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 23 December 2016

22nd December 2016: Gobowen (brisk)

This week’s blog is like a Christmas cracker - full of surprises! First off, it starts from the Old Dee Bridge and via Alyn and Gobowen, ends up back at the bridge. Ray and I had surmised that it would probably be just us two at Alyn cafe as we set off via Dodleston and Marford Hill for the 14 mile ride. I reckoned that Steve H would have either ridden over from Kelsall, or car-assisted to Alyn. Arriving into the park by the back door, we see Steve just about to saddle up. He warns us of an icy path report from a local. Testing the path rather gingerly, I quickly end up inspecting it rather too closely; so we three decide to walk the path to the cafe. The next surprise is that Andy B, Macca and Paul R are already there. Macca unfortunately had come off on the same icy path, and decided he would just ride homewards bound - nothing broken, but now nursing a sore elbow and thigh.

The next surprise really isn’t a surprise as no-one has a route planned. Steve decides he will drive elsewhere to find  non-iced up lanes, while I ponder a route out through Wrexham and then "Somewhere". So we four (Ray, Andy B, Paul R and myself) set off into Wrexham bound for "Somewhere". Inspiration comes as we skirt the hospital, then take the Foxwood Drive transfer to end up on the lane to Erdigg. The lanes are filthy and Ray is beginning to rue the choice of “mudguard-less” Titanium model today. We stop after Erdigg and I offer a choice of venues - mistake really - just do a "Harry Watson" and get them to follow you. So I announce we are off to Derwen College at Gobowen for lunch. 

The route is straightforward now through Ruabon, down and up the Dee Valley passing Cefn Mawr, and then the back way into Chirk via the marina, golf course and Chirk Castle. I elect to take the aqueduct, but the boys prefer the road, so with clear instructions to ride to Weston Rhyn, I find I am alone on the road! The boys took the canal path, so after a phone call, they enjoy the reverse route back to me. We are out now down my favourite, if very muddy, lane towards Gobowen. The next surprise has been that it’s been raining on and off since we left Wrexham, very much contrary to Carol Kirkwood’s sunny forecast using the new £99 million Met Office computer - no wonder the Met Office has lost the BBC Weather contract!

Another surprise is that neither Andy or Paul have been to Derwen College restaurant before. This time we are in early after just 20 muddy miles, so we get a table easily. The food comes to the table in five minutes flat after ordering, and we are all thankful for some hot fare. So 30 mins later, we are back on our bikes and in sunshine at last. I plot a narrow lane route back to Chester so we take NCN455 towards Threapwood since none of us needs to get back to Alyn. The tiny lane is absolutely filthy as we pass Hindford by. I decided a route upgrade is needed, and suggest we take the main roads back to Overton and thence to Bangor-on-Dee. “Yes, Please!” is the response, so exiting the lanes at Dudleston Heath, and on “clean” roads,  and we sail passed Gadlas Hall turning left towards Overton. Andy’s bike is making strange noises so he elects to carry on to Wrexham and home to Mold. 

We three take the Bangor road passing the race course at some speed, which has a meet on. Here, I recall that the road to Holt via Shocklach is very, very dirty due to farm vehicles, so suggest we go around Wrexham Industrial Estate and take the Borras road. Paul decides he wants to return via Holt, so he peels off, and Ray and I return much the way we came out down via Borras, Marford Hill and Dodleston. We arrive back with 65 very muddy miles ridden. 

The final surprise is that neither Ray nor I intended to ride so far today - it was just meant to be a ride out and back. So for my final ride of the year I managed 74 miles with nearly 1000m of climbs, and then spent 15 mins cleaning my bike when I got home - it must have been at least 500gm lighter after the wash! 

So Happy Christmas to all CER riders and I hope Father Christmas brings you all those presents that you have been hinting at all year. See you in January 2017!


Friday 16 December 2016

15th December 2016: Overton (mod)

The forecast was miserable, not bad, just miserable: overcast and grey with a fair chance of rain.  That did not deter a reasonable attendance at the Ice Cream Farm: Clive, Ken, Dave H, George, Bryan, Andy B, myself, Jim and Trevor.  The last two were only out for coffee, but as we were setting off, were replaced by Dave & Liz P on the tandem.  Unfortunately they were late and not quite ready, so we left without them, agreeing to meet at our destination: The White Horse at Overton.
So the seven of us set off to pass through Clutton and on to Tilston, where shortly after Bryan left us.  We then headed SW towards Tilston, passing a pair of horse riders… then another horse… then another pair of riders… and the another pair of riders. What had drawn them all out today on these particular lanes?
Welcome assistance from Clive led us through Threapwood and Holly Bush to arrive at our destination. We settled down to enjoy the good Joules’ ales and food, though later I wished I’d ordered a larger portion of fish and chips as energy flagged during the afternoon. And what did we discuss over lunch?  Kitchen appliances believe it or not! The Pipes joined us eventually, but by then we were finishing off our food, and reluctantly left them to make their own return.
Our route back was again aided by Clive along some pleasant lanes towards Worthenbury.  George and I noticed two adjoining recently derelict houses complete with rotting cars – what story lay behind those we wondered.  From there it was on through Shocklach, Tilston and Coddington, passing two incredibly ancient oaks, before crossing the A41 and back into Tattenhall.
We were all surprised that the weather had stayed benign: no rain, relatively warm and even some glimpses of weak winter sun.  Overall 40 miles were covered.  We said our farewells and wished Merry Christmas to those we wouldn’t see again for a couple of weeks.


