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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 30 April 2021

29th April 2021 : Montford Bridge (brisk)

Ivan and John W had been out to the Welsh hills only recently, where the last 25 miles mainly consisted of most of the 6000ft of total climb. So I was surprised to see Ivan’s suggestion for today’s ride out of Chirk. The route was a modest 53 miles with 3000 ft of climb but crucially there was the 12% section over a third of mile up to Selattyn, and the 14% climb over a similar distance at Llanyblodwel. I had indicated to Ivan that "a nice flat route to Shrewsbury would be appreciated today" and this is what I got! So I was in two minds that I might have to detour these hills on the fly. 

So we set off to Weston Rhyn to climb the oddly named Station Road into the centre of Selattyn. So far so good. The downhill run onto Oswestry was restful as was the exit to Trefonen via a 8% climb to the B4396 towards Llanyblodwel. This surprisingly English village sits in the lovely valley of the Tanat River. There are timber-framed cottages and a pub. The church is stunning and we stop to photograph and admire its octagonal based spire which is topped out in curved stonework. 

It is Grade I listed so see here for more info. 





The only way out unfortunately is up and over the hillside. This means a double chevronned initial ascent followed by a longer single chevronned section. I decided that the valley was better viewed at a walking pace! In Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain, I recognise the left turn towards Four Crosses. No major hills now Ivan assures me. 

The view in front  of us as we head for Crew Green is dominated by Breidden Hill (366m) and the tower on the top is known as "Rodney’s Pillar”. See here for more info.

Wikipedia Attributed: Dave Croker 2010

Back across the River Severn, we are bound for Shrawardine via Nesscliffe Training Camp. Here, Ivan relying on his Garmin routing, takes down a scruffy lane that ends up in half a mile of the Shropshire Way.  We were lucky the weather had been dry for a while, otherwise the mud would have been horrendous. BTW - I have used a perfectly good lane to avoid this in the past!

Montford Bridge comes up at 32 miles as we ride over the A5 and then a long a short section of it to access the picnic and rest area where there is a well-established truckers and bikers cafe with loads of outside space. We sit under cover by a radiant heat lamp where the helpful sign urges customers to "use the ashrays when the floor is full”. The food is plentiful and very much needed after the cold of the Welsh hills.

The route back is a near straight track NE through glorious Shropshire countryside down long lanes. No time to stop in Rutyon-XI-Towns as Ivan and John shelter me frorm the northerly winds as we hit Queen's Head. There is then the long drag towards Babbinswood and Whittington before hitting Gobowen. Ivan heads right round the roundabout as I shout out “Turn Left” - which is the way indicated as his route. Ivan and John catch me up as Ivan explained he wanted to go to St Martins. I said that was definitely out as it was an unnecessary “up”.

We are back in Chirk a little after three o’clock and decide to head homewards towards Chester only to enjoy a massive traffic jam on the outskirts of Chester due to an accident on the A55 by-pass. Nonetheless, I survived the day and rather pleased I persevered with the ride. So thank you Ivan for the route and John for the wind sheltering throughout the day, and all at a surprising 15mph average.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Photos CA and JW

29th April 2021:Nesscliffe (mod)

 A dozen riders turned up at the Castle Bistro in Chirk, a good showing for this venue some distance from Chester. Dave M had come only for coffee and was riding home, but the rest made up the brisk and two moderate rides of the day. Steve Haywood had come armed with a ride to the Burlton Arms at Burlton and I had dug out a ride down to Ye Old Three Pigeons at Nesscliffe. After some discussion, Steve went off with Dave H, Steve Hu, Alan and Peter, leaving Mike G and Andy with me for the ride to Nesscliffe.

We took the standard route out of Chirk to the A5 roundabout and then took the lane down to Hindford, passing the holiday cottages at Henlle Park. As Steve Haywood has also reported, the lanes between Hindford and Welsh Frankton were pretty rough, but after such a long dry spell, we were challenged by potholes, hard mudbanks and deep gravel rather than by puddles and deep, wet mud. I’m not sure which is worse.

Soon we were whizzing down the lane from Lower Frankton, over the Montgomery Canal and into Hordley and Bagley. The smooth and quiet lanes of Shropshire were a delight as we made our way through Weston Lullingfield and Baschurch, arriving at Nesscliffe soon after mid-day.

Ye Old Three Pigeons was well set up for dining outside with plenty of tables on the patio and a covered area in the garden where a group of young mothers were celebrating someone’s 32nd birthday. Can any of our members remember our 32nd?

