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 January 2017

26th January 2017 : Nantwich (brisk)

The forecast for Thursday was a minus temperature, so pedalling to the start at Meadow Farm I was wondering if anyone would turn out. The café was full of CER riders - including 4 brisk guys who were up for a day out. Ray, Ken, Steve T and Andy B were my domestiques for a ride to Nantwich; so bidding the Moderates farewell and an enjoyable ride, we set of along Station lane and Wicks lane to join the A51 for the plod to Tarvin. Ken was on the front and we trailed behind keeping close together on this very busy trunk road. We turned right and through the town and turned right and crossed the A51 for Broom Bank. We then ran parallel to the A51 but via the lovely lanes across The Moss before crossing the A51 again at Duddon.

Between Ray and Ken, we are soon at the crossroads at Utkinton going straight over for Cotebrook and round to Eaton. Taking the usual left turn down the hill, we ride along the narrow lane to Cholmondeston before joining the Winsford - Wettenhall road. This is a long slog and against a 20+mph head wind it was hard work all the way to Rease Heath College at Nantwich. Along the very bumpy Welshman lane and then Welsh Row, we are at the Red Bull at 12:15. There was a big log fire in the lounge area which was full of early diners,so we had to settle for the snug and no vision of flames and heat.

Lunch and drinks (lime&soda for most) ordered, we started to strip off all our layers and let some air in. We were not cold and the roads from Tarvin onwards were very quiet of traffic and remarkably clean. A good lunch eaten, we passed up the offer of puddings for a £1.00 (had DP been with us he would have managed all ours I’m sure!).

Back outside it now felt very cold, so quickly dashing back through the town and along Welsh Row, we turn left onto Marsh Lane which joins the same route had we passed through the housing estate, a better route for us although a few speed bumps on this little lane.

We remain on Marsh lane passing Ravensmoor and on to Wrenbury Heathand into Wrenbury and over the Shropshire canal and onwards to Cholmondeley. Since leaving Nantwich, we now had the wind on our backs which was very welcome. Onwards passing Egerton Green and to Harthill then downhill along Bolesworth road into Tattenhall. We chose to ride back to Waverton along Long lane and then we got split going over the lights now controlling the narrow canal bridge. Ken and I had to wait at Waverton for the others to catch up.

At the junction at the Plough pub, Ken and Ray turn left for Christleton and home, whilst Steve, Andy and myself continue onwards for Guilden Sutton and the café. A ride of 52 miles at 15.5mph was recorded and considering the forecast, we have had a great day cycling at a pace that kept the -2C from our fingers and toes.

Andy cycled to and from Mold so another 34 miles to add to his ride tally ,and Ken to and from Rossett, 16 additional miles. Many thanks to my brisk group today for sheltering me from the wind and helping me round the route.


Sunday 22 January 2017

19th January 2017: Malpas (mod)

This was forecast to be a dry, moderate day of 6 to 7 C  for January, resulting in 8 souls leaving Cleopatra’s, ably led again by Steve H .  If anyone else has a Garmin then please step forward as Steve H seems to be leading a lot as well as publishing this.  Dave H, Keith, Mike G, Petar, the tandem-duo and myself followed Steve down over the old Dee Bridge into England.  We thought that we’d take a flattened figure 8 route down to Malpas but when you look at the Garmin route, it looks like the UK on its side. We passed through Tilston, then east and around Bickerton Hill, on to Cholmondeley, where we met the local hunt.  Skirting Chorley (not of cake fame) we turned back west to arrive at The Wheatsheaf at No Mans Heath, only to find no food was on as a wake took precedence.

The publican sympathised and pointed us towards Malpas, where there are 3 pubs but none serve lunchtime food.  In this current climate of bigotry and xenophobia, one should remember how French the “English” language really is: Malpas is derived from the Norman “Mal” for poor and “pas” for road.  

Unusually then for the “Mods”, a hostelry was not available so Dave P gave us details of The Old School Tea Rooms, 8 Church Street SY14 8NU.  Open 7 days a week, it was built in the 16C as a Grammar School.  Talk over lunch ranged from the following day’s inauguration of DT through to when the next Rugby World Cup will be; answer = Japan in Sept-Oct 2019.  Lunch ranged from British ham, egg and chips to mozzarella pancake with chilli jam washed down with marzipan rooibos tea.

