Retired, work part-time or shifts, enjoy being out in the countryside? Then cycle the lanes and byways of Cheshire and surrounding areas with Chester Easy Riders: you won't get left behind.
Chester Easy Riders is an independent cycling club affiliated to Cycling UK. We cycle every Thursday throughout the year with moderate and brisk day rides of 40 to 80 miles.

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Sunday 28 December 2008

Happy New Year

With Christmas over for another year thoughts turn to the coming year and what it will bring. If the economic experts are to be believed 2009 is going to be very bleak indeed on the financial front. All the more reason then for getting out on the bike to enjoy one of the few pleasures that come almost completely free.
Our rides programme for the coming year has been finalised and includes a train assisted ride in June travelling by rail to Shrewsbury and cycling back. Two longer rides are also planned and will be confirmed once details are in place. Remember that a new elevenses meeting place at the Little Roodee Café has been introduced to the schedule this year. The 8th January ride will start from there. Our first ride in the New Year though will be from Christleton Pond where we join the Chester CTC group at 10.30am to ride to the Carden Arms at Tilston for the traditional New Year’s Day meet.
All that remains is for me to thank all the members who have turned out during the year and particularly Graham, Chris, Bob, Erla, Dave, Glennys, Mike, Paul, Veronica, Ray, Sarah and Jim. Plus a special thanks to Ray for standing in when I’ve been away. I look forward to seeing you all in the New Year.

Friday 19 December 2008

18th December 2008: Carden Arms Tilston: Christmas Lunch Ride

Photographs by Glennys Hammond

Two riders were already enjoying tea when Erla and I arrived at Bellis’s. Jim, who was joining us for the first time having inadvertently missed last weeks ride due a mix up over numbers, was sampling the popular Bellis breakfast. By the time our tea and teacakes arrived the other members were appearing.
Unusually, today was to be a joint ride and lunch with Watson’s Wanderers. Thanks go to Harry who had sorted out the arrangements. It wasn’t long before Harry’s group arrived and we all relaxed and chatted until 11.30am before making our way to the Carden Arms. Now Holt to Tilston can’t be more than five miles so what could go wrong! Within minutes of starting out the group was split by the traffic lights at the bridge over the Dee. Unknown to those in the following group the first group had taken the back road through the houses in Farndon to use the Crewe Lane track to Crewe-by-Farndon. The following group sticking to the High Street and the B5130 arrived at Crewe-by-Farndon first and assuming the first group were ahead continued to Tilston by the short route while Harry led the first group via Shocklach. Eventually we were all reunited and enjoyed an excellent three course Christmas lunch with turkey and Christmas pud. All good things come to an end and it was with some reluctance that at 3.30pm we donned our winter gear for the ride home. Thanks again to Harry for an enjoyable day.
Distance from Chester and back 34 miles.

Monday 15 December 2008

11th December 2008: Ice Cream Farm

Despite the forecast of overnight Siberian temperatures the morning was frost free and wind was absent, so there was a reasonable prospect of company. Out on the road the temperature was hovering just over freezing, with ice at the roadside but the sky was bright and the cloud clearing. Up the hill at Willington a lonely cyclist was burning up calories in a low gear. Drawing alongside I verified it to be Veronica and the day's partnership was confirmed. Over tea and toast we agreed that progress would be slowed by uncertain road conditions and the distance limited by the cold weather. Dragging ourselves out of the warm cafe we set out under a cloudless sky and down the hill to take a right past Oak Tree Farm and a left to Clotton. The autumn shades had given way to stark outlines of branches against the blue base wash of sky. The roads were clear until we arrived at the black swans' lido at Hoofield where the residents were skating on their ice capped pool. On the bend we had to take care over slush and broken ice. Nearing Newton, the hills of Beeston and Peckforton came into view, dark in contrast to the bright sky but before enjoying a closer look we had the welcome stop at the Ice Cream Farm. Why is it easier to sit down than get up in these places? Heading out with the temperature slightly higher we approached Beeston with its stonework lit with a yellow tinge today but this changes with the time of day and the season. Down Bates Mill Lane the road was shaded by Beeston Hill and the surface looked treacherous. Veronica took it with the gay abandon of a cavalier while I was more the stubborn donkey until conditions improved at the bridge over the canal by the Shady Oak. And then it was up the hill to Birch Heath and Tarporley and more hills along Utkinton Road to keep the central heating going. Lamps were lighting up as we bid our farewells in Kelsall and I headed off in a race against dusk for a warm welcome on my home ground. Only 44 miles in total but with a rating of 'unmissable'.