Lunch was preceded by drinks, with Mike and Steve indulging in Three Tuns, our first taste of hand-pulled beer in over a year - delicious. Lunchtime conversation turned medical and it seems that all three of us are ‘pixies’ – those taking apixiban anti-coagulant medication – as a result of clots or potential clots.


Photos by Mike


As we set off back, Mike volunteered to adapt the homeward route to go a bit further west before heading north into the wind, so we headed to Melverley, via Wilcott and Pentre. The intention was to visit St. Peter’s, the ancient timber framed church which sits right next to the River Vyrnwy. Unfortunately, there was a funeral in progress when we arrived, so we had to give it a miss. Next time, perhaps.

The route back took us along some beautiful and quiet lanes running close to the Vrynwy, before re-joining my originally planned route just south of Ball. After passing the industrial estate south of Oswestry, we threaded our way through housing estates, emerging on the north side of the town on cycle route 455 near the Old Oswestry fort.

By now it was turning chilly and rain was threatening. Fortunately, it held off until we were dropping down from Weston Rhyn into Pontfaen, so we had only the short climb up to Chirk to put up with it.

A very pleasant 46 mile ride on a bright if chilly day. Thanks to Mike for leading on the return leg and to Andy and Mike for their company and support.

ST

Thursday 29 April 2021

29th April 2021: Burlton (mod)

 Chirk was the start point for today’s meet. In the rear courtyard of the Castle Bistro gathered several CER members. There was a brisk group, and two moderate groups to be led by Steve T and myself, plus David M who had arrived by train and was planning to ride back home.  I had prepared a route to the Burlton Arms at Burlton (coincidentally Dave had planned for the same destination), and my group comprised Dave H, Steve Hu, Alan and Peter. The forecast was cool, cloudy with sunny spells and northerly wind and some chance of showers.

We set off following the main road to the A5 roundabout, and then on into St Martins, where seeking respite from a pot-holed and busy main road, we broke away onto the lanes.  At Perthy we crossed the main Oswestry-Ellesmere road and continued past White Mere and Colemere to Northwood. Here we headed south past Horton and Loppington to Burlton on generally good surfaces where we made good progress.

With 24 miles covered, we were the first customers to arrive at the Burlton Arms, and only customers until a couple turned up later.  We settled in the garden and ordered our food.  The landlady said they’d been fairly busy since reopening with the good weather.  However, there was no real ale because Robinson’s had underestimated demand after the lockdown!  Conversation was rambling as usual, including a long discussion between Dave H and Steve Hu about places in Lancashire, which meant little to me, though my ears perked up when Steve said he’d been “served with an afternoon tea on a garden bench made out of lollipop sticks” – it appeared that it was the afternoon tea on the bench, not Steve.

We hadn’t been too cold sitting down, though it was good to start moving again and warm up.  Our return took us through Marton and north through Lower Hordley. We took a minor lane to Lower Frankton and crossed possibly the steepest hump-backed bridge in the country, made more challenging by some hidden potholes. After Welsh Frankton we took the lane to Hindford. Always a rough lane, this had got worse with potholes, gravel and mudbanks – definitely ‘Clive-esque’, and it would be much worse in the wet.  Saying which, we were then hit by a rain and sleet shower as we took the lanes to the NW of Gobowen.  Arriving back at the A5 roundabout, I decided to diverge from the planned climb back into Chirk on the B5070, and instead make for Western Rhyn and then drop into the Ceriog Valley for the much more pleasant entry into Chirk.

Photo by Alan

Forty-four miles completed, Dave H and I stopped for a drink back at the Bistro where we met Steve T, Andy and Mike back from their ride. A good day for all.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Sunday 25 April 2021

22nd April 2021: Ellesmere (brisk)

 The sunny weather certainly brought a big CER crowd out to Lewis’s in Farndon, and it was good to see Ken out. While the moderates had the tricky job of divvying up the numbers, the brisk group was a straightforward team of John W and myself. For the sake of quickly deciding a route I offered my 56 mile round trip to Ellesmere. As there was initially no route to actually follow (the route was based on a start/finish in Tilston), we set off through Holt and down to Cross Lanes, and of course missed the left turn to Bangor on Dee, resulted in an extra few miles. From then on the ‘usual’ route was followed to Overton, but before arriving at  St. Martins, we turned left onto quieter roads. Instead of taking the B5068 directly to Ellesmere, we crossed to cycle some lovely lanes to the south, eventually heading on to Ellesmere itself.

Against John’s advice favouring the Texaco garage, we headed to the lakeside café for lunch. As this was only doing menu-based meals and the kiosk not serving very much at all, we back-tracked to the garage for a welcome sausage roll.


