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.

For more information see the About Us tab.

Thursday 27 April 2017

27th April 2017: Ellesmere (mod)

As the poet said, April is the cruellest month – this year the first week saw sunny warm days with gentle breezes, while the last week has treated us to frosts, rain and hail. The forecast didn’t promise much better as I rode out to Cleopatra’s in Holt, though it hadn’t put off too many. The assembled group included Clive, Dave H, Steve T, Nick, Bob, George, Andy W, Bryan W and myself. As we were discussing where to ride, it was great to see Dave & Liz P arrive in civies and give us their news.  Hopefully we’ll see them again soon at some of our starts.

The debate over our destination was settled and at the time we agreed to head for The Black Lion in Ellesmere, all except Bryan who was doing his own thing.  As we donned our outer gear, Dave revealed that he had left his behind. The inventive use of supermarket bags to protect him from the elements was discounted, and he asked our hosts at Cleo’s whether they had a bin bag he could wear by cutting head and arm holes into it.  Very generously, Helen offered to lend him a proper cycling jacket. That’s customer service!

Protected against the elements we set off along the lanes to the west of the Dee for the dash down the A525 to Bangor on Dee. From there we headed towards Cloy and then Duddleston Heath. Hereabouts we phoned the Black Lion to book our lunch places - no reply. One of our members then informed us that The Black Lion was closed, so we decided for a change of hue and made for The Red Lion instead. The leader set off following theintended loop around the south of Ellesmere through Welsh and Lower Frankton. Alas, half of the followers became disconnected and they headed directly for our destination. A phone call revealed that they were not lost, but siting in the pub in the dry, just as it started to rain on the rest of us. Reversing direction, we sped off to join them in the Ellesmere.

Ellesmere! “The Capital of Shropshire’s Lake Country, standing on the biggest of seven delightful meres”, so says my 1946 copy of Arthur Mee’s Shropshire (10s 6d). Our conversation was less poetic, though perhaps more entertaining, as we tucked into good value food and for some of us two-course pensioner lunches.

We left the pub passing beside the ‘delightful’ Ellesmere and then Colemere, and followed Clive’s advice to choose the best approach into Welshampton. The route back northwards passed Tarts Hill, and then several quiet but very rough lanes, at one point losing Steve T and Nick. A call was made and they eventually re-joined us from another direction.  We entered Worthenbury and took the usual route into Farndon.  Finally crossing the Dee, all except Andy and Nick made our way back to Cleopatra’s, where Dave returned his jacket.

Overall around 40 miles travelled on very quiet lanes under relatively dry skies.  Maybe April gave us not such a cruel ending.

A Note on our Ride Protocol.  Given we lost part of our group twice on this ride, it’s worth reminding riders that each of us should check that the rider behind them can see the direction we are taking at every junction. 

See route map and/or gpx file download


Sunday 23 April 2017

20th April 2017: Special Ride - Whalley to Settle (mod)

Seven of us arrived pretty well together, and early, at the kerbside on Accrington Road. A friendly cyclist who had also arrived by car, was soon interrogating us with the zeal of Michael Crick.  Although our conversation was polite, I had the feeling that he was a bit of a nutter, and was happy to escape with the others to Tastebuds for a cuppa. I didn't want to eat there, as our lunch stop was going to be early. The staff were expecting us, and very friendly in that warm, unpretentious Lancashire way. I began to wonder if Tom was held up, or wasn't coming, so I gave him a ring. The sleepy voice on the end of the 'phone wasn't Tom's, but his son's. It was established that Tom's car was not on the drive, just as the man himself entered the cafe, still in time to have a coffee.

