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 23 February 2018

22nd February 2018 : Peover Heath (brisk)

I had created this route using http://cycle.travel/map as Ken had told me that it’s easy to use. Yes, it is easy to use, but as you will see, you need to check the route it generates, otherwise you can end up going down bumpy tracks or private roads.

From the throng of CERs (including Clive – good to see you if only for coffee) gathered at Meadow Lea on a bright but chilly morning, six offered themselves for the ‘brisk’ ride; Ivan, Paul, John M, Nick (on posh new bike) and Dave M, who said he’d come with us at least part of the way.

The first part of the route, along the A56, is pretty dull, but we were soon in the lanes, passing the entrance to the Windsurfing Centre at Manley, one of our erstwhile starting venues. The road along here is very rough and the vibrations caused my rear mudguard stays to come off the retaining lugs, a problem I’ve had before and one I thought I’d fixed. After a quick stop to put them back on, we continued, only for them to come off again soon after. So we stopped at the top of the hill on Sugar Lane, where Dave M delved in his saddlebag and provided some cable ties with which to make a lasting repair. Having fulfilled his role as ‘support crew’, Dave opted to do his own thing from here as his heart pacemaker doesn’t get on very well with hill climbing.

We pressed on through Mouldsworth and the undulating road through Delamere Forest to Norley, Cuddington and Sandiway, where we diverted from the route suggested by cycle.travel to avoid a long, bumpy run alongside the A556 Northwich by-pass. Instead, we headed towards Weaverham and then swung right through Hartford (and the first of many road works) to join the ‘cycle track’ (I use the term in the loosest possible way) next to the A556 at Hartford Bridge. We quickly left the main road ran through Davenham and out into the countryside on NC573. Crossing King Street (A530) there were more road works for the installation on new gas pipes. (I could bore you with the colour codes used for pipes to carry different services – gas, water, telecoms etc.,…. but I won’t!)

We followed NC 533 to Goostrey, passing two more places where is said ‘road closed’, but which we could pass on bikes – even if John had to carry his at one point. From Goostrey we turned north through Withington Green and the radio telescope at Jodrell Bank which is impressive every time I see it. A short run down Basemill Lane to Peover Heath brought us to ‘The Dog’ and our lunch stop. The pub was nice and warm, but quite busy, as it still seems to be half term hereabouts. So, we had to wait a while for the food, but it was good and filling when it did come. There’s a portrait of ‘The Dog’ where we were sitting and John M found is disconcerting, as it seemed to be dressed in women’s clothing and staring him in the eye (see photo) so he didn’t know what to make of it.

Setting off after lunch, the temperature had dropped significantly, the sun being partly hidden behind clouds. We pressed on, but I now found the cost of not checking the proposed route more carefully as it wanted to take us up the driveway to Peover Hall, a Grade II* listed Elizabethan family house dating from 1585. During World War II the house was requisitioned as the HQ for General George Patton of the United States 3rd Army to train for the D-Day landings in 1944. It is open to the public, but probably not for passing cyclists, so a diversion was called for which took us through Goostrey and back along NC533 to the A50. After a short run towards Knutsford on this road we turned left for Lower Peover and got back ‘on route’. Going through Lower Peover we came across yet another ‘road closed’ section. Here, Nick had a contretemps with a lady in a 4X4 who, it seemed, could neither read the road signs nor execute a multi-point turn when she reached the closure point. At the far side of the roadworks, John had an altercation with a traffic bollard. He claimed he was looking at his Garmin, but Nick reckons that there’s something of the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ about this part of the world. In any event, no damage was done to man or bike and we were soon on our way again.

Crossing the M6 at Plumley Moor, we were reaching more familiar territory, but I was beginning to feel the pace, taking refuge behind John whenever I could. We negotiated the tricky crossing of the A556 at The Smoker and were soon in Wincham. Entering Neumann’s Flashes, Ivan stopped to answer a call of nature whilst we carried on. However, there is a right turn along the way and Paul suggested that Ivan might not see us take it, so he went back to look for him. A good job too, as Ivan wouldn’t have taken it without Paul’s guidance and he might have been lost forever in the flashes. The path emerged on Marbury Lane, once a through road owned by ICI between Anderton and Northwich, but now closed to cars. Exiting Marbury Park, the route took us through Comberbach, Dones Green and along bumpy Marsh Lane to Dutton and the A533. We took the lane through Aston village to reach the top of the hill at Sutton Weaver. Here, Ivan declared that he was not stopping for coffee in Frodsham; he needed to get home as he was going out that evening. As it was just after 4pm at this point, John M, Nick and Paul also decided to head straight back, which gave me the excuse to peel off half way down the hill and go straight home. I had ridden from home to Meadow Lea in the morning, so can justly claim to have done the full ride.

