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 27 May 2016

26th May 2016: Woodside (mod)

We hardy nine met at Ness Gardens on what promised to be a “seepy rain” day or “camping weather” day, as one rider said.  Jim, Dave M and Dave P just came out to say hello and we welcomed back Kate whom we had not seen since 2011.  She was so keen to join us again that she took a day’s leave from work.  As the prospect of our unique lunchtime pub wetted the appetite of the fast riders, we were also joined by them today.  Bryan, George, Ivan, Kate, Mike Mc, Ray, Tom, Trevor and myself set off down through the back lanes of Neston to Parkgate promenade.  Instead of heading inland up Boathouse, we continued north along the coast to include some off-roading to Gayton.  Only try it when dry in early Spring if you want to avoid the undergrowth.

Photographs by Brian MacDonald

On, on through Lower & Upper Heswall we continued to Irby and Thurstaton where the cry went up that we had lost Mike.  Bryan phoned him and we eventually met up as agreed at Hoylake RNLI station.  He’d had a P@@@@@@@ when back marker.  From the subsequent inquest we learned: (1) shout if you have a puncture, in the hope that help comes, (2) have a ride-leader who can count past 8 - there were 9 riders, (3) keep your mobile charged and switched on.
While waiting for Mike, three of the fast guys decided to go ahead to reserve our pub table ( !! )  After 5 –10 minutes Mike rejoined us and we then went at a fair lick towards New Brighton helped by a following wind and dry throats.  The sand encroaching over the cycle way both at Leasowe & Wallasey Golf Course was heavier than in previous trips, but that’s Government cut-backs for you.  After leaving the wide prom at Seacombe and crossing the Penny Bridge into Birkenhead, Trevor pointed out a new route along the Mersey which avoided the commercial traffic and gave us a view of a guy stranded while slack-lining.  For those who want to know more follow this link
After 25 miles, Woodside ferry with the unique Gallagher’s pub + barbers was reached where we found the three speedsters tucking into burgers.  Trip Adviser states it’s the “Best food pub on Merseyside.”  I think some may agree if you had had a skinful and ONLY liked burgers; the beer and decor were good and service was OK, if a little slow.  Unusually CER lunchtime conversation did not involve the 3 PPP of the Premiership, Prostates and Politicians and for that we have to thank Kate for bringing a bit of decorum to the group.  
The three musketeers were replenished well before us Moderate six; so set off back to Ness themselves. With heavy burgers slowing us down we “bimbled” south along the Mersey shoreline to Eastham and as time was pressing, from there we headed west towards Ness.  Both Trevor and Kate peeled off just before Ness, while Bryan, George, Mike and I had afternoon tea among the ladies that lunch back in the University Gardens.  All in all, another pleasant 40 mile CER ride at 12mph.  And for Steve’s Egon Pub guide, Gallagher’s does not make the cut, so it will be back to The Refreshment Rooms next time from Ness. 

Tuesday 24 May 2016

19th May 2016: Hanmer (mod)

We had been in a similar situation before at Cleopatra's - devising a route to avoid certain heavy rain from mid-afternoon. The plan this time was to take a longer route out, but have a short, quicker return after lunch. Steve H. lent me his map and the nine of us set off north to Churton. The group consisted of Keith, Dave and Liz, Bryan W, Macca, Mike Mc., Steve Tan, Steve H. and myself. Liz was in her pretty bonnet, and Dave was in his element giving the back tour of pretty Churton. From Churton to Coddington is flat, quiet and idyllic. We drifted along in typical easy riders social mode. At Tilston we turned right, and meandered through to Bishop Bennet Way via Horton Green, Chorlton Lane and Cuddington Heath. We had the familiar steady climb from Lower Wych with Steve T., despite his current joint problems, gliding easily ahead. We crossed the Wrexham to Whitchurch road at Eglwys Cross. Bryan was a bit sceptical, as we were now coming into serious Clive, bunged- up mudguards territory, but, fortunately, today was dry.

