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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Saturday 28 May 2011

26th May 2011: Little Warford

Wet, wet, wet was the forecast for today’s weather plus some gusty wind for later.  Contrary to the usual outcome today’s forecast turned out to be spot on.  It rained most of the way out to Utkinton, not heavy mind, but enough to be uncomfortable.  I settled down in Rose Farm café to tea and toasted teacake while first Clive arrived in full wet weather gear, followed by Ivan (just down from his new job in the Lake District to join us for the day: there’s dedication!) and finally Norman on his second outing with us.  That’s it for today, just four brave souls willing to take on the elements.
I suggested a ride out to Little Warford near Alderley Edge which would clock up about 50 miles round trip from Utkinton.  The only response from those present was Little ……?  And so Little Warford was agreed with The Stags Head earmarked for lunch.  I led out on the well-used route through Cotebrook, passing Oulton Park motor racing circuit and on to Whitegate where we turned right to use the wooden bridge crossing of the Weaver Navigation.  From here we took the rough track under the west coast main line up to Moulton where we rejoined the lanes to Davenham, Lach Dennis, Lower Peover and eventually Great and Little Warford to arrive in good time at 12:15.
There were two removal vans outside The Stags Head when we arrived and the pub tables were being loaded into the first of the vans.  “Have you closed?”  “No we’re just taking the tables away.  They’re reopening this lunchtime.”  Inside we found that the refurbishment was slightly behind schedule and that we were the first customers.  Judging by the plush new upholstery, new tables, polished timber floor and carpets we were not the type of patrons they were aiming to attract.  This is practically Alderley Edge after all!  That aside, we were made more than welcome as we discarded wet clothes, and the choice of ales put aside any lingering doubts on our part.  Food service was a little on the slow side but we had plenty of time and when it came, the quality justified the wait.
We left The Stags Head at 13:30pm in the rain and headed south to Goostrey with the choice of continuing on to Holmes Chapel or Middlewich.  I decided on Middlewich with the intention of trying the link over the River Wheelock to Stanthorne Mill that looked doable on the map.  In Middlewich we were forced to go through the centre, eventually reaching the turnoff for the Wheelock.  “It’s a no through road”, followed by “No it’s a Harry route.”  Well it looked OK; a wide grassy lane that led us down to the bridge after which the track narrowed eventually becoming an increasing narrow footpath.  After 50 yards of pushing we reached the Mill and continued the ride on to Winsford and the Whitegate Way.  By now talk was about where we should stop for afternoon tea.  We decided on the Shire Horse Centre café but Ivan, in a hurry to get home, left us just before Cotebrook.
The remaining three of us relaxed in the café over tea and carrot cake while discussing the implications of Brian Lowe’s resolution passed at the CTC national AGM.  When we emerged the rain had stopped but the wind was getting stronger!  It was only a few miles from here to Utkinton where we left Norman to collect his car while Clive and I fought the strong head wind back to Chester.
Today proved once again that despite the damp weather CER provides a great day out.  A round trip of 50 miles from Utkinton or just over 70 miles for those of us riding from Chester.
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Friday 20 May 2011

19th May 2011: Llanasa

A fine day in prospect and so it was with plenty of sunshine to illuminate the Clwydian range of hills.  At the Gallery café, Jim suggested the Red Lion in Llanasa, so a route was quickly plotted and off went the nine of us (Dave and Liz, George, Dave M, Jim, Dave H, Alan J, Norman and I).  Plotting the usual route to Northop via the back lanes of Ewloe Green, we took it steady up to Halkyn and Pentre Halkyn and across the Brynford golf course.
Fine views of the Dee estuary and the Clwydians were in prospect.  Crossing the A55 at Calcoed we idled through Gorsedd before dipping down through Whitford.  The small lane on the left took us on NCN 5 around the base of the hill with the site on top of the supposed Roman watchtower or lighthouse now replaced by a folly-type tower.  From the top of the tower you can get panoramic views across the water to Liverpool.  At the bottom of this lane behind the hedge hides the “Maen Achwyfaen” Celtic cross that is supposed to be around 1000 years old.  After a brief stop to view this scheduled ancient monument, we “ancient relics” got back on our bikes bound for Llanasa.
What a pretty village this is; and the Red Lion has an elevated position in the village centre. Food and drinks were quickly ordered and we sat outside in the sunshine, and after a decent wait the decent food arrived.  As only 19 miles was under our belt, a longer return journey was soon plotted over the hill towards Trelawnyd.  After a short diversion in the village centre, we were soon down the lanes towards the A55 bridge crossing.  Dave M recognised the lanes as part of the Clwydian Audax route.  So the map reading was back on track.
I wanted to take the pretty lanes at the top of the hill above Tremeirchion since this gives three miles of delightful “flat” countryside to cycle through before turning right on to the road to Babel.  This road dips and rises over 400ft for 5 miles before you arrive at Pentre Halkyn Windmill at 900ft. Dave M suggested that we take the usual run down the back lanes towards Northop but bear right towards Alltami and Buckley and then into Hawarden.  The “Two Daves” set off down the lanes at a pace but were nowhere to be seen at the right turn lane towards Alltami.  George peels off to Northop and the rest of us make our way back via the Buckley suburbia.  Only Jim and I are bike-bound to Chester as the rest reflect on 44 miles of peaceful lanes and pretty Welsh villages.  Norman did extremely well on his first outing so we may see him again!
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Friday 13 May 2011

12th May 2011: Whitchurch

Six of us (Liz & Martin, Jim, Brian, Andy and I) debated the likely weather patterns and noted the wind was stiff and a westerly, so going east from Manley would mean all the way home with the wind on our front wheel.  Where to go – Jim offered Whitchurch!  I had planned out a possible route to Mobberley so going to Whitchurch was contra-directional.  After a prompt, that there were not so many hills, we all concurred with Whitchurch and then Brian and Jim busied themselves finding a route.  Manley to Oscroft to Bunbury to Faddiley – after that Jim’s geography was vague, so I offered Larden Green to Chorley to Norbury to Marbury to Osmere to Whitchurch and the Old Town Vaults pub.  

