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 26 October 2018

25th October 2018: Woodbank (leisure)

Being unable to go on the special ride, I decided to have an amble up to Ness to see if anyone else had gone for coffee. Bryan W and Dave and Liz had the same idea so we all met on the Greenway and made our way to the Neston Marshes and the climb up to Ness gardens. We were a little late arriving for an official start so were surprised to see Mike G and Andy W just finishing their coffees when we arrived. Despite the pressure all around us to support the American abomination of Halloween, I was glad to see that no-one had disguised their helmet as a pumpkin and we set off for a relatively short ride towards Burton. Mike and Andy left us here to follow their own routes, so we continued up into Willaston where we joined the Wirral Way. Although only for a short distance we really enjoyed the quiet ride through the array of colours from the autumn leaves, but were soon back onto the lanes and heading for Ledsham and Capenhurst. Here we turned east to the A540 at Woodbank and the Yacht Inn.  Recently re-furbished to a high standard, with a new management, the car park had seemed fairly busy on a recent drive past so it seemed worth a try.

The menu was huge-a sort of Italian tapas offering lots of choice and reasonably priced. We were recommended to choose two or three meals by our very pleasant waitress and were all very impressed by the choice and quality. Bryan was a little disappointed by the choice of beers so this might not be a suitable venue for some members. Probably one of the best meals I have had with the group for a long time. However the restaurant was filling rapidly and we needed to move so off we went to Saughall and back onto the Greenway. Bryan and the tandem left me by the canal junction to continue back in to Chester.

Only about 30 miles-a bit further for me, but very pleasant riding at a comfortable pace.


25th October 2018: Hodnet Special Ride (mod)

I hadn’t led many rides this year, but I reckoned a Special Ride in late October would be a useful club contribution. So with my penchant for trying to visit historic sites or buildings, I settled on a ride start from supposed site of the important Lancastrian dynasty battle in 1403, at Battlefield, just north of Shrewsbury. It is really worth a read on Wiki about this important battle so click on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Shrewsbury

Luckily for us the Sparrow’s Cafe on the Albrighton Estate was an ideal starting point just off the A49 north of Shrewsbury. The Moderate group consisted of Trevor, Keith, Ian, George, Steve H and myself. We let the Brisk group zoom off first as we followed them on roads anew to Bowmore Heath and Myddle. Approaching Myddle, we pass by an impressive red sandstone ridge which Ian confidently states is the southerly extent of Cheshire Sandstone. Passing through the middle of Myddle, we head north before taking a familiar lane to Loppington skirting Sleap airfield.

Dave M had taken the train to Gobowen and was planning to meet us here and going with us onwards to Hodnet. He was a little behind schedule, so texted to say he would meet us at The Bear. We are now approaching familiar territory as we take the NCR445 wiggling its way towards Whixall, Prees and Faulsgreen. Missing out Marchamley ridge (and its hills), we run down through Wollerton to The Bear in Hodnet at just before 1300. The brisk group have already finished their lunch, with Dave M tucking into his. Dave had apparently taken a more direct southerly route via Wem hence overtaking us in doing so. He was then cycling back home.

We have been to The Bear before, and, as before, the welcome and food did not disappoint. Conversation was as varied as ever but included club ride reminiscences of successes and disasters alike. For the return route, I had modified the published route to miss out a large section of the A442 Wellington road. So new long lanes and countryside to appreciate. Crossing the A442, we now enter into the Roden River valley passing through Higher Ercall, and skirting Roden and Rodington. Too soon we arrive at the A49 Shrewsbury bypass and wiggle our way through a massive housing estate as the late afternoon traffic builds.

Arriving back at Sparrow’s cafe, the Brisk group are tucking into hot drinks and cake having motored around the 62 miles at 17.7 mph. Our average over the 47 miles was nearer a sedate 14 mph as we also tuck into coffee and cakes before the 40 mile drive back to Chester.

So “thank you” to all of you who came  out on both rides today. The weather was as forecasted - dry, very cloudy, light winds and 12C, but there was good visibility as we could see the Wrekin and Long Mountain in the far distance. There were at least 50% “new” lanes today joining with familiar lanes  south of Whitchurch. 

See route map and/or gpx file download


25th October 2018 : Hodnet Special Ride (brisk)

Today we had a special ride organised by Clive. Car assist to Battlefield (Shrewsbury) and a combined route for both Mod’s and Brisk as far as The Bear inn at Hodnet. The brisk riders were John W, Ken, Ray and Ivan.