4th December 2008: Mold

“Are you mad” interjected my wife as I checked my bike over on Wednesday evening “the forecast is for blizzards and heavy snow tonight and tomorrow.” Well it wasn’t the first weather forecast to be spectacularly wrong but I soon discovered it was right about the strong winds as I battled my way to the Gallery Coffee Shop in Hawarden. Then given the poor conditions outside it took some effort to forsake the warmth of the café and head up to Northop Hall and Northop. The lanes round here proved to be quite treacherous, not due to snow, but to a thick layer of leaf mush and mud. From Soughton we headed south intending to make for Gwernaffield-y-Waun and the hills south west of Mold but as we got closer the sky dimmed and the black clouds obscured the hill tops. Discretion suggested a retreat to Mold followed by a fast ride to Penyffordd with the wind behind us. Keeping just ahead of the rain we made it to the Royal Oak at Higher Kinnerton for lunch and then back to Chester. This was not the ride we had planned but given the conditions it gave a pleasant feeling of satisfaction.
Distance from Chester and back 32 miles.

27th November 2008: Acton Bridge

Three riders met up for tea at the Manley Mere Windsurfing Centre looking forward to a good day out. The more distant options were quickly ruled out in order to ensure we would be back in daylight. It was agreed to head towards Acton Bridge and then south through the lanes with the decision on the lunch stop to be made later. From Manley Mere we headed east to New Pale to the high point at Newton savouring the views of the Mersey on the way then it was a fast descent down to Kingsley losing all the height we had gained in a few seconds. The back lanes towards the Weaver Navigation, with views of the Dutton Viaduct, were as quiet as ever and then it was under the railway bridge for the final pull up to Acton Bridge. Feeling a few spots of rain and fearing that there was worse to come we decided on an early lunch and made for the Maypole only to arrive just as a coach discharged its last passengers. Undaunted we headed inside to find the pub already at bursting point and without any draught beer! This proved too much of a deterrent so we made a quick exit and headed for the Hazel Pear Inn down the road where we arrived just as the weather worsened. A leisurely and excellent lunch was taken while we waited for the torrential rain to abate before resuming the ride through Cuddington and Little Budworth. By the time we reached Cotebrook rain was starting again so although it was still early afternoon tea was taken in the tea room before the last leg home via Duddon to arrive well before darkness set in.
Distance from Chester and back 41 miles.

13th November 2008: Cotebrook

Although it was a poor weather forecast the morning was only slightly wet. The breeze was a little troublesome, however, on the way to the start at the Ice Cream Farm where there was the welcome sight of another bike. Glennys was already sampling the coffee and then she joined me in a round of toasted tea cakes. We settled into a long discussion before getting off late on an easy ride with the aim of taking lunch at Cotebrook. The rain had ceased and the wind was down to a whisper as we headed towards Beeston where the autumn shades graced the castle and the Peckforton hills. Then we headed through Bunbury and down the hill to Tilstone Fearnall where the flood had increased in depth again after the night's rainfall. With the sky brightening we passed along the beautifully quiet lanes of Oxheys, The Hall and Kings to take the Rushton crossroads into Cotebrook. Sandra, the proprietress, was her usual welcoming self, aided and abetted by Dave as we ordered a light lunch and a beverage together with a liberal helping of repartee. Then once more out of the comfort zone to ride out through the reds, yellows and browns along Stable Lane and left towards Kelsall. Taking the steady climbs the rain made its entrance again but only to refresh and not to trouble us. Glennys turned off for Kelsall and I continued to try my luck with the Yeld from where the Cheshire Plain could not be seen through the thickening mist. By Mouldsworth the weather was behaving again and the comfortable ride back into Chester was marred only by a hedge cutter trimming both sides of Salters Lane, prompting me to carry the bike through to Picton Gorse to avoid the inevitable. Home with only 40 miles completed but immeasurably enjoyable and we certainly passed muster as Easy Riders.

