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 July 2016

28th July 2016: Llanymynech (mod)

Arriving at the Tea Rooms, Chirk no one to be seen.  Quick check on the mobile phone (what would society do without them?), yes, I was at the correct venue. I had planned a 46 mile ride with one long climb and a minor one nothing out of the ordinary for this area. I was about to leave and Dave P arrived. He was intending to cycle to Oswestry if no one turned up. After a brief discussion about my suggestion of a route, and Dave sorting out his bike; we set of for the Ceiriog valley at 10:50.

We followed the B4500 to Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceriog in light occasional showers then as we started the climb over to Llanrhaedr-ym-Mochnant the heavens opened and continued as we cycled on the B4580 following the Tanat Valley. A right turn in Pen-y-bont Llanerch Emrys took us across on a minor road to Llasantffraid-ym-Mechain (no short village names in this part of Wales) for my intended lunch stop at the Red Lion. It was shut so decided to head for the Bradford Arms in Llanymynech arriving soaking wet at 13:20 having covered about 29 miles. Two lovely meals for £14 (Haddock and Chips each) washed down with a nice pint of Black Sheep Best Bitter followed by Black Sheep Holy Grail. Just after 14:15 with the rain receding we set of for West Felton following in reverse the route of the Bert Bailey. Dave was not in a rush to return and as the sun began shining so we extended the ride passing through Grimpo, Rednal and Welsh Frankton. Hinford followed then we took the back lanes to the B5070 and thence onto Chirk, arriving at 16:00 for coffee and cake at the Tea Rooms. Overall we had a pleasant day cycling covering 50 miles with 2,800ft of climbing.


21st July 2016: Ellesmere (mod)

Ten riders gathered at the Ice Cream Farm at Tattenhall on a fine summer morning -  Daves H, P and M, Liz, Bryan, George, Trevor, John M, Petar and Steve T. As usual, Dave M was here only for coffee, as domestic duties called, so it was nine who set off for Ellesmere, the destination chosen after a quick conflab between Daves H and P.

After a couple of false starts as Dave H stopped to adjust his map holder, we set off down Newton  Lane, turning right at the end and heading towards Bolesworth Castle, where we passed several signs advertising  ‘CarFest North‘ on August 29th. This is the annual bash organised by Chris Evans (of Top Gear infamy) which raises funds for Children in Need.

Crossing the A534, we sauntered through Brown Knowl and Duckington, crossing the A41 at Edge Green. Then briefly down the Cheshire Cycleway before turning right into Whitewood Lane at Kidnal.  The leading group followed the road round the corner towards Horton Green before being hauled back and pointed in the direction of Chorlton Lane and Cuddington Green. We continued through sleepy Threapwood before crossing into Wales at Tallarn Green, where George could now feel ‘at home’.

As we left Tallarn Green, Trevor raced up from the back to inform us that the tandem had decided to do its own thing, so the magnificent seven pressed on, stopping only to ask a local for directions to Three Fingers and/or Croxton. ‘No idea, mate’ was the response.  Was that Two Fingers? But we did eventually find Three Fingers and then Little Arowry, before cycling on to Hanmer. Here we found that the Hanmer Arms, one of our favoured stops, is now closed; the pub sign has been taken down and there was no sign of life. Sadly, Steve H will have to take it off his list.

Out of Hanmer and past Bettisfield Park which was looking idyllic in the warm summer sunshine, we ran for a short time along the A495 before turning off for Bettisfield itself, crossing the Llangollen Canal as we did so. A loop round to Balmer Heath took us back into Wales once more.

Then on through Lyneal to Colemere where a vineyard has been planted recently. Is this pure optimism or something to do with global warming? Picking up the A528, we cycled into Ellesmere. It has been agreed earlier that we would stop for lunch at the Red Lion rather than The Boat House as the fare on offer there is more varied and they serve beer. The waterfront at Ellesmere was crowded with children, dogs and the best fed ducks and geese in Wales, but we managed to get through without running into anything or one.

The Red Lion Coaching Inn (http://www.redlion-ellesmere.co.uk/) offers an ‘over 60s’ two course lunch for £5.50 and a pint of lime and soda for £1 – excellent value for money.  The pub was busy, so it took a little while before we were served. Dave H endeared himself to our waitress when his food arrived by saying ‘It’s so long since I ordered, I’ve forgotten what I asked for.’ Fortunately, she took it in good part. Several members took the spotted dick dessert, including Trevor, who claimed that it would add to his performance after lunch.