Leaving the Battlefield café  (I’ll leave Clive to complete the history of this location), we join the cycle way adjacent to the A5124 for a couple of miles before turning onto Huffley Lane taking us towards Bowmere Heath and Myddle. Clive had put in a little divert here to take us off the A528 following good CTC practice, as John advised us, which decreased our main road time by a minute!! But it was a good road lane and not a muddy track. Leaving the main road, we have the pleasure of new country lanes and enjoy the relative quiet and reasonably surfaced roads. 

We pass through Prees and are routed to the villages of Darliston and Fauls. As the route is mainly flat, we join the Drayton road into Hodnet and I’m a little concerned that we would arrive before 12:00!! So, we had a cool down for a couple of miles. As we enter the village, we have a manic red transit van driver who took a dislike to us riding two abreast and directed his battering ram/van at us before swerving to miss us by inches. He is in a minority on our roads (I hope). As we’re are having our lunch, Dave M arrives after cycling from Gobowen to join us, shortly followed by the moderate group.

Our route back to Shrewsbury was extended by a few miles compared to the moderate route, so leaving our buddies to enjoy their lunches, we hit the saddle and ride out to Stoke on Tern, Eaton on Tern and Bolas where we join the A442 before turning onto the B5062 for another Tern, Longdon on Tern. We stop for a photo shoot looking at the Wrekin which we are riding the shoulder of before a downhill sprint where we meet a Freelander. John and I go one side while Ken skims the left side. Near miss and thankfully all ok. Not a red van driver, although we probably appeared as kamikaze riders to him although it had been a long quiet lane to this point.

Wrekin havoc!
Our next photo call was at the large Roman ruins at Wroxeter. A Roman City once the fourth largest town in Roman Britain during AD90s. Worth a visit. We ride along the walled gardens of Attingham Park for a mile + before hitting the outskirts of Shrewsbury where Clive has a housing estate tour in store for us. It proved a good short cut back to Battlefields and certainly a lot less car/lorry polluted. Shrewsbury has changed considerably since I lived there during the 80’s.

Three old relics at Wroxeter Roman city
Arriving back at the café we enjoy tea and cake while awaiting the arrival of the moderates who were not too far behind us. Thank you, Clive, for a great 63 miler route at 17.7 mph average speed. 


Photos by JW and KP

Sunday 21 October 2018

18th October 2018: Whitchurch (mod ride 2)

As it is true for caravans, it’s true for CER riders - the sun really does bring them out in droves! Jim was puzzling over an OS map wondering where to go and I offered to help him cobble together a ride. So we agreed somewhere south via Threapwood ending up in Whitchurch for lunch. We also agreed that, as there were a lot of us, we would eventually and inevitably split up into two groups, but we would both head for “The Wheatsheaf” in the centre of Whitchurch.

So off and out via Wetreins Lane, we had the Briskers flash by us bound for Shawbury. At the top of this lane we had already split into two groups. The “faster group” consisted of Ian, Neil  Bob, Steve T, Keith, Dave M and myself. In Tilston, we turn right for Horton. Here, in the chiaroscuro of a bright autumnal day, Neil unfortunately found a pothole and expertly landed on the grass verge instead of the road. Thankfully his bike was not damaged, and neither was he! By this time the rest of the Moderates had caught us up and this was to be the pattern over the next 10 miles or so.

So out via Chorlton, Sarn and Threapwood, we take the lanes to Whitwell. I knew that Jim would be taking the first left turn on the Fenn Bank road towards Alkington and thence Whitchurch, so I decided to add a few more miles in by going further south. We arrive in Tilstock down tiny lanes before crossing the A41 by The Raven pub - always a dangerous transit here.

Brown Moss nature reserve beckons as we meander through tranquillity with the A41 just a few fields away. We enter Whitchurch from the south, and no UXB activity is evident (see Brisk report). As we arrive at “The Wheatsheaf”, we see that Jim and company are already ensconced at our CER table. The landlady kindly reserved us a table after I had phoned her a little earlier.

I like “The Wheatsheaf” as it was introduced to me by “Watsons Wanderers” cycling group, sadly not led any more by the indomitable Harry Watson. He will be 90 on Nov 5th, and still cycling. The food comes quite quickly given that there are now over a dozen of us. I’ve been here three or four times now and the food is consistently good and fairly priced.