Photographs by Brian MacDonald

One lady member of staff was doing nearly all the work at the Hanmer Arms, but the service was good, and the food was fine. Steve H. led back, with Steve T. almost falling at the cattle grid on leaving the car park. Our direct way back was through Tallarn Green, Threapwood and Shocklach. There was some fine rain in the air, but the weather held off. Some of us opened the throttle a little on the Crewe-by-Farndon stretch. The tandem was on top form again: I believe the Russians have contacted them to see what exactly is boosting their performance. I'm not sure that you can take bread and butter pudding and custard intravenously! 
Bikes were put in cars and we tucked into cake and coffee at Cleopatra's, although Helen was not her usual sunny self today. The blonde lady was very pleasant and efficient, nevertheless.  Only 32 miles today, but a relaxing route, and relaxing company. As we headed out the fast lads arrived. I did warn them that they had to make a choice between Victoria sponge and a damn good soaking. Being macho men, of course, they took both!     

Saturday 21 May 2016

19th May 2016: Ellesmere (brisk)

I'd planned a 55 miler to Maesbury Marsh, and specifically the Navigation Inn. This was because I had never visited the pub before but heard good reports. Given the prospect of inclement weather however, Ivan suggested a shorter run to the Red Lion in Ellesmere. Not wanting to go the obvious route straight to Ellesmere, I was able to amend my prepared route to accommodate the assembling riders. So off we go i.e. John M, Ken, Ray, Ivan, Tom and myself, out and running parallel to the Wrexham Road and continuing passing the local government offices before taking a left at the roundabout towards Cefn Park. A few turns later we were in Marchwiel sliding around Erdigg Estate bound for Ruabon. 
The long run down to the bridge over the Dee at Cefn Mawr always seems hard work probably due to the poor state of the road surface, and the long grind up and out towards Chirk also is hard work especially into the wind. What is about wind when you are cycling. It’s always in the wrong direction, and rarely truly behind you! Over the Chirk aqueduct, we are out and up into Western Rhyn before accessing my favourite lane towards the Oswestry Iron Age hill fort. A dash passing the new buildings at Gobowen Hospital finds us on NCN455 bound for Ellesmere via Hindford. 
A snake-bite puncture close to the town delays us marginally as 32 miles have now been covered. Service is a bit slow in the Red Lion, but the prices are as keen as ever, but Lime and Soda has been hiked by 100% to £1 per pint! 
It just starts to rain as we leave, so I lead the charge out of town by the back lanes to Trench. From here it’s almost a straight line run via Hollybush and Worthenbury and Shocklach, to Cleopatra’s where, after 70 mins post-lunch 18 mile dash, we have completed a moderate 49 miles. A bit wet, we decide to take a hot drink and we find a few Moderates just about to leave. The run back into Chester was very wet with roads awash, so at least the bike got a free jet wash on the way home!

Tuesday 17 May 2016

12th May 2016: Chelford (brisk)

It turned out to be the sunniest and warmest day of my cycling year so far as I rode out to Rose Farm. Predictably quite a pack out today, so the Famous Five (Paul, Tom, John W, Ray and myself) set off promptly bound for the “Egerton Arms” at Chelford. Out via the bisected Heath Green lane, we zoom through Eaton before turning sharp left, through Ruston to the gates of Oulton Park. Darting through Lower Budworth and passing their own “Egerton Arms", we hit the A54 where we turn right and motor down it for a mile or so. Taking the narrow Blakeden Lane, we pass at the back of Cheshire County Constabulary then to wiggle through Winsford and onto sunny Middlewich. The route is customary as we pass Clive Green then through the Cledford housing estate and finally onto Cledford Lane heading East towards Brereton Heath. 

Photograph by Clive Albany

Ignoring the cycleway signs, which would have taken down a very bumpy NCN71, we circle and end up at the gates to Davenport Lodge. As the namesake owner is busily finishing his back garden back in Guilden Sutton, we crunch down the track to the bridge over the River Dane and the seclusion of this lovely hidden valley. The River Dane runs a long way from Axe Edge, within yards of the source of the Goyt River, passing Three Shires Head on its way into the Weaver near Northwich. Onwards through Swettenham, we can see the Lovell radio telescope across the fields as we head straight through Goostrey bound for the Egerton Arms at Chelford. 
According to the pub website - “The pub itself dates back to the 16th century when as a coach house and pub, gentry and royals would freshen up before their formal visit to Lord Egerton’s estate at Tatton Park, just a few miles away.” We have visited just once before in a very chilly January 2014. They looked after us very well then, just as they did today despite a near full car park. The ride back via Lach Dennis and the Whitegate Way is uneventful with the wind now behind us. The Station House cafe is just closing at 15:00, but offers to sell cold drinks and ice creams to us, which is very gratefully received. Back at Utkinton having “ figure of eighted” Oulton Park, we have ticked off 56 miles at 24C. Running back to the Chester area, we all have 80+ miles on the clock today.