This was a total of 67 miles on a dry but cold day using some new and some familiar lanes. At least there was no need to jet wash the bikes this week!

Photo Steve T

22nd February 2018: Waverton (mod)

A large gathering of Easy Riders assembled at Meadow Lea Café and it was good to see Clive recuperating after his operation.  In the absence of any other suggestions, I put forward the idea of the Black Dog in Waverton. I feel that when we start our rides from a central location such as Mickle Trafford or the Little Roodee, as was, it is an opportunity to visit venues closer to Chester than we would from our outlier café starts.  Given that the Black Dog was only 5 or 6 miles away, it required a fairly circuitous route to make a day of it, and coincidentally one that passed close by the homes of Jim, Ivan, the Pipes and David M.  It was also a route that, in response to comments from last week, would be very flat.

Trevor set off, very briskly, leading Keith, Mike G, Andy, George, Bob and myself, towards the Old Dee Bridge in Chester. Pretty soon we had the first of our encounters with hedge cutting, and we carefully wheeled our bikes over the debris. We crossed the bridge and I took over. Past West Cheshire College towards Ecclestone, and then down the road towards Rossett.  We diverted up the Straight Mile and met a host of snowdrops.  Mike became quite poetic and took several photos.  Then it was along Darland Lane to approach Holt and onwards to Aldford, and through Bruera. Bob was getting carried away by our flat route and sped ahead, missing the right turn to our destination until Keith brought him back.

Photos by Mike G
The Black Dog was already hosting three parties and we had to suffer a one hour wait for food – one of the consequences of mid-week lightly staffed kitchens being hit unexpectedly by too many customers.  When they did arrive the portions were substantial and the prices reasonable.

From Waverton we passed through Hargrave and by the Inn at Huxley, still not open, four years late after a major re-build, but looking rather splendid. Then it was onto Tarporley, which we left by the Utkinton Road and the only hill of the day, before heading towards Duddon.  We then met two sets of tractors hedge-cutting and were forced again to gingerly wheel our bikes around the thorns.

We crossed the A51 at Duddon and shortly after things went awry. Mike had stopped to sort out a piece of glass in his tyre, and didn’t see four of us turn right towards Okell’s Garden Centre. Noticing something wrong we stopped and then saw, over the hedgerows in the distance, Mike, Andy and Keith following a different route, back towards Waverton. Having every confidence in their navigation skills, George, Trevor, Bob and myself continued along Platts Lane and then into Oscroft. Next we crossed the A556 and passed through Great Barrow, before meeting the A56.  We followed this back to our start, while at the same time passing Keith who was now heading homeward.  The missing three had made it back to Meadow Lea about 20 minutes before ourselves.

We had travelled about 46 miles on a dry, mostly sunless day with light but cold winds. According to the mapping app we had climbed less than 500 meters.  It was the first time in many weeks that the bikes came back as clean as when we left.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday 16 February 2018

15th February 2018 : Ellesmere (brisk)

Today's ride weather prospect was one of blue skies but windy. I decided on fewer clothing layers and, as the roads should be dryish, a lighter bike but no mudguards! (Okay if your in front).

Meeting at Cleopatras in ‘Holt’ there was a good turnout for both groups of riders today.
Out with the Briskers were – Ivan (leader) Steve T, John M and Nick. I had a couple of routes planned but decided on Ellesmere and the Red Lion inn. The other was Llangollen and hilly.

On setting off, I immediately went the wrong way. The route was reversed in my brain and the planned route not switched on via the Garmin. We set off for Cross Lanes, Wrexham instead of Tilston and Malpas, so I decided on a mystery tour going in the general direction of the Red Lion.

Heading down the B5130 towards Cross Lanes, we take a left and head for Bangor on Dee. Over the bridge and head on to Holly Bush. Riding along the A525 passing Horseman's Green, we take a right skirting Hanmer but encounter the muddiest road this year. Bike wash needed again and a wash for Nick who hadn't realised I had no mudguards. Passing Bettisfield, the old railway station is a café and looks very nice with lots of railway memorabilia on display from the road and looks worthy of further investigation. Through the pretty village of Lyneal we take the left fork to pass the Meres.

The lanes we are now travelling were last explored with Clive. The three Meres are The Mere, White Mere and Cole Mere. There is a big construction site after passing Cole Mere going up the hill and it doesn’t seem much different from the last time we passed the site.

Joining the A495, it is a run down into the town of Ellesmere and our lunch stop. Due to my map skills reading we have knocked 7 miles of my scheduled route. This is a pleasant surprise for Steve as he is still recovering from the temperature drop between Antigua and Salop, some 25 degrees. It was colder in the pub than outside, but we were unable to bag the table near the open fire.

