid or the likes). Allan pointed out that we should have all noticed that Steve was out of sorts, as he wasn’t his usual chatter box self- Lol.

Now the group was 5 + one slightly guilty cyclist, who should have probably escorted his bestest, life long buddy, home, instead of leaving him to find his own way, in drizzly weather, feeling weak, drained and struggling to turn a pedal- Lol - Lol- Lol. To be fair to Allan, he did later confirm that Steve had made it home, just as we were about to leave the BB. Whether or not this redeeming feature will save his friendship, I’m not sure, but at least he tried- Lol. Steve actually completed 53 miles in total, which was more than we would do and not bad for somebody who was struggling- Lol.

We continued to meander around the Sandstone Ridge, which to 1 or 2 of our little group, seemed to always be on an upward trend- Lol. They obviously forgot the lengthy downhill of ‘New Pale Road’ and ‘Old Lane’- Lol. Of course, not much of an issue for Ray on his E-bike, which caused Allan to wish he hadn’t chased him on the longest upward drag, between Kingsley and Newton. That particular drag is at least a mile+ and a bit of a leg teaser- Lol. George was now making apologies, as he was starting to suffer on the slopes, which was as much a surprise to me as it was to him. After I had promised him that the hills were over, for about the 4th time- Lol, we were now coming off the ridge via Old Lane., which was a bit different. A somewhat leafy, gravelly descent, that needed respect, but perfectly rideable in the dry (yes, it still wasn’t raining, but only just). After a few lovely flat miles, there was just one more little hill to lead us into the BB, although George assured me there were 2 more climbs -Lol. 

We struck it lucky on arrival at BB, even though full up, as the outside tables were free, as expected. They are under cover and as it was mild- “Perfeck”, in the words of Pa Larkin- Lol. As we sat down the rain really got going. Somebody remarked that it had in fact been raining for at least a couple of miles before we got to BB, which I had barely noticed- Lol. As usual, we got a very warm welcome and soft cushions quickly provided, which made everybody far too comfortable. Conversation seemed to bounce back and forth between the now heavier rain and the demise of Liz Truss- Lol. Everybody was well pleased with their lunch and some were suggesting cake, although I think this had more to do with delaying our inevitable remounting of the bikes as opposed to needing more food- Lol. 

We got going, after a few discussions about what was the shortest ‘cop out’ back to Rose Farm, due to the rain. However, it didn’t really need me to point it out, as Steve Ha was well aware that the shortest route was probably only 7 miles max, via Oscroft & Willington. Steve decided he would lead Ray and George back, while Allan, Andy & I were continuing my planned route, as we all live to the West of the county.

We all set off as a group, but a puncture for Allan provided a natural split in the group, just as we crossed over the A51. I suddenly realised that there were 2 missing, which was Andy and Allan. I decided to go back, which left Steve and his splinter group to head off back to Rose Farm. I only had to go 100 mtrs in order to find Allan getting stuck into his puncture. My trusty needle nose pliers managed to pull out the offending microscopic thorn. It was at this point I suddenly realised we had not taken a group ride photo hence, the pic attached is only of Andy and Allan.

Photo by CER

As we set off again, the rain had not eased off at all, but wasn’t that bad in the grand scheme of things. We rode into Oscroft, where Andy suddenly decided to head off toward Willington. This left me and Allan wondering why he had gone that way, as staying with us was the more direct way to Mold. He did say, originally, that he intended to go back to Rose Farm, so maybe he did? It wasn’t long before we were passing Walk Mill and I was taking my leave of Allan, leaving him to push on towards Flint. 7 miles later, I am home and the rain was just starting to abate- Lol. 

I had a mere 45 miles on the clock. I imagine Allan had at least 70 miles on his clock (well done mate). As I was stripping off my wet gear, l realised that my rain jacket had not come out, in earnest, since last winter- Lol.  All things considered, we had a good day & a few laughs, most of them at somebody else’s expense - Lol- Lol. Cheers guys- good fun, just a shame Steve had to bail on the ride (hopefully feeling strong by next week- tart! - Lol)

NT

See route map and/or gpx file download

Saturday, 15 October 2022

13th October 2022: Overton (mod)

Well, there were more mods in the Gallery Cafe this morning than at a Paul Weller reunion event. It was particularly encouraging to see that our new member Ray was out for a second ride, well done Ray.

Alan had a number of options and the consensus was a revisiting the Two Doves Cafe in Overton.

The mod group consisted of Alan, George, Dave P and Liz on the tandem, Dave H, Steve Hu, Ray and Andy B.

