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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Thursday 31 May 2018

29th May 2018: Forest of Bowland (brisk)

This Thursday’s ride was unusual for two reasons, firstly it was on a Tuesday, and secondly, we decided to change plan and have an away day to the Forest of Bowland; that often overlooked area of hills to the east of Lancaster.

We (John W & M, and Ivan) met at Ivan’s house, for an 8.15 depart but we became delayed due to concern over the minimal clearance of the towing bracket on the Discovery, and the view that it wasn’t safe. So due to Ivan’s low and sagging back-end we swapped to two cars; John W’s and my mine.

We arrived a little later than planned at the lovely Lancashire village (after it was annexed from the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1974) of Dunsop Bridge, famed (apparently) for being the dead centre of the UK. So we set off in the bright sunshine and after completing and arduous 50 metres we stopped for coffee/egg baps at the Puddleducks tea room, and chatted to other cyclists there who had cycled significantly further than we had. Finally on our way westwards, after 4 miles we were confronted by the short but sharp climb (16%) up to the Trough of Bowland. It became apparent why Bradley Wiggins used this area for his 2012 Tour de France training.

Descending through a lovely wooded valley we took a left to pass through another idyllic village, Abbeystead, before the start of the next climb, a steady easy gradient to Jubilee Tower, and like the Trough, at about 300m height. In hot bright sunshine we took a breather, sat on the grass and took in the fantastic views across the Irish Sea. With views of Blackpool Tower and Lancaster and across Morecambe Bay to Barrow and on to the spread of the southern Lake District.

 Taking in the view across Morecambe Bay from Jubilee Tower
Recovered, Ivan and John W raced off on the fast descent, John and I wisely left them to it, catching up later after their 70km/hour and more top speed. The ride then took a more leisurely but no less scenic route to Caton by the A683. Taking a quick left and right took us across the picturesque River Lune, where several families were enjoying picnics on a beach there. Heading NE we re-crossed the Lune at Hornby and headed up the B6480, not before a cheeky 20% gradient was put in our way, made steeper by Ivan giving live Garmin gradient readings. The heat was beginning to be felt by all. With John M running out of water, we sped off to our lunch stop, which prevented me from pointing out Hornby Castle, as painted by John Constable.

Fortunately there was a copy of said painting within the 17thcentury Bridge Inn at Tatham Bridge. We sat down just in time for last food orders, ham. egg and chips was the main choice. The Hawkshead beer from Staveley was delicious. Most of us ordered one drink, Ivan sat down with two pints. He claimed it was a mistake by the barmaid. Others who know him better can decide! The pub proved very friendly and leaving was delayed when two locals had a lively discussion on whether B Wiggins was from the East End or Belgium. Turns out it was Belgium. That wasn’t the only fact we learnt here, Ribblehead Viaduct signal station is the only one in the country without mains water!

The consensus was we needed to do an extra few miles on the original plan, so I headed us out of the Forest of Bowland into the Yorkshire Dales, initially to Ingleton.  I knew it would only add a few extra miles, but I thought it unnecessary to mention the additional 260m climb. On arriving at Clapham, we stopped by the beck that runs through the centre of the village to enjoy ice creams. While sat on the river bank a lady was photographing the bridge next to us. Ivan kindly offered to take a picture of her and the bridge, suggesting she should get in the river for better picture composition. She replied that she would do but would get into her bikini. Not believing she had such an item with her, or on her, she disappeared to rapidly return holding a dark blue, floral patterned lower half. Nobody can say cycling is boring!

All calm in Clapham before the Bikini incident
Not quite knowing the direction this was going, the conversation unfortunately took a wrong turn to what cyclists may or may not wear under their shorts. The lady, sensibly, made a fast exit. After that bizarre moment, we thankfully got back to the safety of our bikes to head for Slaidburn, 12 miles away. The next section was always going to be the hardest. After a short distance from Clapham, we had a 4.5 mile near constant climb to Bowland Knotts at 422m height. Although the climb only averages a 5% gradient, it’s a long old, constant slog. However, the views from the top were well worth it.