Lunch conversation included (inevitably) the Tour de France, the Americas Cup yachts and Bryan’s new app which tells him when it’s going to rain. The app says it won’t rain this afternoon – we hope that it’s right!

As we were finishing our meal we got into conversation with two elderly cyclists. After telling them where we had come from, we asked where they had ridden from. Their reply was ‘Shrewsbury’, whereupon Dave H, in his usual subtle style asked ‘What do you do for entertainment in Shrewsbury’. Again the question was answered without any offence being taken and it seems that there is a pub where jazz can be heard some nights at no charge, so there is life in Shrewsbury!

Leaving the Red Lion, we head right at the roundabout, up Swan Hill and then left up to Sandyhill, Trevor’s spotted dick kicks into action and he comes flying past us all. Sadly, the effect is short lived. Dave then leads us down Lion Lane, a tiny road alongside Lion Lane Wood which leads on to the A539 at Sandy Lane. After only a short distance on the A-road we turn right into quiet Burgess Lane and head up to Holly Bush and Worthenbury.  From there we go through Shocklack (where John M left us to head home), Tilston and Clutton along the quiet and flat lanes of the Cheshire Plain before reaching Tattenhall .  Soon after leaving Tattenhall, we turned right into Newton Lane, but George turned left, heading for his car parked in Waverton.

Back at the Ice Cream Farm, Bryan consulted his app, which told him to expect ‘light rain in 6 minutes’. We continued to drink our coffee and chat for much longer than this, but no rain appeared. So much for technology!

49 very pleasant miles on a dry, warm summer’s day at an average speed of 12 mph – true ‘easy riding’.


Friday 15 July 2016

14th July 2016: Chester Station to Wrenbury (mod)

Today is the day of the Club’s annual long ride with 12 members scheduled to ride.  How many would show for the alternative, particularly as the start was changed at the last minute to the Chester Station Café as the Little Roodee was still closed?  I arrived early but soon there was a steady trickle of members arriving for coffee.  By 10:15 seven of us had assembled: Bryan, Chris, Mike McC, Trevor, Petar, Andy (after quite an absence) and Mike G.  No one had a pre-prepared route but Trevor volunteered a couple of suggestions and Andy a ride to Wrenbury.  With a minimum of discussion we plumped for Wrenbury.

At 10:30 Trevor led us out through Piper’s Ash to Christleton where Andy took the lead.  The weather was good and with the wind behind us we made good progress through Huxley past Beeston Castle and onto Bunbury resisting a stop at Tilly’s.   With the temperature rising we made a stop to shed a layer before pressing on through Brindley and Ravensmoor where we turn south criss crossing the Llangollen Canal for the final stretch to Wrenbury.

Photo by Mike G
The Cotton Arms was our chosen hostelry where the wide choice of real ales was much appreciated to wash down the excellent double decker sandwiches.  The discussion today was dominated by Theresa May’s new cabinet appointments as the sound of mobile phone alerts constantly announced new appointments.  With bewilderment at some of the choices Petar reminded us of Machiavelli’s dictum to keep friends close but enemies even closer!

After lunch a more direct and shorter route back was agreed through the lanes past Cholmondeley Castle, over Harthill and thence to Tattenhall.  With the wind against us progress was a little slower than on the way out but nevertheless we made Tattenhall by 15:00.  Andy took us to a new tea stop in the village, which unfortunately had just closed for the day.  The alternatives of the Ice Cream Farm and Old Ma’s were considered.  With the decision to head for the Ice Cream Farm Trevor took to the front to lead a somewhat circuitous route despite cries to the contrary from the back of the group.

After a relaxing coffee and cake we finished the ride back to Chester through Saighton where the group fragmented.  Overall we had done some 52 miles in true CER style.  A great day out in good company and ideal cycling weather.


14th July 2016 : Summer Long Ride to Harmer Hill (brisk)

Starting in 2009, there has been a CER tradition of a long (over 100 miles) mid-summer ride. The rides were: “Vets 100” (2009), Shrewsbury (2010), Stone (2011), Welshpool (2012), Eccleshall (2013), Tibberton (2014), Cheshire Cycleway (2015) and today’s ride to Harmer Hill. Harmer Hill currently has the record for the highest number of riders at 12 hardy souls. So the list was Ivan, Ray, Tom, John W, Steve T, Paul, Martin, Keith M, John M and his guest, Andy Mc, and myself. Just the other side of the Old Dee Bridge, we pick up Dave P who had had an alarm mis-function but was now ready to roll. We speed off just after 0800 in the cool morning onwards through Rossett where we pick up Ken.