6th November 2008: Hoylake & Greasby

Today’s ride from Ness Botanic Gardens up the Wirral Way to West Kirby and Hoylake got off to a late start followed by a puncture before we had even reached the Wirral Way! Thereafter the ride went smoothly leaving the Wirral Way in West Kirby to take in the views across the Marine Lake and thence along the coast to Dove Point where we headed inland to Saughall Massie. Probably the most unusual feature of this ride being the lack of even the slightest breeze along the Wirral coast! A late lunch was taken in Greasby after which we headed towards Irby, through Heswall and on to Thornton Hough and Raby before eventually joining NCN route 56 back to Chester. The difficulty of finding new routes to explore on our outings from Ness Botanic Gardens gave rise to some discussion during today’s ride. With our regular rotation of staring places we are looking to find six interesting and different rides a year across the Wirral: is this possible? One suggestion was to reduce the frequency of the starts from Ness Gardens by introducing an additional alternative start place that would allow more flexibility. It was agreed to give this a bit more thought before our next rides list is finalised.
Distance from Chester and back 48 miles.

30th October 2008: Bell o’ th’ Hill

Summer time ended at the weekend so this was the first ride of the autumn with reduced hours of daylight. That together with a cold north easterly wind and the sight of snow on the hills left no doubt that we were well and truly heading into winter but undaunted four riders met up at the newly expanded Bellis Garden Centre Café. This week we were joined by Sarah for an interesting ride through Shocklach and Threapwood, over Sarn Bridge and then into the lanes following the Wych Brook to Higher Wych. From here we continued onwards, to join the B5395 where we dropped down to Grindley Brook. After a short section of the very busy A41 we turned off onto the old coach road for the final run up to the Blue Bell Inn at Bell o’ th’ Hill for lunch. Here we relaxed in comfort and warmed ourselves next to the open fire while the weather deteriorated outside. With the DA AGM due in a few days time conversation inevitably turned to current DA issues and how the DA had managed to find itself so divided. Finding no solution but hoping that matters would be settled amicably at the AGM we left the warmth of the bar and donning an extra layer continued north on the remaining parts of the old coach road to No Mans Heath, Hampton Post, Ashton Cross and Broxton Old Hall where we turned right to Brown Knowl. From here we followed the well established route past the back of Bolesworth Castle and on to the Ice Cream Farm where a further hour was spent putting the world to right before the final leg home.
Distance from Chester and back 52 miles.

16th October 2008: Cilcain

Cool, with heavy rain interspersed with sun and a hilly ride in prospect. Is this off-putting? After tea and toasted teacakes at the Gallery Coffee Shop in Hawarden the leader set off with a tight group of one heading towards Ewloe and then bearing left to go through Burntwood, Buckley and Alltami where the pleasant lanes and scenery began to caress the wheels and the mind. After Soughton things began to improve weather-wise and by Gwernaffield the sun was out, the roads drying and the temperature just about right for the constant trickle of hills, all with lovely views of the Clwyds. This was followed by a warm up on the one in four out of Bont-newydd. The White Horse in Cilcain, recommended by Bryan two weeks ago, was the refuelling stop. I wondered if one needed an appointment but then I found that ringing the bell summoned assistance. After soup, a roll and a lime and soda (£1:60p) it was off to Loggerheads in the sun. Through Loggerheads and right after Cadole to climb to Nercwys where there were clear views over the Cheshire plain to Beeston and the Peckforton hills, and carrying on via Ty-newydd to Leeswood Hall where those enormous ornamental gates on the very narrow lane set one's mind wondering. It was then down into Leeswood and civilisation once more to pick up the A5104 from Pontblyddyn to Penyffordd where the skies started to threaten again - but it was only a threat. It was only left for me to cross the A55 footbridge at Bilberry Wood and to do the last climb up into the starting point at Hawarden. Only 27.5 miles from cafe to cafe but 3000ft of climbing, and it was only 2:35pm. So it was then a dash back home for 3:30pm with 50 miles in.

