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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Friday 29 May 2015

28th May 2015: The Plassey (brisk)

I had decided not to prepare a ride today but rather “go with the flow". As there were a lot of us, it became obvious that two groups were needed. The Moderates were off to Overton, and the Brisk lot (Ray, Tom, John and Steve T) turned to me with “Where are we going then Clive”. I had looked through the old rides list but couldn’t find anything I liked. So, being honest I said, “I’ve no idea where to go, but let’s see where we end up”. Steve offered that as the wind was strong and westerly then a diagonal ride would give us a bit of wind-assist on the way home. So off towards Kelsall we ride via Ashton. Up Kelsall Hill and past the defunct Summertrees café, we’re up at 500ft and on the way to Cotebrook and the edge of Eaton. Skirting around Tarporley, we stop briefly near the church in Wyche Road, Bunbury to admire a magnificent Elizabethan house hidden down in the dip.
Onwards past Tilley’s, we run down alongside the Peckforton Hills to Bickerton. I was now getting an idea of where we could end up for lunch - but nothing has actually gelled yet. So onwards around Duckington and Edge Green, we shuffle through Chorlton to the outskirts of Worthenbury. Now I have it - “The Plassey” for lunch. So fortified at last with a concrete idea, I plan a route around Bangor-on-Dee to take us onto the two mile straight drag to the Plassey, which was straight into the westerly headwind.
At 37 miles out from Manley, we’re ready for a refuelling stop. The Plassey is busy as it is half-term week, and we have to sit out side in the cold. By 14:00, we ready to go, even if it is only to get warm again, which we soon do on the inclines up to Eyton. The plan was to get through Wrexham via some “Harry the Bike” shortcuts. Firstly, we take the back lanes and a tour of Erddig Park before taking the shortcut through Puleston Industrial Estate. Under the railway bridge cut-through there is the most impractical bike gate you will ever see - obviously the designer has never ridden a bike! Out through Centenary Road, we go past Morrisons on a short curving cycle path that perhaps followed the old railway line. A few turns around the car parks of the Maelor Hospital on Watery Road eventually find us at the rear escape route now arriving opposite Wrexham football ground. From here it is a straightforward easterly run around the back of Wrexham passing the Rugby Club and the Council Offices down Bryn Estyn Road. A left along Sandy Lane finds us at the roundabout to Wrexham Industrial estate link road. Straight over and a right down Borras Lane, (partially repaired now) allows us a 25mph drag run into Holt. A brief stop outside the former Hildegard’s café confirms there is no life inside yet. So off through Churton, Coddington and Handley, finds us at 60 miles up at Applegate’s cafe at Milton Green for tea and cake. Steve has to ride back to Runcorn, so I plot a route up the A41to Waverton to enable him to go via Great Barrow back home. The route back to Manley is 70 miles, and all of us will have ridden 80+ today at 15.7mph average and a surprising 2800ft of up’s and down’s.
See route map and/or gpx file download.

28th May 2015: Overton (mod)

Temperatures were more like late February than late May when six hardy souls left Manley Mere into a fresh westerly wind.  We had a duopoly of leaders with Steve leading on the electronic side and Brian with a back-up with the C19 paper version.  We were joined by Bryan, George, Keith and Andy and decided to head into the wind first.  The outward journey was uneventful via Waverton, Aldford and past Hildegard’s that looked very closed awaiting new owners.  Onwards via Cross Lanes, Bangor on Dee race-course and up the only incline of the morning to arrive at The White Horse pub in Overton (01978 710 111 Lunches 12:00 – 14:30).  A cracking Joules brewery outlet, it was my first visit but I’ll be back.

Photographs by Brian MacDonald

Both lunch & beer was served promptly, efficiently and pleasantly and was at a good price.  The usual varied CER topics of conversation ensued without any mention of Maggie Thatcher, but every other political persuasion was covered.  The return again was uneventful, which is always a bonus and we arrived at the Ice Cream Farm for tea having travelled via Shocklack, Tilston & Tattenhall.  Big mistake – we were overrun by schoolkids on half term.  Why do children have to be continually entertained these days?  Are they not permitted to climb trees by themselves and wander aimlessly through the countryside anymore?  Why am I sounding like Victor Meldrew? After tea, the Chester and Welsh contingency went off while Steve, Keith and I returned to Manley.  The outward cycle was at 13 mph average, but the return to the Mere was 14.5mph, totalling 55 miles round trip. 