Sunday 11 December 2016

8th December 2016: Christmas lunch ride to Stamford Bridge

Quite early in the year Dave H had volunteered to organise this year’s Christmas Lunch and since I knew the roads well I offered to lead the ride. The forecast earlier in the week was for a rainy morning clearing up by lunchtime. Fortunately as Thursday drew near the forecast improved and by 9.00am the rain had just about stopped. I met up with Dave H, Steve T and Keith at Jim’s house and together the four of us (Jim wasn’t doing the ride – said he had to have his hair done!!) set off along the Greenway towards Ness Gardens. Despite some rather ominous looking dark clouds we arrived in a dry condition to find Brian Macca, Bryan, Steve H & Mike already enjoying their pre-ride drinks. George joined us soon after to make 9 riders and Kate joined us for a coffee. She would be joining us again later for the lunch. 
I was determined to avoid the ‘missing link’. On a day like today our bikes were certain to get covered in mud or something worse as we passed through the farmyard. So we set off towards the village of Burton and turned right into Mudhouse Lane which brought us out onto the busy A540. A quick dash down the dual carriageway and then we turned left into the relative safety of Badgers Rake Lane. Apart, that is, from our old friend Vanman who thought it would be a good idea to overtake us on a bend.
Photos by Macca and Mike G
We passed the bottom end of the missing link and took a right hand turn to cross the Welsh Road, heading through Ledsham and Capenhurst. Dunkirk Lane brought us out onto the A5117 and we crossed it to join the off-road cycle path alongside the railway. Having to stop to open and close the gates on this section can be a bit of a pain but is much safer than any of the alternatives. At the end we turned left, by-passing Mollington and crossing the A41 towards Backford.
At the bottom of Chorlton Lane I would normally have turned right to go past the back of the zoo but so as not to arrive at the pub too early a loop was required. So we turned left through Croughton and threaded our way under, over and around the M56/M53 Stoak Interchange. Then it was straight down Picton Lane through Picton and into Mickle Trafford.
The weather had been improving all morning and as we crossed the A56 the sun came out. We passed the café at Meadow Lea Farm, which will become one of our regular starting points next year. Jim joined us here and we continued through the village of Guilden Sutton. The final stretch was an unavoidable trip along the A51 but we kept to the safety of the footpath until we reached our destination at the Stamford Bridge Inn near Great Barrow. Here we were joined by Dave & Liz, Tom, Andy W and Kate.
We had been to the Stamford Bridge for our Christmas lunch a few years ago when we had been well fed and looked after and it was partly for this reason that Dave had chosen it again this year. Once again we weren’t disappointed as we tucked into an excellent Christmas Lunch, washed down with one or two selections from their great range of beers. 

After lunch we all made our own ways home. The whole round trip had been about 33 miles. Not a bad tally before lunch for those of us who had ridden out to Ness in the morning.
Many thanks to Dave for organising the meal. Not an easy task but successfully accomplished.


Friday 2 December 2016

1st December 2016: Street Dinas (mod)

According to my radio, this was the first day of meteological winter.  It certainly was wintry, just the same as the last few days had been, cold dry and often sunny. Dave H and I were sitting in Cleopatra’s in Holt, preparing to join a ride with the fast boys, when Dave P arrived with Liz, making a welcome return on the tandem.  After not much consideration Dave H & I chickened out of a longer ride and decided to join the tandem for an outing to The Greyhound at Street Dinas, just north of St Martins.
We travelled out southwards along the western side of the Dee, and sped into Bangor on Dee, bumping into John M on the bridge; he had dropped out from the brisk group still suffering for his recent bug.  Our attempts to persuade him to join us failed and we continued on through Overton. Dropping into the steep valley of Shell Brook, we took a minor road to avoid the steep hill, and climbed up more gently, through some ice, to pass the church in Dudleston, where Dave H & I remembered encountering a funeral earlier in the year. I wonder how much our memory of routes depends on who we were with and what happened.
The Greyhound was just around the corner, and we appreciated their large fire and friendly welcome.  Unfortunately the food wasn’t quite up to scratch in this usually excellent pub. Over lunch the conversation extended over many serious topics from youth training and employment to recent political events across the world.
On our return route we encountered the only difficulties of the day, a sticky mud which jammed itself under my mudguard, operating as a very effective brake. After two stops to clear this, I tried to ignore it, maybe helped by some of the mud shaking free as we passed over the corrugations of Rookery Lane south of Worthenbury – is this the worst surfaced lane in our area?
As we headed back, Dave and Liz suggested we stop for coffee at Lewis’s of Farndon. For those, like me who hadn’t visited before, this is the rather smart, new coffee shop you pass on the right as you head down towards the bridge.  It was a good choice, cosy and well-priced with some tasty looking cakes. As we sipped our drinks we reflected on an excellent winter’s ride: 33 miles of decent riding in good conditions.


1st December 2016: Holt to Queens Head (brisk)

Thursday was advertised as a cold sunny day; and it was as I left home at -1C. Not as cold as Tuesday however, when Ray, John W and I froze our way out to Minshull's Garden Centre cafe at Bradfield Green - worthy as a lunch venue, as we had waitress service in a busy cafe. Ray was at Cleopatra’s just before me and then, Dave H, John M and Steve H arrived. I fancied a 48 miler to Queen’s Head pub at Queens Head - and this was agreed. Just as we were leaving, the Tandem Duo arrived, and we then instantly split into two rides:- one to "Whitchurch" way ( but actually Street Dinas), and a Brisk Trio to Queens Head. 

I planned to use the “main” roads to Overton to minimise the use of any icy lanes until the sun had warmed the air somewhat. Around Cross Lanes however, John was suffering from the after effects of a cold, so decided to call it a day and head for home. So Ray and I slid through Bangor on Dee to Overton. Out towards Ellesmere, we take the tiny lane to Rhewl and pass through another Cross Lanes before ducking and diving to Perthy. Most of the lanes were just wet, but a few had a thin icy veneer and caution was employed. 

Cresting the hill at Welsh Frankton, we were rewarded with a panoramic view of Maesbury marshlands and the hills towards Welshpool in their finest winter misty cloak. Arcing around to Babbingswood, it was a short run down the old “A5” road to the Queen’s Head pub at just after 1200. It was already busy with ladies-that-lunch and OAP groups, but Ray and I were soon served with  a very nice "soup and sandwich" combo. 

The route back was northwards, with the low sun out of our eyes at last, towards Tetchill and Ellesmere. After a while however, the sun was in our eyes again as I realised we were off course. So a minor course correction at Lower Hordley got back into Ellesmere via Lee .We then take my favourite route back to Holt running always northwards via Trench and Sandy Lane, and arriving back for a last coffee at Cleopatra’s for 1445.

By 1515 we are ready to leave for the drag back to Chester with 72 miles on the clock just as the sun was setting. Thanks to Ray for sticking with me today, otherwise it would have been a lonely and cold ride! Where were the rest of you then!

See route map and/or gpx file download.


Friday 25 November 2016

24th November 2016: Goostrey (mod)

The day was forecast to be cold, clear and sunny – ideal for late autumn.  We assembled at Rose Farm Tea Room, which had been refurbished since my last visit – maybe they’d heard we were thinking of going elsewhere.  We were quite a large group (Chris, David M, Ray, Andy B, Dave H, Dave P, Paul, George, Trevor, Mike G and myself), and for once all were out for the day’s ride.

I wanted to try the ‘other pub’ in Goostrey. I’d been a couple of times on CER rides to the Red Lion and never been really satisfied with it, so today we were going to try The Crown.  We travelled out through Winsford and took the main road through Middlewich before heading NE towards Goostrey. The pub had no problem accommodating 11 unexpected cyclists, though we really needed a bit of organising over what was ordered and when it was paid for. Ordering complete, we settled down with our drinks, while a large pot of tea was brought over for Paul and Dave H, who had decided to improvise their own tea ceremony by sitting at opposite heads of the table, requiring tea and milk to be passed up and down. Next we were given linen napkins with the cutlery – not a luxury we Easy Riders are used to.

