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 April 2019

25th April 2019 : Burlton (brisk)

Todays weather forecast was 50% sunny and rain showers – decided to try for the best wardrobe and hope I get it right!!

John W was riding out with me to Holt, so setting off from Chester it was a sunny but chilly morning. On arrival at Cleopatras  were three moderates and my fellow riders – Ken, Nick and Clive. With John and I, we had a good group for today's ride. After regulation tea and coffee, the route both Ken and I had suggested was accepted and it was to the Burlton Inn.

Leaving the café, we were blessed with a sunny start to get us on our way out via Wetreins Lane to Tilston and Horton Green and here we re-join the B5069. We are passed by a MF tractor and the driver slowed to allow us to gain advantage over the head wind and stream behind. This didn’t last to long as we got held up by cyclists and the driver was very considerate and waited for a safe passing point. When we did pass named cyclist’s, it was our moderate group holding us up!

After passing the mod’s, the tractor decided to see how fast he could get away so we let him go! The roads were very littered with mud, debris and puddles so Clive had a plan B to divert from Burgess Lane at Holly Bush, and follow Cloy Lane and then pick up our route; but I would like to ride over Hollybush to actually see whether there were any less potholes!!

We join the main A528, which runs into Ellesmere and as we approach the town the heavens decide to pour down upon us. Quick stop and we now have a team of Garmin Shake-dry riders (haha). Into the town and following the one-way roads, we head off along Birch road passing Blackwater Meadow Marina with a board out for boat hire. Not sure whether for the lanes or the Mere!

I cannot recall riding this lane before, but the rain had ceased to sodden us and it is a picture post card lane to ride. Passing through Bagley and Petton, we are half a mile from our lunch stop. Enjoying a down hill, the route is forked and we should keep right, however a quick glance shows a mud track so I continue on and go off course and hope we are not too diverted. Re-joining the A528, our inn for lunch is soon in view.

The Burlton Inn was a welcome sight and as we entered the pub and had ordered once again it was torrential rain outside. A good lunch in a Robinson's hostelry, a variety of lunch time chatter and it was time to get back on the bikes. The sun was out again as venture out and join the B4397 to English Frankton. Ken had been busy during lunch and had downloaded the route we had both ridden previously. This return route mirrored our return today passing through Lyneal and Penley. 

"Men in Black" (almost)  near Penley

The sun was still shinning and we had a glorious view across a valley that a photo call was required for the blog so Nick volunteered his service. Continuing along flooded and muddy lanes as we approach Sarn, I realise I am on my own. Turning around and retracing, I find the group as John has a puncture. It is a wonder we hadn’t had more as the roads were very mucky. John soon fixed his bike and using an air bomb, his tyre inflated we are rolling again as it is up Sarn Bank.

At Chorlton, Nick bides us farewell. From Shocklach, Clive takes pole position and we have a very brisk ride of plus 20mph to Farndon. We decide on coffee at Lewis’s café at Farndon and re-join the moderates, who were also back safely from their ride. After tea and cake, Clive, John and I set off for Chester. Ken made his way back to Rossett via the blocked road works from Holt. Our ride from Farndon had John in pole position and continued a brisk pace all the way back to Chester.

Considering the forecast, we evaded most of the showers and had enjoyed a really nice riding day. A reasonable mileage of 53 for the actual route and 70+ miles to Chester at an impressive 16.5 mph


Photo NH

Thursday 25 April 2019

25th April 2019: Hanmer (mod)

After a sunny and warm, even hot Easter weekend, it was a shock to see heavy rain showers, cool temperatures and gusty winds in today’s forecast. Undeterred eight Easy Riders met at Cleos in Holt. The mods were Neil, George, Dave H and myself. We had decided that the conditions limited our distance to a ride out to the Hanmer Arms at Hanmer.  On the way out we would face an easterly wind veering to southerly, which would speed our return.

The brisk group left before us, and we followed in the same direction over the Dee Bridge and through Farndon to head towards Worthenbury.  So we were a little surprised to find the brisk group overtake us, slipstreaming behind a tractor.  Bypassing Worthenbury we looped round Tallarn Green and made for Holly Bush, then through Penley and towards Ellesmere.  We had been lucky with the showers, but were then hit by heavy rain and paused by The Mere to consider whether to seek shelter in an Ellesmere pub or head to our original destination.  We chose the latter, which turned out to be the best choice as conditions improved and we were drying off as we cycled into the courtyard behind the Hanmer Arms with 25 miles completed.