Following a slight “is it left or right?” navigation error by Steve Hu we were on our way up Tinkersdale climb and towards the A55 footbridge. As Dave P approached he was greeted by 5 strapping chaps all prepared to lift the tandem over the five-bar gate. However, Dave had other ideas. He raised the tandem onto its back wheel and demonstrated a tremendous pirouette style.

All back together again we proceeded along Old Hope only stopping to introduce the legendary Dave Heath to Mrs Steve Hu.

 The group swooped down Lower Mountain road crossing Kinnerton road and bowling into Golly. I have always thought what a nice place to live. We then started to experience the first of a number of muddy lanes of the day. Soon we were approaching Rossett and crossing the railway line.

The climb up Chester Road towards Marford sorted out the strong riders. In fact, not content with achieving a KOM, Andy B vaulted the fence by the side of the road only to go scrumping for apples. A team event resulted in a healthy haul of apples all carefully stored in Dave P’s panniers, as if his panniers were not heavy enough already.

Some lovely lanes ensued until we approached Holt road. Similar quiet scenic lanes herald the route towards Bangor on Dee. A quick photo opportunity allowed the curating of the ride to be handed over from Electronic Alan to Paper Garmin Dave H for the last 2 miles to Overton.

Photo: SHu

The sight of the “breakfast” on the menu at the 2 Doves must have been appealing as 7 out of 8 opted for this choice.

Fuelled by bangers and beans we re-traced our route back to Bangor on Dee where the baton was handed back to Alan who became ride leader again. The route along Creamery Road is a lovely series of roads knitted together. So much so ride leader Alan Andy B and George decided they would carry on to Talwrn. Fortunately wing man Steve (Goose) H was reading the map and the team successfully made their way to Holt.

 As we approached Cleopatra’s, Dave H experienced a serious case of wheel wobble as the pull of fresh coffee was strong. However, digging deep Dave moved to the front as we progressed to Lavister. Prior to Lavister, Dave & Liz diverted off to Rossett for a coffee and the remaining group carried on to Pulford.

The pull of caffeine was so strong for Dave H and at one point he was a good five minutes ahead of the group, with Andy B leading the charge to chase him down. The nice flat lanes of Pulford and Dodleston fell away to reveal the climb up to Penymydd.

Reduced by a further two riders as Dave H and Andy B succumbed to caffeine, George, Alan and Steve watched Ray demonstrate the superior performance of his E bike, despatching us easily on the climb. However, always a gent, he waited for us at the top. The group now meandered past Rough Piece Wood before plunging down Tinkersdale to complete the ride.

A fantastic 46 miles in brilliant October sunshine with great company. Thanks for planning the route Al.

Shu

 See route map and/or gpx file download

Friday, 14 October 2022

13th October 2022 : Sandbach (brisk)

Today’s club ride from Hawarden was not favourable for some of the brisk riders who were out on their bikes today due to upcoming cycle events and preferred not to ride Welsh hills today and 4000 metres again on Saturday plus 200k distance So, an alternative ride was proposed and John W, Nick and I met up at the ICF for a 60+ flat ride to my hometown of Sandbach.

Weather forecast for today was a good dry day and leaving Tattenhall it was chilly but promising. Departing from Bunbury the conditions changed, and we were riding in thick mist/fog conditions until arriving at Bradfield Green on the outskirts of Crewe. Our journey from here to Sandbach was the usual roads via Warmingham and Elworth and into Sandbach along Middlewhich Rd. 

Thursday was a very busy day in the town once upon a time holding one of the biggest town markets in the north, but now it consists of just a few stalls spread out along the high street that we passed by our lunch stop at The George – another hot Wetherspoons.

Our lunch finished were back out into the sunshine and heading along Crewe Rd towards Wheelock. The roads are pleasantly dry and reasonably clean and the rural lanes we took from Wheelock to Maw Green were excellent. I had no mudguards on my bike as on leaving home before reaching the end of my road I had a flat, so returned home and switched bikes rather than tube changing. My back was still clean as evidence of good riding conditions, and long may this last but I don’t expect too many of these days until next spring.

Through Crewe and riding the cycle way to Nantwich and heading to Acton turning by the Church and on to Burland and Long Lane into Banbury. We continue to Tattenhall where Nick leaves us and John and I ride out via Gatesheath crossing the A41 to Bruera and Saighton and Waverton.

We’ve ridden an enjoyable 67/75 miles from home with good humour and no incidents. The foggy conditions is a reminder to make sure we now ride with lights as you just never know what greets us on our rides. Mudguard’s may also be of use!!!