We all leave together bound for Marbury in continuing sunshine. At Bickley, I add a little variety by heading for No Mans Heath and then up to Hampton Post and onwards to the gently downhill lane in Edge. It is then a reversal of this morning’s outward route via Tilston and Wetreins Lane where the Brisk group whoosh passed us aiming to claim the best cakes at Cleopatra’s. Shortly after we are drinking our teas and coffee outside with the Brisk group, Jim and company arrive safely back.

So thanks to my group for their patience as I made up the 43 miler route on the fly and, talking about flying, I hung onto the Brisk group’s tails as they motored back to Chester. Classic autumnal weather and a classic CER day’s riding.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday 19 October 2018

18th October 2018: Whitchurch (mod ride 1)

Quite a large group of members assembled at the café in Holt on a brisk but sunny morning. The brisk group set off for somewhere a long way away, leaving a dozen or so moderates heading for Whitchurch. Clive’s group began to pull away early on so we decided to split, leaving a small group of Steve H, George, and myself to pootle along the lanes heading for Threapwood. We were soon joined by David M and Andy who were waiting for us at one of Shropshire's famous unsigned crossroads and we progressed pleasantly through Higher Wych to Whitewell where we crossed the A525 heading south towards Fenn Bank. Here we crossed the canal and turned northwards through Alkington and up into Whitchurch.

We eventually found the pub, The Wheatsheaf, after some pedestrian assistance and parked our bikes in the newly refurbished beer garden which will be very nice on a warm day, but not this time. There seems to be a good choice of beers and the staff were very welcoming even when we told them that Clive was on his way. The food was very reasonably priced and a good choice. Service was excellent, despite having a large group to contend with, and we were soon on our way back home.

Through the main street and out on the Marbury Road saw us once again in two groups with Steve T joining us for the return. From Marbury we went north to Swanwick Green crossing the A49 to Bickley Moss, then up to Cholmondley, Hampton Heath and the lanes by-passing Malpas to Kidnal and Tilston, where we picked up our outward route back to the café.

Sitting outside in the sun, we had a well earned drink before setting off for home.
Almost 42 miles. A very pleasant day’s riding 

See route map and/or gpx file download


18th October 2018 : Shawbury (brisk)

With today's fine weather forecast, there was a big turnout at Cleopatra's café and Steve T was in the saddle and Ray joining the Brisk ride. The proposed brisk route was to Shawbury via Moreton Corbett, which is regarded as Clive’s stately restoration project. We’ve been visiting it for a few years now and there hasn’t been much progress to date.

We set of from Holt passing over the new resurfaced bridge over the Dee and out to Tilston where we were joining up with Nick who probably had a relaxing morning. The Brisk riders today were John M, John W, Ray, Ivan and Ken who was joining us for a shorter ride as he had commitments in the afternoon. As duly organised we met Nick, and we continued through Tilston to Cuddington Heath.

The weather was a little fresh, but at 11:00ish it was removal of layers and full finger gloves. Riding in the sunshine and through good dry lanes, we are heading towards Wem and join the B5063 which takes us to Moreton Corbett where a photo call is required. It is then a ride into Shawbury and a lunch stop at the Fox and Hounds. My first time here but the food selection was good and reasonably priced.

Read all about it
More ancient relics!

After lunch, it was cycling on the A53 for 4 miles before taking the lane heading towards a little village of Lee Brockurst. Approaching Wem again, we skirted around the town and heading towards Prees Green and Prees passing over the rail route between Crewe and Shrewsbury. 

Through Tilstock and passing over the A41, we are heading into Whitchurch. As we approach the Sainsbury's supermarket, we are stopped by police cars blocking our route. Advised no access on this road due to a suspect UXB, or something the moderates had left as their destination was Whitchurch!!

We turned around and rode through the town and re-joined the road at the main roundabout passed the supermarket. It was down to Grindley Brook and onto the Malpas road and eventually Tilston crossroad at the Carden Arms inn.

Nick left us to return his solo ride home while the remaining group continued on the usual route to take us back to Holt. As were between Stretton and Crewe-by-Farndon, we catch up with the intermediate CER group headed by Clive. So as to get first choice of cake, we continue onwards and arrive at Cleopatra's not that much earlier than the second group.

Our ride today was 65 miles and covered some good lanes in fantastic autumn sunshine. Our total distance returning to Chester was 85 miles. We were joined by Clive riding with us on our return home. Another good day out on the bike. 


Monday 15 October 2018

11th October 2018: (mod)

Awaiting ride report

4th October 2018: Holt (mod)

Jim and I had decided early in the week to give the moderate ride a miss but to ride up to the Gallery Coffee Shop in Hawarden and then cycle home. This is exactly what we did but events conspired to turn it in to the moderate ride.