The pub is one of our favourites and we were welcomed and served decent food and drink.  Conversation turned to recollections of previous visits and previous cold wet rides. One we especially remembered had been led by Jim from Chirk into the hills with Dave, George and myself plus big Roy. The highlights(?) of this being near hypothermia and mechanical catastrophe.

We left the pub to the sound of thunder. For our return I chose to follow the main roads rather than lanes to the east of Hanmer.  A couple of years ago we had become stuck in 6 inch deep mud on these lanes and the memory was sufficient to keep us away from them ever since. We passed through Lower Wych and Malpas, and then via Stretton and Wetreins Lane we entered Farndon and made for Lewis’s. A little later the brisk riders joined. We had successfully avoided any serious rain on the return despite dark threatening clouds in every direction and had been pushed along by a tailwind.  39 miles had been completed – a good ride in the conditions.


Friday 19 April 2019

18th April 2019: Marton (mod & brisk)

Clive had devised a route for today which both Mod and Brisk groups took. Our destination was to be the Old Barn Café in Marton, north of Congleton: https://www.facebook.com/theoldbarnmarton. The weather was on best behaviour with warm conditions after a long cool spell and even some sunshine expected.  This was enough to tempt a good many members out to our start at Rose Farm.  The Mods comprised myself, Trevor, Dave H, Keith, George, Jim and a prospective member Tony. The Brisk members were Clive, Ken and Nick, and their adventures are described in a brief postscript below. Also out were David M and Neil who chose to do their own thing.

We set out through Cotebrook and rode past Oulton Park, to pick up the old rail line the Whitegate Way taking us onto Winsford. Here Jim left us as planned and made his own way back.  After a quick dash along the A530 south of Middlewich, we passed through Ettily Heath and then followed another disused railway line to skirt south of Sandbach and trek northwards keeping to the west of Congleton.

We hit the A34 at Marton and turned right to find our lunch stop. The Old Barn Café was not immediately obvious for it lies within a former farm courtyard now hosting several small enterprises.  However, it was well worth finding and welcomes cycling groups.  The Brisk riders were finishing off their meals as we arrived. None of the Mods partook of alcohol during our meal and one chose a vegetarian option, but before concluding that we had all started to adopt a healthier diet, I should report that one full English and two pies were also ordered.

Photos by KP

Our return route covered more familiar territory, but was very pleasant being even warmer and having a moderate tailwind.  We passed by Clonter Opera, which I understand is a Cheshire version of Glyndebourne, then Twemlow Green, Cranage and Lach Dennis.  After Davenham we followed the dual carriageway as far as the blue Harford Bridge and then took a track down to the Weaver Navigation – the third of our off-road excursions today.  We were appreciating the quiet watery scene when the West Coast Virgin Train thundered across the viaduct overhead.  Crossing the Navigation by a set of locks, we emerged into Vale Royal Abbey Golf Club.  Then it was back past Little Budworth, on to Cotebrook and then back to Rose Farm. On the way Tony dropped off to head for Tarporley, Keith for Runcorn and myself to Kelsall via Heath Lane.

Our total mileage was 56.  This was a cracking route from Clive, which makes two in a row after last week’s special ride.  The morning’s route had been exceptional for passing along many quiet new lanes for us, while running close to our more familiar routes.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Our brisk riders were Ken, Nick and myself and we followed the same route to Marton except for an off-piste explore around Ettiley Heath. We arrived at the cafe in under two hours, and were ready to leave as the Mods arrived. Nick diverted off to Eaton where his car was; Ken to Christleton and me to Duddon for our respective vehicles. Average speed was just under 16mph for these 56 miles.


Tuesday 16 April 2019

11th April 2019: Rossett (leisure)

As most of the regular riders were taking part in Clive's special ride today and Jim Bryan and ourselves were available we decided to do an ultra moderate ride avoiding the Welsh Hills. We agreed to meet up with Jim on the Greenway and meet up with Bryan at the Gallery Cafe in Hawarden. As nobody else turned up it was a simple choice of sticking to our plan of riding the high ground south before dropping down to the Alyn at Rossett for lunch.

