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.

Saturday 27 August 2011

25th August 2011: St Asaph

I had pre-planned a route to St Asaph and since the weather promised to be good, a ride over the Halkyns was in prospect.  There were eleven of us (Liz and Dave, George, Alan, Norman, Martin, Ray, Janet, Ivan, Jim an myself) as we said goodbye to Dave Hill at the Gallery café.  The usual route was taken to Northop but at Halkyn, the left turn at the Britannia was taken up the hill to get us onto the top for the run to Rhys-y-Cae.  Here the tandem sailed on, as we turned left towards Lixwm.  A text message said “See you at the Plough”.  I thought “See you later on the Babell road” since we were going the long way round via the Lixwm lanes.  As thus it was that as we emerged on the Babell road near Racecourse Lane we were all together once again.  Continuing straight on this road until we hit the A55 we then took the farmers bypass to get us to the top of Rhuallt Hill on the old road.  A fast descent right through the village took us to the cycleway running parallel to the A55 and over the purpose-built cyclist’s bridge onto the old A525 and upwards into St Asaph.  Having been to the Plough 10 days earlier, this seemed to be the only decent and decently priced pub in town.  It took awhile to get lunch served but all appeared happy with the fare.  
At the summit above Gwespyr
Dave Hill had mentioned that the Dyserth to Prestatyn cycleway had now been tarmaced, so, I re-routed out of St Asaph and we were soon wending our way slowly uphill to its entrance.  We dropped a few here but caught them in time as they sailed by the cycleway entrance.  This was to be a feature for the rest of the day!  The cycleway is nearly 3 miles of gently downhill rolling heaven.  In Prestatyn it started to rain, so we donned waterproofs as we accessed cycleway 5, sailed though the golf course and past thousands of mobile home to emerge at Talacre.  My original plan was to be sympathetic to the group after a steady morning’s hill climbing by returning to Hawarden via the coast road.  Yes, it is not pretty but it is flat and I thought this would have group appeal especially with a drink stop at the nice café behind Sainsbury’s in Flint.  A long discussion ensued as the choice was given between a flat ride or going up the single chevron lane to Gwespyr and Llanasa followed by the eventual climb to Halkyn Windmill (all of 850ft of ascent).  

Photographs by Alan Jeffs

Surprisingly, the challenging ride was chosen and some literally agonising minutes later we were all resting after the first 400 ft of ascent through Gwespyr’s chevroned lane.  The rest of the afternoon saw the same pattern repeated as we went up and down hill through Llanasa, Whitford, Gorsedd and onwards to Calcoed.  It was here we lost the tandem again.  I had stayed at the back at Gorsedd issuing instructions to the passing stragglers to take the next left on the cycleway 5 to Calcoed.  The tandem sailed right on and at Brynford a phone call confirmed that they would find their own way back.  
By this time it started to rain again, and a few of the stronger riders were itching to head for home, so as they sped off ever upwards, Alan and I held back to shepherd Jim and Norman back to base.  The ride was 57 hilly miles but nonetheless enjoyable in that new roads were accessed and the Dyserth cycleway ridden without the bone shaking ride that Ivan and I had had last time we rode it.  For those heading back to Chester, it was a 70+ mile round trip.

Sunday 21 August 2011

18th August 2011: Croft

Although cool first thing this morning the temperature had risen to a pleasant 19°C by the time the group of 13 met for tea at the Manley Mere Windsurfing Centre.  Bryan announced that he had planned “a bit of a mad ride” to visit territory we had not tried before.  The plan was to cross the Mersey and make a circuit of Warrington threading our way through the lanes just to the south of St. Helens, Newton le Willows and Golborne returning via Lymm.  Dave H would meet us on the outskirts of Runcorn and guide us over the Runcorn/Widnes bridge.  For lunch Bryan had identified a number of possible pubs, with the General Elliot in Croft being top of the list. So just after 10:30 the group of Bryan, Omry, Martin, Liz D, Trevor, Alan, Clive, Norman, Ray, Dave & Liz P set off.  Ivan and his grandson were there to see us off, while Dave M planned to ride with us for the first half hour and then head back.
As usual, from Manley Mere, we started the day with a stiff climb up to Riley Bank and then down to Frodsham to join the main road to Runcorn.  Here Dave M left us, as we met up with Dave H to take the scenic route up to the Runcorn/Widnes bridge and across to join the Trans Pennine Trail on the other side.  We then followed the St Helens Canal for a couple of miles before taking the second bridge to cross into the Moss Bank industrial area heading north along the eastern edge of Widnes to Clock Face.  Here Norman’s local knowledge proved invaluable in guiding us through Clock Face Country Park.  Once back on the lanes we made good progress through Burtonwood and Winwick to Croft where we quickly found the General Elliot.  The newly refurbished and upmarket pub provided a warm welcome and friendly service with a Senior’s Special menu (starter and main) for £6.50.  The food was all you could wish for in quality and presentation and with Timothy Taylor’s Landlord on tap provided a perfect lunch.  With 12 of us to cater for one might have expected some delay in getting back on the road: but not today.  Within an hour of arriving we were back on the road conscious of the need to get back before the Windsurfing Centre locked the gate to the car park.
Culcheth marked the halfway point and from here we turned south to Glazebrook and Rixon where we crossed the Manchester Ship Canal for a brief excursion into Trafford District before returning to Cheshire for a short stop in the centre of Lymm.  Back on home ground we headed for Antrobus and Acton Bridge.  Dave H left us just before the crossing, to make his own way back to Runcorn.  The rest of us continued up past the Maypole pub to Hatchmere and the forest route back to Manley with Omry peeling off along the way.  Then with less than 100 yards to the Windsurfing Centre Liz P was stung by a wasp!
What an interesting day: exploring the northern fringes of Cheshire on lanes we haven’t ridden before with plenty of variety en-route.  Thanks to Dave H and Norman for their help in guiding us through the area and to The General Elliot for their friendly and efficient service combined with a great lunch.
Total distance from Manley Mere was spot on 60 miles with some 75 plus miles for those riding from Chester.