The food was regarded as being very fine, though it took us some time to complete the lunch as two of us had ordered starters and another two had ordered puddings. So it was that after a long lunch we hit the road again, with the fine weather continuing.  Our return took us through Lach Dennis and Davenham, before dropping down the rough track to cross the Weaver Navigation.  I’d been down this track only a week or so earlier and the pot holes had grown immensely since, probably helped by the heavy rain earlier in the week.  
Photos by Mike G
From there we took the Whitegate Way and continued in the direction of Little Budworth, before being forced to a stop when I got a puncture. Dave P took the lead in changing the tube, something I and probably the others are very grateful for, as he took at least half the time I would have done.  By the time it was fixed the temperature had fallen and the sun dropping close to the horizon.  Ideas of a café stop on the way back were abandoned and we pressed on to our start point at Utkinton. 

Overall 41 miles travelled on a very fine day, sustained by a good lunch.  Maybe The Crown should be added to our list of favourite lunch stops.


Friday 18 November 2016

17th November 2016: Gwaenysgor (mod)

Seven members turned up in uniform at the Gallery Tea rooms.  Kate was there in mufti as it was the last day for paying for our Christmas meal.  However, only four declared themselves for today's ride, the other three having only cycled to the start before returning home, a fledgling third category for the club I mused.

The promised rain had duly started as Dave H, Clive, Ray and myself retraced my route through Ewloe and Northop Hall to enter my home village of Northop crossing for the first time today the A55, a road which dominates much of our lives in North Wales.

Leaden skies surrounded us as we steadily climbed up through Pentre Halkyn and on to the "Mountain".  I was beginning to regret my throwaway comment as we left Northop that it seldom rains all day in North Wales.  Crossing the Mountain the rain eased but we noticed for the first time the strong south westerly wind, which was forecast to increase in the afternoon.  Something to look forward to then.

After recrossing the A 55 we scooted down past Pantasaph Priory, home to the Capuchin Friars, and free wheeled most of the way to Whitford.  However, what goes down soon has to go up, or certainly in N Wales.  We climbed out of Whitford on narrow lanes festooned with leaves and mud.  Clive pointed out the remains of a Roman lighthouse (a pleasant walk from Whitford and worth a visit ) and we passed the early Celtic cross near Berthengam.  Our final descent of the morning took us through the village of Llanasa where I noticed a pub we have used regularly in the past, the Red Lion, is still closed.  We followed the valley floor for the last two mile run in to Gwaenysgor.  Uneventful apart from encountering two motorists driving 4 X 4s (what else) hammering it along these narrow country lanes.  What can you say that hasn't already been said about such crass driving.

The landlord at the Eagle and Child offered us his usual friendly welcome, no doubt glad to see us as customers were a scarce commodity on such a day as this.  Over lunch we discussed whether in our collective experience there was such an item as a truly waterproof cycling glove, boot, overshoe, sock etc.  The consensus was that having road tested ours for two hours that morning we still have to find such an article of clothing.  We walked out of the pub to find that as forecast the rain had blown away and blue skies were on the horizon coming our way.  The bad news was that I had a slow puncture on the rear wheel.  New Gaterskins and inner tubes two weeks ago, would you credit it.  Dave finally located the offending sliver of metal and Ray finally wrestled the new tyre back on to the wheel.  My thanks to all three of my companions as I would have never got that stiff new tyre back on.  We retraced our steps to Llanasa where we hung a right, just before the village, and began the long climb over to Trelawnyd.  A right and left through the village and another long climb out of the valley to recross, yet again, the A55 at the top of Rhuallt hill.  We had lost 20 minutes on the puncture and conscious of a few hills still to come we turned for home at this point.  Running down the well surfaced track at the side of the duel carriageway we accessed the lanes heading east towards Babell.  North of Lixwm I decided to give the legs one more challenge.  We took the route through Rhes-y-cae which gives you a big pull, at least for me, Clive and Ray made light work of it, out of the head of the valley and over the ridge to Rhosesmor.  A gentle run down through the lanes brought us to Northop where I left Dave to cycle back to Hawarden at his own pace.  We had let Clive and Ray off the leash at the last climb.

So a little more challenging than most of our club rides at least for us "moderates" but a sense of satisfaction after a hot shower.


Friday 11 November 2016

10th November 2016: Marston (mod)

Seven of us turned up at Manley Mere: Andy, Clive, George, Dave H, Dave P, myself and Bryan who wouldn’t be joining us on the ride. This may well be our last meet at the Windsurfing Centre following the Great Café Conspiracy or the Café Improvement Plan – take your pick – and the debate over last month’s decisions rumbled on, complete with jokes about refusing to accept a democratic decision a la Brexit.

In the absence of any alternatives, I suggested a ride to the Salt Barge at Marston (or Wincham if you prefer). We had mostly cycled to the meet in the rain and were doubtful whether it would stop, but surprisingly we had a fine and dry morning. We cycled up towards New Pale, stopping on Manley Common to note an un-visited café for us – Stonehouse Farm (www.stonehousefarmbandb.co.uk) – one to investigate on a future ride. From there we had planned to travel through Gt Budworth, but Clive introduced a useful by-pass route for this allegedly cycle-unfriendly village, and in so doing we passed an interesting hostelry, The Cock at Budworth, a possibility for a winter ride.

We reached the Salt Barge in good time and enjoyed tasty good value meals, and beer for those indulging.  The conversation mostly centred on the big news of the week, Donald Trump becoming US President-Elect.  I didn’t detect any wholehearted enthusiasm, and our mood was further depressed by the sight of heavy rain outside the window.  Despite the waitress encouraging us to stay for puddings until the rain passed, we stoically strode out into the downpour and saddled up.

There were a few dry spells on our ride back, but not many. With lights flashing we passed through Marbury Park and then a roughly parallel route to our way out. At one point as we headed towards a large, very dark and ominous cloud, I was reminded of the scene in A Perfect Storm, when the Andrea Gail is sailing directly into the storm’s eye and disaster.  We had a luckier outcome, though we had to negotiate some heavily flooded roads.  

After Acton Bridge we detoured to look at Dave H’s perfect place to live – the tiny hamlet of Onston. From there it wasn’t far back to Manley Mere for final refreshments, except for Andy who obviously had plenty of energy spare as he peddled on towards Mold. Despite the weather, it had been a good ride with 41 miles covered.