Wednesday 27 May 2015

21st May 2015: Ruyton-XI-Towns (mod)

I knew Dave P had a ride, but where was he? To be fair, he is reliable and consistent, so he duly turned up at 10:26, too late for a big breakfast this time.  Dave's ride was based upon a previous successful route by Jim.  Dave P, the two Steves, Trevor and myself were soon heading for the pretty canal towpath, and then, by contrast, across the dodgy (for cyclists) A5 roundabout. The quiet lanes past Henlle Hall, and southeast through the Franctons, Hordley and Bagley provided classic easy riding.  The weather was very pleasant, the scenery lovely and the pace pressureless.  We pottered along with Dave using a pencil-marked map to consult here and there.  We had the odd off-piste moments, but generally Dave managed less U- turns than the average politician.  I have never ridden with Harry, but it felt like I imagined it would be with Harry, timeless, rolling pleasure.

Photograph by Steve Tan

Dave fancied The Queen's Head past West Felton, because they had large plates I think, but we settled on The Talbot at Ruyton, because it was nearer.  The food was fine and the service fast and friendly.  We sat at the back in the sun, and nearly fell asleep.  The return was via West Felton, Maesbury and a devious route through Oswestry. We climbed up to the Old Oswestry Fort, heading north to Weston Rhyn on a narrow lane with great views. We finished alongside the canal, and back to the excellent coffee shop in Chirk to round off a perfect day's cycling. 42 miles.  
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Friday 22 May 2015

21st May 2015: Llanymynech (brisk)

I met Trevor and Ivan at Chester station as we took the 09:26 train to Chirk. It promised to be a very pleasant day all round. Tom joined Ivan and I as we decided to go up the Ceiriog Valley and see where it would lead us afterwards. The steady climb up to the Hand pub was near car-free. The 1 in 6 lane after the pub was definitely more like 1 in 4 at the top, and we maxed out at c1400ft. We had climbed 1100ft in 13 miles. I chose the 5 mile exhilarating downhill run to Llanrhaeadr. Today would consist of a lot of “Llan…” place names. We motor south and over the next range of hills to Llanfyllin where the main attractions are free toilets and parking!
The benefits of a fiscally devolved Wales

Photograph by Clive Albany

The A and B roads are essentially traffic free and this gives us the opportunity to admire the beautiful spring countryside of the Tanat and Cain river valleys. At Llansanffraid, we go over the river twice before falling once again into the welcoming arms of the “Bradford Arms” in Llanymynech. As we are the only diners, the food comes quickly, which was much needed after 33 miles of hills. I elect to tour the “Maes” flat countryside nearby as we go through Maesbrook, Maesbury Marsh and Maesbury itself. Here we overtake the recent Queensheaders who are making their way back via Oswestry. 
My return route is experimental, so after rushing through Babbingswood, Whittington and Gobowen, we head north and pass Henlle Hall golf club to take the canal path back to Chirk. It’s a bit rough in parts, and is really only a dry-day ride, but it connects us, via the Poacher Inn, to the Chirk aqueduct without having to get on a main road at all. Back by 15:20, we enjoy Magnums in the sunshine in Chirk before moving down to the station for the 15:55 Chester train. Trevor appears a few minutes before it is due, and we are all home by 16:45. We managed 50 circular miles and Ivan’s Garmin has noted a1000 metres of Up - it certainly felt like it!

Sunday 17 May 2015

14th May 2015: Aston (mod)

A cold, windy May day but at least the all day rain threatened on the BBC forecast a couple of days ago did not materialise. The hardy few who turned out were all back in winter wear in contrast to the previous day when the sun prompted a quick spin in shorts and short sleeves. Heading out into the wind to a good curry at the Bhurtpore Inn at Aston (a typical winter’s ride) was agreed as a good option. 
Trevor peeled off after a few miles as he had commitments at home leaving Tom, George and the Tandem Team to wend their way eastwards via Harthill and Wrenbury where a sudden brief squall persuaded us to head straight for the pub.
Satisfied after the excellent curries and with no sign of rain we headed into the wind again for a loop in the lanes around Audlem before heading back on a wind-assisted route via Nantwich.  A rebellion in the ranks regarding tackling the bridleway up and over the Peckforton Hills left no option but to indulge myself with a few extra miles traversing one of my favourite lanes along the east side of the hills in both directions before returning to the Ice Cream Farm for a final coffee.
A gentle 40 miles. Not bad for a winters day.

Friday 8 May 2015

7th May 2015: Mersey Meander

Eleven of us met up at Ness Gardens to be joined for the first time by Jane.  I have photographed everyone, so you can see who else was riding.  It was over 13 months since I last led this ride via the Ferry across the Mersey, but luckily I checked the previous night on the ship’s timetable.  We had an hour to cycle to the jetty, which I have easily done many times, but with so many riders, we only did it with minutes to spare.  Then the bombshell........... £5 each, when the underground train ticket is only £1.20. Hope you all enjoyed the cruise, as I’ll be catching the train next time.

