We considered the options for the day: anything between just riding over the bridge to the café in Farndon and returning, to one of our more usual routes to Hanmer or Whitchurch. As the sun rose we determined to ride out towards Shocklach and decide then based on the condition of the surfaces. We found that although some sections had been melted by the sun, others remained covered with crunchy frozen sleet. We reasoned that the smaller less-used lanes would be unsafe, but that we could follow more major roads through Worthenbury, Bangor-on-Dee and into Overton. Cycling gingerly we made slow yet safe progress and eventually arrived outside The White Horse just before opening time having covered only 12 ½ miles.
We were grateful when the doors were unlocked and we met Stuart from Orkney, the temporary landlord. We received a cantankerously friendly welcome. Five steak pie and chips were ordered and we settled down to wait, having been told that Stuart was on his own and it would take a while. Our conversation was a typical mix of the idiosyncratic. Dave proudly brought a twig out of his bag and claimed it was a specialist twig used to remove mud from under mudguards; Steve told us that his name was shortened to “Ste” by Scousers; and Dave, Steve and Keith revealed yet more insights into the strange world of Runcorn. We were just becoming absorbed in the finer details of 1:50k and 1:25k downloadable maps, when thankfully, five plates of substantial food arrived, the talking ended and the eating began. Some time later we said our farewells to Stuart and hit the road again.
|Photo by Ken P|
We hoped that sunshine and the slight rise in temperatures would allow us to take a different route back. And so it seemed after repeating our outward route to Worthenbury, we gained the confidence to head into Malpas, then Tilston. At Stretton we stopped outside Stretton Hall for a photo and decided to return via Wetreins Lane. This turned out to the iciest ride of our day, but without mishap we made it back to Cleos having covered just over 30 miles. Except for the road surfaces, it had been a beautiful day and we all were grateful to have made the effort: a suitable finale as the last CER ride of the year.
See route map and/or gpx file download