Leaving Ellesmere to the east, we passed a strung out group of cyclists – one of the moderate groups! We then headed around the Fenns, Whixall mosses on excellent roads to Bronington. Leaving here towards Hanmer, the road was truly awful, deep gravel, and probably unpassable in winter (thought I’m sure Clive would give it a go!)

Hanmer in the sun proved a nice stop for an ice cream while we watched a couple of open water swimmers freeze in the lake. From there, it was a well-ridden route northwards towards Threapwood and then on to Tilston, completing a 54 mile route, where I left John to go onto 80 or so miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday 23 April 2021

22nd April 2021: Ellesmere (mod)

Gorgeous, but chilly start and the venue was Lewis’s cafe. A quick head count revealed 20! This included a new face, to me at least and, it appeared, was a genuine ‘L’Eroica’ cyclist, complete with handlebar moustache (very dapper indeed). With so many, I think we split into 4 groups, with a few going off doing their own thing as usual. I had a backup route to the Boathouse cafe at Ellesmere, which opened on the 15th, so something a little different, especially as I had modified my existing route with a few stunningly smooth new lanes, much to Fiona’s delight- Lol. As usual, it took a while to actually get the groups sorted. It was reminiscent of the school playground and the captains of the day, picking their football teams in turn - Lol, which left me with a right rum lot (just kidding- Lol)

Off we trot (Fiona, Elwyn, Steve T, Andy, Mike & yours truly, so only 2 women in the group- Lol). We set off at a nice steady pace, although it felt a bit tough at times, on the front. There was a light headwind, virtually all the way to the Boathouse. The route out inevitably meant finding a way around the infamous Hanmer lanes and was well received, up until that point, as the more colourful lanes came into focus- Lol.

At least there were a few smiles on arrival at the Boathouse, as we waved goodbye to John & Nick, just leaving. Mike had not been to the Boathouse before, so he found it interestingly different & a tick for me- Lol. We settled into the rear garden benches, only to find the Boathouse was fully booked and only the kiosk available for take away. This meant a limited choice on food, but we all managed to get something and of course a stunning lakeside view.

A good mix of conversation ensued, which included Andy’s realisation of a larger water bottle, after spotting my 900ml bidon, which he proceeded to try on his bike (where has he been all these years- Lol). It turns out, you just can’t please everybody, despite me slaving all night over the route and lunch stop- Lol. Not to mention any names, but one of the disgruntled was female and the other one lives with her-Lol.

Photo by Elwyn

The return leg was short and fast at times, with a nice tailwind, although there were a few very short steep bits. One of which was particularly tough, due to us all being in the wrong gear when we rounded the corner, only to spot a horse up ahead. Momentum suddenly lost, there was nothing to do but grind the wrong gear, out of the saddle. Mike had to turn around and head back down to get his gears sorted- Oops. I was pushing so hard and nearly stationary, that I thought I was going to snap the chain. Of course, I got the blame for that as well, having only just dried my tearful eyes from the earlier abuse; “that was more like a sea bed, not a road” was one of the comments shouted from behind, after leading the group through what I like to think was a more authentic Cycling lane - Lol.

Anyway, the little kickers now behind us and no sooner than wink, Shocklach was upon us and the traditional wind up to the finish, accept I was sabotaged, having been moaned at for the pace. Traditionally it is every man/ woman for themselves. However, I considerately slowed down and got jumped, can you believe and left behind (despicable trick- Lol).

All joking apart, it was a gorgeous day, with great company. And for the first time, all of the group arrived back at the start for a final coffee, after 41 colourful miles- Lol. The surprise was the total ascent of nearly 700mtrs, no wonder I felt a bit tired riding home. I thought this was a flat-ish ride originally, so nice one everybody, especially Mike, as he has a lot less miles in his legs than most of us in the group.

See route map and/or gpx file download

NT

22nd April 2021: Whitchurch: ride 2 (mod)

It lifted the spirits to see such a big turnout at Lewis's. Jim was riding out with a mutual friend, and Dave Matthews had made the effort, but like Electric Peter they were not out for the day. It was great to see Ken in such good fettle, but he still needs to avoid group rides for the present. It was heartening to see so many of the Welsh contingent. It was not possible to catch up with everyone, whilst trying to sort out who would like to go where, but this should be possible in the weeks ahead. I totally overlooked the eccentric figure in vintage cycling gear with a waxed moustache. I had clocked him, but presumed that he was the owner of the shop opposite. He then introduced himself as our old mucker Runcorn Roy. It turns out that he has a garage full of vintage bikes, and his choice for the day was a cool Carlton with Weinman centre-pull brakes and period Michelin tyres. He has successfully entered events on this machine.


