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 23 July 2010

22nd July 2010: Lower Peover

With wet weather forecast for the day I wondered how many members would be meeting at the Windsurfing Centre for today’s ride.  My concerns seemed well founded when Kate called to say she wouldn’t be coming, and then Clive emailed to say he wouldn’t be there either.  The ride out in pouring rain even had me wondering whether it was worth the soaking!  By ten minutes to eleven only George (on his third ride with us) and myself had made an appearance, but Ivan soon made the numbers up to a respectable three.  So at just gone eleven the three of us set out in waterproofs up the sandstone ridge to Newton before descending to Kingsley and up to Acton Bridge by the back lanes.  The usual fast descent down to the Weaver Navigation was slowed by the head wind by at least we could hope for help later in the day on the way home.  At the turn off for Little Leigh we stopped to swop waterproofs for windproofs: yes the rain had stopped and it was drying up.  By Comberbach and Great Budworth the day was warming up and a further stop was needed to discard the windproofs.

The plan was to lunch at The Dog Inn at Peover Heath but by 12.45 it looked that bit too far so instead we opted for The Bells of Peover at Lower Peover where we arrived at 1.00pm.  Although hardly your normal cyclists pub we were made more than welcome with good beer, good food and friendly fast service: just a pity one had to take out a mortgage in order to pay the bill!

Photographs by Ivan Davenport

By 2.00pm we were ready to leave the pub and cross to the beautiful timber church dating from 1269 (one of the oldest timber churches in Europe) with its stone bell tower.  We decided on the direct route back making time for afternoon tea at Summertrees, so after exploring the lanes round Lower Peover we head off for Lach Dennis, Davenham and the Whitegate Way in glorious sunshine.  From here it was an easy route through Little Budworth and Cotebrook followed by the hard slog up to Summertrees where we arrived at 3.45pm to enjoy a well-earned tea and slice of lemon cake.
Ivan took the lead for the remaining section back to the Windsurfing Centre via Oscroft, Tarvin Sands and Little Barrow to complete a wonderful round trip of some 52 miles.  From here the group split up to make our own ways home with me heading for Mickle Trafford to join the Millennium Greenway back to Chester.  If today teaches us anything it’s not to be put off by even the worst forecast.  What appeared to be a terrible day in prospect had turned into a glorious cycling day.
Distance from Chester and back a good 64 miles.
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Wednesday 21 July 2010

17th July 2010: Ribble and Hodder Valley

The day started with nine riders, two cars, a white van, seven solos and a tandem on the motorway in the rain heading for Whalley in the Ribble Valley.  After parking up and a visit to Whalley’s luxurious public toilets it was time for Dave to lead us out on NCR 90 over the River Calder.  We were soon on quiet lanes heading west to cross the Ribble at Ribchester Bridge before entering the lovely town of Ribchester.  Here Dave led us through the back streets to visit the Roman Baths and the Museum before arriving at the Tea Shop Café for our first stop and much needed refreshment.

It was well past 11.00 hours by the time we left and it would be a while before the weather started to dry up.  After passing the impressive arms houses at Hurst Green we approached Stoneyhurst College from the west before joining last years route to Chipping.

Photographs by Bryan Wade and Ivan Davenport

Dave offered the choice of a stop for a quick half or pressing on towards the fells.  Fearing that a quick half could easily turn into a leisurely pint the group decided to keep going.  For me the next section of the ride, up past Wild Boar Park and on to what must be the most isolated telephone box in the country, is hard to beat.  The sun came out and the views were superb and then there’s the prospect of the fast sweeping descent down to Burholme Bridge over the Hodder.  Pity about the Landrover that nearly took out Jane and Jim!

Undeterred we regrouped at the bridge before heading down stream following the Hodder through Whitewell until two sharp left turns took us onto the Roman road and a climb up to the impressive lodge of Browsholme Hall.  With lunch beckoning at the Lower Buck pub in Waddington we only had the narrow attractive lane and Talbot Bridge to navigate.  All seemed well as we passed the spot where Jonathan had a puncture last year.  At the B road we regrouped to find we were missing Mike G; so while Ivan went back the rest of us rode the final half-mile to lunch.