A reasonable lunch was provided but we can’t wait to get back in the saddle and the warmth provided by nature.We leave Ellesmere via the A539 along Hollybush lane taking the route towards Threapwood and the usual route back to Farndon via Shocklach.

We arrive back at Cleopatras having only covered 45 miles on such a lovely day, is it nearly spring? Anyway, we enjoy afternoon tea and cake in comfort and leave Steve to await arrival of the Mod’s who do arrive back just as we are leaving to head back to Chester.

Overall mileage was 43 miles around and 63 miles to and from Chester, so not too bad.

Enjoy cleaning your bikes and see you all next week.


Thursday 15 February 2018

15th February 2018: Hanmer (mod)

A cold sunny but very windy day saw the Easy Riders descend in number on Cleo's in Holt.  It was good to see such a turnout and discussion covered the CER 10th Anniversary Special Ride on 26th April. But today, David M, Trevor and Bryan were doing their own thing; the mods decided on a trip to the Hanmer Arms; and our phalanx of brisk riders were heading for Ellesmere. (Is ‘phalanx’ the right term? Maybe it should be a ‘flight’ or a ‘tornado’? Suggestions on a postcard please.)

The mods were Andy B, Bob, Dave H, George and myself. The route out went through Shocklach, Threapwood and Penley, before skirting The Mere at Ellesmere, and then heading northeast to Hanmer. The wind came from the west and gusted strongly, but unlike the Winter Olympians at Pyeongchang, there were no complaints from the stoical mods. Though they were less sanguine about the steep climbs out of valley bottoms we kept finding.

With 25 miles covered, we arrived at the Hanmer Arms.  It was as good as always, and for those with big appetites and small pockets, the ham and eggs is to be recommended. We chatted about CER’s history and those with long memories tried to recall ‘the who’ and ‘the what’ of previous years, not always successfully.

The return route was only 14 or so miles and was mainly with a tailwind, so we needed to add another challenge. This came from the road surface, though many riders doubted we were actually on a road as we took the route from Arowry to Eglwys Cross and northwards. We had more potholes than road and Somme-like mud. Luckily Dave had packed his patent mudguard de-mudder: a special twig designed for such eventualities.  Soon we were back on tarmac, heading towards Malpas by special request from Dave. From there it was a quick ride to Stretton, down Wetreins Lane and back into Holt.

We arrived back at Cleo's, just as the brisk group were leaving, and settled in for hot drinks and cake, with nearly 39 miles covered. Special congratulations are in order for Bob, who completed an entire ride without a puncture!

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday 9 February 2018

8th February 2018: Aston (mod)

Ken came and went (pleasantly).  Some regulars were on holiday. Keith was on nights. The bad-back brigade were indisposed.  Not so incidentally, we wish Clive and Macca speedy recoveries from surgery. Dave and 'Liz sent me a text to say they were preparing to fly to Lanzarote; they were having trouble registering packed panniers as hand luggage with Ryanair!  The weather forecast would have made you pull the duvet over your head, if you hadn't been an indefatigable member of a special cycling club. So, the remnants were:  Bob, Ivan, Nick, Andy B., Mike, Steve H., Trevor and myself. Ivan was thinking of far east Cheshire, and Steve had a route to Goostrey, but in the end we all went out to The Bhurtpore together.

I had chosen the route, so that we would not be battling straight into the forecast wind and rain after lunch. A direct return from Aston would be quite quick if conditions became really unpleasant. We headed out towards Tarporley, gasped up Summerhouse Bank, and then turned left at Heath Green. After crossing the bypass we headed for 'Portal' and then cruised down Sapling Lane, passing the only remains of a Roman villa in Cheshire, as we reached Eaton. We diverted down The Hall Lane, a small lane off Hickhurst Lane on our way to Wettenhall. At Oultonlowe cottage Ivan pointed out an alternative quiet route, which I would like to try next time.  Bob had his obligatory puncture, despite his latest Continental Super Thorn Crusher rubber. The upside is that he is becoming as slick as a Sky mechanic at dealing with punctures, as long as he takes a few lungfuls of salbutamol before starting.
Puncture stop!        Photos by Mike G

After Reaseheath College we crossed the A51 into Welshman's Lane, eventually turning into Welsh Row with its rich variety of attractive architectural styles. We turned right, and headed through the park, and right again, down a link road to Baddington Lane (A530). We were soon ploughing through the wind down Coole Lane.  I would normally continue for over five miles south, towards Audlem, before cutting north-west to Aston. This time, we headed in the direction of The Secret Nuclear Bunker, and joined the main road at Broomhall Green for a short stretch before turning into the village at Aston.

The Bhurtpore had the usual scrummy ales and curries on offer, and with its friendly atmosphere has always been a favourite of ours.

Decisions, decisions.