23rd October 2008: Wrenbury

Forecast, rain and high winds. Outlook, poor turnout. And so it was exactly the same group as last week setting out from Rose Farm with no dissent regarding destination and no prospect of dropping anyone off the back. The rain was very light and easing as we headed east towards Cotebrook and Rushton. I missed the staccato buzzing of the 12000 rpm V sixes from Oulton Park as Kings Lane approached but as I crossed the A51 at Tilstone Fearnall there was a cacophony created by crows in the massive oak tree on the left to add atmosphere which was lacking at Oulton. A Jay added colour as it did a spot of low flying across my bows, no doubt laden with the plentiful acorns. Over the canal and railway line to drop down to the flood, which had lessened markedly since Sunday, and then it was out via Bunbury to Faddiley with the roads drying rapidly in the warm, strong south westerly. Down Ikey Lane and then through Swanley to Ravensmoor where a lower gear was necessary to keep the bike moving against a 30 mph plus headwind. Respite was soon at hand at the Cotton Arms in Wrenbury where lime and soda (75p/pt) and a baguette replaced some of the calories given to the wind. The landlord had moved in three years ago from Huyton and still seemed to be suffering from the shock of the change. But now the wind was encouraging me as I headed north through Cholmondeley to Bickerton where Hart Hill was waiting to warm me up before the fast descent cooled me down again. I resisted the charms of the Ice Cream Farm and weaved my way through Greenlooms and Waverton on the last leg home in the final burst of sunshine which heralded the evening rain. A total of 60 miles from home. Climbing? Not a lot but the very high winds more than made up for it.

9th October 2008: Wettenhall

Two riders had already arrived and were enjoying tea and teacakes when the last two arrived at the Manley Mere Windsurfing Centre. Possible destinations considered included Great Budworth and Bunbury but we eventually settled on Wettenhall. Ray suggested a couple of routes and with everyone’s agreement kindly offered to lead. Leaving the Windsurfing Centre we were soon negotiating the lanes on a fascinating brisk ride through Manley, Ashton, Kelsall, Tarporley, Beeston, Tilstone Fearnall and on to the Boot and Slipper at Wettenhall. The staff were welcoming, the food good and the beer excellent. The return to Chester via Acton (Nantwich), Brindley, Peckforton and the Ice Cream Farm for afternoon tea was just as interesting. As one rider commented “we were only ever about ten miles from my home but we covered lanes I never knew existed.” Thanks go to Ray for leading such an interesting ride that kept us guessing as to where the route would go next.
Distance from Chester and back 60 miles.

2nd October 2008: Cilcain

Wet, cold and windy was the forecast, so it probably wasn’t surprising that with elevenses at Caergwrle (promising a hilly ride) the numbers turning up for the ride were somewhat depleted. So it was that at 11.15 am a single solitary rider set off from Tudor House Café in heavy rain to cross the shoulder of Hope Mountain to Pontybodkin. From there it was the back road to Treuddyn and thence to Nercwys contouring along the hills above Mold before turning west to drop down to the Alyn, over the bridge and up to the White Horse at Cilcain for lunch. After a leisurely lunch chatting to the other customers (a couple of walkers from Kelsall) it was time to head north along drying lanes to Moel-y-crio and then on to Rhosesmor and Northop. The final section back to Chester along the River Dee path was made in record time with the wind behind.
Distance from Chester and back 44 miles, hilly.

18th September 2008: The Wirral Coast

Riding out from Chester to Ness Botanic Gardens for elevenses on what promised to be one of the best days of the year (weather wise that is) I was delighted to discover that the new Lodge Lane bridge over the A5117 was now open or as the workman explained “it’s open for you but not for the general public”. Say no more: the days of risking life and limb to cross the dual carriageway are over. That aside, now back to the ride log. Two riders met up at Ness Garden’s café (one on a recumbent tricycle) and once suitably refreshed rode towards Neston to join the Wirral Way. We then followed NCN route 56 through Thornton Hough and Brimstage to Storeton where we turned right and headed towards Birkenhead. Once in Birkenhead, Woodside provided its usual superb views across the Mersey to Pier Head, and then it was on to the Seacombe Ferry Terminal before joining the promenade to New Brighton. Lunch was taken at the busy Vale House Café before continuing along the coast to Hoylake and West Kirby to regain the Wirral Way back to Ness Gardens Café for afternoon tea and cake. The final leg back to Chester was completed via the new Lodge Lane bridge.
Distance from Chester and back 58 miles with 717 metres of ascent: from Ness Gardens and back about 40 miles.