There was a little bit of climbing to start with as we headed up past Bilberry Wood to take the footbridge across the A55. A quick right and left and a short climb and then it was all flat or downhill to lunch. Riding directly south along the ridge with splendid views of Hope mountain on our right and across the Cheshire Plains on our left to the Peckforton Hills. A quick left and right to descend to Shordley Manor passing Jimi Hendrix created from an old tree stump but now almost hidden by the vegetation. We continued to south keeping to the higher ground before descending to the foot of the steep climb to Gresford where we turned left to follow the lane parallel to the A483 and on to Rossett and the Alyn for lunch.

As we were all based in Chester after lunch we returned via Dodleston and Lache Lane where we split to go our separate ways.

A very pleasant ride of 30 miles Chester to Chester on a crisp clear sunny day.


Friday 12 April 2019

11th April 2019 : Wheaton Aston Special Ride (brisk)

It was one of those days where you didn’t know what to wear; the forecast was good but I had to scrape ice off the car before driving to picking Nick up and heading to Market Drayton. Arriving in good time, we found  the rest of the riders  assembled in Morrison’s cafe discussing the two routes that were planned for the day. A moderate ride, led by Clive, and a brisk ride led by myself. 

At 10:30 we assembled for the grand depart, when Clive announced he had a minor problem, his i-phone had stopped working.(It later transpired Clive had inadvertently turned off the phone’s backlight !!) To minimise any delay, Steve was quickly appointed the new leader of the moderate ride. Both moderate and brisk rides followed the same route out of town past the golf course as far as Salisbury Hill which was where we parted company.

Our route bypassed the delightfully named Hungryhatton before passing through the lovely quiet lanes of Ollerton, Great Bolas, and Kynnersley prior to entering the outskirts of Telford. Here I had planned a detour taking us to the east of the urbanised area to rejoin the original route near the M54 at Tong but John’s Garmin indicated that the route through Telford and Shifnal should be straight forward  via a cycle path. 

We took the cycle path which separated us from motor traffic but the state of the cycle paths left a lot to desired with uneven surfaces which were littered with hedge cuttings. John picked up a puncture at the Limekiln roundabout where Watling Street (an ancient trackway later upgraded and paved by the Romans) enters Telford.The puncture was caused by a paper staple not hedge cuttings! The punctured tube was soon changed but then changed again,with one borrowed from Nick, as the tube John carried did not have a long enough valve body suitable for his deep rimmed carbon wheels.

Setting off again, we  turned off left back into the countryside via Woodhouse Lane, passing through a wood yard. This lane quickly deteriorated into a dusty stony farm track (Clive had warned me earlier that he had not checked the route out in detail…). Fortunately it was dry and we soon rejoined the tarmac road and continued on, crossing back over Watling Street once again before reaching our lunch destination The Hartley Arms at Wheaton Aston.

Two of the Three ( and a half) riders

Proof positive of lunch venue
The Hartley Arms sits on the outskirts of the village by the side of the Shropshire Union Canal and a full compliment of ‘moderates’ were already sitting enjoying lunch as we arrived. I teamed up with Nick for  a ‘two for one’ lunch which was very good value; our total bill for 2 mains and 2 lime and sodas came to £11.The  lunchtime chatter was limited as the ‘moderates’ were ready to leave shortly after our food arrived. This meant  Steve had a very rushed lunch as he joined the ‘moderates’ for the return trip.

Lunch over and under sunnier skies we left.Turning right out of the carpark we weaved our way through quiet lanes to the villages of Milton and Bradley, the hillier terrain now giving us a better appreciation of the surrounding area that we were cycling through.With only two more brief forays off-road we finally arrive at the village of Ashley to reach the highpoint of the ride at just over 200 metres. 

With Nick leading out John and I, the last 10km were ridden at a fast pace back to Morrisons. After a quick catch up with the ‘moderates’ in the cafe, we opted to forgo coffee  and make our way home, hoping to beat the rush hour traffic. Clive, thank you very much for putting together a superb day out. The route of 63 miles took in some lovely quiet lanes, pretty villages and a good lunch venue.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Photos : JM

Thursday 11 April 2019

11th April 2019: Wheaton Aston Special Ride (mod)

The first special ride of the year, and Clive had devised a brisk and a mod ride from Market Drayton to Wheaton Aston, a few miles north of Wolverhampton. We were to meet in Morrison’s café in Market Drayton and here assembled the mod riders: myself, Clive, Trevor, Dave H, Keith, Andy B and Steve T who was unsure whether the join the brisk group.  We had all parked in the store car park, except for Andy, who had cycled down from Malpas, considering a ride from his home in Mold as a little too far.