John Mills arriving at Bowland Knotts
At Bowland Knott
Another fast decent to Stacks reservoir saw John W and Ivan race off, John M and I following behind. After a short climb on the B6478, we then had a fast decent into Slaidburn where we just managed to get to the tea shop before closing (why do they always close at tea time??). Getting there first, John W ordered apple pie with ice cream, Ivan rhubarb and custard pie with ice cream On seeing that John W’s pie was significantly bigger than Ivan’s, John and I naturally chose the apple pie.

A final few miles brought us back to Dunsop Bridge. The cycling in the Forest of Bowland is an absolute treat and highly recommended. Superb scenery and picture post-card villages, with very quiet roads. A great ride with great banter throughout. In total we cycled 56.5 miles with about 5200ft (1600m) ascent

See route map and/or gpx file download


Photos by Nick H

Friday 25 May 2018

24th May 2018 : Sun Bank via Worlds End (brisk)

Riding out to Holt this morning felt a little chilly after the recent warm days. On riding past the Grovensor Arms at Aldford, Colin was sitting on the wall but indicated he was ok. I’d just passed a rider in full wet weather gear and assumed he was waiting for a companion! At Cleopatra’s, a couple of riders were already enjoying tea and brunch breakfast. Soon there were plenty of riders out and the Brisk group today would be – John M, Clive, Colin and me. Fortunately, Colin’s rider to Holt was John M and not the all-weather cyclist!!

Today's route was the Sun Trevor pub via Worlds End and Minera. We set off at 10:30 out along the Borras road. Our ride through Wrexham was to keep to the B5100, which was a reasonable traffic free road except for navigation round the busy roundabout at Sainsburys and B&Q, before crossing over the A483 heading to Coedpoeth. The lanes are now dry and colourful, and we are enjoying being out and not thinking of bike cleaning. It’s not long and we are on the uphill stretch to Minera which is an 8% gradient. As usual of past week’s, temporary road work lights stop us in full pedal flow and we take rest to allow traffic to pass. Off again and to the start of the track over Worlds End. 

Are we nearly at the top!
It has been a few years since I’ve ridden this way and on the last occasion, to remind you how long it was, Bryan peeled off to do his own ride back to Chester and Mike Morley was with us. We head uphill and it is now 15% gradient before going over the brow and heading down to the ford.

Happy at the top of Worlds End  - just before the puncture!
 As we descend Colin hits a sharp stone and pssssss goes his rear tyre. It becomes a group effort in changing the tube due to fancy wheel flanges and poor pump efficiency. Tube replaced and sorted, it is now downwards again and, if you haven’t been here recently, the road has been resurfaced and better today than many main roads. There was a good flow of water passing over the ford but legs up and we’re through.

Our beloved leader with Dinas Bran in the distance

Panorama panorama
Now riding along the Panorama walk, we take the right turn to drop us down to our lunch stop which is the Sun Trevor. Clive and I arrive at the inn and we await the rear flank. Soon there's a phone call and John also has punctured and his pump is not working. I return uphill and pass the only hairpin where John and Colin are walking down to meet me. We inflate the rear tube only to find the front also is deflated. Pumped up temporarily we progress down to the inn and lunch.

Today's food service seems slow, but we enjoy the atmosphere and general chat of the route. Eventually we are ready to go and change Johns front innertube. Fortunately, a camper arrives in the car park and asks us if we need a track pump! John is now fully inflated and we cross over to the Llangollen canal for an enjoyable stroll/ ride to Pontcysyllte.

From here it is the usual return via Cefn-Mawr and Ruabon. A ride through the Erddig NT grounds is a must and thence to Cross Lanes where we ride the final leg home to Holt. It has been an enjoyable ride and full of talking issues centred around solo riding and tube inflation processes.Not the usual mileage today at 40 miles  but a ride full of scenic beauty and 2900ft of climb . Three punctures says it all really but, due to the competence of the group and team work ,everything is accomplished - eventually!