Photo by Alan

Our moderate group for my meandering route to Whitchurch, constituted jolly Steve Hughes, Vintage Roy, Alan and myself. They were warned that the pace would be slow, but were very relaxed about this. Alan was having some breathing issues diagnosed, so was particularly happy to have a truly easy ride.

We headed for Crewe-by-Farndon before turning left towards Tilston. At Tilston we headed east for Duckington before climbing the lovely, little lane on the side of Larkton and Bickerton hills. Next up was Cholmondeley Castle, and on to Wrenbury via Chorley Bank. The sky was blue and the sun was bright. It was a fine day to be cruising through the Cheshire countryside. Our route then followed the national cycle route 45 on its quiet, undulating course past Oss Mere, Black Park and Blake Mere into Whitchurch.

Lunch was taken outside at the back of the White Bear, after we had obtained decent sandwiches from Walker's across the road on the advice of two friendly young women, also having a drink, who worked for MacDonald's. Steve Haywood's group were then sighted on the pavement eating, thirty yards up the hill. They seemed quite happy tucking in, warmed by the sunshine. Our conversation at lunch covered Steve and Roy's interesting description of great routes in north-east Scotland. I didn't have a note pad, but one of the routes they had tackled was, I think, The North Coast 500.  Steve had been on a motorbike. Alan was talking about promising young British riders, and also about the recent amazing four stage wins of Mark Cavendish in The Tour of Turkey. Perhaps I need to subscribe to Eurosport, as I can't usually access any cycle racing that is programmed on my television.   

Our route back climbed out of Whitchurch up to Wirswall, and the smashing view across the plain in the direction of the Peckforton Hills. Roy told us a tale, although once again, I am not sure that I am up to the Boris standard of forensic recall. Roy had accompanied a female cyclist as far as Shrewsbury before deciding that he had better return to Runcorn. His journey back had taken him past the cemetery on the road we had started out on from Whitchurch. For some reason, I can't recall, e.g., he had given all his money to this woman for personal services, or perhaps all the pubs had closed, he finished up using the cemetery tap to fill his water bottle! 

We headed for Malpas after swooping down to cross the Llangollen Canal near Marbury and riding across theA49 to Bickley Town and on to No Man's Heath. Avoiding the centre of Malpas we dropped down to the Bishop Bennet Way. Here, we dropped in briefly to my favourite Renaultsport specialist, Birchdown Autos at Peacock Farm. The little lanes north of here were really cushy as we drifted down to Shocklach with the sunlit Welsh hills to our west. I put the pedal to the metal on the straight fast run to Farndon. Pedal to the metal as in a Morris Eight, rather than as in a Noble M600. It was quite chivalrous of my companions not to sweep by, but of course, Alan was having to take it carefully. Talking about being considerate, Steve is the perfect support rider for bumbling about and exploring less obvious routes, as he always knows exactly where we are, and is available with discreet prompts. What he doesn't do, is interfere, question your sanity, tell you that he has a far better alternative, and offer unwanted advice, which experienced riders can't always resist giving at times. I know I have been guilty of this on someone else's ride occasionally. 

Steve Tan was waiting at Lewis's so some of us had a coffee and chat before heading home. I felt guilty about not offering Roy a lift home, particularly as a couple of past rescues in his Big Van in atrocious conditions will live in my memory for ever. I know, however, that without my carrier, three whole bikes and three passengers in my Berlingo requires a great deal of rehearsal, and plenty of extra straps, and that's without mudguards. I was also worried about damaging his special steed. Of course, if conditions had been bad, it would have been done with six wheels off. I hope his missus managed to get across from M&S to save him the long ride home. Interestingly, Steve Hughes told me that cyclists had been fined £120 by police around Holt for breaking Welsh rules, so I am glad that I rang Helen and gave Cleopatra's a miss, hopefully for the last time.

Forty idyllic miles in excellent company, and in great cycling weather.

DH

22nd April 2021: Whitchurch: ride 1 (mod)

 A good number of members turned up at Lewis’s of Farndon, well over 20 was the guess. Lewis’s was chosen because Covid restrictions in Wales had ruled out Cleopatra’s, the scheduled venue for the day, though Lewis’s gave us a very good welcome. Sun was forecast for the whole day, but unfortunately the seats at the front in the sun were already taken, so we gathered at the side. Among the members here was Ken, who we were all pleased to see out again, though he was cycling back home.

Confusion initially reigned over who was going with whom to which destination, though in good CER fashion, eventually three mod routes emerged led by Neil, Dave H and myself.  There was scope for further confusion as both Dave and I were headed to Whitchurch. I led off with George, Mike G and David M. We first headed south for Shocklach and then Cuddington Green to approach Malpas from the west. It was a pleasure to join a virtually traffic-free B5069 as the road was still closed to traffic by St Oswald’s in the town – the second time in two meets I had led along this stretch.  In the town we had our first stop for delayering:  despite the sun, it was a cold start and we had a slight headwind, so extra layers had been initially worn.