Sunday 15 May 2016

12th May 2016: Mow Cop and Scholar Green (mod)

I arrived at Rose Farm to find Dave H, Steve T and George at a loss for where to ride other than the ‘same old destinations’. Luckily I had a route in mind to the Rising Sun at Scholar Green, just beneath Mow Cop, which included an optional extra 4 miles climbing up Mow Cop.  We were joined by Charlie, Jane, Mike McC, Chris and just in time Dave & Liz P.
The weather was promising – over 20 degrees forecast but with a good enough breeze to keep us cool. We cycled through Cotebrook, and Little Budworth to pick up the Whitegate Way at Marton Green.  This deposited us in Winsford, from where we passed through Clive Green on our way to Middlewich. Zigzagging through its housing estates, we emerged back into the countryside and onto a good road through Brereton Green and Spen Green, then a short section of busy A34, before we followed a lane to Great Morton Hall.

Photographs by Steve Haywood

Here we had to choose: who wanted to take the short pleasant ride beside the canal to the pub, and who wanted to climb up Mow Cop. The party split evenly, with the foolish five – Steve T, Chris, George, Mike McC and myself – choosing to grind up the long climb onto the ridge and follow it southwards into Mow Cop.  Short of breath we assembled at the magnificent viewpoint beside the Gritstone Trail for a photo and admired the surrounding land. The group were disappointed to hear that the climbing was not over, for as we continued into the village, we turned right up a steeper if shorter hill up by the radio mast.  The group were again disappointed to hear that this had been the ‘easy’ way up.  But now it was downhill, but very steeply, before joining the others in the pub.
The other group were awaiting us, well into their meal, for although the climbers had only travelled an extra few miles it had taken us a long, long time. The Rising Sun had given us a friendly welcome, a room of our own, good filling food and tasty beer. What’s more, splitting our party on the ride had allowed Dave & Liz plenty of time to indulge in two courses.
The return required a route that avoided as much of Alsager and Crewe as possible. We passed Rode Hall, headed for Wheelock Heath, and skirted the north of Crewe after travelling over some very rough surfaces. Passing behind Leighton Hospital, we crossed the lights at Bradfield Green and on through Church Minshall, then Cholmondeston and Rushton, making for the Shire Horse Centre café for essential refreshments. Then back to Rose Farm with 56 miles completed for those doing the extra loop: pleasant lanes, good weather, a good pub, and good company. Let’s hope the summer brings many more such days.
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Sunday 8 May 2016

5th May 2016: Betws-yn-Rhos (brisk)

A warm day in prospect and a bumpy ride in Wales.  Arriving at the Gallery café there were plenty of riders in lycra shorts so must be warmer.
The brisk group today consisted of Ivan, Tom, John, Paul and Martin who was out with us just to spin his legs for a short ride.
We set off for Betws-yn-Rhos and the Wheatsheaf Inn for lunch heading down to Ewloe roundabout to follow the B5125 to Northop and to enjoy!! a little sprint along the A55 up to Halkyn where Martin leaves us to make his way back to Neston. The brisk group of four continue a ramble along the tops to Rhes y Cae, Lixwm and Babell enjoying the quiet dry and warming up lanes.