See route map and/or gpx file download


Photos by John M

Thursday 24 May 2018

24th May 2018: Coton (mod)

Another fine day attracted a good turnout for both brisk and mod groups; Dave and Liz P were also out, but doing their own route (see below for more info). The mods were Keith, Dave H, David M, Andy B, George and myself, and our destination was the Dog and Bull at Coton (or as Google calls it the “Bull and Dog”).

Our route out involved a big swing eastwards, passing by Tilston, Cholmondley and Marbury, weaving along a variety of quiet little lanes.  We approached Whitchurch from the east on a “closed road”, squeezing past concrete blocks and wire fencing to enter the town.  Then straight through to Alkington and Hollinwood, to arrive at the pub just before 1pm, with 26 miles completed.

The Dog and Bull is a favourite and we were supplied with good substantial food and drink. We discussed audax and end to end rides.  We then debated why CER is not a full member of Chester and North Wales CTC, despite general approval of the new C&NW CTC shirt, which yours truly happened to be modelling.

Photo by Steve H

The return route was through Whixall and Whitewell, then avoiding Sarn Bank to enter Worthenbury and the usually competitively fast return through Shocklach.  David M broke away somewhere along the way to head direct for home.  The remaining five ended the ride at Lewis’ in Farndon enjoying coffee and cakes, where we discovered that the old Dee Bridge connecting Holt and Farndon was going to be closed to vehicles from mid-July for about 14 weeks, and closed to bikes and pedestrians also for part of the time – take note for future rides!  

Our total distance was 47 miles: a great moderate day out, with little wind, warm sunny spells, good food and good company.

(Note from Dave P: He and Liz rode out to the Plassey: a gentle ride of 24 miles.  They will be doing similar rides for the next few meets while they build up their fitness, and anyone who wishes to join them is welcome.)


Saturday 19 May 2018

17th May 2018 : Chelford (brisk)

The brisk riders today were, John M, John W, Nick, myself and new SGCC member Colin  as a guest rider. The day is a continuation of sun and little wind making it perfect for riding.

Leaving the café, we headed towards Cotebrook passing Little Budworth via Park Lane and on to Whitegate. As usual there seem to be plenty of road closed signs, but as cyclists we are able to pass.
Arriving into Winsford and the Flashes, riding down hill towards the sharp bend there is another blocked road; zig zagging through the concrete blocks we cross over the wooden bridge spanning the river Weaver and join NCR 5 and the bumpy track up to Davenham. Passing through the town we have another two roads closed before Lach Dennis!! 

Continuing along some very quiet lanes, we are on the outskirts of Knutsford and I had tried to route us through without being on the main road. Unfortunately, as we were joining the A5033 into the town, Nick was unable to follow and the hares had taken a right hand turning and pulled up to wait for the tortoise, you’ve never seen one go so fast. In time trial mode, he was zooming past us head down and into Knutsford.  John W had to go at 27 mph to catch and pass him to advise we had turned off. Regrouping, we rode through the very bumpy potholed streets of Knutsford before re-joining the traffic lights on Toft Road (A50). Joining the B5085 the road to Mobberley is enjoyed and on towards Alderley Edge.

As we near this town there is an increase of vehicles which are mainly Chelsea Tractors. There was a little concern of "are we heading up the Wizzard". No, we take a right turn before town and ride the A535 which was fortunately a good road and we were happy going a few miles at 20+ mph to Chelford and the Egerton Arms inn. Not the first time we have visited this inn. There was a reasonable selection on the menu but for a lunch snack perhaps on the expensive side.After our lunch is consumed we get ready to set off, what a pleasure when re-emerging outside it is warmer than inside!!