Ready for the off and obeying local instructions

At Borras, Dave P decides that he should drop off; so onwards, circling Wrexham and Erddig, our Cyclist Dozen are now bound for Ruabon. The long run down and slog up the Dee Valley, finds us in Chirk at 0930 after 25 miles. The “Tea Rooms Bistro” were warned the day before that we were coming but, basically they were disappointingly unprepared and it took well over an hour to get breakfasted in and out. Admittedly they had contractors in, but a little disappointing. 

It has warmed up a little now as we rise through Weston Rhyn and down my favourite little lane to Oswestry’s Iron Age hill fort. Rounding Oswestry and via Middleton, we are soon out into Maesbury marsh territory. There are long traffic-free lanes here as we sidle through Maesbrook and new lanes to Melverley close to the Welsh border. This is Offa’s Dyke country beside the River Severn. Crossing the A5 at Montford Bridge, the leading riders get a little cocky with their Garmin routing and turn left, as the leader’s pack just cross the road and up the hill towards Forton Heath. I take a left, which is incorrect judging by the chorus behind, but carry on re-routing on the fly via Yeaton and Merrington. This adds no extra mileage except adding a long, easy hill.

The tiny lane out of Merrington elicits a phone call from Ivan who has missed our turn but is re-routing back onto the published route. Within minutes, we see his group pumping up the hill right in front of us, but now we have lost John W who has zoomed back to find Ivan! We are now just ten minutes from the "Bridgewater Arms" at Harmer Hill, where we all are grateful for a lunch stop after 60 miles. The tables are reserved, the beer is good, the staff attentive, the food comes quickly and we are in and out in just over the hour. Just as we are ready to go, Keith has a bike lock malfunction which is soon rectified using a pair of pliers, and a subsequent later visit to the bike shop for a replacement! 

The lock is removed!
It’s now sunny as we take the long lanes towards Loppington where I go marginally off piste again. The ride into Whitchurch is quicker than I anticipated (I estimated the distance wrongly) so we head out to the canal-side cafe at Grindley Brook. Ivan has a problem with his pedal cleats and a temporary fix is effected. Out onto the home stretch, we sidle either side of the A41 turning off in to No Man’s Heath and out into Ebnal Lane. Here Steve, having nowhere to go, runs into the back of a suddenly slowing John W resulting in serious problems with John's rear derailleur. None of this is known by the rest of the group who are waiting up the road. Ivan finds out that Ken is converting John’s bike into a fixie and they would make their own way back. The route now is via Tilston and Tattenhall and thence home. In Waverton, Ivan and Co zoom into view as a few of us had been taking it easy back into Chester.

We have had a glorious day’s riding with everyone broadly keeping together at over 15 mph average and 105+ miles and 4400 ft of climb. Yes, a few incidents, but importantly no accidents! This has been my fifth year leading the summer long ride, so maybe next year someone else might come forward…….?

See route map and/or gpx file download

PS: Many thanks to John W for being back marker and whipper in. I wonder how many we would still be looking for if he had diligently "carried out orders"!

Photographs by Clive Albany and Ivan Davenport

Sunday 10 July 2016

7th July 2016 : Holt to Horseshoe Pass (brisk)

Cleopatra’s looked very quiet when I arrived with only Tom sitting with his drink. However, within minutes others arrived and by 10.15 a small band of CER members were all clustered around the tables discussing the days routes and options. Clive  decided to lead the Moderate group out towards Whittington for lunch but  I fancied a trip up around the new Horseshoe Pass and convinced Steve T and Tom to join me. Dry roads  and the mid-teen temperature  made the first few miles through Borras  very pleasant  and  gave us time to warm up ready for the challenge ahead.

Crossing the dual carriageway, we weaved our way through Acton, under the railway, and out of Wrexham on Stansty Road towards Pentre Boughton. From this point  the only way way forward was up and Steve attained ‘King of the Mountains’ points by cresting every hill in first position. On through Minera, we passed the old lead mines and made our way west towards Llangollen. The lovely quiet lanes above Rhos provided great  views across Cheshire and contributed to making the morning very pleasant. The route then see-sawed steeply up and down the whole way through Pen-y-Cae, Garth, and past Trevor Hall Woods with Steve pulling further ahead with  KOM points at every opportunity. Finally, we started our descent via the Panorama path where we had a brief picture stop and this also gave us the opportunity to put on waterproofs as insurance against the rain clouds that  were building up ahead.
The Panorama panorama view
We entered Llangollen, in drizzle, after a steep double chevron descent and passing over the canal to arrive by the town bridge. According to the road signs the Eisteddfod was supposed to be in full swing although the town appeared very quiet with only an ambulance and police car attending to an incident on the bridge providing any action. We turned right  to start our ascent of the Horseshoe  and saw a sign indicating we had 4 miles to go to our  lunch stop. Fortunately  for us about a mile into this stage  the roads dried and the sun came out so we were able to stow our coats in readiness for the climb.