We left Malpas and took the road to Higher Wych, then turning by Iscoyd Park to pass by Whitewell Church and the only stretch of really rough road on the route (it wouldn’t be a proper CER ride without some bad surfaces). Somewhere along this section I had the rare sight of a hare crossing in front of me.  The days where there was ‘a hare in every field’ are long gone. Crossing two A roads, we passed Alkinton Hall and headed into Whitchurch.

Now I remember Dave H saying that he had phoned the White Bear in Whitchurch to check it was open and I remember him saying there was an outdoor terrace at the back.  I therefore headed to a pub I remembered had a terrace.  This turned out to be The Wheatsheaf, which was closed.  Consulting locals, we were told of several possible pubs. We tried the White Bear, which indeed was open, but not selling food.  The Black Bear, an old favourite was not due to open until May 17th.  Someone had suggested the Horse and Jockey, said to be “close”, but actually out by Grindley Brook.  We concluded that a pub was out, but there were plentiful cafés to sample. Food and drink having been purchased we settled on the steps outside the Civic Centre in the sunshine. While here, we saw Dave H’s party arrive, but they went their separate ways.  Before heading off, more delaying took place, and bare legs were seen.


Photos by Mike G

From Whitchurch, we took a traditional CER exit, travelling the wrong way up Claypit Street, then on to Wirswall. I notice that we pass a house called "Witts End". At Wicksted Hall we paused to take in the wonderful view over Marbury’s St Michael’s and Big Mere. We crossed the A49 at Bickley and took the road up to Cholmondley Castle, where David M left us, and then on to Hampton Post (and a final shedding of clothing). Most of the return was very pleasant with the sun and the wind behind us, and from here it speeded up as we passed though Duckington and Tilston.  Finally, Wetreins Lane took us back to Farndon and Lewis’s.  Here waiting for us were Neil’s party, and, a pleasant surprise, Dave and Liz Pipe with their tandem.

Only 37 miles travelled, though on a really good ride with excellent company and conditions.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Friday 16 April 2021

15th April 2021: Coddington (mod)

At last! Some semblance of normality today, with more cafe’s & pubs open, if only outside service. However and more importantly, the Welsh mob were finally allowed to join the English Mob (relaxed pandemic rules). Meadow Lea was the venue & a quick head count, as I tried to get my group together, revealed 18 all told and there wasn’t the usual fast crowd, although Clive was there. Anyway, after some confusion on departure, we finally get 3 groups in order, as Jim & his good lady were doing their own thing, which prompted Dave M to realise he wanted to do his own thing as well, which we later discovered, was to go back home, as we road past him on his driveway, 30 mins later - Lol. 

So, Clive led off with the fastest group.

Steve H led off with George and Peter. 

While I lead off with the remaining 5, which included our ‘senior man’- Dave H (minus his paper Garmin - Lol), Mike & the Welsh contingent, Elwyn & Fiona (to be fair, they only live 200mtrs over the boarder, but rules are rules-Lol.


We were heading for Manor Wood, lakeside cafe (roughly 42 mile round trip with 500-ish mtrs of assent- so flat, although Dave didn’t think so- Lol). We set off to the North, unfortunately on to the A56 for a mile, to get around the myriad of brooks & streams to the east of Meadow Lea (no other choice to be fair). Fiona & I decide we need to warm up, so I tapp out a pace until the right turn for Great Barrow and on to a good stretch of smooth B road. I then lead the group on a slight detour and get us into a few lovely lanes, in order to point out the fabulous Blue Bell cafe to our senior man (the best cakes in the land and lovely food in general, popular with the “blue rinse” brigade and “wives that lunch”). The detour also allows us to get across to Oscroft, where we say hello to Dave again- Lol.


Still finding it a little chilly we head on past Okells, which provided a point of ref for Mike, who now knew where he was, although apparently Okells is a tricky place to find, according to Dave. This made me chuckle, as Okells sits right on the mighty A51, can’t miss it (probably owns a car without sat nav- Lol). At this point I take a few lanes I don’t usual ride, but the roads were so good thus far, I thought we better throw a few rough ones in for Dave’s benefit. This also allowed us to ride past my favourite pond, with it’s resident black swans. We push on past the 50p shop and on towards Beeston and the section of the route with a few light hills. This allowed Elwyn to stretch his legs and show us all how to do it with ease, for those who were still close enough to see him - Lol.