Just as last year the Lower Buck did us proud with a reserved room for the group (Dave Heath, Bryan, Graham & Jane T, Ivan, Liz & Dave P, Jim and Mike G), and a good choice of food and ale, including Hen Harrier.  Before long Ivan and Mike G appeared: Mike having punctured at a similar spot to Jonathan last year!  All too soon it was time to leave and start the final section of the ride with our last crossing of the Ribble followed by a climb up to Downham.  From here it was an easy run back to the cars at Whalley with 46 miles clocked.
Thanks go to Dave for making it all possible.  An excellent ride in true Chester Easy Riders style.
See route map and/or gpx file download.

15th July 2010: Rhewl & Llantisylio

Liz and Martin, Brian Mac and Jim were tucking in when I arrived at the Tudor House Cafe – Jim was not riding as he was under orders for the afternoon.  At my request we agreed what looked like a pretty daunting trip over Worlds End cutting off into the Dee Valley by the Horseshoe Falls and over Llantisylio Mountain back through Lllandegla and Bwlchgwyn. My ulterior motive for this suggestion was to confirm my grasp of the middle section of the Bickerton Challenge Route.  Dave and Liz arrived and although this was not ideal tandem territory were happy with the proposed route so having bade farewell to a relieved Jim we set off of for the haul up to Minera.  We eventually emerged to enjoy the splendid views from the top and descended towards the ford at Worlds End in fine fettle. The dry weather had eliminated most of the treacherous green slime that usually makes the ford so hazardous and it was negotiated without mishap. Unfortunately a mile or two further down the hill Brian Mac was much less fortunate at a sharp bend when a patch of damp gravel in conjunction with braking hard for walkers on the road conspired to tip him head first into the stone parapet of a bridge. I was only a few yards behind him and could see that this was a full on collision. Although shocked and dazed Brian appeared to be in far better shape than I had feared.
My own attitude to helmets has now changed dramatically as it was absolutely clear that the front of his helmet had taken the full impact of the crash and saved him from very serious injury or worse. Combined with James Cracknell’s assertion that his life was only saved by his helmet I shall no longer venture out without a protected pate! Maybe time for the CTC to be more proactive in encouraging helmet use and I cannot see that this is incompatible with the understandable reluctance to see helmets made compulsory.
Dave and Liz P agreed to escort Brian to the hospital in Llangollen where Liz could also avail herself of transport back to Chester with Dave joining us at the agreed lunch stop in Rhewl some 3 miles away. Martin Liz and I pressed on and reached the Sun Inn with no further drama. The welcome was warm and the beer refreshing along with very decent portions of food at reasonable prices. A mobile phone no go area so we had almost given Dave P up when he arrived in urgent need of a pint of Facers Flintshire bitter and sustenance in the form of a chicken creation and mounds of chips. How a road running along a river valley can be quite so hilly is beyond me but the anticipated gentle 4 miles to the start of the ascent of Llantisylio Mountain was full of gratuitous hills that seemed to go up and down endlessly. Reaching the turn for Bryneglwys we soon found out what hills are all about and my aging limbs along with the large portion of fish and chips and couple of pints of Facers put me in pedestrian mode sooner than I would have liked particularly as it is a very long steep climb to the top of the mountain. Pain has its own reward and the views were again stunning and accompanied by the beauty of the heather adorned hillsides were almost sufficient compensation for the climb. Hat tips to Dave, Martin & Liz who displayed considerable climbing ability!  We now looped round via a side road to Llandegla where a road cum track running near to the visitor centre took us back up towards Bwlchgwyn.  Here Dave P lost leave of his senses and suggested a little diversion that took us down a charming little lane that had another stiffish climb back up onto the B road down to Cefn y Bedd and thence up to Caergwrle.  Only around 40 miles or so from Caergwrle but quite enough given the topography and drama encountered during the day!
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Friday 16 July 2010

