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.

For more information see the About Us tab.

Friday 30 April 2010

29th April 2010: Goostrey

At Rose Farm Brian Mac was just arriving and Bryan, Ray S and Ivan were assembled when I arrived shortly followed by Dave Heath, glowing healthily from the exertion of his trip up to Utkinton. Clive and his wife popped in for a coffee prior to a walk as Clive’s eye operation the previous Friday ruled out a ride for this week. Liz and Dave P then rolled up on the tandem so there were eight of us actually riding.

Photographs by Mike Morley

Mike had a route suggestion that would take advantage of Ray’s absence to explore some tracks the other side of Goostrey but as usual his plan of the route was somewhat nebulous and would need the assistance of Bryan to reach Bradford Mill to cross the Weaver. We set off in reasonable weather and Bryan introduced the first track by whizzing off up the Whitegate Way to reach the Salt Union depot. Mike now took over and the bridge and tunnels were negotiated and up the track, opting unwisely for a left at the top that meant negotiating numerous speed bumps on the path – I could hear Ray Hardman groaning even though he was not with us! Through Davenham and a new lane for Bryan that Google had assured Mike was a through road for vehicles. This may well be the case but only for the owner of Whatcroft Hall whom has the route firmly barricaded by an impressive electronically controlled entrance gate! A swift route revision meant a little more time spent on the A530 but we were soon back on the lanes and in the pleasant Cheshire countryside again where Bryan was almost overwhelmed by the preponderance of dandelions on the verges. The muted atmosphere at the chosen lunch stop did not overwhelm Mike – on Saturday the Red Lion in Goostrey had been buzzing and the service spot on – today it more resembled a morgue and the food took almost an hour to reach our table. It was however well worth waiting for and apart from the Black Sheep bitter the other real ales were adequate compensation.

The delayed departure and threatening sky meant that it was decision time whether to ride directly back home without completing the attractive loop to Swettenham and Brereton but common sense seemed to desert us, and the loop it was! Out of Goostrey to Twemlow Green and via Kermincham to descend to the first crossing of the Dane via the ford or clapper bridge for the faint hearted like me then up to Swettenham to pass the church and Swettenham Arms and take the track back over the Dane via a bridge in a very attractive valley near Davenport Hall.  Taking the lane alongside Brereton Country Park we were soon back on a bumpy track and impeded by one of the Cheshire Set unloading her pony trailer – charming girl though – and after passing St Oswald’s Church and Brereton Old Hall we soon emerged victorious at the Gatehouse to rejoin the A50 for a short while before diverting to take up our last track of the day  (“Thank God for that” said Ivan the Tolerable) back over a lovely little cobbled stone bridge and past the Hermitage back into Goostrey. Our route then resumed normality via Lower Peover, and Plumley to cross the A556 – here it finally dawned on me that I was getting wetter than I thought but the waterproof at least provided some warmth as the temperature, like the rain was still falling! Passing through Great Budworth and Comberbach we reached Little Leigh where Dave Heath pealed off for home while the rest of us crossed the A49 and along the Weaver Navigation to cut across to Kingsley and on to Delamere. Here Ray S, Liz and Dave P opted for the Forest route home while the rest of us took Brian Mac back to Utkinton only to find that his vehicle been impounded for the night! This was a late trip for us but despite the weather we had taken in some unusual tracks and most seemed to have enjoyed the experience. While Brian Mac joined Bryan for the ride back to Chester I headed home. Oh how welcome was my hot bath (bugger Global Warming – I was freezing!) Distance for me just short of 70 miles so the Chester boys must have clocked up over 80!
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Friday 23 April 2010

22nd April 2010: Ysceifiog & Caerwys

A bright clear sunny was in prospect for the meet at the Gallery Tea Shop in Hawarden.  A posse of bikes greeted me when I arrived and inside there was Bryan, Brian, Mike, Ivan, Dave and Liz P, Dave Hill and an inappropriately dressed Liz.  Liz explained that she had four days of undisclosed physical exercise and therefore was only a social member today!  Bryan explained that I had suggested a route and he was happy to defer his Denbigh ride until another time.  Everybody else was in sheep mode.  Given the location and excellent weather, the only route was up and onto the hills and mountains behind Hawarden.  The scenic route to Northop was employed (courtesy of Ray H for showing me this way on the Gronant ride).  Dave Hill peeled off at this Northop Hall leaving seven of us to continue the ride.
Out of Northop via Green Lane we were busy warming up the thighs as we climbed up to Rhosesmor.  There were a few dropped chains on this climb but nothing fatal.  Onward and upward along Wern Road took us through Rhes-y-cae and to the outskirts of Lixwm.  Lixwm was bypassed using a very narrow lane with just enough tarmac to be called a road.  Crossing the B5121 took us down to the potential lunch stop of the Fox Inn at Ysceifiog.  Dave H had suggested the Fox, as an early stop if the planned lunch stop at the Blue Bell Inn in Halkyn was a hill too far.  Well it was shut; so we elected to take the double chevroned back road out to Caerwys.  All made the hill successfully although Bryan doubted it was a proper double chevron more like a 1.5 version.  Into Caerwys to find the Piccadilly pub, only to find that this was also closed.  The second back up from Dave Hill of the local golf club proved successful and we had a sandwich lunch at a very quiet 9-hole golf club.
Off again up hill, we made the welcome turn eastwards to get the wind with us for the long largely straight up hill run back to Halkyn and a potential stop at the Blue Bell Inn.  The views from Windmill hamlet on Halkyn Mountain were stunning in all directions with no hint of volcanic ash to spoil the panorama.  Pulling up at the Blue Bell we found that was also closed.  Three pubs all closed: has Wales gone teetotal?  A fast descent back via Northop to the Gallery Tea Shop ensued and all of us, except the tandem (who had a puncture somewhere in Buckley but urged us onwards) tucked into welcome afternoon comestibles.  A very fast Ivan-led run downhill back towards Chester finished off a very enjoyable and satisfying day – not a lot of miles on the circular route from Gallery Café  (about 35 miles) but some 3000 ft of ascent and descent with a maximum altitude of just under a 1000ft. Distance from Chester and back just over 50 miles.
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Friday 16 April 2010