Photographs by Ivan Davenport

We pass through St Asaph and follow the B5381 signposted for our destination. We stop for our first photo call looking down on the North Welsh coast at Abergele. Although from St Asaph to our lunch stop was sign posted 7 miles it was a long up hill ride that took longer than expected!!
We arrived at the lovely village and quickly locked our bikes up in the car park and headed in for lunch. We had ridden 32 miles of undulating terrain and it was 12:40. Lunch was ordered and was a good value meal and much needed calories.
We had climbed nearly 900 meters of ascent to get here and had a similar ascent ride home and the debate was should we drop down to Abergele and enjoy NCR 5 back home or continue with the pain!!
As brisk riders it was no pain no gain and after lunch onwards and upwards again. We were riding on very quiet but some very steep climbs involving double chevrons and on rolling down one descent we arrive at a very picturesque valley where I stop for a photo call only to be advised John has a flat. 
Back wheel off and change of tube replaced we are ready to go when bang!! John’s tyre blows again – suspect trapped tube. Change tube again and all well. Enjoy conversation with some local gentry and all they advise whichever way we want to go out of this valley it is up hill – shhhhhhh.
The lady was right, 22-27% and a car chasing us up but we all got to the top then let the very patient motorist pass. Good training for Hardnott.
I had no idea where we were from lunch (but see the attached gpx file route) but on arriving at Trefnant a check of the satnav shows we should head west to go over the Clwydian range before heading for Hawarden so a joint decision is go straight for Mold on the A541. This was a good choice and with John and Paul as lead we were rolling along at a steady 22mph on not too busy a main road.
At Mold we enjoy milkshakes, chocolate drink, cake and apple pie at McDonalds and feeling revived head straight to Ewloe on the A494. We lose Tom at the roundabout who drops down to Shotton while Paul and John head to the Blue Bridge and home from Hawarden.  I go to Saltney and ride along the Dee for my return ride back to Chester.
A good ride of 85 miles to and from home for me (slightly less for Tom making a change) and a somewhat 5364 feet of ascent. Not sure if the down hills averaged out but I have scored a KOM at Mynydd descent.  

5th May 2016: Cwm (mod)

Spring has arrived at last and after the thorough soaking of the previous Thursday I was eager to get on the bike in some dry, warm weather giving my knees their first airing of the year.  I was one of twelve who gathered at the Gallery cafe.  Dave and Liz P, just back from foreign parts, decided to do their own thing, which left ten of us split neatly into two rides.  The "brisk" boys were soon away leaving a "moderate" four, plus yours truly, to head west at a more measured pace.  Steve T, Dave H, Jim, Mike G and your reporter were heading for the Blue Lion at Cwm.  Like many country pubs this one has been open and closed at various times in recent years.  However, while walking in the area recently I had called in and was assured it would be open on a Thursday.
Cattle rustling

Photographs by Michael Gilbert

Passing through Elwoe we trundled steadily along familiar lanes, through Northop Hall, Northop and after the pulse raising 100 yards along the A55 started our first climb of the day on the B5123 to Pentre Halkyn.  Taking the second left in the village to avoid the heavy stuff going to the quarry we resumed our climbing up on to Holywell Common.  Always good views here they were especially good today, in the fine clear weather, we could see well up the Lancashire coast.  Cycling through Holywell Golf Club, common land where golfers, cars, cyclists, dog walkers and the ever present sheep appeared to be living in harmony on this splendid day, we began the long descent into Pantasaph, Gorsedd and then Whitford.  Here we picked up National Cycle Route 5 but not for long. After a demanding little climb, on a lane festooned with mud left by farm vehicles, we turned away from NCR 5 and crossing the A5026 we skirted Llyn Helyg, hidden in the trees, and were soon descending into Cwm.
Halkyn Mountain
We arrived just as the pub was opening, which is 1pm on a Thursday.  We were in no hurry.  We lounged on the decking at the rear of the pub and were treated to a lovely view across the Vale of Clwyd, along the coast and with the snow tipped peaks of Snowdonia in the distance.  We all chose a simple sandwich for lunch: a wise choice.  Mine host and hostess friendly but rather it would appear overwhelmed by a dozen customers turning up together.  We waited half an hour for our sandwiches; those who had gone for the hot meal option were still staring dolefully at empty tablemats when we left.
Leaving Cwm we turned right onto Cwm Road heading towards Rhuallt.  This we agreed was a ride worth taking as we bowled along the side of the hill with, to our right, splendid views of the Vale resplendent in the spring sunshine.  You can't have too much of a good thing and reaching Rhuallt we decided to continue to enjoy the views by going along the B5429, through Tremeirchion to eventually reach Bodfari.  
Here the other honorary Welshman, Mike left us to venture further west to his home and we four turned east along the A543.  Although an A road experience tells me it is usually quiet in the middle part of the day and so it proved.  We covered the 12 miles to Mold at a tidy pace, as this is the only low level crossing of the Clwydian Hills in this area. After a welcome refreshment break at the Theatre Clwyd cafe I left the remaining three, at Northop, to make their way back to our starting point.
An enjoyable day.  The pace was steady, the conversation lively and wide ranging taking in such topics as European Patent and Trade Mark law and the demise of rural bus services.  The Welsh countryside did not disappoint.  50 miles covered and a few hills climbed.
G W 