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Sunday, 9 October 2022

6th October 2022: Bunbury (mod ride 2)

Delamere station cafe was the venue for today’s ride, which saw approximately 9 of us in total + a newcomer. We all arrived in different states of dampness, for those who rode that is, due to the unexpected shower. I didn’t catch the name of the newcomer, but I believe he joined Steve Ha’s group.

We split into 3 groups, fast and 2 moderate groups. This was primarily because Steve Ha’s route was directly east, which would mean too many miles for me, having ridden in from the west and I also didn’t fancy the expected tough headwinds they would encounter on the way back. More about that later. I therefore decided I would follow an all time favourite of mine, south westerly via the Whitegate Way (WW) which would provide a nice tail wind coming back- Lol. This appealed to Steve Hu & Allan, which meant I wasn’t doing a ‘Billy no Mates’ ride; oh to have friends- Lol.

We set off heading for Bickerton Poacher / Tilly’s cafe (decision to be made on route) by which time the light showers had stopped. In fact, I think we set off in sunshine- Lol (opposite to the forecasts). As expected the WW was perfectly rideable, despite yesterday’s heavy rains, in fact it was dry, bar the odd little patch & even then it wasn’t sloppy puddles & mud. Allan hadn’t ridden this route before, but Steve had, which provided him plenty of opportunity to regale about the last time we rode a similar route, although it was more of a character assassination of my leadership- Lol.

All I did was put him on the wrong road back to Delamere cafe, the last time he rode this route with me, you’d think I made him walk back, the way he was carrying on- Lol.

To be fair to me- Lol. Ray, who was on that ride, said he knew where he was going when I left them. So I thought no more of it, as they set off down the wrong road- Lol.

I got 2 miles down the road on that day and suddenly realised what I had done, but it was too late to go back- Oops!

Anyway, back to today & a faint shower again as we were about to turn off the WW, after 5 miles-ish. This provided the opportunity to enlighten Allan as to the Station House cafe, which used to be the old railway Station of course. The only cafe I have ever been to where the toilets are 150mtrs down the road- Lol. This cafe is a charity run affair, so I am told, which means you need to check whether its open in winter, if planning to stop there. This also provided Steve the excuse to stop in order to don his waterproof. No sooner had he done so when the drizzle stopped- Lol.

Now on the main drag, heading for Little Budworth, we pick up our pace a little and before we knew it we were passing Oulton Park race track, although there was none of the usual track noise. I can’t remember riding past without hearing the gorgeous howl of some kind of race or track day. I used to visit that track in my young RAF days, now I ride past it almost every other week - Lol.

Onward and upward we are now heading towards Bunbury via Tilstone Fearnell, along another favourite stretch of lanes (because of their fab condition & open vista’s across the Cheshire plains). Unfortunately, the open lanes meant I was copping the full force of the headwind, not that Steve knew (I swear I could smell burnt rubber from his tyre rubbing on my rear tyre, he was that close. And gloating about it-Lol)

We stop for the obligatory team photo at my favourite lock (enclosed, along with few other pics on route) After a couple of little hills and up to the Dysart Arms, we flick down past the church into another favourite little lane, which drops us into the back of Bunbury, after passing the mere, which on a good day you can spot large gold fish.

Suddenly, to Allan’s surprise, we are at Tilly’s. Steve was already salivating over the prospect of ‘Eggs Royal’, which is the best in Cheshire in my opinion (all because of a dash of vinegar in the Hollandaise sauce apparently - Lol). “Sorry but the breakfast menu finished at 12!” (now 12:15) was the response to our request. This lead Steve & I to plead for understanding, Steve, with his best ‘pussy cat’ face & quivering bottom lip-Lol. “We have ridden 20 miles + for this particular special & our friend would also like to try it”. Our plea had the desired effect, after checking with the powers that be, however, Allan suddenly changed his mind, once he realised there was smoked salmon involved (I mean, who doesn’t know that eggs royal has smoked salmon in it, except maybe DH- Lol). After a pleading apology, we get our order & in double quick time as well. Not surprisingly conversation revolved around the current cost of living crisis, in particular, where is the cheapest car juice & how to service heating/ water systems- Lol. Once we had decided that cake would be too much, we set off again, in sunshine! 