Finally, maybe a warning to others.  When I came out of the Centre I found that my bike had been blown over in the cycle racks, the front wheel had bent and the rim was deformed in the two places where it had been anchored.  I’m not sure whether it was just bad luck or the design of the cycle racks, but it was a rather sour end to an otherwise good day. 
Photo by SH
Thanks to Dave H for driving me back. 


Saturday 5 November 2016

3rd November 2016: Loggerheads (mod)

It was a cool, grey, gloomily dark and rather drizzly Welsh day when 7 hardy CER souls descended on Alyn Waters to test the Welsh hills. Erm, please do tell why we decided in our recent collective wisdom to dispense with Alyn Waters as a venue? But chose to include Delamere Forest instead? [For clarity: Delamere will replace Manley Mere, and Chirk will replace Alyn Waters for winter meets; effective only when blog is updated - SH] At Alyn the coffees and teas are great, the breakfasts are a joy and the prices are easy on the pocket. Yes, the hills are a bit of a challenge, but if you want to go to the edge of exultation you have to look the snake in the eye, don’tcha? Anyway, having garbed up against the cold (a soul-less 8 degrees!), clipped on the lights and donned the hi viz, Kate, Ray, Andy, Dave Pipe, Brian Mac, Steve H and Jon B set off.
Photos by Macca

Intrepid Andy led by default since it’s his home patch, but all were astonished by Dave Pipe’s choice of fixed wheel after recently returning from holiday and falling off his tandem!  Some people know only pain… It was an uneventful drift down a single-track lane to the day’s first semi-serious climb! No holding mountain goats Andy and Ray as they powered effortlessly away leaving lesser mortals to battle with the challenging gradient. But bliss came quickly as we turned right into a racy descent during which we were blithely informed, as everyone clung gingerly to their bars and brakes, had a narrow bridge at the bottom!! And yes, it sure did!

Rain fell steadily, although Macca was quick to tell all that since we were so high and among the clouds it wasn’t rain – it was merely water droplets condensing … but it sure felt like rain to us! There were many points of discussion about which way to turn to avoid the arduous hills and since it wasn’t a day for seeing the vista laid out before us we chose easier options. Or so we thought.

We sauntered gaily down quiet Welsh lanes until we came suddenly upon a very sharp, short but challenging hill, with a gentle s-bend and two descending walkers coming down the leaf strewn road. Most tried. Some succeeded. A few climbed off. And one fell off! It was at that point that I thought we had come to Little Switzerland! Apart from a brush or two with a couple of articulated trucks at narrow island points on a long uphill drag there was nothing else to report until we reached the pub for lunch … which blithely informed us they didn’t do food! Argh! [Note: Apparently the publican is selling-up.  This is one of our favoured lunch spots, so will need to be removed from that list. SH]

Thus the group split with several riding off to Loggerheads café in search of sustenance and others taking a welcome and well-earned draught at the pub. Conversation bounced around from crosswords to Kate’s six-year cycle of bike servicing! (Not recommended!) Etymology was also a point of interest on a somewhat wet day with the general agreement that the original word for an umbrella = a bumbershoot – should still be in use … a bit like Alyn Waters! The group compacted at Loggerheads where they do a mean curried parsnip soup and we rode gently home, assured by Andy that the “worst was over”.

Me, I’m always astonished at how much new building work is being undertaken as we ride around the countryside, often in the most remote and isolated places. We toiled up a few more hills and the “condensation” thankfully stayed away, although the gloomy darkness made lights a must-have on the wooded, wet lanes. But the best was yet to come with a thrilling Alpine descent, a real eyeballs out and bum firmly gripping saddle riot of a downhill into Frith. Scary but distinctly satisfying!

After which point the “locals” left and I marvelled still at Dave’s tenaciously gutsy performance on the fixed wheel machine knowing how my legs felt on a bike that offered 17 other options! Back to base then with just a last sting in the tail of a(nother) testing short, sharp climb.

We’d battled the condensation, beaten the cold, compromised over lunch, ridden gamely and been led wisely. We’d churned out 32 excellent miles at a steady 11.3 mph average, climbed 2,800 feet and thoroughly enjoyed the day and the company. Andy set off on his second lap and Ray went to find some harder hills. The rest of us went home stirred and fully sated by the day’s challenge.


Monday 31 October 2016

27th October 2016: Whitchurch (mod)

It was a pleasant autumn day as I rode out to the Ice Cream Farm for this week's ride. No sunshine but not too cold and not much wind either so a good day for cycling. I expected a good turnout but was surprised to find that there were only 7 of us enjoying pre-ride refreshments. The 3 brisk riders were busily planning a route down to Audlem while the other 4 of us sat and waited for one of the others to announce that he had a ride. None was forthcoming and it soon became clear that Jim and David M had other things that they needed to do and that the moderate group would consist of just Brian Macca and me. Without a map between us we decided that we would head down towards Whitchurch with only the small screen of my sat-nav to guide us.

The four of us set out together turning right along Newton Lane and heading east through Beeston and across the A49 into Bunbury. It was here that Jim and David left us and Brian and I turned south through Faddily, Chorley, Wrenbury and Aston. We could have headed for Audlem ourselves at this point but we didn’t know where the brisk group were lunching so we decided to stick to our own plan. It was just after crossing the A525 at Royal’s Green when the only noteworthy incident of the day occurred. We turned a corner just in time to see a cyclist a few hundred yards in front lose her balance and fall off, forgetting to unclip her feet in the process. We cycled up to lend a hand but by the time we reached her, her riding partner had turned back and a lady had come out of her house to help. Our assistance was not required so we headed down to Ightfield and there turned right through Ash Magna to approach Whitchurch from the east.

There are a number of good eating establishments in Whitchurch but Brian suggested the Black Bear and since it wasn’t one that I had ever been to I asked him to lead us there. Brian had been right. The food was very good and we both enjoyed our lunch choices.
Photo by Macca
After lunch we headed out of Whitchurch along Smallbrook Road and made our way on to the canal towpath which also happens to be the southern end of the Sandstone Trail. We followed this as far as Grindley Brook where we had a short dash along the A41 before turning off towards Malpas. Our return to the Ice Cream Farm was a more direct route going straight through Malpas to Tilston and right along familiar roads through Carden, Chowley and finally Tattenhall. At the Newton Lane crossroads I left Brian to complete the last half mile back to the start and I headed for home. We had completed a pleasant 45 miles which the rest of the moderate riders can enjoy next time I’m at the Ice Cream Farm.