15th April 2010: Ravensmoor

A sunny, 12 deg C, day is in prospect with a 12mph NE wind.  Out at 10am on the dry bike and on the way I meet Ivan loading his pantechnicon of a motorhome for a trip to Bristol; he threatens to lead us on a future ride over Mow Cop that he has recently completed.
At Manley Mere, Mike M is soaking up the sun with a pile of maps in front of him.  Brian Mac and Phil are just settling in after arranging easy payments for tea and flapjack.  Then Peter W turns up in admin mode: " I'm not joining you I just want to talk to Mike about Bikeability."  At which Brian chips in: " I have to be back by 1pm so Phil and I will do our own thing."  Mike and I sniff our armpits - no, it's not that.  Finally Dave and Liz turn up on the tandem, late, obviously: "We're only doing 40 miles round trip today so we won't be with you all the way."  Mike and I share a 'what have we done?' glance and Mike's geographical motivation leaves him: "Where are you taking us, Ray?"  Oh dear, I was hoping to hang on the back today.  "We'll go SE to cross the wind.  Ashton, Beeston, Cholmondely, Wrenbury and Ravensmoor to sample the trough at The Farmer's Arms."
The tandem isn't on top form so we slow the pace while Dave and I negotiate a suitable 20-mile mark eaterie.  He likes my suggestion of the Nag's Head at Bunbury; it has just been refurbished and re-opened with a food menu - 3 courses at £7.  We leave them at Beeston and the hammer descends.  Now, answers to this on a postcard: how does a beer swilling, business lunching, socialite like Mike maintain this level of fitness?  You can't shake him off.  All right, he doesn't get on the front but you wouldn't expect that of a financial adviser.  We make fast progress to Wrenbury and then take a nice little diversion via Sound to reach Ravensmoor from the south.
The Farmer's Arms is a pleasant place and we both order 'brewed in the keg, connoisseur's lime and soda' - it must be at £1:40 a pint - and a light lunch. After sharing one another's life stories, medical histories and National Insurance numbers we make a move into the warm sunshine for the return.  Swanley and Faddiley are dispatched but Brindley delivers Mike a flat.  He's picked up a slow from a thorn and the low pressure allowed a snakebite over the pots we've been over.  We carry on through Bunbury and Beeston and even on a soft rear (poor pump) he's hanging on, uphill doing 20mph.  We stop at the Ice Cream Farm so that I can learn the secrets of reaching super fitness via debauchery.  From there it's route 1 home for a round trip of 61 miles.