Photos by Macca

After lunch we took a “longer-short” L-shaped route through Threapwood , then North through Crewe, minus the Alexandra.  Passing through Farndon, we decided to try the new Lewis Coffee shop for afternoon tea on The High Street,  CH3 6PU tel: 01829 270 441.  Worth knowing about if ever Cleo’s is closed.  Thanks Steve for a pleasant 33 miles at a leisurely 13.1 mph


Saturday 21 January 2017

19th January 2017 : St Martin's (brisk)

A mild and calm forecast encouraged a good turnout at Cleopatra's including four who elected for a brisk ride with Wem, Loppington and St Martin's being the destinations on offer. Wem was initially chosen but abandoned at the starting line when Ken's phone containing the planned route, decided it didn't want to be of assistance. So it fell to me to lead the briskers  consisting of Ken, Andy B and Ray, on a figure-of-eight route to St Martin's. The route was last ridden in March 2016 by the Moderates on a sunny day.

In contrast to then, we soon found the lanes to be in a filthy condition following recent heavy rain and, the further we rode, the worse they seemed to get. Anyway, we set off over the bridge to Farndon and onward via Shocklach, Worthenbury and Penley. From then on the lanes became filthier and also more “undulating”. However, even in the depths of winter and on a gloomy day, the scenery was beautiful, including glimpses of the still and steely-like surfaces of Colemere and Whitemere. We had a good 15 mile workout riding the surprisingly frequent bumps between Penley and St Martin's and were ready for a rest and lunch at The Greyhound. We discovered it is in fact about a mile north of the village. We were now in relaxed mode as, with 30 miles from Holt completed, we knew it would be a much shorter return after lunch.

The pub lived up to the favourable report from the Moderates on the occasion of their last visit. We got a warm welcome and despite it being Pie Day with a good selection on offer, we all opted for the curry. Ray was also tempted by dessert with custard on the grounds that his energy resources were depleted after all those hills. The locals were interested in our journey and in return, we joined in singing “Happy Birthday Mrs Morris” when cake and candles arrived for an elderly customer who looked duly surprised at being serenaded by a group of lycra-garbed strangers. The bill was very reasonable as we took advantage of the pensioner's rate and we later calculated lime and soda to have been only 25p per pint. Is this a record?

Suitably refreshed, we made good progress back to Holt via Overton, Bangor-on-Dee and the B5130 with a total of 45 miles completed. Here, under darkening skies, we went our separate ways. Ray and I had a total recorded 68 miles and 2600 ft of ascent by the time we got back to Chester. Ken's stats would be similar and as usual, Andy would top us all by the time he arrived home in Mold. All in all It was a excellent day out in good company with plenty of chat even on those hills!

As a footnote, I see from the blog of the Moderates last visit there was much discussion of the likely outcome of the EU referendum. I wonder how many predicted Brexit|!

Monday 16 January 2017

12th January 2017: Aston (mod)

This was the third consecutive week when the weather forecast gave ample reason not to go out on a bike. This time, there turned out to be no ice problems, and the chilling air was ameliorated by conditions being far less windy than we anticipated. The two Steves, Keith and myself arrived first at Rose Farm. Dave Matthews joined us for a coffee, he was still recuperating, and also on grandchildren duty. Dave Pipe had been expected, but hadn't appeared as we mounted our cycles. But, then, someone must have rubbed their front lamp, and Dave appeared: a last minute genie in one of his many costumes.

My suggested destination was The Lord Combermere at Audlem, with an option of Aston depending on conditions. We were soon on our way reasonably briskly, heading for Cotebrook, and then Wettenhall with steady drizzle necessitating waterproof additions for some. Everyone was glad they had made the effort to get out, and we made short work of the easy riding route to Nantwich. Our final approach was via the winding Welshman's Lane, passing Henhull Hall to our left. We avoided the busier roads around Nantwich centre by turning off Welshman's Row, and crossing the Shropshire Union Canal on our way to Ravensmoor. We then headed south to Sound Heath, crossing Whitchurch Road, and down the quiet lane past Hall o' Coole until we hit the T-junction, and turned south, with less than three miles to go for lunch at Audlem.  We were over the twenty mile mark, when the pull of the Bhurtpore Inn became too much to resist, and we turned north-west to Aston.

We were wet and cold, and our gear was soon laid out in front of the welcoming, hot, open fire. The curries were really good, and the staff friendly, as always. The conversation was convivial, as usual, and we marvelled at the 105 year old Frenchman who cycled for an hour faster than we normally go. We seemed to all go out together for our return, but 60 yards down the road we realised we were not all there! I still don't know what the problem was, but Dave Pipe was at the heart of it, of course. Did he leave his Garmin in the toilet? Had his well-known addiction to puddings led to him gobbling down a last minute spotted dick? Anyway, we were still a bit cold and damp on finally starting our return. 