Friday 28 October 2016

27th October 2016: Audlem (brisk)

With mild and dry weather forecast, it was perhaps surprising that only a handful of Easyriders appeared at the Ice Cream Farm. Dave M was returning home for grandchild minding and the remaining 6 divided equally between Moderates and Brisk. The latter were Andy B, Ray and me.  Fortunately, given the absence of our usual leaders, both Ray and I had downloaded routes to our garmins and coincidentally had both elected for Audlem as the destination. Andy did not demur and off we went.

After a while, Ray mentioned he didn’t do blogs and as Andy sprinted off into the distance, it fell to yours truly to take on the task for the first time. Oh well I suppose it had to happen sometime.  One difficulty was that we were using a route that Ray had downloaded from this site but we hadn’t studied the detail so had no overview of where we were heading. Now I can hear readers shouting well why not stop and have a proper look. This brings me to my second problem.  Much to my surprise, and indeed to that of Ray, Andy was on a mission to break some land speed records.  So much so that I began to suspect he has a large battery / motor in the sizeable rucksack he carries on all rides.

Anyway, stopping did not seem to be an option as we sped up to Harthill and to No Mans Heath. Somewhere around here, with signs indicating the A41 ahead, we all began to wonder if we had the right route and whether by some happenstance we were shortly to arrive back at the ICF.  So a short pit stop was permitted during which we confirmed we were indeed on our way to Audlem, albeit not from the direction we were expecting.  On we zoomed through more familiar territory of Wrenbury and Aston. At one point we had a close call being forced to brake heavily and take evasive action on a bend to avoid a mother (on the Phone) strolling in the middle of the road accompanied by small children and a couple of dogs.   

Much sooner than expected we observed a sign indicating “Audlem - 5 miles”. Great not far till we can stop and catch our breath. This was not to be as Garmin then instructed us to ignore the direct route taking us on a southerly loop crossing the A525 before eventually swinging east to take us close to Swanbach, and then north to take Audlem by a surprise attack from the South.

We arrived at the Old Priest House Cafe just after noon to be welcomed by the warmth of the wood burner and soon engaged in friendly conversation with two cyclists from the Newcastle’s Tyne and Lyme respectively.  Andy refuelled with an enormous serving of beans on toast - four slices and what looked like two cans of beans! Ray and I, more restrained with a choice of sausage and  fried egg sandwiches, speculated hopefully that Andy might need time to digest his “snack” during our return ride.   

Garmin was  commanding a more direct return to the ICF of only 20 miles via the 552 cycle way, Haughton, Bunbury and Beeston.  Contrary, to expectations Andy was still emulating Bradley Wiggins, claiming a TUE for his overdose of  beans on toast. But, with us all now taking turns to lead, we were still cracking along arriving at the ICF at 14:10 having averaged over 17 mph for the day. We decided not to stop for afternoon cake and rode on together to Saighton before saying goodbye to Andy as he headed on for Mold.  Ray and I were back home in the suburbs of  Chester by 15:00 having done close to 70 miles to and from home. Andy (Wiggo) rode a mere 101 miles from his outpost in North Wales.  All in all a good day out that literally whizzed by but regrettably did not allow time for photos.


Tuesday 25 October 2016

20th October 2016: Ness (mod)

A mixed group of ten Brisk and Mods were 1.5 hours late starting off after the Special Meeting at Bar 1539 at Roodee…………Andy B, Bryan, Dave H, John, John B, Martin, Petar, Steve T, Tom and me.  I had previously decided that as the start time was going to be uncertain, then so would the route to lunch.  An anti-clockwise route east through the city centre took us to Hoole, along The Greenway to Mickle Trafford, where we turned north.  Past Wervin, we skirted Cheshire Oaks only for Petar to puncture.  From there, memo to self:  don’t use the missing link after a day’s rain, but rather the parallel A41, unless you like cleaning congealed cow-poo off your bike.  On past Hooton station and Willaston took us to lunch.

Despite looking like an AGM for the W I with so many elderly ladies lunching together, The Wheatsheaf at Ness (GR: SJ 760 303, CH64 4AP, t: 0151 336 6336) should definitely be included on Egon Steve’s list.  A 2 course very varied meal for < £6 can’t be bad these days.  Thwaites beer there is always good but there were rumblings about the cost of L&S at £1-60. Considering the place had scores of customers when we arrived, we were all served quickly and pleasantly. 
Photo by Macca

Our return south was via Ness Gardens down past the ruins of St Andrew’s Hospice, a monastic hospital for travellers to Ireland that had given refuge while awaiting the sailing of the delayed 0915 packet boat to Dublin. Dissolved in 1496, all that remains are the bumps of the fallen walls behind our team photo.  Along the ever-popular Sustrans route 486, we past the pre-historic hill fort atop Burton Point before being disgorged into D I P.  From there we followed the Dee where it had been canalised in 1736 to (unsuccessfully) keep the port of Chester open.  The A380 barge was passed on its way upstream to collect another wing for Toulouse HQ.  Finally back at The Roodee, there was a bomb-burst of riders to all 4 quarters, having covered only 32 miles at 13 mph.


Thursday 20 October 2016

20th October 2016: CER Special Meeting

Notes of Special meeting of CER 20th October 2016
10:00 to 11:30 at 1539 Roof Lounge
Nunns Road, CH1 2LY


Chair: Bryan
Note taker: Steve Tan

The principles on which the original list of starting venues was chosen (from all points of the compass, within 8 – 12 miles of Chester centre, with adequate (free) parking)) were endorsed by the members present. Decisions were taken by a show of hands of the members present.

a Ness Gardens to Netts – Decision: stay at Ness Gardens
b Utkinton to Tarporley Fire Station Café – Decision: stay at Utkinton, Rose Farm
c Manley Mere to Meadow Lea Farm/Frodsham/Helsby/Delamere – Decision: change to Delamere Station Café.
d Little Roodee to Station Metro Bar/Meadow Lea Farm/Rubens/Waitrose - Decision: move to Meadow Lea Farm
e Chirk to Alwyn Waters – Decision: Change to Chirk for both summer and winter
f. Add Alison’s Country Kitchen, Tattenhall to the list – Decision: Not to be added as it is too close to the Ice Cream Farm.

NOTE: date of implementation of the above changes to be advised.

2 REVISED SUBS  (Macca) – subs from next year will be £5/year. Payable 1st May 2017.

3 BLOG EDITORS (Bryan) – transfer of ride report posting to Clive (brisk) and Steve H (moderate) has been seamless, so thank go to Clive and Steve. Bryan asked for a volunteer to take over the remaining aspects of running/maintaining the blog within the next 6 months or so, as he expects to ‘move south’ permanently in the foreseeable future. Steve Tan volunteered and will liaise with Bryan.