I arrived at Jim’s to find that Dave H had arrived with the same intention and was delighted to find that Steve T was with him, attempting his first CER ride since his accident. We were joined soon afterwards by Mike and the five of us set off for Hawarden. We followed the Greenway as far as Blacon then dropped down Western Avenue to Sealand Road and then into Ferry Lane. We followed this to the aptly named Ferry Lane Bridge where we crossed the River Dee. We turned right towards Queensferry and followed the twisting road past the back of the Airbus factory at Broughton. After turning right at the roundabout we turned left into Rake Lane and started the inevitable ascent up to Hawarden and what would normally have been the starting point for our ride.

There were a number of other Easy Riders present but most were heading off on the brisk ride and the only addition to our group was Dave P. So six of us set off down the Wrexham Road before turning left onto the small road that would take us up the back of Bilberry Wood to the footbridge across the A55. After crossing the A55 we turned right then left into Old Hope Road and continued into Lower Mountain Road by-passing the village of Pen-y-Mynydd. Then a left and right into Sandy Lane.
From there we turned into Shordley Road. I would have turned down Cobblers Lane here and headed for Rossett but Jim suggested carrying straight on along Dark Lane. We did so and crossed the Llay road into Gegin Lane and left at the end onto Gresford Road. At the bottom of the hill we crossed the dual carriageway and turned left into Springfield Road, emerging at the bottom of Marford Hill. As we climbed the hill I was behind Jim and noticed that his rear tyre was looking a bit flat. He stopped to investigate and discovered that he had picked up a thorn somewhere along the way. The rest of us had a short break while he changed his inner tube and then we carried on up the hill and turned left into Hoseley Road. At Borras we turned left again onto Holt road. As we approached Holt the topic of conversation turned to a suitable venue for lunch and the consensus was that we would stop at Cleopatra’s.

Cleopatra’s is normally one of our starting venues but this time we were able to sample their lunch menu. Despite now being October we were still able to sit outside for our lunch although I suspect this will probably have been the last time we will be able to do that before winter sets in.

After lunch we crossed back over the River Dee into England. The Farndon Bridge has been closed for several months for repairs and resurfacing (well, it is nearly 700 years old) but fortunately was still open for pedestrians and cyclists. At Churton Steve decided that he’d had enough for his first ride out and we opted for the most direct route back. Dave P left us and headed off to get some extra miles in around Tattenhall. The rest of us headed back to our starting point via Aldford, Saighton and Christleton. Only 38 miles completed but a milestone for Steve as he continues his recovery. Well done.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Saturday 13 October 2018

11th October 2018 : Mow Cop (brisk)

Todays ride was starting from Utkinton – Rose Farm Café and the Brisk riders were, Ken, Nick John W and myself. A proposal of Timbersbrook and Mow Cop was suggested. The weather forecast for today was windy and rain from 14:00'ish, but I’ll make the reference now that we had a fantastic wind-assist for a lot of the route both out and return, and no rain except a little drizzle on passing Waverton although a much overcast sky.

Before departing the café, there were a few moderate riders out today but we set off first heading towards Tarporley. We pass the Portal golf course and pass Eaton and the general route passing Darnhill to Church Minshull. We continue on the notorious A530 to Middlewich before turning off to visit all the humps on the housing estate’s before reaching the main A533. We go straight over passing the Salt works. The lanes skirting Middlewich to Breteton were splendid in the autumnal colours. Arriving at the cross roads with the Bears Head inn and, not calling in today, we continue along more quiet lanes although in need of pot-hole refurb before arriving at Brownlow Heath, then joining the A34 into Congleton. 

We ride through the town and continue on the A527. The route should have taken us out onto Biddulph Moor and Timbersbrook but too late I missed the turning. An executive decision made was to continue on into Biddulph and head up to Mow Cop The lane up this side of the cop is a steady 9% and we were soon looking out over the Cheshire landscape. Continuing upwards we approach the folly at the top and the ascent goes up to 15+%. Now we were over the climbs for the day lunch was discussed after covering 37 miles from Utkinton. It’s 12:30, so another executive decision made to continue on towards Winterley before stopping for lunch. 

