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 October 2017

26th October 2017: Caerwys (mod)

Six Easy Riders gathered at The Gallery in Hawarden on a grey, overcast morning. Brian Mac was in civvies, as he’s come back from Oz with a bad knee, which needs replacing. Bryan W was intending doing his own thing, so that left four of us to carry the banner. But where to go? In the end, a type of democracy prevailed; Dave H said we should go to The Piccadilly at Caerwys (unanimously approved), Steve H found the route on his phone (we last did this only in July) and Steve T undertook the write up. Andy B provided all-round support.

So off we set, following the usual route out through Ewloe and Buckley. After a brief respite from climbing as we ran down Buckley Mountain, we crossed the A5119 at the traffic lights at New Brighton. Dave had been concerned that his brake blocks were almost down to the metal and was being ‘gentle’ with their application. This is the only explanation Andy and I could give for the fact that he ran a red light here! On reaching Mynachlog, we started some serious climbing. It’s only a short distance up to Rhosesmor, but you certainly know about it when you eventually reach the top.

Running along the ridge towards Babell, we pass close to Licswm. Andy says that, according to the locals, this is so called because miners from Cornwall settled here when they came to work in the lead mines during the 19th century. When asked what their place was like they said that it was ‘likesome’ which, in their dialect, meant ‘pleasant’.

Arriving at the Piccadilly Inn, we were greeted by the manager and his staff. One lady said to Dave ‘You look hot’, to which his instant reply was ‘All the girls say that’!  Some good-natured banter with the staff followed throughout our meal, a real pleasure in this day of political correctness gone mad. The food was excellent and the service first class, further cementing the Piccadilly Inn as a favoured lunch stop.

Over lunch, Steve H was looking at his map to see if there was a bridge or underpass in the road which crosses the A55 at Pen-y-cefyn. We decided to take this route only to find that neither are there, so we had to cross the busy dual carriageway on foot – not to be recommended! On reaching the crossroads at the A5151, another problem presented itself in the form of a ‘Road Closed’ sign. On the basis that most times, such roads are passable on a bike, we decided to press on. Our optimism was well-founded as the obstacle was merely a van and some workmen installing new cables – easily passed on our bikes.

Our route back took us on NC5 via Whitford, Gorsedd and Pantasaph, where we resisted the temptation to stop for tea, past the golf course at Calcoed and over the Halkyn Mountain. Crossing our outward route we speared off to Northop and then followed the usual route back to Hawarden via Ewloe. 41 miles and 2444 feet of climb on a day when, to quote Smokey Robinson, there was ‘no wind, no rain or winters cold’ which, appropriately, comes from the song titled ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Sunday 22 October 2017

12th October 2017: Llanymynech (mod)

Arriving at the Tea Rooms, Chirk I found all had decided on Trevor’s Special Ride for the flat plains of Southport and Lancashire.  Having pre-planned a route, where most of the stiff climbing was early on, I set off taking the B4500 up the Ceiriog valley. It was dry with a cool south westerly breeze. Crossing over the watershed into the Tanat valley I decided to follow some minor rough lanes that turned out to be the busiest in Wales. Car after car after car, sweeping up at the rear a hearse. Also, the WHA (Welsh Hedgecutters Association) were doing their best to ensure my progress would be impeded with lots of quickthorn hedge cuttings, scattered randomly.

Photos bt Mike G

At Pen-y-bont turned south crossing over into the Cain and Vyrnwy valleys and onto The Bradford Arms for lunch. I arrived as lots of people in black were exiting the establishment and the thought occurred “this is ‘Funeral Thursday’”. After a lovely lunch, they do look after their beer; set off west towards Melverley. Kinnerley soon followed then onto Ruyton-XI-Towns, Stanwardine, Hordley, stopping at the Frankton locks on the Montgomery Canal as there was plenty of time.

I returned to the Tea Rooms via Hindford and Weston Rhyn, cycling across the Chirk aqueduct; arriving at just after 4:00 pm having covered just over 57 miles. An excellent ride with lots of long distant views.