We take the easier route, around Harthill toward Duckington, down Brown Knowl and right, onto a cracking lane to Tilston (now a favourite of Fiona’s it seems, as I catch her up, knee out, enjoying a couple of quick switchbacks -Lol). It was shortly after, much to Elwyn’s delight, that I get discovered watering a shrub (What a lovely lady, not sure what she was laughing at though). Only a mile or two later, I get a cramp in the groin, luckily we were close to the cafe.


We arrive at Manor Wood and proceed to soak up the sun for an hour, which was lovely and gave me time to stretch out my cramp. Some interesting conversations ensued, especially the one about what could possibly be the missing ingredient in the cancelled the x3 Welsh Rarebits ordered. Dave proceeded to asked the young girl “ how can you run out of cheese in a cafe” to which she said “oh, we have cheese” - no bread then? - butter? Can’t remember who guessed it, but it was of course Worcester Sauce. Anyway a great cafe stop apart from the inexplicable; ‘let’s have a go at Tanner’. Totally uncalled for, something you’ll never see me doing, so unfair; it’s definitely WaVerrrrrrton by the way- Lol.


Anyway, at this point I decide I shouldn’t ride back to Meadow Lea, as it would mean at least another 20 miles back home and my groin was not feeling good, despite the stretching. Fiona and Elwyn head off home to Lavister and I ride to the other side of Tattenhall, in order to  make sure Dave and Mike are on the right road to Waverton, before turning back home myself. I had exactly 50 miles on the clock, once home and a fraction under 500 mtrs assent.


What a gloriously sunny day, if a bit chilly at the start. Good day out, enjoyed the company and again sorry to Dave and Mike for having to bail on the finish & hope you guy’s made it back ok.


NT


Thursday 15 April 2021

15th April 2021: Malpas (mod)

A crowd of CER riders milled around outside Meadow Lea café, and for the first time this year, we were able to welcome our Welsh contingent.  Fourteen of us were out for a club ride and our supremo dictated that this meant three separate rides.  I volunteered to lead a group out to Malpas, though with no clear idea of where we would stop for lunch.  I was joined by George and Peter.

We set off in bright sunshine though with a cold air temperature, through Waverton, then Greenlooms to arrive in Tattenhall. From here there was an opportunity to take Holywell Lane to Clutton without its usual winter-months flooded and muddy stretch. On to Tilston and then into Malpas by the back way though Chorlton and the Wrexham Road. Church Street was closed to vehicles, so we climbed uninterruptedly up the hill and on to The Cross.

We passed the Fire Station Café which didn’t have any tables, which was just as well because we ended up at the Snack Shack on the corner of High Street and Chester Road. Here we settled around a small outside table and enjoyed reasonably priced and tasty food as we basked in the sunshine. Well worth remembering this place.

The return route took us north up to the top of High Street and then down the long descent along the old Roman road. This is a great way to leave the town swooping downhill, though unfortunately speed needs to be controlled to avoid some bad surfaces. We went through Tilston again and on to Stretton, where we turned off down Wetreins Lane. 

From here it was into Farndon where Peter departed for a more direct journey to his home via Holt. George and I carried on to Churton and then across the bridge at Aldford, where workmen continue to repair the parapets swept away by floodwater earlier this year. We rode through Bruera and Saighton until we reached Waverton where we reversed our outward journey to Mickle Trafford.

We were back at Meadow Lea quite early by 2:30pm, partly a reflection of how quickly our lunch was served.  The day had warmed up and with very little wind it had been perfect cycling weather. The whole route was just under 40 miles, slightly more on the outward leg. 

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


15th April 2021 : Whatcroft (mod)

It was great to see half the club’s membership at the newly extended Meadow Lea Cafe. The cafe was very busy which was also good to see. The usual Brisk contingent was missing today for various and nefarious reasons, so I was pleased not to end up as Billy No Mates for my moderate ride proposal to Whatcroft. Steve H and Alan joined Steve T and Andy B for a 50 miler  to the River Farm Organics cafe just outside of Davenham.

We five set off bound for Delamere Forest via the usual route towards Manley and Mouldsworth. Although chilly, it was exhilarating being out in the bright sunshine in the greening countryside. As we wheel around the back of Mouldsworth, Alan is not feeling at his best, thus he decides to make his own ride with Steve H as support. We hope he was OK. 

Delamere Forest is strangely quiet as we meander through towards Norley. Up and down around Pinfold Hollows now finds us at the A49 north of Cuddington onwards towards Weaverham. The road out here is through acres of new housing as we approach Winnington and the Tata Chemical Europe works. Over the Weaver river and canal, there is a short sharp hill to attack alongside Anderton Boat Lift before rolling down to Marbury Country Park. Again the park is quiet - I suppose everyone is now shopping!