It was cold.  The forecast was for a dry, cool and sunny day with little wind, but as we set off clouds were covering any sun.  Clive had a problem at the start, insofar as his iPhone had stopped working.  However he had taken the precaution of sending me the route, so we headed out, minus Steve T, past Salisbury Hill, before crossing the A529, passing through Sambrook and then joining a lovely straight Roman Road towards Sutton.  Here we climbed the hill to admire the view and take photos  from the entrance to Fernhill House, “an impeccable restored Victorian country house” according to Savills.  See how the other half live...
Photo by TC
Next we continued south eastwards, warming up under now clear skies plus a one chevron hill. We took a quick dash along the A5, before turning off towards Wheaton Aston and the Hartley Arms. We were surprised not to see the brisk riders already ensconced in our reserved tables, given they had only a little further to travel than we had.  The welcome was good and we took advantage of the pensioners’ special of two meals for the price of one and a few of us enjoyed the Banks’s Mild. Decent food arrived and so did the brisk group having been delayed by a puncture and route finding in Telford.  We noted that the pub sat on the Shropshire Union Canal, which could have provided a traffic-free, hill-less route all the way back to Market Drayton. During lunch Clive resolved his iPhone issue and led the route back.

We were joined on our return by Steve T who was playing fast and loose with his group loyalties. We headed northwards through Church Eaton and Gnosall Heath, then towards Norbury.  En route at Shelmore Wood we passed BIFoR, the Birmingham Institute for Forest Research Free-Air Carbon Enrichment Facility. This studies how forests will respond to future increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). Extra CO2, equivalent to concentrations expected around 2050, is being delivered to undisturbed patches of woodland. https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/university/building/bifor.aspx

Travelling on through Adbaston and Cheswardine, after 49 miles, we arrive back at Morrison’s for tea and cakes.  Reflecting on the ride, we are impressed by the quiet, generally smooth country lanes and considered revisiting this area for future special rides.  Many thanks to Clive for devising this one.


Friday 5 April 2019

4th April 2019 : Dunham Massey (brisk)

Today's ride is the first ride of summer – freezing, frost on the ground and a forecast of wind and rain. The prospects of a day out were preferred during the winter period!

The ride today was from Delamere station café and I was joined riding out from Chester with John W. On arrival at the café, there were a few other riders and a brisk group formed consisting of Ken, Ray, Nick, John and myself. We set off on our bikes towards Hatchmere, Crowton and Acton Bridge. Crossing the Blue Bridge and heading along Willow Green Lane, we continued on rather than the uphill section which is our normal route towards Little Leigh. This diversion takes us towards Daresbury but at the end of the lane, at the junction, we ride along the aptly named Summer lane running alongside the M56. Taking the next bridge to cross the motorway and along the B5356, we cross the A49 at Stretton.

We ride through Grappenhall and pass two previous lunch stops the Rams Head and Parr Arms. There is the uncomfortable journey over the cobbles – unless you are on a Roubaix as John W went whizzing past those taking the option of a smoother pavement, thus passing the rest of the brisk group. 0ur route now takes in some new ventured lanes between Thelwall and Lymm. At the Library we join the Bridgewater canal and enjoy a photo shoot of this remarkable beginning of transport and the golden era between 1760 to 1830 before the introduction, and a big takeover of cargo which followed, to the railway revolution.

On the Bridgewater Canal
Ray had left us just before we entered Lymm but the remaining briskers take the usual route to Dunham Massey along the B5160. Our lunch stop was The Vine Inn which is an excellent Samuel Smith guest house offering ale at £2.00 a pint and a good lunch under £7.00. The web site also boasts THE best Sticky Toffee pudding so next time I’ll try it. Very popular choice for many other cyclists also.

As we are ready to leave, there is the first hint of what was promised by the BBC weather, RAIN. Setting off from the pub, we head towards the lane which crosses the river next to "The Swan with Two Nicks" then up to the main A56 crossing over and passing under the M56.

The heavens have now opened so we peddle asap to cover the remaining 20 miles back to Delamere.The route is the usual return from Dunham again crossing the Blue Bridge at Acton Bridge but this time it is up the hill!! Struggling up this hill, an unknown rider goes passed me as if on the flat closely followed by John, but he too was unable to stick to his wheel. By the time we reached the summit the said rider was well gone.