Our route takes us via Goostrey and Middlewich and on to Winsford via Clive Green Lane. As we arrive in Winsford, we take the lane heading towards the Weaver river and join the cycleway and avoid most of the roads around the town. As we head up Weaver St, most of us will remember the handy cycle shop half way up the hill, now a Chinese takeaway. No more emergency stops here. 

Winsford's Weaver Park
Going via Townfield Drive, we join the little lane that leads to the A54. Nick in the lead, we are soon accelerating along the A54 before turning into Rushton lane and skirt around the walls of Oulton Park. We had decided a tea stop at Tarporley would be welcome, so it is through Eaton before arriving at the Old Fire station Café. John W continues on to Chester whilst the remaining group enjoy drinks and cakes in this excellent café.

Colin leaves us here to cycle home to Mouldsworth and Nick back to Rose Farm to collect his car. John M and I ride out via Brassey Green and Waverton and back into Chester. A good ride on a sunny day, with good companions. Hope Colin joins us again. Good to have John W out to as he is a must to have on the front to pull us along. A round trip of nearly 60 miles plus the ride out and back so another 80 miles recorded 16mph.


Photo John W

Friday 18 May 2018

17th May 2018: Market Drayton (mod long)

A spell of excellent weather brought out a goodly number of Easy Riders to Rose Farm, which allowed Mike to collect their subs – yes it’s that time of year. Apart from my group, I’m not sure who went with which leaders, but we ended up with three groups.  The ‘moderate long’ group comprised me, Clive and Mike, and our objective was the Red Lion at Market Drayton; a destination we usually only attempt from the Ice Cream Farm.

We travelled out via Cotebrook and Wettenhall into Nantwich, where we passed through Brookfield Park, crossing and re-crossing the River Weaver on dry paths until we emerged on the road to Hack Green and Audlem. We rode through the busy little town and regained the lanes heading for Norton in Hales and then onto Market Drayton.

The Red Lion offered its usual excellent welcome and good value food and Joules beer, this time providing a royal wedding beer which Mike sampled. Staying with this theme, Clive gave us a potted history of the Adnams Brewery in Southwold.
Photo by Mike G

Our return was through Longslow and around Shavington Park, before passing through Aston, where Dave H and his companions were seen still enjoying their lunch at the Bhurtpore. Then it was onto Ravensmoor and Bunbury where we refreshed at Tilly’s and said goodbye to Clive who headed straight home. Mike and I continued on a short section of the A49, before passing through Tiverton and entering Tarporley from the south west. From there it was up the hill and back into Utkinton. In all 58 miles completed on a relatively flat route which allowed a fairly fast time for us mods.


Tuesday 15 May 2018

10th May 2018: Tattenhall (mod)

Bryan, Trevor, Dave Pipe, George, John Beavis, Andy Barber, Clive and myself decided to head east from Hawarden. This avoided big hills, and better facilitated Trevor and Clive's need to return home handily for caravanning and ballooning. Mike was riding to Gobowen to see Steve. The Sportsman at Tattenhall was our destination. Ride leadership was shared, on the basis of who best knew the route at any particular time. Trevor did most of the directing based on his outward Christmas Lunch ride from December. Bilberry Wood is a bit of a killer up to the A55. John was caught in the wrong gear, and berated us for not warning him, oiling his chain, checking his tyre pressures, and telling him that he may need to take tissues. The route to Rossett is an easy-riding peach. Lovely views, a rolling ride in the spring sunshine, pressureless pace, freshly coloured countryside perfection, as we drifted down by Golly. Clive peeled off before Holt for his second attempt to make a Stratford birthday balloon trip. I hope the weather was kinder this time.