We run the full length of the park rather than cutting through it to Wincham and then “enjoy” the Wincham Industrial  Estate and Business Park before turning to Lostock Graham. Crossing the busy A556 and passing through Lostock Green,  we are not far now from Lach Dennis and Riverside Organics farm cafe at the Whatcroft lane turn. It is very busy but has a lot of outside space available. So we sit and wait for our filled panini and coffee setting the world to rights as per usual, and, as per usual the cafe does not disappoint.

As we head off to Davenham  Steve decides to cut for home via Hartford as he had cycled out to Meadow Lea from Runcorn today. Andy and I head towards Moulton and the recently “improved “ rough track down to Meadowbank. We now meander along the Whitegate Way which again was quiet. At Cotebrook, I offer a route up onto the hill above Willington. This is as a change from the usual route around to Rose Farm, and, I know that Andy just "loves hills". Bowling along the top, there is the wide expanse of the Cheshire Plain before us. We now head off down the steep descent of Chapel Lane and thence the fast run to Oscroft.

I offer Andy a more direct route back towards Christleton via Platts Lane and Hockenhull Platts and the “Roman Bridges". It is only really passable on a bike in dry weather and the bridges are not Roman but medieval.

Wiki tells us “ Platts Lane originally formed part of the medieval road from London to Holyhead.[7] In 1353 when  Edward, the Black Prince, crossed the bridges, he ordered that 20 shillings should be spent on their repair.[8] In the 17th century the surface of the road was disintegrating so badly that posts were set into the road to prevent the passage of carts, and it could be used only by pedestrians and horses

At Christleton, Andy heads for the hills of Mold and I also head for home. The route around is 50 miles but I have over 60 today. My thanks to Andy and Steve for sticking with me, and I hope that Alan got home OK.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Thursday 8 April 2021

8th April 2021: Ironbridge and Shifnal Special (brisk)

I was out with Ivan on Tuesday battling the strong NW winds when riding around Wirral. I mentioned that the original Rides Calendar for 2021 had today’s ride down as a Special Ride. Neither of us fancied another Wirral ride, so I suggested an out-of-area Brisk ride starting from Newport, Shropshire. Ivan was keen on this and produced a superb 62 mile circular route taking in new countryside and a re-visit to Ironbridge and a lunch stop in Shifnal. 

This found six of us ready for the off at 0945 in the Mere Garden Centre carpark, which is just off the A41 Newport Bypass. Ivan was leading John M, John W, Nick, Ray and myself down lanes anew as we headed due west out of the town and into a strong westerly wind. Although only around 10C, the sun was out and the fresh green countryside vista was good to behold. At Higher Ercall, we now head due south passing through Longton-on-Tern and the Tayleur Arms pub, which we have club visited in Oct 2016 and August 2017.

Uppington is true to its name as we steadily climb around the shoulder of The Wrekin. Once at Leighton, it was a pleasant fast downhill run towards Ironbridge. The former power station chimney comes into view. Ivan waxes lyrical about his train driver days delivering thousands of tonnes of coal to the now defunct power station (now looking for redevelopment). Passing the road up to Coalbrookdale, the town centre is relatively busy with tourists as we stop (longer than envisaged) for a coffee.

All the shops and food establishments are champing at the bit for April 12th grand opening. Time to go again, so we run along the river eastwards heading for the delightful Jackfield and its Tile Museum (worth a visit says Nick). On the opposite bank is Coalport with its chinaware museum.



The Ironbridge


River Severn at Ironbridge


Coffee (after a long wait)

Aiming for the Jackfield and Coalport Memorial Bridge, we have to ride a short section of the Severn Valley Way to access this bridge. Crossing the bridge, Ray remarks that there is now a kilometre of a 12% hill to get up and out from the Severn river valley onto the top by the Telford golf course. After this, it is relatively easy to get to Shifnal, which Ivan recalls that there is a hight level train viaduct running straight through the town – and he was not wrong. At 33 miles out, Shifnal was chosen as the only place locally where we could buy a lunch for al fresco partaking. The high street had an array  of food shops which served us well. 



"Al fresco in Shifnal" featuring The Viaduct

After lunch, we rode a very pleasant north easterly track through Church Easton to Haughton. Long lanes now with a welcome wind assist. After Haughton, we start an anti-clockwise track back into the wind via Ranton towards Woodseaves. It’s then into the wind again to Weston Jones via Foston to skirt Aqualate Mere back to Mere Garden centre car park. It was nigh spot on 100km or 62 miles at a 15.4 mph. I was surprised that it was not faster given that a lot of the lanes were at 20 mph but I guess the 2900ft of climbs had something to do with that.