11th September 2008: Chirk and Pontcysyllite Aqueduct

Four riders met for elevenses at Bellis’s Garden Centre café: one had cycled from Frodsham for a chat over tea and teacakes before heading back, one had cycled from Chester and two had come by car with their cycles. The group decided to head south through the winding lanes, noting the extensive flooding along this stretch of the River Dee, before crossing the river at Bangor on Dee. We then continued further south through Overton and more lanes beyond, with the intention of heading west through Dudleston and on to Chirk. By one o’clock, and with some way still to go, the group decided to divert to St Martins where we discovered the recently opened Gill’s Café on Bank Top Industrial Estate. What a find this turned out to be: a friendly welcome, excellent service and a superb all day breakfast with toast and a mug of tea for £3.50. Suitably refreshed we headed off to Chirk before joining the canal towpath at Pentre for the last few miles to the Pontcysyllite Aqueduct. No matter how many times one crosses the aqueduct it never ceases to impress: a truly great feat of engineering. After leaving the aqueduct we made our way past the chemical works and onto the B5605 to Ruabon before eventually turning right onto the B5426 and then via Cock Bank and Cross Lanes back to Holt. The Bellis’s café was still open so we had another half hour for tea and cake before heading home.
Distance from Chester and back 63 miles with 713 metres of ascent: from Bellis’s and back about 42 miles.

28th August 2008: Babell

It has been some time since we last did a ride over the Halkyn Mountain so why not climb it from both sides? Even better a figure of eight loop centred loosely on the top would cover all four flanks! With elevenses at the Gallery Coffee Shop in Hawarden the route led us through Ewloe, Northop Hall and Northop. This was followed by the short but steep climb by Gwern-y-marl and then on to Halkyn, across the top and onto the old coaching road to Babell. The Black Lion Inn is the recommended lunch stop in this area as many of the other pubs shown on the map have either closed down or are shut at weekday lunchtimes. From here we continued westwards before turning north along the minor lanes to eventually join NCR 5 and the return leg through Whitford Chwitffordd, Gorsedd, Brynford and Pentre Halkyn. This time the route over the top took us through Rhes-y-cae and Rhosesmor to complete the figure of eight. The final section back through Buckley and Broughton was completed quickly with wind behind us so that by 16.00 hours we were having coffee and cake in the new Costa Coffee at the Broughton Retail Park.
Distance from Chester and back 52 miles with 992 metres of ascent.

21st August 2008: Norton Priory

The options available for rides starting from the Manley Mere Windsurfing Centre are heavily constrained by the River Mersey and the Weaver Navigation to the north. Choosing a destination is only half of the problem the other is finding an interesting and attractive route to get there. The chosen destination was Norton Priory in Runcorn: the challenge was to find an interesting and attractive route. Rather than using the well cycled route to Acton Bridge the decision was made to climb up to Riley Bank and then down through Frodsham to cross the Weaver Navigation by the swing bridge. Being something of an exploratory ride, with a small number of riders, a shortcut along a BOAT on the edge of Frodsham was tried only to find that it degenerated into an overgrown footpath ending in a flight of steps: not the best of routes for road bikes! It was then over the swing bridge and up to Aston before entering Runcorn by the YKK factory. Although the challenge to find an interesting and attractive route to Runcorn was only partially met, we did manage to find two good routes through the town to and from Norton Priory with the path along the Bridgewater Canal being particularly attractive. Lunch was taken in the Priory café and after exploring the gardens the return journey was made via Acton Bridge back to Manley Mere and thence to Chester.
Distance from Chester and back 48 miles with 728 metres of ascent.

24th July 2008: Hanmer

Riding out to elevenses at Bellis Garden Centre Café against a head wind I began to wonder why I had chosen the long way round, but after an hour of hard riding I was supping tea in Bellis’s with the other riders and looking forward to the day ahead. It took only a few minutes to agree an outline route to Hanmer and we set off crossing the Dee into Farndon and then via Shocklach and Threapwood to cross the Wych Brook at Sarn Bridge. We then negotiated the narrow lanes through Three Fingers and Little Arowry to Hanmer making full use of the SatMap (recently updated with new software so that it fully supported OS 1:50 000 scale mapping). The impressive Hamner Arms Hotel looked rather too up-market for us cyclists but the welcome by, none other than, the hotel owner dispelled any doubts. Nothing was too much trouble and a courtyard table was prepared while we sampled first the Adnams ale and then the local Stonehouse. Food was excellent and the staff friendly. What more could you ask for on a hot summer day? On the return journey the SatMap helped navigate the lanes past Tarts Hill, Penley and through to Tallarn where we headed west to Bangor on Dee and then north on the network of minor lanes to reach Holt at 3.30 pm. After tea and cakes at Bellis’s Café we headed back home through Aldford and Saighton with the wind behind us to complete another great ride.
Distance from Chester and back 53 miles with 433 metres of ascent.