We started bang on time: Steves Haywood and Tan, Bob, Macca, Keith, Tom, George and myself. We cycled on a side road adjacent to Whalley Abbey before heading north-west, passing over the Ribble just past Mitton Hall – a great venue for a special occasion. We then pressed up a short steep bank, and turned right just before the renowned Three Fishes restaurant. This took us on a back lane past the ancient church at Great Mitton. Can you tell that the Tourist Board paid me for this write-up?! We were soon climbing steadily and easily to Browsholme Hall. At Cow Ark we partly followed the route of the Roman road (York to Ribchester, I guess). At this point I decided to do a quiet and scenic loop crossing the Hodder at Doeford Bridge, before joining a familiar route of mine, which climbs past the wild boar farm, and provides a panoramic view of the Forest of Bowland, before plunging down to Burholme Bridge. A flat cruise alongside the Hodder soon has us at Puddleducks cafe at Dunsop Bridge, This is a reliable favourite stop, and a prudent choice on this ride, as any further sustenance cannot be guaranteed on the long leg to Settle. My hotpot pie and red cabbage was just what I needed to face the challenges ahead. I think Steve H had apple pie and custard for his early lunch- ah never mind, I suppose our type of club is bound to have its share of old eccentrics! Dave Pipe would have had the hotpot, and then the pie and custard!
Photos by Macca

I can't make my mind up if knowing the exact nature of a tough challenge ahead is an advantage, or if ignorance is bliss. I knew that the next 25mls or so would be a testing, and hopefully exhilarating ride for all of us. Newton was the next village, followed by a stiff climb by Great Dunnow before whizzing down through attractive Slaidburn. The other side of the river has a notorious mile or so of climbing including a hairpin bend. Steve Tan had managed to knacker his rear gear hanger here in the past, but we managed to shorten the chain, and he got home without his rear derailleur as I recall. We passed Tinkler's Lane, part of the Lancashire Cycleway, and our last chance to make an easy alternative route. However, the weather was fine, and the tour needed to deliver as advertised. We turned left, speeding down to Gisburn Forest and Stocks Reservoir.  At the causeway we could see people fishing from a small craft, idyllic on the twinkling waters. Then, this was it! A hard, long, slow slog straight up School Lane, then bending left into some more climbing through the forest. Coat Rakes Bridge heralded  a lung- bursting section steeper than one-in-five, followed by a few hundred yards steeper than one -in seven as we strove to stay aboard without stopping. Bob's heart monitor had redlined, so he had wisely dismounted. He wasn't the only one! My triple chainset gave me an advantage over some. Tanny and Tom were flying, but Keith was the revelation, and was well ahead of Stephen and myself, as we concentrated on pacing ourselves to the very top of Crutchenber Fell. 

According to Steve Tan's data we climbed 768 feet on this 3mile stretch. Macca took a photograph, as we all got together on the craggy top. 

Bob exclaimed that this was the toughest ride he had ever been on, and asked if all “Special” rides were like this one! The short answer was “No”, but I hope that the mighty climb and glorious descent will stay as one of the special memories of riding with our club. I know it wasn't climbing Ventoux by three different routes in a day, but for an old moderate rider it was still a bit of a buzz. So, we did hurtle down past Clapham Common for miles, with a panoramic view of the majestic peaks of the Yorkshire Dales in front. Keith had a bit of unnerving headset play on the way down, but we were soon heading east down Eldroth Road, in lovely scenery towards Giggleswick and Settle. By the time we were crossing the A65 with about a mile and a half to go, we had encountered a few more sharp banks, and a couple of the lads were looking like dead fish. I was a bit concerned, and was starting to think of contingency plans, being particularly mindful of what happened to Dave Pipe. There turned out to be no reason to worry, as The Singing Kettle tea shop at Settle worked its magic, and with plenty of good value food and drink down us, everyone was pretty well rejuvenated on our easier, and far shorter, return journey. Some of us were able to have a fun chat with a mother and daughter in the cafe. They were visiting from Earby, and the mother had Alzheimer's. There were some surreal and poignant moments in the conversation, but I think we all appreciated the encounter. I guess Settle is worth a proper look around in the future.