We all fitted around a round table in the library of The Sportsman, and enjoyed big portions. Apart from John, who shakes his head in disbelief at how cyclists can stuff themselves with food, and often beer, and then carry on riding. I had intended this to be a moderate-lite ride, very leisurely, not demanding in any way, not far enough for the stitching on your shorts to start to dig into your skin a little. It was going to be a lazy man's cruise. George had other ideas, however! Not unreasonably, even some moderate riders like to get a few more miles in, when the sun is on their backs and the days are longer. Hence, we headed further east for Beeston Castle, down to the Shropshire Union Canal, and up to Brassey Green. We discarded the straight option to Waverton via Hargrave, and headed for Burton via Hoofield on a favourite circuit of George's. It was around here that my bike had a major malfunction. The front changer and chain jammed. Some rough surgery with my pliers amputated the mangled cage of the changer, while Dave Pipe did an expert job on the chain, which he completed with his spare connecting link. I was able to continue the journey on the middle chain ring with no real problem. I will buy you a drink, Dave! We passed west of Christleton village centre, crossing the A51 to a welcome coffee and cake at Meadow Lea. Those returning to Wales were led by the Welsh Sherpas, Andy and George, to Hawarden Bridge on the Greenway, and then up through Shotton into open country on a narrow lane. Our climbing ended at the B5125 just west of Ewloe. From here it was just one dangerous roundabout and less than ten minutes to the cars. Fine weather and company once again on a Thursday. John sent me an e-mail and a Camila Cabello clip, which I can't download, but he recommends her singing! He also says that he enjoyed the ride, and informs me that we covered 50.3miles at a relaxed 11.4 miles per hour.

Friday 11 May 2018

10th May 2018 : Corwen (brisk)

Today the meeting place was the Gallery Tea Rooms at Hawarden. Knowing that my regular brisk riders were not riding today, I had a route prepared, but was edging on accompanying the moderate riders. Arriving at the café, there were soon plenty of riders out to enjoy the sunshine including Ray. After Dave H advised their ride would be to Tattenhall, I decided to ride my route to Corwen was my option and Ray would accompany me but had to return to Chester for appointment later in the afternoon. 

We set of just the two of us and were soon heading down the A550 to go via the Old Warren route to Dobbshill. Crossing the A55 and the unfriendly cycle gate, we head along Hope Rd to Kinnerton Rd.
After 10 miles to Treuddyn,  I realised I hadn’t ridden any miles!! The Garmin had not been activated since the café. Ray and I rode on to Nercwys where Ray decided to leave and head back towards Chester.

My route now takes me via Eryrys and Llanarmon-yn-lal (Raven Inn). The lanes are absolutely fab to ride along after the past winter months and both Ray and I had enjoyed some good climbs. The best was via the Shelf and into Carrog. My ride from here into Corwen was just fantastic and passing over the Dee river into Corwen town; very picturesque.

 The "Shelf"                                              Corwen                                               Hope

After lunch at The Crown, I was soon on the bike heading back towards Hawarden and Chester. Attached is the route and this is one that I will ride again. There are some 17% climbs on my return but with a tail wind I was able to navigate – just!!

A great day, largely solo riding, but an enjoyable one. Glad I made the decision to do some hard riding as Thursdays and different café starts is why we have a riding club. A ride of 80+miles Chester and back, but 59 miles all round from Hawarden, with 5,988 ft of ascent plus the bit not included between Hawarden and Nercwys.

Thanks to Ray for joining me, and I look forwards to riding this another day. 


Photos by ID

Tuesday 8 May 2018

3rd May 2018: Delamere Station to Aston (mod)

[NOTE: 10th ANNIVERSERY RIDE. The 26th April blog entry has now been updated with John M's video and a photo of Bryan's gift]

A good sized group of brisk and moderate riders met at a sunny Station Café in Delamere to be joined by David M for a pre-grandparenting coffee.

The destination for the moderates was the Bhurtpore Arms in Aston and the group of Bryan, Dave H, George, Andy B, Mike G, Trevor, Clive and Jim set off along the rather busy B5152. After 3.65 rather hectic miles we were relieved to reach the relative calm of Cotebrook and the outskirts of Oulton Park.