I decide to head for Peckforton, because somebody told me last week that the road past the castle had been resurfaced and I wanted to confirm that. Plus it would be a good opportunity for another team photo. This is a lane that I normally avoid in winter, due to its condition. However, the report was correct. They have not only patched it, but resurfaced large sections of said lane, although not the section between the Bickerton Poacher and Peckforton Hall Lane, as I found out 2 days later, when I rode it.

Back to the story; After stopping for another team pick at both Peckforton and Beeston castle entrances, I lead the guys down hill to my absolute favourite little stretch, over the hump back bridge at the Shady Oak pub (the lane there is in stunning condition & fast, just love thrashing down there and getting a glimpse of the canal. This leads us in to Brassy Green and up to Tarporley, which we by pass and head toward Eaton, skirting the back of McDonald Portal golf club. It must have been at least half a mile+ beyond the golf club when I realised what amazing powers of observation Steve has, when he commented “ isn’t there a golf club around here”- Lol)

It was also around this time that Allan queried where I was going to leave them, as he was thinking about which way he should head home.  I pointed out that he had already missed his best, direct opportunity, at which point he decided he would head back to Delamere cafe. That way Steve couldn’t get lost again, the poor lad. I therefore decided to go a little further and drop them both at the now infamous Cotebrooke junction- Lol. This would allow me to correct the easy mistake I made last time, which of course set Steve off again, once we got there- Lol.

After pointing out that the little conservatory cafe had gone at Cotebrooke junction, I leave the guys, but not before a last tirade from Steve- Lol) I head straight over and up the hill for my 10 miles home, directly into wind, although not as bad as expected- Lol.

I got home, with 53 miles on the clock. As for Steve he got back to Delamere with 35 miles completed, which was 5 miles less than intended. This was because we didn’t stop at the Bickerton Poacher, choosing the shorter route of Tilly’s. Allan had the biggest ride of us all, having ridden in from Timbuktu or somewhere like that, which meant he must have managed a Grand Fondo at least (nice one)

Thanks to my companions, which made the ride a cracker to be fair, with only a light shower and a few winds.



Photos by CER

NT


Thursday, 6 October 2022

6th October 2022: Lach Dennis (mod ride 1)

As we each arrived at Delamere Station Café, the common opening words were “it didn’t forecast rain”. A thin mist had intensified as we each made our way to the café. Still, there were many members attending including Ray, a new rider who brings our complement of electric bike riders up to three. Clive, Ken, Neil, Alan, Steve Hu, David M, George, Andy B, Steve T, Trevor and myself were the other riders present, and they formed three rides: two mods and a brisk, with David M doing his own thing.

I had in mind a familiar route, but with new destinations for lunch and a café stop. The rain had stopped when we set out along the painfully rutted road to Hatchmere, before turning right to Norley, then Onston Lane to Acton Bridge. Passing through Little Leigh we arrived in Comberbach and skirted Great Budworth to the north before entering Pickmere and then Wincham.  We lost Andy at the traffic lights crossing the A556, but he caught up as we passed through Plumley. One option for lunch was Plumley Garden Centre Café, but we decided to pass on, and entering Swan Green we pulled into The Crown’s car park. This had looked a good option on the web, though when I’d called the night before all I got was an answerphone. Now it became clear why – a notice on the door said “closed until 12th Oct at 4pm” – a remarkably precise time.  

I had foreseen this possibility and had two alternatives: either ride back the ¾ mile to Plumley’s Garden Centre or continue to the Cheshire Grill in Lach Dennis. Reversing part of a route is never welcome, so we decided to travel another 3 miles to Lach Dennis, and I think CER’s first ever visit to this pub. The car park was welcomingly busy compared to The Crown and we trooped in.  It looked rather smart for a CER venue and it took a while for us to be welcomed, which raised some doubts. However, our orders were taken efficiently and soon our food and drinks arrived. The main courses from the lunch menu were all priced at £8.95, and we sampled variously fish and steak sandwiches, and sausages and mash.  For some reason the lunchtime conversation was largely about the Welsh language and its Celtic cousins, which gave George, long-time resident of the Principality, an opportunity to demonstrate his total ignorance of the tongue. As we left everyone seemed very pleased with the quality and quantity of food, so we may well visit again.