Returning down Ribblesdale gave us an easy start, bowling along with our destination in site on the horizon: Pendle Hill. We were heading for the end of its south east slope at the River Calder, that flows through Whalley. Our first little hill was at Rathmel, but the topography ahead had nothing for us to fear.   At Wigglesworth we headed west for a mile before turning left for Sawley. We stopped to ensure that nobody missed the turn. I then followed Brian Mac on the long stretch to Holden. Brian had got a second wind, and started to open a big gap. I only caught up with him when he had a wobble over the bridge at Forest Becks. We stopped at the junction at Holden. Bob was close behind. We waited, and waited, Evidently Keith had had a problematic puncture. The incident showed that having switched on mobiles and other riders' numbers, as well as efficient bike pumps is really useful, but not half as useful as having Dave Pipe along! Once we were altogether we headed for Worston, via Sawley and Chatburn. We have had cream teas in the past at the pub in Worston, but today we carried on, crossing the A59, and then having an easy cruise along the flat, quiet route of the old road to Whalley. We covered just over 60 miles, and ascended 3,715feet according to Steve Tan. Steve Haywood went to the cafe, but I think the rest of us just set off home. We had no traffic problems, and I appreciated the company and the support for the ride at such short notice.  I know people are often desperate to get out of Wales, but it was a long drive, and I hope the Welsh contingent felt that it was worth it. Steve and Tom's support for the peloton was much appreciated, as was Macca's photography. Congratulation to George for The Magpies promotion!


Saturday 15 April 2017

13th April 2017: Llangollen (brisk)

There was a smaller turnout today at Harwarden which we presumed to be because of Easter holidays. Whilst the moderate group  planned a ride to St Asaph, the brisk group (Tom, Paul,John,Nick and myself) chose a route comprising of a figure of eight loop involving the Horseshoe pass with lunch at Llangollen.

We departed via the usual route, along Wood Lane, which  led us out of Ewloe to zigzag through Buckley before dropping down into Llong. Once across the A541, we climbed uphill past the newly refurbished Recycling Depot and into Eryrys. It was during this ascent that Tom started to fall behind but once in Llanarmon we regrouped and had an enforced rest because two lorries  struggled to negotiate the narrow roads and tight bend. Finally, free of the traffic,we quickly sped on to the main road  passing the Gliding Club before  tackling the steep climb up to the the Ponderosa cafe where we stopped to catch our breath.  The cafe appeared very quiet with only a few cars in the car park and two ambulances whose signage indicated ‘driver training’.

We decided that  the Micro Brewery, on the outskirts of Llangollen, would be a good lunch stop so  Paul and Nick led the charge with a fast descent, myself and John in close pursuit, and  Tom playing rearguard. Convening in the Micro-Brewery car park, we were disappointed to find it locked and in darkness- rather odd given its the Easter holidays. So we deferred to Plan B - continue on to The Corn Mill in Llangollen. Due to the restricted car park at The Corn Mill, there was little space to secure our bikes but after a quick chat with the landlord we wheeled our bikes through the bar to the safety of the outside rear veranda. Lunch arrived promptly and was quickly consumed so at no time at all we were back on the bikes  but this time we exited the pub via the veranda and a side gate. 

Our return route  followed a fairly busy A5 through Glyndyfrwdy to Llidiart y Parc where we turned right and stopped for a photoshoot at Carrog Station. After this the route was all uphill, steep and unrelenting, until we met the main road where we turned right, through Bryneglwys, and  then  left to once again pass the Gliding School and rejoin the main road towards Chester.

Photo by KP

On reaching the traffic light, by the remains of the old Liver Inn, we were sufficiently weary of ‘A’ roads  so we turned right then left onto the quieter roads that lead us through Llanfynydd , Ffrith and Cefn-y-bedd. From here we followed the road through to Hope and turn off right towards Kinnerton, with the exception of Tom who continued on the main road to Hawarden.

Once on the road to Kinnerton  John and Paul carried on towards Chester while Nick and I took Lower Mountain road to the footbridge over the A55. Here Nick made a  telephone call to ‘Mrs Nick’ and to our surprise Tom arrived- they headed off to Harwarden and I back to Burton. We had completed 58 miles including a serious amount of ascent . For me, the ride  was probably  the hardest ride of the year thus far albeit enjoyable.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday 14 April 2017

13th April 2017: St Asaph (mod)

It was a dull but dry day as I rode from home to Hawarden.  The forecast was for heavy cloud cover but no rain.  I hoped the forecasters had got it right.  I was the first to arrive at the Gallery Coffee Shop to be warmly greeted by mine host who appeared to be in a very affable mood this morning.  Eight other club members duly arrived as 10.30 approached.  During tea, coffee, teacake and conversation, proposals for the day’s ride were quickly agreed.  The “brisk” group consisting of John M, Paul, Nick, Ken and Tom were headed for the Horseshoe Pass and the Ponderosa while I offered to lead the “moderates” Steve H, Keith, Dave H and yours truly to The Plough at St Asaph.