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Friday 20 October 2017

19th October 2017: Little Bollington (mod)

Seven of us turned up at Delamere: David M, George, Steve T, Steve H, Nick, Mike and myself. Steve was nursing a knee injury, so was unable to ride. Dave was running-in a temporary bottom bracket on his exotic classic, and didn't want to chance it.

So it was, that the Not So Famous Five set out for Acton Bridge via Norley, and the quiet, homely hamlet of Onston. After Comberbach we by-passed Great Budworth passing the attractive Cock at Budworth pub and restaurant. At Bate Heath I considered heading north for High Leigh and Lymm, in order to stay in the “dry corridor” between Manchester and the next wave of wet from the west due at about 5 p.m. However, I decided that the lads may feel short-changed by an abbreviated route, so we pressed on. It was drizzling all the way to Knutsford and through Tatton Park. We had been brisk, so decided to ride for a few more miles by heading for The Swan with Two Nicks rather than eating at the restaurant by the Hall. It was around this time that Mike enthusiastically volunteered to take the photograph of three bubbly young women. He took a long time getting their photos just right, and finding the correct buttons! They kindly reciprocated by taking our picture (below). We headed for pretty Rostherne, and on to Bucklow Hill. We then cycled up the old main road, on a new cycle track, to see if it was now viable to cycle straight past Rostherne Mere to Booth Bank and Little Bollington. It appeared that the new motorway link road had chopped off that possibility. We were getting wetter and a little hungry, so we returned to our normal route via a new bridge to Hulseheath, before heading north for the last couple of miles before lunch.

Photos courtesy of Mike G

Lunch was really good, and the service was efficient and friendly. Conversation was interesting about careers education, aspiration, and the need to strengthen technical training routes. We sat in front of a wood-burning fire, trying to dry our outer garments. George was so close to the fire that he began to sizzle.

For our return, I promised the lads that we would be in the dry corridor, promised by Diane and Carol, within five miles of heading west. We rode to Lymm by largely following the Bridgewater Canal, and left Lymm by the little lanes to Sworton Heath. After Swineyard Lane we negotiated a maze of muddy little lanes to Frandley, and on to Little Leigh. Mike thought I had caught the Clive virus, which leads to meandering endlessly in the muck until the wet, shivering weaklings in the group start hallucinating about a warm black taxi suddenly appearing from a wet-leaved, sodden side lane. Tanny and I had not come with mudguards, and were paying for our stupid optimism. Needless to say, the rain got heavier and heavier, and our last miles were direct via Crowton and Norley. The roads were flooding in places, and going through the forest an oncoming car submerged me totally in a wall of water. Nobody stayed for a cuppa at Delamere, as hot showers and dry clothing a.s.a.p. was top of the agenda. When we got to Steve's house I showed him the state of my front car seats: very muddy and very wet. Despite sponging and the use of a hairdryer, the car still smells like an old wet dog, days later. To top it all I fell over my bike and into Lynne's car when I got home, and gave my knees a good mashing. Still, I so need the exercise and enjoy the company, that I am glad I turned up to ride. My trust in Carol is no longer so unquestioning however! We managed 51miles. 

See route map and/or gpx file download


Sunday 15 October 2017

12th October 2017: Special Ride - Ainsdale to Wrightington (mod)

For our final special ride of the year I offered a mostly flat ride from Ainsdale that I had done myself several times. Because of family connections I knew Ainsdale fairly well and finding a café to start from was no problem at all. As a cycling group that always likes to start out from a café the ideal place was Mecycle, a café and bike workshop opposite Ainsdale station. Ten cyclists had signed up but at the last minute two had to pull out. One couldn’t get the time off work. It’s a shame when work interferes with your social life. So with one late addition nine of us turned up on a lovely sunny but windy October morning. These were Dave H & Dave P, Steve H & Steve T, Bryan, Jim, George, Nick & me. We were provided with a warm welcome along with teas, coffees and a variety of pre-cycle snacks to fuel the first half of the day.