4 A O B: Dave H is collecting monies for the Christmas Lunch at the Stamford Arms on December 8th. Two Courses £20.00, Three Courses £25.00, Deposit £10. Please give your money and menu choices to Dave H by November 17th.  Full details are given under the Special Rides tab.

Thanks to Steve T for taking notes during the meeting and preparing this report.

Friday 14 October 2016

13th October 2016: Special Ride - Longdon on Tern (mod)

The first chills of autumn were in the air when we met at Sainsbury’s Café in Whitchurch. In the café we discover that the town was a leading centre for clockmaking, having made the Eastgate Clock in Chester as well as clocks for Shangai Custom House and St Pauls Cathedral. The moderate riders were George, Bryan, Macca and me – Dave H had called off due to an attack of man flu. Clive had put together a brisk and a moderate route to Longdon on Tern near Telford.

We set off south-eastwards through Ash Magna and Calverhall, but before reaching Market Drayton turned south through Stoke upon Tern and Great Bolus. The initial chill of the morning had passed and at times we could feel the warm sun on our backs. We travelled at a ‘brisk’ pace delighting in the quiet lanes and the absence of hills. The only thing that interrupted our progress was a stop to clean some mud from beneath our mudguards. Our progress was such that we arrived at our destination at 12.05, almost half an hour early.

The Tayleur Arms had set aside tables for both groups, with the brisk riders arriving a little after ourselves. Our group sampled the three real ales on offer with much satisfaction, and were equally pleased with the fish and the steak pies. If the pub were nearer we would probably be coming here frequently.
Photos by Macca

Our return promised to be a shorter ride, but with one climb. The route passed through Stanton upon Hine Heath and then up the very steep Marchamley Hill, not made easier by a rough surface, neither of which appeared to stop George powering ahead. We avoided any rain from some dark clouds, though the chill of the morning returned. From Marchamley we detoured from Clive’s route into Prees to avoid the A49, and then through Tilstock back into Whitchurch.

Back in Sainsbury’s Café enjoying coffee and cake at only a little after 3pm, we reflect on an excellent ride with decent October weather, good company and a splendid route – thanks Clive!  In total we covered 50 miles.


13th October 2016: Special Ride to Longdon-upon-Tern (brisk)

With this being the last “Special” ride of the year, I wanted it to be a little special; and in my opinion, it didn’t disappoint. I’d planned the route based upon prior knowledge of about half of the route, with the rest being new territory. So there was a “cassette” of six Briskers (Ken,Ivan,Steve T,John M,Paul) that set off along the Nantwich Road. A right at Burley Dam soon gets us onto the long quiet lanes which will feature in today’s riding. 

Out passing Shavington Park, we go through Longslow, which is the crossing point on the return route. At the busy Tern Hill roundabout on the A41, we’re soon away from the traffic and onto Hodnet. We sidle around Marchamley Hill and onwards to Moreton Corbet. I can’t resist a stop to view the forlorn castle ruins that we visited on last October Special Ride. These were besieged by King John’s army in 1216; and Oct 19th is the 800th “deathday” of King John. No stopping at the “Elephant and Castle” today as we head through Shawbury looking for the River Roden valley. 

Another history lesson at Moreton Corbet Castle 

We pass through Roden and Rodington before looping north to the “Tayleur Arms” in Longdon-upon-Tern at 32 miles The Mods had recently arrived, so we order up from the Specials menu. The fare is good as we re-fuel for the 30 mile return. It’s definitely cooler as we head into the wind in a loop to Water Upton via Higher Ercall. 

It is now a long lane north up the River Tern valley via Great Bolas and Stoke on Tern to quietly enter Market Drayton via Salisbury Hill road. We are soon out of the metropolis and crossing through Longslow again taking the long and always uphill road to Calverhall. Coffee is within sight as Ightfield, Ash Parva and Ash Magna seem to fly by as we slide through the centre of Whitchurch and into the Sainsbury’s cafe where the Mods have recently arrived. This for me was a quintessentially CER ride down quiet long lanes in the early autumn countryside. Nothing better in my opinion. So 62 miles at 16mph. Oh, I nearly forgot to say that Paul had ridden out and back to Whitchurch today, so he'll have more than a 100 miles on the clock.

Photograph by Clive Albany

PS: This ride was almost on the 7th anniversary of my first ride with CER. Now after 238 rides covering 15,100 miles, I’m a little better informed of the lanes we ride - but there are still new ones to find, as witnessed by today’s ride.

PPS: Thanks to Sainsbury’s Whitchurch store for allowing us to park at the store.

Wednesday 12 October 2016

6th October 2016: Pipe Gate (brisk)

Today’s ride was from Rose Farm and Brisk riders were few. Paul and Steve T were up for a ride and Ray was joining for the start as had to depart early.
We set off and headed into Tarporley and met John W cruising on his new super Boardman bike. John joined us and we turned right at the pub taking the lane down to Brassey Green and round Beeston Castle where John bade us farewell so soon. Passing Tilley's at Bunbury. we were heading for the outskirts of Nantwich and on to Audlem.
This is the time of the year when inconsiderate farmers are again chopping down the hedges scattering clipping and thorns in our path. We were heading up Brindley Lea Lane when Paul got a thorn in his tyre.
It was here that Ray set off to head back to Chester and Paul got his tools to repair the flat. He didn’t change inner tube but used the very efficient Park tool patch to repair and within 10 minutes we were pedalling again. It must be noted that Paul’s bike is so clean he completed the task with clean hands at the finish!
We arrived Audlem at 11:50 but this was not our destination although the Mod’s were considering a similar route here. Dropping into the town, we turn right into Mill Lane and out towards Kinsey Heath.The Brisk group were in this area a couple of weeks ago with lunch at Norton in Hales. Our ride continued on to Bearstone, Knighton and our lunch destination at the Chetwode Arms at Pipe Gate.
The ride had been pretty fast and flat with the exception of a Strava segment of route which was after Norton and two riders were spotted doing the same Strava route. The three of us gave chase for two miles up hill at 19.5 mph. We passed one and nearly caught the other, and yet we were still way off the KOM slot! And, they were a lot younger than two thirds of us.
After lunch, we had an unplanned diversion to my route. We had spoken to a lady who advised that the continuation of a road we were on was rough and not tarmac. We reverse the route ending up on the main A51 with the wind behind us. We took a right turn after a few miles and back on track and heading towards Wybunbury. The route was then through Shavington, Wistaston, Wybunbury and Bradfield Green taking the left turn at the lights for Minshull Vernon.  Today we have seen two of our past hostelry stops knocked down to make way for houses. The first at Betley and the other Boot and Slipper at Wettenhall. Gone! “Use or lose” as these were two nice pubs.
We called in at the Old Fire Station in Tarporley for afternoon tea and cake and met the Mods who were just leaving to head back to Rose Farm. Steve decided to join them as he was having a lift with Dave H back home so Paul and I enjoyed a quick coffee and headed back to Chester via Brassey Green and Huxley.
It was a  booked round trip of 57 miles from the café although with a couple of diversions we clocked 65 miles and the additional out and back from Chester gave Paul 90 and myself 84 miles ridden for the day. Another excellent day out in sunshine, wearing shorts and sunglasses. How much longer can this summer last? 