We took the usual route west on the B5125 through Ewloe to Northop Hall.  I decided to cycle up the main street of the village as opposed to my usual route alongside the A55.  A mistake; the road narrows and uphill traffic has precedence in a 20 mile per hour zone.  Both these were rules lost on a bus driver coming down the hill.  He presumably didn’t consider bikes as road traffic and passed us far too close for safety doing twice the legal speed limit.  One slight misjudgement and he would have wiped us out.  No doubt he would have received a maximum three year driving ban and a modest fine – go figure.

The rest of the morning passed without further incident.  We passed through Northop and having safely negotiated the 100 yards of the A55, busier than usual as the holiday weekend got into gear, we began the steady climb on to Halkyn Mountain and through to Brynford.  Here the first of the day’s fine views unfolded looking north-west across the Wirral to Liverpool, the cathedrals clearly visible.  Re-crossing the A55 at Pantasaph we proceeded to Gorsedd turned left and at Lloc, The Rock pub now sadly closed, we picked up the A5026.  Turning left on to a country lane at Tan-y-graig we cycled past Llyn Helyg and then turned south through Tynewydd to re-cross the A55 at the top of Rhuallt hill.  An exhilarating descent down this long hill, now virtually traffic free with the building of the A55 trunk road immediately adjacent, brought us to the hamlet of Rhuallt itself.  Here we turned left on to the B5429.  Fine views to our right across the Vale of Clwyd to the Denbigh moors and the mountains of Snowdonia accompanied us as we made for Tremeirchion.  Here we turned right and enjoyed a pleasant ride across the floor of the Vale, crossing the Afon Clwyd we joined the A525.  Turning left for 200 yards we dropped off to the right on to the B5381 and enjoyed a fine ride alongside the Afon Elwy to run in to St Asaph and The Plough.

I can only recall one previous occasion when the CERs have visited this pub although it is a hostelry I am familiar with from my working days.  The car park was full but it is a biggish pub and is used to catering for large numbers.  It didn’t disappoint.  The staff plentiful they were efficient and friendly.  Table provided and food and drink ordered, we enjoyed a relaxing lunch all complete within the hour and so to the return leg.  There is no easy way over the Clwydian Hills at this point.  I therefore chose to retrace our steps up Rhuallt Hill.  We cycled up the main street in St Asaph and crossing the A55 on a cycle friendly footbridge we began the long steady pull up the hill.  A bit of a tester after lunch but we were all equal to the challenge.  On gaining the summit a quick dive down the narrow, well surfaced lane running alongside the dual carriageway gave us access to the myriad of country lanes around Caerwys.  I chose my usual route a long flattish ride on good surfaces through Babell and back on to Halkyn Mountain past the quarry.  Keeping our height and again enjoying the fine views across Liverpool Bay to the north we picked up the B5123 at Berth-ddu and followed it to Rhosesmor.  Here a left turn and largely free-wheeling we dropped steadily back in to Northop.  Here I left my three amigos to return to the start.  A very enjoyable 50 miles for those who started and ended in Hawarden, considerably more for Steve H who had cycled from home in Kelsall and the forecasters got it right.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Saturday 8 April 2017

6th April 2017 : Wybunbury (brisk)

A good CER turnout  had the staff of Delamere Station  cafe  busy serving drinks and snacks. There were seven in the brisk group:- John, Ray, Tom, Andy, Steve,  myself , plus  Nick  who was on his inaugural ride with this group. John W also joined us for coffee but he had to return home for Grandad duties thus leaving us once we had agreed the proposed  planned  route to Wybunbury. 