Photos by Trevor C

Well satisfied with both the service and the refreshments we set off down Shore Road before turning right onto Coastal Road. It soon became clear that we would be safer off the road and so crossed over to the cycle path on the other side which fortunately was relatively free of pedestrians and other cyclists. Coastal Road gave way to Marine Drive and after ducking under the Pier at Southport we were treated to uninterrupted views across the Ribble Estuary to Blackpool with its prominent tower. On a clear day you can see the hills of the Lake District but it was not to be today.

At the end of Marine Drive we turned left and followed Ralph’s Wife’s Lane towards Banks. Some say that Ralph was a fisherman and others that he was a smuggler. Maybe he was both but they all agree that he was lost at sea and that his wife’s ghost still wanders about the area looking for him. Hurrying on in case she made an appearance we passed through Banks, turning right into Hundred End Lane. The wind that had blown us quickly up the coast road was now in our faces as we headed inland. The open farmland that we were now passing through gave us little protection and our pace slowed. Soon we crossed the A565 at Holmes followed shortly afterwards by the A59 at Sollom. The quiet back lanes took us south of Bretherton, meeting only dog-walkers and fellow cyclists along the way. We emerged back onto main roads near Croston where we turned left. A right turn at Ulnes Walton took us towards the village of Eccleston. As we entered the village I checked the time and worked out that we should be at our lunch stop just about 1 o’clock, the appointed time. Too soon! As we turned off the main road at the far end of the village I counted our cyclists coming round the corner but only got up to eight. Jim was missing. There was no sign of him coming up the road and a quick phone call confirmed that he had been stopped by a puncture. Steve H and I went back to help him and we were soon back on our way to a slightly delayed lunch.

Up to now we had done 24 miles with hardly a hill to climb but now we were climbing up to High Moor and our lunch stop at the Rigbye Arms at Wrightington. Our reserved table was waiting for us with an interesting menu with dishes that included Venison, Grouse and other Game as well as the usual pub fare.

After lunch we were faced with our longest and steepest hill so far. Fortunately we were going down it and within a few minutes we had lost all the height we had struggled to gain before lunch. We passed through Bispham Green and Hoscar before ducking under the Leeds-Liverpool canal to arrive at Newburgh. I had promised the others a few ‘undulations’ after lunch and a few we had as we passed to the north of Skelmersdale. Then there were a few cars to dodge as we passed through the southern edge of Ormskirk just as the school run was beginning before crossing back over the A59 at Aughton.

Any hills were well and truly behind us by now and we were now back on the flat for the final part of our cycle, the wind becoming a significant factor once more. We crossed the Leeds-Liverpool canal twice and, eager to get back to the café before it closed, almost missed the turning into Eager Lane. We passed Downholland Cross and crossed the Leeds-Liverpool canal for the fourth and final time to reach Halsall. As we cycled along Plex Moss Lane on the final run into Ainsdale we were treated to a fly-past by hundreds of migrating geese.

At the end of the lane we crossed over into Coastal Road then back up Shore Road to arrive at Mecycle with 54 miles completed. We were now faced with a simple choice. Head home and sit in the traffic trying to cross the Runcorn Bridge or sit in the café and enjoy a coffee and cake. I will leave my readers to guess which option we chose!

Footnote – It was only after returning home that I discovered that Mecycle is actually a charitable concern run by the Autism Initiative and providing work for people with autism as well as raising money. Well worth a visit if you are in the area, whether you have a bike or not.


See route map and/or gpx file download

Friday 6 October 2017

5th October 2017: Welshampton (briskly mod)

It was a bright and very breezy typical autumn's day. I’d zoomed to the Ice Cream Farm averaging 17.5mph with little effort. There were Dave H, Andy B, Ken, Bob, Jim, and Trevor waiting for the place to open. We were soon joined by Dave P in full CER regalia. Given that there was a strong NW wind, I’d prepared a N-S route to the Sun Inn at Welshampton. Dave M had previously recommended it, and, on the pub’s website, there was a “Cyclist Welcome” sign. So the lunch stop was sorted, and it would make a pleasant change to Ellesmere’s establishments.