17th July 2008: Lower Peover

With light rain forecast for the whole day three riders met for elevenses at Rose Farm Garden Centre Café, Utkinton. After a brief discussion of the merits of riding south along familiar lanes to the Dusty Miller at Wrenbury or east over new territory to Lower Peover it was unanimously agreed to head east. Rainwear was donned and the group headed off to Little Budworth, Marton Green and Whitegate towards the Weaver Navigation. We then crossed the cut and joined the rough cycle path up to Moulton before continuing on-road to Davenham and the lanes to Lower Peover. The final stretch along the cobbled lane to the delightful Bells of Peover pub was slippery in the wet but entirely in character. Unfortunately the beer and food were disappointing as they were completely out of real ale and the baguettes left a great deal to be desired. After lunch it was it was only a few steps through the pub garden into the spectacular and important timber church of St Oswald with a stone West tower. The aisled nave (13th-14thc.) and chancel complete with timber work and box pews was well worth the visit. The journey home through the lanes via Plumley, Pickmere, Great Budworth, Comberbatch and Acton Bridge was undertaken in improving weather. Afternoon tea was taken in the Delamere Forest visitor centre café with the final leg home through Manley, Mickle Trafford and thence to Chester.
Distance from Chester and back 60 miles with 732 metres of ascent.

10th July 2008: Hawarden

Two 'regulars' rode to The Gallery Tea Shop at Hawarden, for elevenses, being rewarded, en route, by a fine view of the Airbus Beluga landing at Broughton airfield. Due to diary commitments, and after a good natter, riders returned to Chester, by way of a fast freewheel descent to Queensferry, and a spirited passage along the River Dee cycle path, thus demonstrating the flexibility of The Chester Easy Riders’ format.
Distance from Chester and back 16 miles, mixed.

3rd July 2008: Acton Bridge

Although the weather forecast was poor, four regular riders were joined by Glennys Hammond (Chester & North Wales CTC Secretary) for elevenses at the Manley Mere Windsurfing Centre. After tea and a chat all five set off up hill towards Manley Common and New Pale and thence to Newton via Birch Hill before a fast descent down to Kingsley. From here we took the back lanes towards the Weaver Navigation to emerge in Acton Bridge for lunch at the Maypole Inn; and all without any hint of rain. A leisurely lunch was taken in the garden with a clear sky promising a good afternoon. Riding south from Acton Bridge we skirted Cuddington and passed the Forest View Pub towards the A49. Then while negotiating the back roads to Oulton Park the forecast rain caught us for the last few miles to the Cotebrook tea stop. Although the proprietress had clearly not had a good day we enjoyed our tea and cakes with conversation at a much higher cultural level than normal, thanks largely to Glennys presence. Once we had exhausted a discussion of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition followed by a debate on the Stuckist movement it became apparent that it was time to leave. From Cotebrook it was straight back to Chester via Duddon and Christleton with Glennys heading off to Kelsall.
Distance from Chester and back 41 miles, mixed.

26th June 2008: Bersham

Quite by chance today’s group of riders met up on Lache Lane heading out to the Tudor House Café for elevenses. Despite the light showers, the ride out to Caergwrle made a pleasant start to the day particularly as one member needed to head straight back after a chat over coffee. With heavy rain forecast for later in the day and some members needing to get back early we decided to ride out to Minera and then through the lanes south of Wrexham to return through Holt and Aldford. Bryan was keen to try out his new SatMap GPS with OS 1:50 000 mapping and led the group through the back streets, over the shoulder of Hope Mountain to Cymau and then south, descending to the ford before joining the Minera Road. From Minera we passed the Lead Mines and then followed the Clywedog valley via Nant Mill, the Ironworks and Bersham Heritage Centre to the lunch stop at the Black Lion Inn, Ddol. In the afternoon the SatMap proved its worth (although with some reservations) in negotiating the lanes from Bersham past the Crematorium, Farmworld, Sontley and Cock Bank before joining the B5130 for a fast ride back through Holt to Chester.
Distance from Chester and back 43 miles, mixed.