At the Cheshire Grill

The route onward was pretty familiar, taking the road to Davenham, and then Moulton, before decending the rough track to cross the Weaver Navigation and on to Whitegate.  Taking Cinder Hill out of Whitegate is one of my least favourite climbs, but this was soon over as we headed towards Oulton Park and then Cotebrook. Here we said goodbye to Trevor and headed north to meet the A54.  Now it was time for a slight diversion and we followed the A54 westwards until we reached Kelsall Hill Equestrian Centre. We were there to sample their Urchin’s Kitchen café, not so much for the food as to see the equestrian facilities. Incidentally it’s called the Urchin’s Kitchen after a geological formation in nearby Primrose Hill Woods. Steve T and George had been walking in this area some years ago, but the equestrian centre has since grown massively.  From the café you can look down on the indoor arena and the outdoor show jumping arena, there are also miles of cross-country routes including jumps. Events are scheduled for most days, and the café gives you a free view of what’s going on.


The indoor and outdoor arenas from the cafe 

Leaving Kelsall Hill, Andy headed into Kelsall and then home, while the rest of us avoided the main road by taking Stoney Lane northwards.  We didn’t however avoid the traffic because this lane passes Delamere CoE Primary School and it was school closing time. Negotiating double parked 4x4s on narrow lanes took some time, but eventually we passed over Eddisbury Hill with views over the Cheshire Plain and a sun-struck Jodrell Bank, before joining Station Road and ending up back at our start. Our route covered 40 miles, though the gpx file shows more due to some random oscillations while we were lunching. We did have more rain and at times a blustery wind, but not so as to spoil a very good ride.

See routemap and/or gpx file download 

SHa (photos by SHa)


Saturday, 1 October 2022

29th September 2022: Queen's Head (mod)

It was bright, dry but chilly, due to the north wind, when we gathered at The Castle Bistro in Chirk. The ‘mod’ riders were Steves Hu and T, Andy B, Alan and Dave H. Today’s destination was to be The Queens Head pub at Queens Head, a ride lead a year ago almost to the day by Steve Ha.

We set off along the usual route down Chirk Road towards the A5, but, at The Poacher, we turned right into Oaklands Road heading for Weston Rhyn and the southerly lane which runs past the Old Hill Fort and into Oswestry.  This was to avoid the rough lanes through Hindford which would probably also be muddy after the rain earlier in the week. A little way along the lane the farmer had been cutting the hawthorn hedge so we took the precaution of carrying the bikes a few hundred yards along the lane until we judged it safe to get back on.

We navigated successfully through the housing estates surrounding Oswestry and eventually found Middleton Road which led us out to Ashton Gates, where we crossed the A5. From there we passed through Maesbury and Knockin,  where one of the radio telescopes that make up the Jodrell Bank MERLIN (Multi-Element Radio Linked Interferometer Network) radio telescope array is located.

Photo Shu

We turned east as we passed through Kinnerly and crossed the A5 again before heading north for West Felton and Queens Head, where we arrived just before 1pm with 23 miles covered.

An excellent lunch of paninis, wraps or baked potatoes with drinks of tea or squash was consumed to fortify us for the return leg. We were all geared up to go when I saw that my rear tyre was flat. Had I picked up a thorn near the Hill Fort and it had taken all this time to go through the tyre? Whatever the case, the team set to and quickly found the thorn, removed it and replaced the tube. Unlike last week, inflation was almost instantaneous, thanks to Alan’s gas cylinder.


Picture A.O.

 Note Andy’s proactive stance as I wrestle the tyre back on the rim!

 Leaving the pub along the road alongside the Montgomery canal, the clouds that had threatened to bring rain before lunchtime had cleared and the day was now sunny and warm. Near Rednal we had our first brush with one of the huge tractor/trailer combinations which zoom around the Shropshire countryside. The straight road seems to encourage them to run at full throttle, regardless of who els is in the road.

Having crossed the canal, we were soon in Welsh Frankton where, once again, we diverted from our usual route to avoid the dreaded roads at Hindford. A route along little lanes through Perthy and New Marton would take us to St Martins. But before we got there, at a point where the lane was very narrow, muddy and steep, along came an enormous green tractor and trailer which filled the whole road. Steve Hu, Alan and I took refuge in a gateway along with a lady with Jack Russell terrier to let the tractor go by. It met Dave H and Andy a bit further down causing them to dismount and the hill was so steep and muddy that Dave had to walk his bike up it.

We were soon in St Martins and heading for the roundabout at the A5. Alan, Andy and I crossed first. Dave and Steve Hu decided to take the direct route along Chirk Road back to Chirk, whilst Alan, Andy and I stuck to Steve Ha’s original route back which went through Weston Rhyn and down to the Ceiriog valley before climbing up to café in Chirk.

In all 38 miles covered along a mixture of country lanes, suburban roads and crossing the A5 three times. Thanks to all to their company and support, especially with the puncture!

ST

See routemap and/or gpx file download