Friday 9 April 2010

8th April 2010: Panorama Route & Worlds End

Over lunch last week Ivan had suggested, not for the first time, that as we were meeting at Caergwrle this week we should do the Panorama Route and Worlds End.  I agreed provided that the weather was good: only a masochist would do this ride in poor visibility or icy conditions.  Well today’s the day, and the weather’s almost perfect: clear skies, sun and not much wind.
Four riders were already at the Café when I arrived with Jim and Dave Heath, but no sign of Ivan.  “What do think of the proposed Shrewsbury route?” I ask, having put a link to it on the blog at the weekend.  “Has anyone had problems displaying it?”  “Yes, it’s very slow to display” is the almost universal answer from those who have tried.  Graham P suggests it works OK if you display it in a new tab but not if you just click on the link.  Further discussion establishes that all are using Microsoft Internet Explorer as their browser!  So if you are using Internet Explorer and have problems try Graham’s trick or switch to Firefox, Chrome or Safari (all available as free downloads).  Computing problems aside Dave Hill, Dave Heath and Graham & Vicky Payne all promptly sign up for the ride.  I can see that this is going to be oversubscribed if I’m not careful!
Still no sign of Ivan but I broach the subject of today’s route and admit that I had promised Ivan we would do Worlds End if the weather was good.  Dave Hill thought this an excellent idea before admitting that he wouldn’t be joining us today!  The others were more cautious but on the promise that we would miss out the Sun Inn at Trevor and instead take lunch at Prospect Garden Tea Room we agreed on the Panorama Route and Worlds End.
Bryan leads off up “the steps” to Minera and across to Penycae with Dave H complaining that we should be contouring around not going up and down: if only, I think.  From Penycae we are on lanes we haven’t done for a while until Prospect Place comes into view and we turn off the lane and climb to the tearoom.  The good weather has clearly brought out the crowds, and the conservatory and many of the outside tables are already taken when we arrive.  We take a relaxing lunch in the garden while enjoying the view before leaving to ride the Panorama Walk.  The views today are the best I have experienced up here.  Beeston Castle and the Peckforton/Bickerton Hills with the Pennines behind are clearly visible.  Then we continue further along and the views across the Vale of Llangollen open up.  This is absolutely superb and well worth the effort to get here.  All that remains is the climb up to Worlds End!  Brian Mac leads us up to the ford and wisely walks across the stepping-stones.  I choose a line to avoid the algae but the rear wheel feels extremely skittish as I cross and Dave has a similar problem.  We stay upright and then struggle with the final two climbs up to the cattle grid but it’s not to be and we all end up walking the last stretch.  All that is, except for Graham and Vicky on their tandem.  Dave puts it down to their gears but Lance’s book title “It’s not about the bike” springs to mind and I make a mental note that I need more hill work.
After a brief rest to recover we enjoy the open moorland terrain before starting the exhilarating descent down to Minera.  From here it is down “the steps” to Cefn-y-bedd with Graham and Vicky way out in front.
By the time I arrive back in Chester the SatMap is showing just over 50 miles, a maximum speed of 40 mph and a total ascent of 1,493 metres.
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Sunday 4 April 2010

1st April 2010: Mersey Estuary Ride

The first special (or as Brian and Dave prefer “novelty”) ride of 2010 just has to be on April Fools day.  Despite that and an early 9.30am meet in Frodsham combined with a poor weather forecast, ten members make it to the Cottage Tea Shop where we take over the back room conservatory.  Thanks to the friendly staff we are soon quaffing tea and toasted teacakes in preparation for the day ahead.  It’s a good mix today including some faces we haven’t seen for a while: Brian, Dave H, Mike, Glennys, Clive, Ivan, Jim, Liz, Martin and Bryan.
Dave announces that he has researched three different routes through Runcorn and that we will be taking the scenic one: and so it turns out to be.  After the initial maze of flyovers and underpasses we emerge to skirt Runcorn Hill with fine views all the way down the Mersey to Liverpool and Wirral.  What a grand way to start the ride.  From here it’s across the Runcorn/Widnes Bridge and down to join the Trans Pennine Trail.  In many ways this is the best part of the route (pity about the steps though) and we take in the scenery before heading inland to Hale to see the carved statue and grave of John Middleton the 9ft 3in Childe of Hale.  Bryan has come up with a new route this year bypassing Speke and the glass-strewn path by the motor works in favour of the lanes.  We leave the Trans Pennine Trail and take to the lanes before joining the old railway track at Halewood heading for Gateacre.
At Gateacre we leave the cycle trail and join the traffic to climb up to the ridge overlooking the Mersey before descending past Calderstones Park to the Red Bull at the eastern end of the Mersey promenade.  We’re doing well for time but Martin is thinking ahead and wondering where we will stop for lunch.  Brian recommends the Brewery Tap at Cairn’s Brewery near Liverpool Cathedral.  The suggestion is taken up with enthusiasm and without a further word we are off along the promenade into the wind.  The brewery is reached well before 1.00pm where we are directed to the empty brewery bike shed at the far corner of the car park.
Inside there is one other customer!  The full range of Cairn’s beers proves to be a daunting choice for some, as we don’t have time to sample more than a few: but no one goes away disappointed.  The food on the other hand is a different matter.  Soup and sandwich is off, as indeed is most of the menu but we can have a sandwich and chips (did someone say we had to wait for the bread to defrost?).  The last two orders emerged from the kitchen just before 2.00pm.  So for the second year running we have missed the ferry!
Brian leads us to James Street Station where we say goodbye to Glennys who takes a train back to Chester while the rest of us go one stop to Hamilton Square.  Here Bryan with bike almost topples backwards down the up escalator saved only by a quick thinking Mike.  With the exciting bit out of the way Brian leads us back through Birkenhead Park to Brimstage Craft Centre for a relaxing afternoon tea.  Brian leaves us here as we start the well-used route back to Chester through Thornton Hough, Willaston and Capenhurst dropping off riders along the way.  By the time we reach the canal at Backford there are only three of us left.

Photographs by Brian MacDonald

Distance from Chester and back just over 60 miles.
See route map and/or gpx file download.