5th June 2008: Overton Bridge

After a late night celebrating a friend’s birthday in true Italian style the ride out to Holt to join the group at Bellis’s Garden Centre seemed to take somewhat longer than usual. After tea and teacake things looked up and despite a head wind on the winding back lanes we then made good progress to Bangor on Dee past the Race Course and on to Overton Bridge for lunch at the Cross Foxes pub. It was then south on a short detour to Erbistock before heading north to Erddig. It being Thursday, the house and café was closed but we enjoyed the ride through the park before following the cycle route signs to Wrexham Town Centre where we scrambled into a café in time to miss a sudden heavy shower. Once out of Wrexham it was back on to the lanes with a brief stop at Hoseley Bank to take in the views over the Cheshire plain before completing the return journey through Lavister and Eccleston to Chester.
Distance from Chester and back 48 miles, flat.

8th May 2008: Maeshafn

With elevenses at the Tudor House Café in Caergwrle and a glorious sunny day in prospect there was really only way to go; and so it was straight up and over Hope Mountain with a brief stop at the top. Unfortunately the summer haze limited the view somewhat but not enough to disappoint. Then it was down the other side following the back roads to Graianrhyd with the only other traffic being a single horse and rider. At Eryrys there was the inevitable debate: do we lunch early at The Sun Inn (a Bass house) or press on to The Miners Arms at Maeshafn (Theakstons)? Good sense prevailed and we continued to the delightful village of Maeshafn. To further reward our efforts the current guest ale was Adnams Explorer: just perfect for a hot summer’s day. From there it was down the lane to Llanferres and then on to Cilcain and the switchback road through Nant Alyn. Skirting Mold there was more climbing up to Soughton with afternoon tea at Soughton Hall (only the best for Chester Easy Riders) before returning to Chester via Northop, Connah’s Quay and the River Dee cycle path.
Distance from Chester and back 50 miles, hilly.

1st May 2008: Church Minshull

The Cheshire Ice Cream Farm was the appointed elevenses meeting place for the group’s second ride. As it happened all the riders arrived early which was just as well as we were able to watch the rain shower while enjoying toasted teacakes or beans on toast in the dry. Once on the road the sun came out, the sky cleared and the views opened up. Beeston, Bunbury and Alpraham were all quickly left behind when a small map reading error led to the inclusion of a few extra, but delightful, miles through attractive lanes to Wettenhall. It was then just a few miles to go for lunch at Church Minshull only to find the proposed pub boarded up. A quick scan of the map and we were on our way again to Wimboldsley and the delights of The Verdin Arms: although not particularly attractive on the outside the Robinsons ale and warm welcome more than made up for its appearance. The spirits of some members of the group were raised to even greater heights when they realised that table 8 gave uninterrupted views of the busy West Coast main rail line. Conversation flowed over lunch until a glance at the watch revealed it was already 14.40 and well past the time to depart. We then followed the road north skirting the southern edge of Winsford and up the Weaver valley to join the Whitegate Way to Marton Green. It was then on to Little Budworth and Cotebrook arriving just after our planned tea stop had closed! Undaunted the group continued in good spirits back to Chester via Duddon and Christleton.
Distance from Chester and back 55 miles, flat.

Inaugural Ride 24th April 2008: Frankby

Five riders met up for elevenses at Ness Gardens for the inaugural ride of the Chester Easy Riders cycling group. Despite a poor weather forecast the three solos and one tandem started off in good heart through Neston and on to the much improved Wirral Way. The weather gradually cleared opening up views across the Dee Estuary to the Welsh hills beyond. By the time Caldy was reached the sun was out offering the prospect of a glorious spring day. It was then time to turn inland along the lanes to Frankby where the attractions of the Farmers Arms terrace proved to difficult to resist. After a leisurely lunch soaking up the sun it was time to follow the lanes through Irby, Landican, Storeton, Brimstage, Thornton Hough and Raby before making a pleasant stop for tea and cakes in Willaston. Then it was on to the final stretch back to Chester via NCR 56, Woodbank and a very busy A550 slip road before joining the Millennium Cycle Path.
At the end of the day all the riders agreed that the inaugural ride had been a great success and had proved the concept of Chester Easy Riders.
Distance from Chester and back 45 miles, flat.