Passing over the rail bridge at Acton, we turn left and upwards to Norley and arrive Hatchmere where we say farewell to Ken and Nick. John and I ride back to Chester.

The rain has stopped now and we get home reasonably dry. A good day out and a 51 miles round trip from the café and 60+ miles for John and I.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday 4 April 2019

4th April 2019: Comberbach (mod)

Having witnessed a car having been broken into on our previous visit, I decided to give the little free car park across from Delamere station a miss, and pay the six pound fee for the day at the forest centre. At the station cafe we enjoyed a bit of banter with Ivan and John, before trying to decide the route of the day from a moderate riders' menu. We were pleased to have a new guest rider joining us, Malcolm Emsley. It was good to see Steve Haywood back from an Italian holiday.  I had envisaged heading for The Wizard at Alderley Edge, and had checked the menu and telephone number. However, the weather forecasts over the last twelve hours indicated bad weather arriving earlier than originally estimated. Steve Haywood can always be relied upon to provide a route, and duly suggested Chelford or Goostrey as possible destinations. Normally, I am always happy to follow Steve, often on great routes, and to pubs not previously sampled.  Notwithstanding, we have had some very wet afternoons returning from The Swan with Two Nicks in recent memory, so I wasn't too keen to reprise the role of a drowned rat for two hours or more with such a dire afternoon forecast. My “Plan B” was a more circular route, with a short, direct return if the Heavens opened. I am not sure that the decision was unanimous, but the troops, in their usual easy going manner, gave their consent. I suspect that Steve Tan would have preferred a longer route, because he is commendably so positive, and even if his glass had been half full only because of the rainwater in it, at the end of the day he would still have been soaking happy! So it was, that Malcolm, George, Steve T, Steve H and myself set off for a vague destination by an unresolved route, that would be amended at a whim (more favourably viewed as 'intuitively') by a leader with a wrecked paper map and no GPS.

Our route took us down to the River Weaver by cycling 'the back way' past Norley Hall, into Crowton, down  Ainsworth Lane and past Mick the Coalman's house. We then headed alongside the river to Dutton Lock. I thought that this route would be a novelty to Malcolm, but it turned out to be familiar to him! We were soon heading through Little Leigh and Great Budworth. As we passed  Pick Mere on our right, I realised that we could be soon en route to Steve's original destination suggestions. When we set out, The Ring o'Bells at Daresbury had been my suggested lunch stop, but now I felt that the Spinner and Bergamot at Comberbach would keep the wind behind us and provide an even more expedient return to Delamere. After a brief consultation, we stuck to Plan B. We turned north-west up the quiet Frog Lane, turned west to Moss End and then north up into Arley Park. I well remember being helped at the equestrian centre down here after an accident  caused by my looking too long at four birds in a field whilst travelling fast! The rain was starting as we exited Arley by Arley Road, then turned left opposite Garland Hall, riding south past The Pole, an impressive c.1840 Grade 2 listed building, which was for sale. When we arrived at the C18th. Spinner and Bergamot we had managed twenty-two miles, and had largely beat the rain to lunch. Steve T. was, nevertheless, having a fit of the shivers, no doubt having a lower amount of body fat than the average person's little finger was a contributory factor. Over lunch, we learnt that Malcolm was originally from Denton, but had spent some time in the Isle of Wight. He now lived in Winsford and was recovering from a serious back problem by getting out on his bike for as many days as possible. The food was very good and the service friendly, but the pub gutters were overflowing with rainwater, as the predicted heavy rain properly arrived.

Our return was a brisk, wind assisted flight on water covered lanes by the shortest possible route: Cogshall Lane, Ash Tree Lane, Willow Green Lane, climbing to Acton Bridge, tearing along to Crowton, and then whacking up Marsh Lane to the last grind at Norley Bank. The rain stopped as we reached Delamere for a final coffee. Barely 32 miles covered, but another enjoyable day.  I reflected on how we manage to consistently agree on a decent route within minutes, despite not knowing who is going to turn up and initially having differing suggestions, or none at all. We must write a paper for Theresa: “Flexible, Collective Decision Making, subject to frictionless review, resulting in the best outcome for all”. The trouble is, that it is the qualities of those who you choose to travel with that determines a successful journey. We have CER members, she has the ERG and DUP!                                                                                                                                     

See route map and/or gpx file download