The combined strain of the increase in road gradient  and the duration  of the climb started to tell  and Steve  slipped from his familiar first place to the back of the pack but Tom,  invigorated by the prospect KOM points or lunch,  showed his hand and took off for summit leaving Steve and myself to struggle on to the top.Lunch consisted of pie and chips for Tom and Steve, and baked potato for myself. During the break we reviewed our return route in order to ensure Steve reached to Holt by 3:30pm.

The morning was was predominantly uphill but the afternoon was going to be a blast along well surfaced roads and mainly downhill; bliss. So we took the main road and headed to Bwlchgwyn where we turned left  freewheeling down past the Ffrwyd pub and into LLay. A left and then right turn took us through  Hope and  at the junction of Kinnerton Road, Tom left us to make his way home while we continued and turned right down through Rossett  and back to Holt.

A super day out, with 83 km(52 miles) covered and 1224 metres of ascent and a maximum height achieved of 426 metres - according to Strava. Most of the hard work was confined to the morning, thankfully the afternoon was easier, which is just how it should be and even the rain held off until after we had ordered our  final coffee at Cleopatra’s.


Photograph by Ken Page

Friday 8 July 2016

7th July 2016: Holt to Gobowen (Moderate)

Would it be a dry ride - well almost! I fancied a Moderate ride today so, as we saddled up outside Cleopatra’s, there were the Three Graces (aka Liz P, Kate and Jane) and the Dis-Gracefuls (aka Steve H, Keith B, Charlie, Petar, Dave H, Dave P, and myself). The route I’d pre-planned was to take a circuit around to Gobowen. Jane had asked if we could go to Whittington since she was leading a ride out that way soon and wanted to recce the area. So this was factored in and a few steep hills removed.

Off and out around the Industrial Estate bypass. We end up all together in Bangor on Dee taking the Overton Road out and up. At the top of the first “hill” just past the racecourse, I’m told the tandem is “going to Malpas”. We wander through lovely Overton and out on the Oswestry Road. Here we take the eponymously named Pant Lane as we climb up the valley. A right down and left up, finds us wandering past the lone Dudleston church and the awaiting mourners of today’s funeral. We entered Gaia Lane. Apparently Gaia was one of the four primeval Greek Deities. It surely would have been happy down this mud-strewn lane — thankfully all dry today. One to miss after a period of rain! We take Church Lane around the back of St Martins and on down across the A483 and into Weston Rhyn. Taking one of my favourite lanes south, we trundle down parallel to the A483 and into Gobowen.

It starts to rain, so we opt for Derwen College for lunch. It’s busy as per usual, but they find room to accommodate us. My phone rings - it’s Tandem Dave who is now at the Olde Boot in Whittington - so much for Malpas then! We ride the back way to the pub, where the group promptly disintegrates into Dave H (who is going to stay with the tandem) and Jane and Charlie who will make their own way back. 

We Happy Five now take the well-loved cycleway 455 for a while and then split off bound for Elson. On the way to Penley, I remember Sandy Lane, so we dive off down here bound for Worthenbury, thence to Shocklach and the cafe. Just as we get to Farndon it rains just hard enough to decide to don wet weather gear. All safely back after 50 miles, we find two-thirds of the Brisk Group (Steve T and Ken) inside.  After cake and coffee it is back to Chester hoping it won’t rain for a third time, and it doesn’t!


Sunday 3 July 2016

30th June 2016: Utkinton to Peover Heath (moderate)

The fast lads had been conspicuous by their absence last week, but like Theresa May, had now returned as an aspirational force. Some had expensive shoes, but none had kitten heels. It was good to see Petar back, and the Donaldsons on their return from cycling in Germany and Austria. The moderate riders' plans were .. er ..moderate: fifty-five fairly flat miles to The Dog, just short of Chelford.  The group members were: Steve and Steve, Liz and Martin, Liz and Dave, Trevor, Brian Macca, Keith Metcalfe, George, Petar and myself.