Sunday 1 May 2016

28th April 2016: Great Budworth (mod)

Ambition is a wonderful thing: our ambition was to ride from Manley Mere out to The Dog at Peover Heath. Five of us - Dave H, Bryan W, Brian Macca, George and myself, Steve – set off in cool sunshine over New Pale, where we noticed a little snow at the roadside and more in the distance on the Pennines. Onward we went through Acton Bridge and Comberbach towards Great Budworth, where we planned to check our progress against the weather, which was forecast to worsen.  A few spots of rain began as we climbed the hill into Great Budworth, shortly after midday – these were enough! We stopped outside the George and Dragon, about half way to our destination, and without further consideration walked in and grabbed a couple of tables by the open fire. So much for our best intentions!
Photographs by Brian MacDonald

The pub filled up very quickly so we were lucky to be early enough to grab this cosy corner. The beer was good and lime & soda was 75p a pint, though the cheaper menu was limited to baguettes and butties. As the rain strengthened we discussed our return route.  Dave H offered to lead us back through Antrobus and Higher Whitley towards Frodsham. The fact this route led conveniently to his car played no part in his enthusiasm. We said goodbye to Dave in Sutton Weaver and carried on aiming for the Arts Centre Café in Frodsham. After nearly missing it twice, we settled inside by the radiator to enjoy warm drinks and sugary snacks. 
On leaving, we found the steady rain, had turned torrential. Bryan, Brian and George decided to head back along the A56 to the end of the Greenway, while I plodded up the long steep hill to Alvanley and on towards Manley – 38 miles in total.  Deep puddles spread across the whole carriageway and stinging rain hurt the face and got into everything.  I’m sure we each then agreed it was wise to curtail our plans at Great Budworth, so that we only had to suffer the real wet on the final trek homewards.

28th April 2016: Bunbury (brisk)

A cold frosty start in weak sunshine made the ride out to Manley quite pleasant but heavy rain was forecast for later that afternoon.
On arrival at Manley, the moderate group chose to take a route that headed out towards the east.  I decided that because I was still being troubled by a cough and with a view to getting home before the rain, I would head south looping back towards home. Ray and John W decided to accompany me, so we agreed a provisional route through the lanes of Tarporley and Tattenhall.
Turning left on to Marley Lane we climbed up on Sugar Lane skirting around the back of Mouldsworth to enter Kelsall via Hollands Lane. At this point the sun was still shining and the views over Cheshire were stunning in the clear cold air. Then we left Kelsall, via Church Street, but a brief encounter with a road repair crew required a dismount and a short walk in order to negotiate a way through the lorries, wheelbarrows, and barriers. Once back on the bikes we turned left uphill out of Willington towards Tarporley passing Rose Farm shop.  We then turned left along Utkinton Lane, heading out via Cotebrook, past Oulton Park race circuit on Dogmore Lane, before turning into Hickhurst Lane and back towards Eaton. By this time the threatened rain materialised and made the ride along Royal Lane into Tarporley quite unpleasant. After a short stop to put on waterproofs we left Tarporley via Birch Heath Road carefully negotiating the bends around the Shady Oak pub and passing the entrance to Beeston Castle. Despite the rain we made good time along Moss Lane into Bunbury and into the welcome warmth of ‘Tilly’s. Here we lingered over the food and drink in the hope the weather conditions would improve but no such luck.
The return route was straight forward going out on Peckforton Hall Lane, via Wrexham Road, into Bickerton and onto Brown Knoll.  We turned right here across Wrexham Road, which led us eventually into Tattenhall. At this point my rear derailleur decided it had put in enough hard work and denied me access to the lower gears making me struggle on our journey through Harthill and Burwardsley.  However, with the inclement weather and the knowledge that the route home was reasonably flat, I decided to put up with the lack of gears and hope for the best!!
We left Tattenhall on Rocky Lane, where John had a brief verbal encounter with a motorist, before we crossed the A41, which was followed by a quick dash through Chowley Oak and onto Aldersley Green to reach Churton, at the junction of Pump Lane. My gear choice by this time was virtually non-existent! It was at this juncture Ray and John headed home towards Chester and I turned left for Farndon and Rossett.
Despite the unkind weather and having to pedal the worlds first semi-automatic twin speed cycle, the route and company were enjoyable. The derailleur is now fixed!