It was a beautiful spring morning as I rode out to this week’s venue at the Windsurfing Centre and I anticipated a large turnout. I wasn’t surprised to find that there were 15 of us and for the first time this year we were able to sit out in the sunshine with our teas and coffees. I had come armed with a route which would take us to out to the far side of Northwich so was able to sit and enjoy my cuppa and the conversation while the brisk riders studied their maps.
We all set out together and made the short, sharp climb up to Sugar Lane. At this point the brisk group started to disappear off into the distance so time for a quick roll call. There were 10 of us left, these being Andy, Brian Mac, Bryan, Dave H, George, Keith, Liz D, Mike, Steve & Trevor. At the end of the lane we turned right heading down Dark Ark Lane before turning left for the run through Delamere Forest. From here it was straight across the junction at Hatchmere then right towards Norley and left towards Acton Bridge. Too busy talking, I missed the turning down Onston Lane but a short bit of back tracking got us back on course.
Photographs by Brian MacDonald
As we left Acton Bridge the brisk group who had reached the same junction as us but via a different route cheered us on. We dropped down to the A49 and crossed the River Weaver on the Bartington swing bridge. Then it was back on to the country lanes and up the steep incline to Little Leigh. We crossed the main road, cycled on to Comberbach and turned right down towards Great Budworth. When we reached the A559 we were only 10 minutes ride from our lunch destination but it was too early for lunch. So we crossed over to Great Budworth and did a loop through Bate Heath, Pickmere and Wincham before heading back towards Marston and The Salt Barge. Opened in 1861, the Salt Barge sits opposite the old Lion Salt Works (soon to be opened as a tourist attraction) and adjacent to the Trent & Mersey canal. It took a while for our food to arrive (to be fair there were 10 of us) but the wait was worth it and we all tucked in to an enjoyable meal.
|Marbury Country Park|
After lunch we turned towards Northwich but after a few hundred yards turned into Marbury Park. You can’t go anywhere in Northwich without being reminded of its salt mining history. (‘Wich’ is an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning saltworks or salt-mining town and salt has been mined in the area since Roman times.) Marbury Park is no exception. It is now a country park, criss-crossed with paths over what was once a huge brine field. We circled around the southern end of the park and onto the old Warrington Road, which cuts through the middle of the park and is now traffic-free, before emerging onto Marbury Road and heading back towards Comberbach.
A short stint back along the morning’s route out then we were heading along Senna Lane towards Higher Whitley passing the picturesque village pond with Willow Bank Farm behind it. We crossed the A49, passing Grimsditch Hall and reached Frodsham via Dutton, Aston and Sutton Weaver. We followed the main road through Frodsham and turned left up Tarvin Road followed by the steady drag up ridgeway. We were given a brief respite on the way up when we had to stop while some tree fellers dropped a branch onto the road. Then it was back onto Sugar Lane and downhill back to Manley Mere having covered 45 miles since leaving there that morning.