On departing the cafe, we headed left past Blakemere then  turning right to weave our way through Norley  and along Bag Lane into Cuddington. Once over the A49 we followed Hodge Lane ,crossing over A556, and then skirting around Sandiway Golf course. Very soon we entered Winsford and just as quickly left it following Swanlow Lane through to Church Minshull before entering Nantwich. Here, a small navigation error resulted in a double circuit of the Crewe Road roundabout before leaving on the Newcastle road to drop into Wybunbury at exactly 12 o’clock. Perfect timing, though our progress had been aided by a steady breeze. 

The Swan bar area was very busy with people queuing to order food and drink but  the staff and  service were very efficient and the food arrived  quickly. Food prices were pretty standard with the light bites around £7.95, but the CER tipple of choice (Lime and Soda) was a bit pricey at £1.60. While we ate, Tom regaled us with tales of his latest trip to Italy, including the vertical nature of the landscape, narrow roads, and an insight into the latest Italian cycle fashion!! This apparently did not include any Aldi special buys.

Once the food was consumed, we all convened  for a quick photo in front of St Chad's Church. The 15th century tower here is all that remains of the original church and the  tower  leans to the north - a piece of useless information I gleaned from Wikipedia!

Leaning Tower of St Chad's

Back on the road we returned  to Nantwich, via Stapeley, before following a fairly standard route back through Wettenhall, skirting Oulton Park and crossing over the A49 at Cotebrook. At this point Ray, John and Tom left to return to Chester while the rest of us headed for Delamere.

The round trip back to Delamere was 70km (43miles) which was achieved  at reasonably brisk pace. However with additional return mileages Andy and Tom clocked up about 100 miles  and the Chester lads 75 miles. Thanks to everyone for a great day out despite the lingering grey skies and cool conditions.


6th April 2017: Delamere to Chelford (mod)

Assembling in the Delamere Station Cafe, everyone was complaining about how cold it was:   certainly chilly after recent days, and overcast. I had a route prepared to the Egerton Arms at Chelford, and a group of seven were prepared to ride: Jim, Dave H, Macca, Bob, George, John B and myself.

I planned a standard route out to Acton Bridge, but Jim suggested we ride along the banks of the River Weaver instead.  This was much more pleasant and the surface dry.  We passed along without being troubled, as previously, by the grazing horses and passed under Acton Bridge to avoid the traffic. From there we headed to Comberbach and took a big loop around Great Budworth before crossing the A556 at The Smoker. We passed through Lower Peover and Ollerton, and joined the A537 for the final kilometre to the pub.
Photos by Macca

The Egerton Arms was more than usually busy with two large parties, but we were squeezed onto a couple of tables.  The volume of customers was obviously testing the kitchen as we waited a long time to get our food.  However, when it eventually arrived it was of very good quality and with beers to match.

Chelford has a significant agricultural history, having been home for over 100 years to a large livestock market, only closed at the end of last month.  We witnessed more modern farming practice as we left the pub, with 5 massive tractors and associated implements churning up a smallish field opposite.  We soon had plenty of time to speculate on what they were doing (we came to no conclusion) as Jim’s saddle became loose.  Repeated efforts to fix it onto the seatpost failed and we concluded that something had snapped off. Short of riding all the way back without a saddle, Jim had only one option: to phone his emergency breakdown service and retire to the pub.  We later heard that Jim bravely sustained himself with coffee and cheesecake until Mrs Jim was able to effect a rescue.
The return route took us through Goostrey and Lach Dennis for a welcome stop at Riverside Farm Café just before Davenham.  Coffee and cakes were consumed, except for Macca who claimed that on such a cold day, he needed an ice cream.

The rest of the ride should have been straightforward, but after we passed the crossroads in Davenham we lost Dave and Macca. I cycled back to find them, but there was no sign and we couldn’t reach them by phone.  Knowing they knew the way back we continued.  I took a new route for me through Hartford village into the back of Sandiway and Cuddington, and then past the Forest View Inn to Norley and so back to our start.

We had covered 52 miles on a cool, dry and eventful ride - Jim had been rescued and Dave and Macca were not too far behind us, though Macca did suffer a blowout from a pothole on the very bad westbound surface of Ashton Road - still a good ride.