6th October 2016: Aston (mod)

We were a little late starting off as I was leaving my car to be washed, but it was in the way of a large livestock lorry trying to turn. I am not sure if the pigs were coming or going, but they would soon be sausage and chops in the farm shop. The moderates were five in all: 'Taffy' Walker, Macca, Jim the Decorator, John the marketing man and myself. We headed down to Cotebrook, and past the growling and yowling of racing practise behind the brick boundary of Oulton Park. We reached Nantwich via  the easy, familiar Wettenhall and Rease Heath route. John was suitably impressed by the rich mix of arcitectural styles that makes up London Road. We avoided traffic by heading south through the park, and meandered along the Weaver passing lakes on our left.  The weather was ideal, and the riding very sociable. After a very short stretch of the A530 we were soon on the lane toward The Secret Bunker, and Audlem. We turned right toward Aston, rather than heading for Audlem as earlier planned. The call of curries and fine beers was just too strong. The Bhurtpore Inn has been a pub since 1778, and the story of how it acquired its name is certainly out of the ordinary. The food and drink was as good as ever, but the large fish and chips made me feel lazy for the return. It was tempting to order a delicious pudding followed by a taxi!         
Photos by Macca
Conversation with John on the way home ranged from the nightmare of Syria to the beauty of some of the British women’s hockey team. Although, I think we all sensibly avoid the passions around Brexit (unless we know the person we are talking to has a similar view to our own!). The route back was via Wrenbury, Chorley and the little sheltered lacework of lanes that reach up to Brindley. The wind was cool and from the north-east, but never a problem and the warm sun was particularly welcome on the way back via Bunbury and Tilston Bank. We sat in the sun with cake and coffee at the back of The Old Fire Station at Tarporley, when some of the Fast Lads turned up. As Steve Tan was sharing a lift home with me, it was handy timing. A last steady climb to Rose Farm, one cleaned car and a packet of sausages. I checked my data-rich environment and came up with the following: distance around 42miles; average speed: sublimely sufficient; elevation: not much at all really; company: 100% agreeable. Many thanks to Brian for the photographs.                                        


Saturday 1 October 2016

29th September 2016: Kelsall (Mod)

It was a good turnout (of fast riders) at Hawarden on a warm Indian summer’s day in late September but unusually only a few Mods were there.  Both Jim and David M were there for the coffee, and with other Moderate riders scattered round the globe from New York to Nepal, it was left to just Steve H and Macca to go out on the Moderate ride.  Steve needed to be home early doors so we rode a large circular route anti-clockwise with Chester as the centre.  We mainly had the strong wind beside or behind us as we climbed out to Kinnerton, then east via Holt where we turned NE for Corkscrew Lane, Utkinton and the lunch stop at Kelsall after 30 miles. 

An excellent lunch was had at The Greedy Pig, CW6 0RZ, tel:  01829 759399 (closed Sun + Mon), and for those who don’t know, owned and run by Raina a local cyclist.  A plug coming now.........the business is For Sale, so call Raina if you are interested. 

Steve dived off early, having already cycled out to Hawarden for the start, leaving moi to bimble back via Delamere, Helsby and onto The Greenway.  Passing through the edge of a park in Hoole, I stopped to chat to loads of disability cyclists at their centre next to Bren Bikes.  If you want a cheaper pre-owned steed as a runabout, then Bren Bikes is the place to go. See: https://www.facebook.com/brenproject/

It was hard going straight back into the wind funnelling along the old rail line, so spotting an advert on the edge of The Greenway, I had a coffee breather in the Fitness Gym cafe, before returning to Hawarden Bridge.  No selfies this week but an easy 51 miles with a windy 12.5 mph average.


Thursday 29 September 2016

29th September 2016: Holywell (brisk)

A beautifully sunny but very windy Autumn day was in prospect as six of us left Hawarden bound for Holywell. Tom, Ivan, Ray, Steve T, and Dave P were on a magical mystery tour today as the route I had planned wasn't the most obvious. Now read on.

We start conventionally by clambering up to Buckley and then out via New Brighton (why?) to Sychdyn. We drop down fast onto the A541 Mold to Denbigh road riding its rough surface to Rhydymwyn. Branching left, we stop briefly at the Mendelsohn memorial plaque, before continuing along the very narrow and hilly lane around Nant Alyn and its quarry. Turning North, we hit the A541 again and charge up to Nannerch. The first left finds us wheezing our way up to the car park at Penycloddiau Iron Age Hill fort at 950ft. One mountain north of Moel Arthur, this magnificient monument has spectacular 360 degree views of the Welsh countryside. It is a popular walking site, which I have used several times – highly recommended!

The road down has been re-tarmacced and it is a fast descent down to the Kinmel Arms pub at Waun. Ivan's convinced we are going to the Wetherspoons in Mold, so I obligingly head north to Bodfari where we hit the A541 again and motor back towards Mold. At Afon Wen however, we turn left to Caerwys and Ray ominously says “It's a long hill” and he is right! We rest outside the cafe in the centre of the village – popular with cyclists as it turns out.

Taking a tiny right lane out of the town, we bowl along tiny “un-ridden” lanes via Pant to Pantasaph. I can't resist a mini-diversion around the back of the Friary up over one more hill before lunch. It's now a short downhill run through Carmel and into the “Market Cross” Spoons pub for lunch. After 31 miles and nearly 1000m of climb we are ready for it. As ever, Wetherspoons is busy but delivers fast and effectively as I down my pint of 6% Quagmire ale - one will do today.

I promise the lads that it was all downhill now – well it is for the most part, except for the slow climb out of Holywell running parallel to the A55 before sliding down the lanes into Flint and out towards Oakenholt. Here, Steve T unfortunately has to ride (uphill) alone along Papermill Lane towards Northop Hall and Hawarden. He has ridden 45 very hilly miles but has seen some new lanes today and some memorable countryside. The rest of us run back down the Greenway and home for an early shower.