We needed a reasonably direct route back, but we did it slightly differently. At Wrenbury we turned right for Ravensmoor, rather than left for Chorley Bank. Now we were reasonably warmed up. Gradeley Green was reached by heading up to Swanley Bridge, crossing the Llangollen Canal, and heading down Springe Lane. We then took a new route to Burland Farm, in order to miss the muddy lane through the farm at Brindley. We turned off after short stretch on Wrexham Road, reaching Haughton by Long Lane. We passed the attractive Nag's Head recommended by Pipey. After Bunbury, we rode around Beeston Castle, enduring some sleety hail on the way. Steve H mentioned how, "You don't want to be in Tarporley when the school lets out", but soon we were. We overtook gridlocked traffic, and weaved between lorries and coaches on the High Street, before climbing back to Utkinton. Mental note: return via Hoofield and Clotton next time.

We had amazingly avoided coffee and carrot cake on the way in. We wanted to beat the light, and I suppose if I had asked Tanny he would rather have saved five bob, and have the last of his Morrison Savers scones at home. Unless staying out would have meant not having to put another sixpence in the meter for his one-bar electric fire. We had also wanted to be sure of avoiding "a Brian Mac", and having Keith's van locked in. If the girl in the shop had known when the café closed we may had a last drink at Rose Farm. They have uprated the decor, and it does seem more attractive as a venue now. I can't see it rivalling The Hollies, mind you, but if you want a coffee, teacake, and to pick up half a butchered pig to take home, it's just the job. We covered 44mls.at about 13m.p.h. average speed. Another enjoyable winter ride with good friends.


Friday 13 January 2017

12th January 2017: Bradfield Green (brisk)

Ivan needed to see his doctor for a check-up post his knee operation, and so he was unable to get to Rose Farm on time. So we met at Meadow Lea farm cafe to plan a suitable route out. Ivan’s recuperating very well, and considering the operation was late October, he’s now managing 50+ mile rides! So although John W was on his bike, he was only out for coffee today. This meant that Ray, Ivan and myself set off bound for Bradfield Green. Out via Christleton to Huxley, it was at the Brassey Green turn that Ivan decided that the combination of the rain and 0C temperatures was adversely affecting his new knee. Reluctantly but wisely, he called it a day. 

Ray and I decided to battle on in the rain. Out through Tarporley to Eaton, thence to Darnhall and Winsford, we were now going south on the A530 to Occlestone Green. Here we turn off bound for Warmingham and Coppenhall Moss. So after 32 miles in the wet and cold, Minshull’s Garden Centre cafe was a welcome sight. It’s situated just off the traffic lights on the Church Minshull road and A530 junction. The car park was nearly full as was the cafe. Ray and I have been once before and enjoyed the waitress service. The All day Breakfast combo suited us both. The quality and quantity was excellent and the price was fair. It should  be on the favourite lunch list for rides out of Rose Farm.

I called Ivan and he was  home recuperating in the warm. He advised that it was dry in Chester, so we were unlucky to have been cycling under the same rain cloud as it progressed eastwards from Chester to Crewe. Encouragingly the rain had stopped as we left bound for Church Minshull. The route back was familiar but bleak as it had definitely got colder. Crossing the outgoing route at Ruston, we take the hillier route back via Rose Farm and thence to Willington, Oscroft and Waverton and home.

The round trip was 55 miles and mid 60’s when I arrived home at 1515. Bike washing was the order of the day.


PS: Ivan’s knee had fully recovered by the next day.

Friday 6 January 2017

5th January 2017: Rhuddlan

The outside temperature was around -4C, and the 1982 “The Clash” Classic came to mind "Should I stay or should I go now". I decided to go, and the roads were largely dry up to Hawarden. Another lyric came to mind as I cycled "In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone". I was the first to arrive at The Gallery and I was glad of the warmth therein and the hot coffee. 

Soon Tom turned up in builder's mate mode, followed by Andy B from Mold. Dave H then arrived, initially just checking if he was the only one out today, before parking his car and rejoining us. Andy suggested a ride near the coast where the Gulf Stream would have warmed the roads up sufficiently to be ice-free. So we decided to head Dyserth way. 

Just as we were to depart, Dave P turns up in solo mode today. So with Dave P leading, we’re off via Ewloe and Northop bound for Holywell. The sun is shining, the air is clear, and the views over the estuary are worth braving the cold. As ever, the short stretch of the A55 is the only way to access Halkyn and the Windmill. At Pentre Halkyn, we dive down to Holywell then taking the old A55 out to Lloc, then turn right to Dyserth. The A5151 is quiet as we bowl along towards Dyserth. I suggested we go on to Rhuddlan and thus make for the “Morfa Table" pub by the River Clwyd.  