We start to go a trifle late, only to be told by Dave that he couldn’t find his car keys. Apparently “losing things” is Dave’s “forte", so we were not too bothered about it, except this time he had really lost his keys. After searching high and low, we concluded that he had probably locked them in his car’s boot. Manfully, Dave urges us to ride off saying he would meet us for lunch. So off we go minus Jim who is heading for home.

Around Bolesworth, Trevor and Dave P decide to take it easy with a local ride somewhere, so we four now head up to Brown Knowle. Andy needs to get back so he peels off bound for Mold. So “we few, we happy few” press on down to the outskirts of Malpas and, turning down Ebnal Lane, end up on the A41 just south of No Man’s Heath. The lane to Bradley takes us down to Higher Wych ready for the slide across to Eglwys Cross. This was the crossing point for the return route, so I decide to take the lane to Arowry. Wrong decision! The lane is substantially now agricultural, with mud over a poor surface everywhere; but once down some of it, I decided to plough on. Bob unfortunately succumbs to a slide off to inspect the surface but is not seriously hurt, just a little muddy. The misery continues for nearly 2 miles - a lane to put on the blacklist in any weather!

We now cycle down dry roads to Bettisfield circling back down new lanes to the welcome arms of the Sun Inn. It’s very pleasant inside with a ready welcome, and a comprehensive menu of food and ales. Worth remembering as an alternative to Ellesmere as it is open seven days for lunches. We settle down to generous plates of food and discuss world events whilst wondering how Dave is getting on.

Just as we are stirring to leave, an apparition in yellow appears into view - it’s Dave! Despite seeing our bikes outside, and walking right passed us in the pub, and being pursued by Ken, he ends up in the deeper recesses of the pub! He was happy that he had been reunited with his keys. It turned out that he had somehow dropped his keys, which then had been handed into the shop at ICF.  Time is getting on so Bob decides to stay with Dave as they both need to get back to ICF area. So abandoning my planned route back due to a suspicion of more very muddy lanes, Ken and I head for home via Ellesmere, Overton, and Borras Hill.

So a very careless day of me “losing” five riders and, in truth there were three different rides today. The published route of 45 miles, attached, is a beautiful ride showing the best of the Cheshire, Shropshire and Clwyd countrysides. The autumn colours were beginning to replace the summer greenery; there were leaves and acorns all over the lanes; and the farmers had left their tracks from ploughing activities. The weather was cool, bright and breezy and, apart from my last mile home, dry.

See route map and/or gpx file download


5th October 2017: Grindley Brook (mod)

The strong winds were always going to be a factor today so Jim and I shouldn’t have been surprised after setting off for leisurely ride to the Ice Cream Farm when we arrived 10 minutes early. Eight members turned up and Clive suggested a ride to Welshampton. Dave H and I decided that we could control the pace from the back and Dave P was going to get as far as he could, being still in recovery mode following his heart surgery.

At the last moment Dave H misplaced his car keys so Clive led off with 3 brisk riders, Dave P and me in tow. It soon became apparent that the brisk riders were going to be too brisk so after catching up with them for the second time at the back of Bolesworth castle Dave and I decided to let them go and do our own ride. Our initial idea was to head down to the Wheatsheaf at No Man’s Heath and if that was closed carry on to Malpas. So as the brisk riders disappeared into the distance we carried on to Brown Knowl and down the old coach road.

As we approached No Man’s Heath it was clear that we were far too early for lunch and Dave suggested carrying on to Whitchurch. So we zig-zagged across the A41 several times as we made our way south, eventually reaching Grindley Brook. Rather than carry on into Whitchurch we decided to lunch there and received a warm welcome and good food at the Horse & Jockey.

After lunch we were heading home into the wind so the shortest route possible seemed the best idea. We rode up towards Malpas then on to Tilston, Barton, Coddington and Churton before turning right at Aldford towards Saighton. At Saighton Dave turned left towards the city and home and I turned right towards Waverton and home. 48 miles completed and probably about the same for Dave, a new personal best as he continues to recover from his operation. Well done Dave.