As we reached Wettenhall, Clive departed in a search for more unadopted lanes to entertain us with on future rides. The rest pressed on past Reaseheath College and to the west of Nantwich. On reaching Ravensmoor we resisted the temptation to take the crud encrusted shortcut and carried on along the longer but rideable lane to our destination. The food was excellent, and the beer drinkers happy with the choice of refreshment. The temperature dropped as we hit the road again, but we did at least have a tailwind as we rode northwards towards Bunbury. After a short coffee stop, Jim and Trevor took the road to Beeston and Tattenhall, while the rest crossed the busy A51 to pick up the outward route at Oulton.

A very pleasant, days riding of about 42 miles or 50 for those finishing at Guilden Sutton

Photo by Mike G

Sunday 6 May 2018

3rd May 2018 : Dunham Massey (brisk)

Looking out before setting off on my ride to Delamere, the weather looked promising but as the forecast was sub 15 degreees I opted for longs. However, on arrival at the Station cafe several pairs of winter bleached legs were on show….brrr. This club has some hard members!

It was encouraging to sit outside in the pleasant sunshine and the three briskers soon settled on Ivan’s circuitous route to Dunham Massey. Turning left out of the car park, Nick was already saying his legs were heavy and his mood was not improved by being cut up by a speeding car. He managed to stay upright and soon we were cruising along though Norley and Cuddington, Weaverham and Winnington. We had a cultural stop to admire the engineering wonder that is Anderton Boat Lift and reflected on the faded glory of the former salt works. As an aside Nick questioned the sustainability of so many new housing developments on former industrial sites and pondered how all these new residents were employed. Surely they all can’t be in the new sweat shops otherwise known as call centres!

Anyway, us free souls had no such labours to worry about as the following breeze helped us roll past Marbury Country Park, Comberbatch and Antrobus. We then were heading for our next cutural visit. This time through the grounds of Arley Hall. None of the tracks seem to take us close to the big house but we went past several other very attractive timber frame dwellings and a pretty lake before encountering a “private track” sign. This was duly ignored on the basis that it probably applied to motorists!. Very shortly afterwards we were back on public roads and over the M6. This seemed to serve as a firing gun for Ivan, who true to form, scenting beer lead a speedy 6 mile sprint to Dunham Massey and the Vine Inn. 

The pub has an inviting exterior and pleasant gardens. Inside it is simply but very comfortably furnished with 1950s flowery wallpaper. It reminded us Cestrians of the Albion public house minus the truculent landlord. Despite Ivan’s joke that lycra was amongst the banned attire, we were allowed to join what seemed a happy band of mainly local drinkers and diners. The cause of their content was soon discovered when we learned that it was a mere £2 for a pint of Sam Smiths best. We also went for pies from the local butcher, with mash, veg and gravy which were very good indeed. Now fully laden we resisted the temptation of more cheap beer and decided it was time for the return leg knowing that our outward friend the wind was about to change sides. 

We headed south east through posh Bowden and Hale which has some of the most imposing houses in Cheshire and some of the most pot-holed roads! The breeze was felt most keenly on the straight 4 mile run between Ashley and Over Tabley passing alongside Tatton Park. Taking shortish turns on the front we managed to keep up a good pace. Soon enough we passed through Comberbatch for the second time and on to Little Leigh and Acton Bridge. I was thinking this is going well we’ll soon be in Norley but had forgotten that it gets a bit hilly in these parts.  Ivan reckoned we took the easiest option but the big roller coaster up to Norley took its toll late in the day.  Not to worry as the pain was easily forgotten as we were soon enjoying cake and coffee back at Delamere Station.

The weather had one last surprise as we set off for home the sky darkened and spots of rain began to fall. Nick was fortunate to have his car nearby but Ivan and I got a little wet as we rode along the forest road. It was a somewhat chilly but not too bad and certainly not enough to spoil what had been and excellent ride. The route from Delamere and back was about 55 miles and Ivan and I had done close to 80 on arrival in Chester at 16.5 mph average. And yes, we did also enjoy the culture and scenery!