Arriving after 23 miles, we are quickly served with the Lunch Club specials, which were much needed to top up fuel reserves for our internal combustion engines. Conversation was as varied as ever. I suggested we take the river path to Rhyl and then the esplanade all the way to Talacre. 

As soon as we are on the beachfront at Rhyl, Dave P reluctantly concludes that he has left his Garmin back in the pub. Note to Dave P: New Year's Resolution #21: Produce a saddling up checklist! He’s happy to retrace the route back home. So we three trundle down the prom and  through a very busy golf course and an almost deserted mobile home holiday camp, before arriving at the Point of Ayr at Talacre. We now take the cycle path around the remains of the coal mines to access the coast road. 

Now it’s the usual boring route back to Flint, but I did see a lone fox suspiciouly wandering through Bagillt village. At Oakenholt, Andy and Dave take Papermill Lane towards Northop Hall to get back, after 31 miles, to Hawarden. By now the sun has dropped away and the lights go on. So 54 miles in all, during 4 hours of cycling in -4 to +1C temperatures with largely dry roads and not once experiencing that back-wheel sliding feeling. You should have been out and have come with us!

See route map and/or gpx filedownload.


PS: Dave retrieved his Garmin successfully: it had fallen out of his helmet as he left the table in the pub. 

Sunday 1 January 2017

Daresbury: 29th December 2016

Dave Matthews, Ivan, John and Ken had made the effort to turn up at Meadow Lea for coffee and a chat despite other commitments preventing them taking part on a ride. Ken was on his bike, so I hope he returned home safely in the icy conditions, ready for an exciting session of domestic painting. Tom, Steve Tan, Keith and myself hadn’t had the gumption to come up with a decent excuse not to ride on a day when the roads were likely to be treacherous, and the air was stone cold.

We set off along the A56 toward the Windsurfing Centre, noting the spinning wheels of a car at Morley Bridge as it fought for grip on the frost iced tarmac. The climb up the steep hairpin toward Manley Old Hall was a chancy choice, but despite Keith’s sensible reservations, we all stayed upright. We headed for Riley Bank and then up to Newton. We had some loss of traction, although I think Keith escaped this sensation, either because of his lack of sensitivity or extra ballast over the back wheel. It was not reassuring to see a Polo creeping down the other side of the road with its anti-lock brakes working feverishly! We headed down gingerly toward Kingsley on a stretch of road where I watched Mark Cavendish climbing on the Tour of Britain (2014, I think). Although we had already chanced our arm on narrow side lanes, we stuck to the B5153 to Acton Bridge.  I took a comfort break before Little Leigh, but my paired fingers type glove on my right hand proved extremely difficult to remove, and impossible to replace! I had to continue to lunch with one cold right hand. The rest of the group ahead were wondering what had happened to me.  From Little Leigh we cycled past Cogshall Hall to Frandley. We were really enjoying the ride, because the bright sun, white frost and quiet roads through lovely Cheshire countryside are just our sort of thing. Tom was cold and wanted the pub. Like talking to a child, I kept reassuring him that we were nearly there, it was ’ just up the road’, etc., estimating the distance to go ,and halving it, just to keep him quiet. We reached The Ring O’ Bells via the duck pond at Higher Whitley and the small village of Hatton.  They were very busy at the pub, so despite our well-mannered young waitress, the good quality scoff was slow arriving. Tom thought he was cold, because he normally rode harder, and waited around less. This was undoubtedly true, but his vest looked as if it had been bought at Primark in a summer sale, so this could have been the main reason.

It was decided to return via Frodsham for expediency, as it was getting late, and Tom still had to ride to Wales before it closed. A few unusual lanes were added for interest, taking us by Morphany Hall and the site of  Lewis Carroll’s family home.  Aston Lane took us to Sutton Weaver. At Frodsham we passed dinky terraced cottages high up at Overton, before a hard grind up through a sandstone cutting, past the fishing pond, and it was almost all downhill from there. ‘ Expedient ’ had become Tom’s favourite word in choosing the remaining route, and we all agreed to return directly. Despite lumbering along at the back all day, the lads let me lead at a decent pace for the last few miles.  At Meadow Lea we just made a last coffee, as Tom made off for the candlelit, post-industrial wasteland of North Wales.  Despite some early trepidation we had enjoyed a fine day together, covering 43miles, probably 68 or so for Tom. It was nice to have Keith on board again, and to climb into his big black van with a warm jacuzzi awaiting at The Spirit Club in Runcorn.