28th September 2017: New Brighton

Eight of us met at Ness with an acute shortage of route ideas, or of maps with which to conjure some. Dave Matthews, Clive, Nick, Steve Tan, George, John, Keith and myself were present. John and Dave Matthews were going their own way at 10.30. John's ticking, creaking sound on his bees knees bike was traced to his swish, Swiss wheel spokes. I must say, that the degree of bending of outside spokes over the inside ones didn't look right to me. Anyway, it was thought that the fretting at the point of crossover was causing the noise under torque. Perhaps, a touch of lubricant would help. No doubt, Dave Pipe would have individually wrapped each spoke with electrical tape from his magic panniers!

Clive nobly took responsibility for making up a route and leading. We headed north past the impressive Thornton Manor estate and onto Brimstage. From Storeton we turned south-west  to Barnston, as even Clive baulked at the obvious, but no doubt very muddy, Landican Lane link. Clive  forged  ahead up to Thingwall on the A551, stopping at the side of the road in order to give us a short history lesson on the Viking origins of the name“Thingwall”. However, as we thought he was only waiting for us to catch up, we carried on past him, regardless! Clive had stopped at Cross Hill adjacent to two reservoirs. He would have told us stuff like, that the name Thingwall derives from the Old Norse meaning “assembly field.”  Cross Hill was a major meeting place or parliament for Viking communities on the Wirral, and perhaps from as far as Helsby, Whitby and Talacre. “by” is a suffix meaning “village”, e.g. Frankby(Franki's settlement), Greasby(wooded stronghold) and West Kirby(west church settlement).

We worked our way through the supposedly notorious Woodchurch estate, and then meandered towards Bidston via a snaking, largely green route. We passed under the spaghetti junction of exit 2 of the M53, but eventually reached the promenade at New Brighton on this route that only Clive would be able to repeat without the assistance of GPS and a water diviner.

The weather and the view across the Mersey was very attractive, and soon we were making the choice between Weatherspoon's, or the traditional fish and chip Nirvana of The Seaside Cafe. Fish and chips and tea it was.
Photo by Steve T

We were unusually into the wind on our initial riverside return.  I was soon lagging behind with Keith, as we favoured a more relaxed pace on a full stomach. Visiting New Brighton is always a little nostalgic for a lad born in Liverpool in the forties. I remember the ferry well, and the Tower Ballroom where The Beatles and Joe Brown and his 'Bruvvers' played at some time in the sixties. The  Tower itself was before my time, and at 544ft. high was the tallest in the country, before closing in 1919. As a kid, I particularly remember the daring Wall of Death riders in the old fairground.  Guinea Gap baths I also remember from sixty years ago. Evidently, the baths are over 100 years old, and originally used sea water. Between 1908 and 1957, 205 world and national swimming records were achieved here.

The swing bridge between East Float and Alfred Dock was missing at Seacombe, so we had to divert to the next crossing. We eventually returned to the river front before Birkenhead Woodside ferry and bus terminus. At Birkenhead Priory a very welcoming guy told us the opening hours, and I was pleased to know that the tower overlooking the famous Cammell Laird shipbuilding site was once again open to the public. Rock Park with its magnificent old mansions overlooking the river is a real gem, hemmed in by less glamorous urban and industrial development.

We eventually reached Brimstage for tea and cake at an establishment in the far corner. We were served by lively young people and sat outside in the sun at the back. The conversation was informative and wide ranging, from Clive's historic references about the Vikings and more, to an analysis of the attractions and limitations of  Barcelona and its environs, conducted mainly by George and Steve, as I recollect.  The lad on the till was enterprising, as not having the correct change, he suggested that they owed me until my next visit! Shurley some mishtake there!(As the late Bill Deedes would say). Clive couldn't resist the muddy link past Oaks Farm, so earning a few more points for his brown polka dot jersey as King of the Grime (urban and rural). Somewhere along the line we lost the agreeable company of George and Nick, as four of us headed toward Clive's home village of Mollington. From there The Runcorn Three clocked up 60 plus miles back to Guilden Sutton via the Greenway. This was the furthest Keith had recently ridden  without breaking anything!  A really pleasant day, expertly led.

See route map and/or gpx file download