We ride down Station Lane, a mere 20% descent, and, as the road was damp, a much slower speed was preferred. I stopped for a photo shoot and was following the others and half way down: "pssssss"and my front tyre deflated. Such is the state of this road that it was a pinch rather than a thorn or similar. John and Nick were in front but fortunately Ken also heard the escaping air and stopped as quickly as I did. We advised the others not to come back up and proceeded to change the tube.

We were soon onwards again and passing Scholar Green, Lawton and Winterley. We have ridden these lane’s many times over the years and our lunch stop is now Bradfield Green near Leighton Hospital. Arriving at the "Coach & Horses'" we have covered 49 miles since our coffee at Rose Farm and were soon tucking in to home-made pies complimented with fresh vegetables, mash and a good size gravy boat.
Our route from here is to Church Minshull, Wettenhall and Eaton. The intention was to stop at the Old Fire Station cafe in Tarporley  for cake, but John and I decided to continue on to Chester, while Ken and Nick rode on to Rose Farm to collect their cars.

We were passing Waverton and the weather started changing and a light drizzle was dropping on us.An eventful day with good cycling and a happy group. Thanks for making this a memorable ride, one of my favourites as it is over my old riding patch. The round trip to and from the café was 64 miles but for John and I we were approaching 80 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Photo JW

Friday 5 October 2018

4th October 2018 : Kinmel Bay (brisk)

There were quite a lot of riders at The Gallery when I arrived, including the welcome return of Steve T; out for the his first ride with us since "it" happened. Great to see him so enthusiastic as well.

I'd thought I better show willing, so I had prepared two routes. There was a short 40 miler with 4000ft of climb, and a longer 50 miler with 5000ft of climb. Addressing the Brisk Group of Andy B, John W and Nick H, I was somewhat surprised when John asked for a non-hilly route because he had an upcoming challenging weekend ride! So what to do; then I remembered a route we had ridden twice before towards Rhuddlan. So this was agreed and we set off at an alarming pace the usual way to Northop.
As we crest the rise before tackling the short section of the A55, there is a marvellous panorama of the Mersey Estuary to behold stretching out as far as the eye can see. Both Liverpool cathedrals were clearly identified as were the large container port cranes. Passing the Britannia pub, we now climb higher, but eschewing Pentre Halkyn, we dive down into Holywell.

Here I decide to add some variation from the "planned" route as we turn off for Whitford. We take the NCR5 lane upwards where have to stop twice for an enormous tractor and trailer which filled this tiny lane. I point out the Coed y Garreg tower on the hilltop, which was supposed to be the site of a Roman lighthouse nearly two millennia ago. We arrive at Maen Achwynfan Cross, and we dismount to visit it. It has been here for about a 1000 years and has an interesting history ( see photos).

Three Ancient Britons and a 1000yr old Celtic Cross

Read all about it

Veering left at the junction to Llanasa, we speed down a new lane (for me) to rejoin the "London Road" aka A5151, to hurtle down and through Dyserth towards Rhuddlan, where we touch 30mph on the level straight with no wind-assist at all! Kicking left into Rhuddlan, I can't resist a mini-diversion to the Edward I castle which is still standing tall after 700 years.

Rhuddlan Castle
I suggest the Morfa Table pub, which is just down the road. Andy counter-suggests the cafe by Rhyl Harbour. So Rhyl -or Kinmel Bay to be exact - is where we now head by going along the Clwyd river cycle path. The cafe is pretty busy but we get in, ordered and seated, before a mini-bus load arrive. Conversation is as varied as ever, and we discuss the excellent BBC program about the effect that plastic is having on global wildlife. It is really worth watching, so stoke up iPlayer to find "Drowning in Plastic" BBC1 Oct 1st at 2030.

We had noticed that the wind and dark clouds had been increasing during the morning, and, as we left the cafe, there was a gale force blast which nearly knocked us off our bikes. The ride now was a 20mph wind-assist all the way along the seafront, exiting at the Pontins Holiday camp. Through the golf club and static van holiday park, we arrive at the Point of Ayr. Taking the cycleways further, we circle the old colliery and hit the coast road at Ffynnongryow. It's now a long fast burn to the Chocolate Box cafe close by Flint's Sainsbury's.

After discussing wifi webcams and failing eyesight, we head off homewards towards Oakenholt, where Andy and Nick take Papermill Lane arriving back in Hawarden after 56 miles. John and I take the usual Greenway route back to Chester with nearly 70 miles ridden and still with 2500ft of ascent.

The weather had been dry and somewhat windy, and it threatened rain a few times, and the company was as convivial as ever.                                                                                                
See route map and/or gpx file download


Photos CA and JW