Photos by Macca
Steve was leading, and set off in the opposite direction to our intended destination. This illogical behaviour is known as the Clive Perverse Loop Manoeuvre. The route took us to Kelsall, then on the Delamere Forest switchback, heading for Acton Bridge via Norley and Onston. Great Budworth was as cute as ever, and had the additional attraction of interesting figures dressed up, and placed throughout the village. By the time we reached Plumley Moor via Pickmere and Higher Wincham I was tempted to snatch a coffee at The Colonial Cafe while we waited for the tandem. I don't know what had delayed the tandem; they'd likely stopped off to buy duck eggs from a local farm. They do have previous form in this regard. From Smithy Green we crossed the A50 and avoided cycling along the Macclesfield Road by riding a semi-circle of pleasant lanes from Ollerton to Marthall, and then Peover Heath.

Despite being posh, The Dog is always a welcoming and attractive destination for us cyclists. The food was very good and the service very friendly, but we did have a fair wait.

After lunch we meandered on an equally picturesque, but more southerly route home via Goostrey and Lach Dennis. Steve then took us to a new coffee stop destination on a farm before Davenham (the Pump House Café at Shipbrook Hill Farm: www.riversideorganic.co.uk). Some of us discussed the current political upheaval following the Brexit vote. This was probably not a good idea given the wide range of political allegiances in the group! However, I don't think we really fell out, and the atmosphere was as convivial as ever as we returned to stroke the lambs adjacent to our machines. At this stage Martin and Liz decided to crack on, and we counted how many we should be. We had had a problem counting in the morning at Rose Farm, so we were hoping we wouldn't learn later of any forgotten, flattened CER cyclist reported on the North-West Tonight programme. The back road into Davenham passes the church, and then has varied and attractive character properties either side. We headed down under the railway from Moulton and over the Vale Royal Cut. The Whitegate Way provided shelter from the headwind from the Salt Mine to the old station. We then headed for Little Budworth, and stopped to don rain jackets. The time Dave Pipe took must have been down to more serious garment strategy, perhaps wet suit underpants, and, of course, topped by a vintage cape. Suffice to say, by the time the tandem and its vast panniers were cleared for take-off, the rain had nearly fizzled out, and I'd lost the will to live! Only joking, Easy Riders would never be the same if they stopped coming. We were soon back after the usual climb from Cotebrook, no longer haunted by the past Macca nightmare of having a car locked in. A very enjoyable ride in great company, excellently led at a very inclusive pace. Our thanks to Steve, also to Brian for the trouble he goes to for his action photos.     


Friday 1 July 2016

30th June 2016: Utkinton to Sandbach (brisk)

Having led 106 rides in the last three years with CER, it becomes increasingly difficult to find a different ride from our starting locations. So I set about with today's ride to Sandbach to try to find new roads and lanes to go down on the way to “The George” pub in the town centre. So the Famous Five, consisting of John² (M and W), Tom, Paul and myself, set off in and out of Tarporley bound for Wettenhall. NCN551 runs some 6 miles down to Nantwich, and it was pleasing to see that at least some of it has been patched up. No such luck for the “Boot and Slipper” pub which has been demolished! We take the ring road around Nantwich and then the parallel cycle path towards Winsford. Here we wander through Wistaston before arriving in Shavington. The pace is somewhat fast but I'm to blame for that!

We shuffle through Basford and Weston and bypass Crewe Hall Hotel on our way to Oakhanger and the eponymously name Moss, then to fly over the M6. We are briefly on the Cheshire cycleway 70. Here, there is a 1.2 mile shortcut using the 70, but I remember in time the last time I went down this bone-shaking farmer's track and decide to avoid it. So we loop around the edge of Alsager, passing the forlorn Manchester University's Alsager Campus, which will be soon be demolished to make way for 400+ houses.

After three more crossings of the M6, we pass though Malkin's Bank and into Sandbach and the pub after 30 miles at 16.5mph average. Service is swift and enjoyable at this Wetherspoons and the discussion surrounds the weighty Matters of State that are now upon us all. I can't resist a group photo in the Market Square which is heavily cobbled. There are market stalls out today as well.


It is decidedly chilly when we leave the Market Square bound for Ettiley Heath, and we are soon out of the metropolis and into the countryside. We wander through Moston to Wimboldsley, where we join the A530 before sliding around Clive Green and the edge of Winsford. Using the Hebden Green back lane, we 're now on our way to Little Budworth. As there is time, a course change takes us to the Old Fire Station cafe in Tarporley where we are expertly served by Work Experience staff from the local high school. It is getting a bit darker and colder now, and we are all wondering if the rain will hold off. So as John M heads for his car, the four of us rush down the A51 to Duddon and then via Waverton to home. I'm on 78 miles at 16 mph average, and Paul is out for his 100 today. Remarkably, a dry day!


Photographs by John Wilkie and Clive Albany