Monday 26 September 2016

22nd September 2016: Macclesfield (brisk)

Meeting up at Manley Mere today the weather is still warm and wearing of shorts still obligatory although sleeved shirts an option.There were a large group of riders already assembled at the café so two groups available. Three riders had felt the tarmac at the entrance to Manley today and Clive was one of them so he was going to join the Mod’s. The Brisk group were Tom, 2 x Johns and myself. Always looking to try new locations and roads, a route to Macclesfield via Alderley Edge was proposed and accepted. When discussing the route with the team, Dave Mathews, who was enjoying a coffee morning after his French cycle tour, made reference to the Wizard Inn. I had never heard of the place but our group captain Clive had.
As our determined time for departure approached, all riders left the café and the Mod’s were taking a route to Gt Budworth to stir the locals up with loud chatter and boyish behaviour, whereas the Brisk group had a delay in departure as Tom had a rear flat. After nearly ripping his nail off fighting with a tyre lever, we were ready for off 10 minutes later and headed off towards Mouldsworth turning left onto Delamere lane, another location where Clive has felt the tarmac but with no serious injuries to note.
We ride the usual roads running parallel to the main Kingsley – Crowton B5153 which are much quieter, and continuing through Hartford to Davenham. It is then to Lach Dennis and Lower Peover before we venture on the lanes to Alderley Edge. On the Strava app there is reference on the approach to Alderley as “lets go waggin” although passing through the town we didn’t spot anyone famous although a comment from John W was “Now there's a real car” as some silver streak went by!
It is here that we had our only ascent of the day which I now know as Wizard Hill, and, after puffing up this 6.8% stretch of road, we pass “The Wizard Inn”; so now I know where another ride will be heading in the future. From the summit, it is a great down-hill run into Macclesfield and we really burn the tarmac in our haste to get to "The Society Rooms" which is a Wetherspoons hostelry.
We cycle through the town and arrive at our lunch stop. As usual this establishment is up to the mark with two steak and kidney puddings, chips, peas and gravy lunches for £7.99 and a free pint of golden ale from Tom made a really good meal. Our food is quickly served and devoured, and we are ready for the off again. I did mention to the group that as it was down hill to the town it is probably up hill to get out but, after a good lunch, it was nothing to worry about.
From Macclesfield, we rode on new lanes passing through the villages of Lyme Green, Gawsworth, and Marton before arriving at the outskirts of Holmes Chapel. We were heading along a lane and could see the end was a farm yard. A car was heading towards us so we flagged the driver down to enquire if there was a continuous route – although she lived on the farm, she advised there was a right of way through, but had no idea where it lead to as she always drives! Very pretty though, and a blonde driver. Making a U-turn, we retraced our sat nav route and did the usual Right and Right and within a mile we were back on track and riding again through Davenham completing the figure of eight circuit.

We stopped for a photo on the bridges over the Weaver before heading on to Whitegate and Little Budworth then the uphill lane passing Rose Farm café and the familiar route back to Manley. We turn left at the cross roads and head home for Chester and completing 79 miles to and from Manley or, for Tom, 110 miles to and from Shotton.

A comment was made at the start of our ride today that we should enjoy the ride and stop racing around the country side. Speaking on behalf of the Brisk group today, we have all ridden in excess of 80 miles and enjoyed every mile. 

We still enjoy banter as we ride. Not racing around, but riding at an average today of 16mph, and all within our comfort zone. John M, since joining the Brisk group, is now a rider who enjoys a more consistent pace and exploring more countryside.


Photographs by Ivan Davenport and John Wilkie

Saturday 24 September 2016

22nd September 2016: Great Budworth (mod)

It was a good turnout at Manley Mere on a warm Indian summer’s day in late September when 5 lucky souls followed Dave H on the Moderate ride - Andy, Clive, John B, Jim and Macca.  Prior to their arrival there, three riders all came off separately at the same corner as they turned into the cafe entrance.  Trevor was nursing his blooded wounds and decided to go home, Clive has a huge scrape on his thigh which he insisted on dropping his bib to show everyone, while I hardly had a scratch.  Going out we all examined the road surface but could see no reason for a fall to occur, gremlins maybe.  Bryan and Dave M had joined us for coffee as well. 
Photos by Macca
It was thankfully a completely uneventful morning after that early drama as we meandered through the warm countryside over Acton Bridge and Arley Hall to the Great Budworth Ice Cream Farm.  We all sat outside for lunch, probably for the last time this year, with the highlight being a marzipan milk-shake (not recommended)

The afternoon cycle back was a classic easy-ride through the crops being harvested and along the canal towpath to bring us out near Kingsley.  Then it was across the hills in the forest, down to Ashton and back to Manley having covered 44 miles from the cafe.


15th September 2016: Chirk to Ruyton XI Towns

It promised to be a fine day for our final visit to Chirk of the year and when we arrived at the café there was a good group to meet us. Six of us (John, Jim, Dave H, Chris, Brian Macca and myself) were interested in a moderate ride but no-one had a ride prepared. So I looked through the past rides on my Garmin and came up with 41-miler. It looked vaguely oval with Chirk at one end and the village of Baschurch at the other. But ‘what is the pub for our lunch stop?’ came the question. ‘Haven’t a clue’ I answered and no-one else could recall a pub we had been to in Baschurch either.
Photos by Macca
And so our ride became a bit of a mystery tour and we set off blindly following a thin red line on a tiny screen. The route out of Chirk took us down to the canal and across Telford’s viaduct, dodging the pedestrians along the towpath. Then we were dodging the traffic as we crossed the A5 roundabout before we reached the relative safety of the Shropshire lanes. We headed south through the villages of Hindford, Tetchill, Hordley & Bagley and approached Baschurch with lunch on our minds. However it soon became apparent that we weren’t going to pass a pub in Baschurch. So I expanded the map on my Garmin and discovered that the next village was Ruyton-XI-Towns. Mystery solved – our lunch stop was to be the Talbot Inn.

The last time I visited the Talbot it was under new management. It appears that the new landlords are intent on the place becoming a bit up-market from the village pub that it used to be and this was reflected in the cost of a lime & soda – a whopping £2.40!!! However the sandwiches proved to be good value and we each tucked into one as we sat out in the sunshine.

Our return journey started with the short sharp climb up towards Wykey which got our legs working again. We passed through West Felton and Maesbury criss-crossing the A5 three times to enter the outskirts of Oswestry. We avoided the town centre and headed up past the old hill fort, then following the contours to Weston Rhyn. Finally we dropped down to Chirk Bank to re-join the canal where we retraced our route back into Chirk. Another great day’s cycling – good weather, good countryside and, above all, good company.