Our return was via Wrenbury, Chorley and Burland Green. We made a small diversion to see Haughton Hall, and then carried on to Bunbury.  Trevor left us here. We made a group decision to head for The Old Fire Station for a coffee and cake, so I changed my original route from Alpraham and The Shire Horse Centre, to Tilstone Fearnhall and Tarporley. Ivan had been like a cocker spaniel searching for drugs all ride, turning off to join Nick heading for Marbury at one point, only for them to rejoin us shortly after. This time he led the front of the group up Brains Lane to Eaton, while those who already had brains took the usual direct, back route into Tarporley.  Anyway, we all finished together at The Old Fire Station, where we received the normal warm welcome, and a jug of water with a slice of lemon. The weather hadn't deteriorated too badly as yet, but some still had a few miles to go. Mike and Andy were heading for Chester, with Andy set to reach the high eighties before returning to Mold. The basic ride was just on forty miles, and, as so often, the weather had been better than forecast, and warmer than recent days. It was very pleasant having a combined ride, even if the faster guys had had to rein themselves in.                                   

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday 2 February 2018

1st February 2018: Gwaenysgor (brisk)

The ride out to the Gallery Tea Shop was peppered with hailstone and headwinds, so not sure what ride we would be covering. A reasonable turnout of Mods and Brisk riders so my offer of riding towards Prestatyn to the Eagle and Child was good and I was joined by John and Nick.

We set off on the usual route through Harwarden. Ewloe and Northop Hall. Passing through Northop we turn left past the Boot Inn onto the B5126 heading up to Rhosesmor. With a headwind and another hailstone shower it wasn’t pleasant but we continued. By the time we were at Rhes-y-cae the sky was blue but we still had the wind. The roads were very wet, flooded and muddy. Clean bikes again!! Our next climb was Babell and after climbing out of the valley, I succumbed to my first puncture of the year. Soon fixed we were on our way again.

Crossing over the A55 it is now getting close to our lunch stop. Arriving at the inn we parked alongside Mike’s bike who had ridden out from Rhos to join us. Over a hot lunch and a beer, we discuss the merits of going down a 33% gradient. Mike was making a different way home but we three decided to stick with the route and head on down.

The sun was now shining and hopefully the wind on our backs. We stop at the viewing point for photo just in case!! Then enjoyed the ride down on an excellent road surface, getting a max speed of 37mph which was pretty hairy when hitting the hairpin bend.

Photo by ID

We don’t go all the way down but ride through the housing estate towards Gronnant which saves having to lose height, and the ride along Gronant road was helped with the strong tailwind. Keeping on the ridge of the hillside we passed Trelogan and Tre-Mostyn before making our decent onto the A548 opposite the floating wreck moored at Mostyn. We ride along the quiet! ‘A’ road into Flint where we stop for coffee and cake. We were the centre of attraction with some of the customers as they were surprised we all had slabs of cake!! We have just cycled 50 miles and deserved our calorie supplement.

We carry on to Shotton where Nick continues on to Hawarden to collect his car and John and I continue on the Greenway to Chester. Arriving back for 16:30 still daylight and not needing lights. A hilly morning ride covering 4035 feet of ascent at an average of 13mph. Distance ridden for the John and myself was 65 miles and for Nick riding back to the Gallery should be approximately 50 miles.

A good ride on dirty roads, roll on spring and summer. Bike wash first on agenda.

See route map and/or gpx file download


1st February 2018: Maeshafn (mod)

Hawarden, 1st February – St Brigid’s Day, the start of the pagan Irish festival of spring: Imbolc. Nothing spring-like today: cold, hail, gusts to nearly 40mph. Mod riders - a few brave souls: Andy B, Tom, Keith, Dave H and me, Steve. Where to: Maeshafn.

Into the northwesterly: to Northrop, Rhosesmor and Moel-y-crio. Steep climbs bring advantages – shelter from the wind - but heading south brings greater relief. South to Cilcain and beyond, then west up the valley towards Bwych Penbarras. Before Moel Famau car park, we turn left and down the opposite side to meet the A494.

“Straight on” I say. “Are you insane!” says Andy, knowing mod rides don’t do the double chevrons lying ahead. The hill beckons us on, steepening gradually, then fatally: Tom steams ahead, Dave and Keith fall by the wayside; Steve makes heroic effort to fail 10 yards before the top; Andy, slow and steady, makes it.

18 miles and 1900 feet climbed, recovery is needed – nothing could be better than The Miners Arms - warm, satisfying food and drink and very friendly (landlord did the coast-to-coast).

Easy now. A long downhill to Nercwys, into Buckley, down to Ewloe, “Goodbye Tom”. Harwarden reappears. Overall only 29 miles, but good going. Thanks Andy & Tom for navigational assistance.  Maybe spring will happen next Thursday.

See route map and/or gpx file download