8th July 2010: Audlem

Having read the blog for last week’s ride, I arrived somewhat prepared at the Ice Cream Farm brandishing photocopies of pages of the OS maps and a proposed route.  A flattish ride to Audlem was proposed and quickly accepted – sheep mode again!  The eight of us (Mike, Ray S, Graham and Jane, Liz, George, Jim and I) set off with Mike leading the way.  Mike was designated leader because he had a map holder on his bike, which was more convenient for me rather than trying holding an A4 map whilst riding along.  Confident of his map reading skills, we set off bound for Duckington via Bolesworth Hill Road.  Mike insisted we carry straight on at the Bolesworth Road turn (instead of right) thus allowing us all to “enjoy” the delights of the climb up to Harthill – so much for a non-hilly ride!  This pattern of ignoring turns featured a few times throughout the ride but it will be churlish to mention any further.
An easy ride to No Man’s Heath followed, and, crossing the A41, we went on the old road past the Wheatsheaf pub, which looked like it had been spruced up – remember those bangers and mash lunches in the earlier part of the year?  Crossing the A41, we set off for Wrenbury where we were held up by the traffic lights at the canal bridge.  There were a few suggestions about stopping at the Dusty Miller (dismissed as  “too early for lunch”) but we pedalled straight on bound for Dodcott cum Wilkesley and Cox Bank.  Here the road goes over the canal and a vista of several locks stretches northwards to Audlem. After several left turns, we pulled up in Audlem at the “The Lord Combermere” which according to the website “overlooks Audlem Square opposite the Church.  The pub and restaurant re-opened on 25th January 2006 after a £400,000 plus refurbishment.”  After somewhat of an ordering mêlée at the bar, we sat outside in the sunshine happy that 26 miles were under our belt.  The food was judged to be good to very good.  We had a quick look at the new bike shop opposite the pub that sported Scott bikes in the window- no discount given according to the new proud owner of the Scott bike who happened to be admiring his new purchase from the pavement.
The ride back to Tattenhall was classic CER i.e. all along quiet lanes through Sound, Ravensmoor, Swanley and Bunbury mostly in sunshine with the odd drop of rain.  Riding around Beeston Castle, Ray has the smell of a late afternoon cup of tea in his nostrils and he powered on towards the Ice Cream factory.  As it was just before 1630, we were in luck for once.  Mike scooted off back to Delamere “án kortinu” and presumably arrived safely.  Liz, Jim and George packed their bikes back onto their cars, whilst the rest of us wended our separate ways home.  A respectable 46 mile round trip that, with the 27 mile Chester loop, made for a very enjoyable 73 mile day’s riding.
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Friday 2 July 2010

1st July 2010: Southport

The ride to Ness Garden centre was in drizzle and I was thinking it was going to be a wet day: not had one for few months.  How we long for the sun when it suits!!  I was last to arrive, being met there by the welcome faces of Liz and Martin and new rider 2nd time out George (Walker).
After the initial tea and cake (£1.00 so two slices) there was the question “where to?”  Quick decision made jointly to try to get to Southport. This would be difficult; as between the four of us we did not have a map or the benefit of an Active 10 Satmap.  We set off turning left out of the gates passing through Ness to Brimstage; we did not stop for coffee at the craft centre, as it was a quick sprint to this point.  We then picked up cycle route 56 to Bebbington where we lost the signs so continued on-towards Birkenhead and Hamilton Square rail station.  Tickets purchased, we crossed the water in quick time and was soon on the road to Southport.  This is where the ride got hot - the weather man said rain but it was really very warm and the sun beating down on the four intrepid riders going along a very busy dual carriageway A565.
With not a pub in sight - on arrival across the waters it was discussed whether to go to the Brewery near St James station but horror memory of last visit dissuaded us, so the only food joint was a truck drivers stop where we had beans on toast or cheese on toast - tea was very welcome.  After taking on fuel it was off again on the A565 to Crosby where we took a left onto the B5193 and a welcome break from traffic.  On rejoining the A565 it was to a welcome cycle lane to Formby where we had a quick trip along the footballers des res and going through the Formby Hills to Ainsdale where we joined the Trans Pennine route into Southport.

Photograph by Ivan Davenport

What a very nice place and a splendid trip arriving there at 15:45.
George had travelled by car to Ness Gardens and not wanting a repeat lock-in he decided to catch the train from Southport back to Neston to be sure of getting his car out of the car park.  After a rest in the Albert Inn and a couple of ales we all decided to travel back to Liverpool in comfort then cycle back home.  The journey was too comfy so we stayed on to Hooton where we alighted and again got on the saddle!!!  Simples!!!  I said farewell to Liz and Martin just before Ledsham to go our separate ways.
A good day out but would have been wiser to have a map.  Distance covered - not far by Easy Riders standers but a commendable 65 from door to door.  It is only 30 each way from Ness so next time Brian be prepared.