Photographs by Brian MacDonald

The weather was cool with lots of cloud that threatened the odd shower.  The pace was brisk with Jim in the lead and the terrain “flat”.  As so we busied along via Beeston where we found an “End to Ender” puzzling over his ancient low resolution road map bound for Warrington this night.  I hope he made it!  At Norbury there is a steady climb up towards Whitchurch followed by a short run down into the town and to the Old Town Vaults.  The side gate was opened up and bikes tucked out of sight of the road.  We all went for the Senior Citizen’s Special, which for two basic courses plus a hot drink with a pint of Joules IPA (one of the other seven real ales) was under £10.  Liz of course was ineligible for this menu but ate half of Martin’s apple pie and custard anyway.  A promptly delivered meal that was tasty and very welcome – but as before, a smile from the owner would have completed the experience.  
The way back was plotted over lunch and via Wirswall we ran roughly parallel with the route in to Whitchurch before picking up the NCR 45 to Bickerton.  Jim did not fancy Harthill, so Reading Room Lane took us into Brown Knowl and across the A534 past Bolesworth Castle and the usual route to the Ice Cream Farm for tea and cake.  As Liz, Martin and Brian had to get back to Manley, we all set off for Huxley with Jim peeling off towards Waverton.  The roads here were wet after a recent downpour and although it threatened a few times, all we had was a few spots of rain all day.  Andy and I peeled off in Little Barrow to go Chester bound whilst the car-assist three returned to Manley with 61 miles on the clock.  The Chester Three had around 75 miles.
NB: I can attest that the Motorola Defy smart phone that I use for route navigation is really tough.  At one point whilst rolling down a longish downhill roughly surfaced lane the phone holder bounced off my bike and, upon hitting the road the phone split away from the holder only to be unavoidably ridden over at some speed by Martin.  Not a scratch on the phone and it was still working.  There are issues with the phone holder though!

Saturday 7 May 2011

5th May 2011: Carrog

Tudor Café - fuel up for the hills to come - and so it was as ten of us (Mike M, Dave & Liz P, George, Bryan, Brian, Andy, Ray, Alan and I) set off bound for the “The Grouse” at Carrog.  Taking the Cymau road to Ffrith, the legs were nicely warmed up thanks to two single chevron sections.  A second left along the B road eventually took us upwards via quiet lanes to Rhydtalog, followed by a slow climb past Llandegla to the Ponderosa roundabout.  The back lane off this roundabout, which runs roughly parallel to the A5104, offers stunning views over the Vale of Clwyd and out to sea - or would have done if the weather was clearer, but nonetheless a veritable feast of Clwydian hills were on view.  Rejoining the A5104 briefly, a quick left took us up a slow climb around Llantysilio Mountain to 1400 ft.
Pausing to regain our corporate lungs, and to admire the view over the Dee Valley and the Berwyns, we set off down the very steep descent to the Old Coach Road that would take to Carrog and the pub; - or would have done if my rear wheel had not been punctured - still, as everyone lay on the grass and let me get on with it, I mused that this was the first puncture I had succumbed to in 5300 miles of cycling.  Rapidly descending, we were soon in warmish sunshine on the Old Coach Road and near our lunch stop.  

Photographs by Alan Jeffs
The Grouse pub had an attractive outdoor covered seating area that gave panoramic views of the Dee Valley, the A5 and the smoke from the steam train at Carrog Station.  Lunch for 10 was promptly served and tasty it was too.  One to come back to in the future methinks.  “Are there any hills after lunch?” - well “Yes” is the answer to that question, and we were soon on the back lane out of Carrog ever upwards to rejoin the A5104 at Bryneglwys.  The Tandem Two left us here bound for Westminster Park.  Whereas we briefly rejoined part of the route out to join the Nant-y-Garth pass road near the top of its winding path.  Mike M was the second defector making his way Delamere bound.  The rest of us took the lane to Llanarmon-yn-Lal as the rain started.  They have the right idea here - the local pub was the polling station for the day - a perfect combination of politics and beer.  “Do you want to go home via Caffi Florence or via no café direct to Caergwrle?” - and so left we went via Llanferres to Caffi Florence.  By this time the forecasted light rain came down a bit harder as we sat with our “Coffi a chacen”.  Eventually we had to leave in the rain, climbing up the main road towards Mold before taking the near hidden right by the pub towards Nercwys.  The rain had stopped as we made our way to edge around Hope Mountain by Leeswood and on to Caergwrle.  Brian shot off to the station and was soon into his first pint awaiting the Wirral train.  Alan and George were car-assisted, and so the remaining four took the familiar route back via Kinnerton to Chester.  The loop from Caergwrle was 45 miles with lots of climbing and the Chester group had nearly 70 miles on the clock.
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Wednesday 4 May 2011

3rd May 2011: Momma’s Mountain Views (Tues)

Dave M and Ray S met up at Tattenhall in fabulous, if chilly, conditions for an early start to the Momma’s Mountain Views Audax.  We reached Chirk at 10:20 hoping to meet up with other members opting for the shorter version of the ride, but none were there to meet us: a pity on such a great day.  The mountain views were stunning throughout the ride and we arrived back from this hilly 134K (83 mile) challenge in 9 hours 55 minutes.
See route map and/or gpx file download.