Monday 15 August 2011

11th August 2011: Dolgellau special

Bryan, Janet, Ivan, Clive, Trevor, Allan, Lizzie and Martin met in the café by the car park in Dolgellau at 10:30 am on another grey and gloomy August day.  As we left it was just starting to rain and this would continue for the next 3 hours.  We rode through the town and then immediately began a 200 metre ascent that Bryan described as "cruel". At the top, the normal splendid views were largely absent as the hills were enveloped in cloud down to the 300 metre level.  From here it was downhill back to the valley bottom and after crossing the main Bala road it was up again towards the Coed Brenin forest.  We rode up one side of the raging Afon Wen surrounded by huge trees and then down the other side and eventually back to Dolgellau.
Whether mist or condensation this says it all.

Photograph by Martin Donaldson 

The first section completed we embarked on the second which again began with a stiff climb up the Cader Road. At this point hunger and unremitting rain were causing spirits to flag so we were all relieved to reach the Gwernan Hotel. Welsh Rarebit proved the most popular choice for lunch.  We learnt from the kitchen that this dish was so named because in then past the ordinary Welshman was prohibited by the landowners from catching rabbits and so cheese was used instead.  Who needs Wikipedia!
By now the rain had stopped and the sun appeared, so with improved mood we continued the climb with great views of the Cader Idris crags to our left.  Eventually we arrived at the Cregennen Lakes where superb views of the Mawddach estuary opened up.  Then a steep descent with Bryan managing to skid on one particularly tight bend but expertly avoiding disaster.  On to the main road and then a touch of wheels and Ivan was down thankfully without serious damage to body or bike.  An everyday hazard in the life of the peloton!
Next we crossed the estuary along the railway bridge and, to avoid the horrors of Barmouth in August and the £1 toll, we doubled back and picked up the Mawddach trail.  This follows a former railway line and provided an easy, flat and scenic route back to Dolgellau arriving just in time for tea and cakes.
41 miles and 1600 metres of ascent.  A route I think that was enjoyed by all but which would have been so much better if the weather had been kind.

Saturday 6 August 2011

4th August 2011: Ellesmere

The weather forecast was for light rain until 10:00 and then a clear day – no, wrong!; raining until 12:00 and then progressively clearing up until the sun appeared at 16:00.  Still, a little bit of rain was not going to spoil a potentially enjoyable and “flat” ride from the Ice Cream Farm to the Black Lion in Ellesmere.  Six of us left in the rain (Martin and Liz, Ray, Ivan, myself and Bill on his first outing with us) taking a near straight-line routing to Whitchurch.  Dave M came for the tea only and then went home as we left.  The idea for the first 15 miles to Whitchurch was to ride as close to the A41 as possible but minimising the actual use of the A41.  The original plan had been to go up to Burwardsley then Harthill but given Bill was on his first outing, I re-routed via Bolesworth Castle to hit the A41 for the first time at No Mans Heath.  Taking the first left, we looped back to the A41 to go left then first right to pass by the “Bell o’ th’ Hill” pub and then cross the A41 to take the lane opposite to re-emerge at Grindley Brook.  Joining the canal and negotiating the flight of locks here, we took the largely good towpath to a lifting bridge to exit into Whitchurch (thus avoiding the A41 itself).  Out towards Alkington, the rain had now stopped and the pleasant lanes took us to Welsh End where we left the way-marked cycleways bound for Lyneal and Colemere.  Taking the A528 into Ellesmere, we took a surprisingly hilly Sandy Lane to access the town centre after 30 miles and the Black Lion beckoned.  The pub has had a bit of welcome makeover since we last visited in May 2010 but still has a good range of food and reasonable prices.  With 25 miles to go, the afternoon would be a pleasant spin through the Welsh borderlands.  And so it was as the temperature rose, we negotiated the twists and turns from Ellesmere via Hampton Wood and Haighton to Threapwood.  Similarly the NE track out took us past the wooded Overton Scar and Edge Hall to cross the A41 at Duckington.  Up the Hill towards Brown Knowl it was then all downhill back to the Ice Cream Farm for tea at 16:15.  The last mile or so ended up as a sprint as Martin shot off at 25mph with three of us in pursuit.  For Bill it was a long but hopefully a pleasant 55 miles, and as the three of us took the usual way back to Chester we knew we would notch up 75 miles for the day.
See route map and/or gpx file download.