First choice for lunch was the Stretton Fox at J10 of M56. A quick reconnoitre found the place heaving, so a quick run down the redundant Spark Hall Close took us to the “Cat & Lion” at Stretton traffic lights. The “two course plus soft drink” £5 menu was snapped up by all and, despite a slip up with a partially frozen “hot” pasta dish, all agreed that it was an enjoyable lunch venue. Pushing on down Hatton Lane, past the “Hatton Arms”, and ignoring the turn to the “Ring of Bells” at Daresbury, we crossed the A56 bound for Moore passing the “Red Lion” pub. The initial plan was to try to navigate around the western edge of the Norton suburb of Runcorn along the canal path. However Brian Mac recalled that the Bridgewater Canal was rideable, so we looked for a suitable entry point in Moore – but missed it. A slight double back towards Daresbury found the canal entry point and we were soon cycling along the towpath of this very wide canal opposite the Daresbury physics laboratories and Science Park. Going under the M56 at the Preston Brook marina, we had no choice but to ride the main road back towards Frodsham. On the outskirts we took the NCN route 5 round the less-than-pretty backside of the town emerging, one puncture repair later, in the centre of the town. Out up the hill towards Helsby, we took a short diversion right to get off the main A56 road emerging again in time to turn into the Old Chester Road. Ignoring the obvious route of going straight up Alvanley Road, I hunted out the semi-rideable footpath that is the former Helsby Quarry. This quarry is partly a geological educational resource with its sandstone entrance tunnel and sectioned sandstone rock faces. Emerging after a short walk onto the Alvanley Road, the route back to Manley was an easy mainly downhill ride. Although only a circular route of 42 miles, we had seen a good selection of the local industrial chemical heritage: Rock Savage works (steaming away across the M56), Winnington chemical plants, Anderton canal boat lift, and the first canal in England (1761) financed by the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater. Oh, and it was pleasantly warm and dry – not bad for the last ride before the clocks change.
See route map and/or gpx file download.