Photographs by Brian MacDonald

A Team photo was taken outside The Cunard Building, where sadly the flags were flying at half-mast in memory of “The Luisitania”.  It was a Cunarder, torpedoed 100 years ago to the day with the loss of 1,198 souls.  On through Albert Dock, following the estuary to Otterspool, then onto Cressington, circumnavigating our way in and around Garston where we went off-road trying to find the elusive track to the hamlet of Oglet.  We were thwarted by a dirt path about 2kms short, where we had to go inland through the grounds of Speke Hall (I would recommend a visit to this NT property).  We passed through Speke and finally picked up the Trans Pennine Trail that took us on to our lunch stop at the ‘Childe of Hale’, L24 4AX, where we were suitably well served very quickly (Tel: 0151 425 5538).
After lunch we again followed the Trans Pennine Trail to Widnes where we met a Wirral CTC group doing the same ride in reverse.  At “The Bridge” Dave H pointed out the new Mersey Crossing further upstream and took over the navigation to make sure we didn’t end up still out there wandering the bus lanes of Halton.  He took us via Runcorn Hill, Weston Village then via various cycle routes and footways to the A56 and Route 5 to Frodsham.  We had a sunny café stop at the Castle Park Arts Centre in Frodsham before returning via Manley and splitting into groups: with Keith, Dave H and Trevor for Guilden Sutton; Bryan for central Chester and Martin, Lizzie, George, Jane & Brian Mac making for Ness.  Return to Ness Gardens was about 63 miles.  The slowish semi-urban ride at 12mph with multiple stops for ferries, traffic lights, coat changes, errant dogs etc made it feel like 83 miles

Saturday 2 May 2015

30th April 2015: Hanmer (mod)

A group of nine: Bryan, Dave and Liz P, Dave H, Keith, Trevor, Brian Mac, Mike and Jim assembled at Hildegard’s to plan our day’s ride. The Hanmer Arms was chosen as our lunch stop as the route gave us several opportunities for change should the weather become unpleasant.

Photographs by Brian MacDonald

We set off across the Dee into Farndon and then northwards to Churton.  Here we turned east towards Coddington and then south through Barton and Stretton to Tilston. A few showers hit us as we followed the dog-leg lanes broadly southwards through Horton Green and Cuddington Heath to Lower Wych. We then joined the A525 at Eglwys Cross briefly before following the A 539 into Hanmer. This allowed us to avoid the short but usually very dirty lane direct into the village. 
The pub was a little quieter than usual and most took advantage of the ‘Pensioners Special’ menu, which included a free half pint/tea/coffee. Not a huge amount of choice of food but we get easily confused these days! Plenty of ales to choose from though, including an interesting Elderflower Ale. We could see the weather steadily improving and set off an hour later in dry and occasionally sunny conditions. 
We followed the lane south to Bettisfield and then turned north-westward heading for Penley. Here we picked up one of our regular routes back from Ellesmere to Worthenbury, Shocklach and back to Holt in time for coffee and cakes. No more rain, though the breeze did pick up from time to time.
An excellent days’ riding on mainly quiet lanes: 41 miles in total.

30th April 2015: Gobowen (brisk)

I’d set out about 15 minutes earlier than planned on my way to Hildegard’s and it was soon obvious that I should have waited at home in the dry for those 15 minutes. By the time I reached the café, I had been well and truly soaked! Hildegard was mopping the floor as I arrived, as cheerful as ever. We chatted about her impending up-sticks back to Germany (in early June perhaps). I reminded her that, after years of looking after other people, it was meet and right that she should now be looking after herself. John arrives next and gradually a load more arrive. 
Where's John - gone for a swim?

Photograph by Clive Albany

I’d fancied a ride to Whittington, as I hadn’t been there since 2011. There were no takers except John, so we set off bound for Wrexham. I’d planned a wiggle through the centre of Wrexham and then up in the hills around Johnstown, thence to Whittington. We did our Wrexham wiggle, finding cut-throughs to the lane to Erdigg. The weather was rainy, windy and cold and so, with John’s approval, I cut out the hills and re-routed on the hoof as we headed for the Llangollen canal aqueduct cycle path then Chirk, and a bit of canal again towards Weston Rhyn. Here there is a wonderful, nearly straight lane going through Hengoed to the Gobowen Hospital. Derwen College café was busy and we were lucky to get a window table. As ever it is a pleasure to be here, with prompt and efficient service matched with home-cooked food. 
The sun is well out now and it is a real pleasure to be out in the Shropshire countryside. The route back was via the quiet lanes of Hindford and Dudleston Heath. Somewhere here I pick up a rear wheel slow, and with an audience of inquisitive bullocks, effect a repair. Through Lightwood Green and Cloy, we then take the main road back to Cross Lanes, through the industrial estate to the top of Borras Road (which looks like its at last going to be resurfaced) and then the 3 mile run down to Holt again. A mere 48 miles, with 70+ from Chester.