We all felt refreshed by riding in a new area with our cycling club friends. Interestingly, the roads and lanes were in just a bad shape as those around Cheshire that we are used to. Many of the countryside lanes were in a very poor state often with a lot of debris. I was glad it was a very dry day otherwise the bikes would have been caked up with mud.

So, many thanks to Ivan for a truly enjoyable route and for those riders who took the front during the windy road sections.

CA

Photos JW and ID

8th April 2021: Nantwich (mod)

Steve Tan, Steve Haywood, Neil Tanner, Mike Dodd, Peter and myself formed a handy half dozen for our ride. It was good to see Steve Hughes, who had ventured out of what Mike Gilbert has called, “the Welsh Open Prison”, in order to share a coffee and a laugh. Steve Haywood was managing a knee condition, but it was great to have him on board again. Dave Matthews and Jim had also ridden out, but could not join us for the day due to, respectively, a calf problem and some restoration work needed on an old BMW. Alison's was spot-on as usual, and it was nice to have a socially distanced chat in a relatively sheltered area. The change of venue from Ness on the Wirral was to avoid the high winds around the coast, with a far greater choice of sheltered routes from Tattenhall.

My route out was by way of Coddington and Stretton. At Tilston we wound up to Edge Grange, over the old Whitchurch and Tattenhall dismantled railway line, and eventually to Hampton Post and No Mans Heath, all on sheltered, small lanes. This did entail crossing and re-crossing the A41, however, but without much hassle. I mentioned to Neil that we had often had lunch in the past at the cosy, 18thcentury Wheatsheaf Inn at No Mans Heath. A few years ago it was popular for tasty sausages and gravy served in a large Yorkshire pudding. Let's hope it will open again soon. We cycled east through Bickley Town, Swanwick Green, Gauntons Bank and Wrenbury. The wind was pretty well behind us as we bowled along Marsh Lane from Ravensmoor and into Nantwich centre by way of paths across the park and the River Weaver. There were a few places available for coffee and snack takeaways, but experience told me that the Costa along the short, cobbled lane to the church would probably provide the quickest turnaround and a toastie if required. As it happened, the troops decided not to bother balancing coffee and bikes in order to find a bench or sit on the steps at the front of the church; we just stayed put in the empty and sheltered, walled car park, and sat on the kerbside. Some of you will remember using this Costa as a late coffee stop after about 80miles on Clive's Potteries Adventure, a couple of years ago I think. The clean public toilets were open outside the market about 100 yards away. I received some mild stick for taking a little time to chat to the chutney and jams woman, who now also sells home-made pies, all at very low prices. Maybe, with interest rates so low I should invest my pension in her business: Gregg's and M&S had to start somewhere!  

The route home was deliberately direct in anticipation of strong headwinds. We passed the Marina, which has a very nice cafe on the waterside, and Dorfold Hall estate, before turning left at Acton, by the ancient church. For expediency, we rode along the Wrexham Road for a mile or so rather than diverting south west and then having to ferret and fiddle up to familiar Faddiley. We turned right at Burland Upper Green and battled the wind to Haughton and the Fancy House. I favoured Spurstow and Peckforton to Beeston rather than Bunbury, but I gave the dinky Radleywood link lane a miss, paticularly, as the apparent pointlessness of it raises Neil's blood pressure. Last time we went down there we rode through a flood so deep and long that two local women stood and applauded us! From Beeston, Neil provided a useful tow into the headwind for me and Steve Tan as we headed past Owler Hall to Newtown. Peter had already taken his leave for Chester before we reached Tattenhall. It was a pity that Alison's was closed, but I hope everybody enjoyed the ride. Thirty-eight miles were covered in total for those of us parked at Tattenhall. It has seemed worth the effort to start our rides again these last two weeks. The Fast Lads obviously had an enterprising and enjoyable ride, and I am looking forward to arrangements being closer to normal next week, and hopefully being joined by some of our Wales fraternity.

DH

See route map and/or gpx file download

Wednesday 7 April 2021

1st April 2021: Kelsall (mod)

After many months of no club rides, we are back, all be it limited, but what a good turn out it was (possibly 15?) and that obviously didn’t include our Welsh residents, due to the boarder restrictions still being in place. It was good to see Jim despite not planning to ride, due to a leg problem. I suggested that I could lead the moderate group to Kelsall bike repair and cafe, which many have not been to before and one of the few currently open for take away (the plan was roughly 40 miles with 600 mtrs of ascent on easy hills). 

I believe 5 or 6 set off in the fast group, leaving 5 remaining for the moderate group. This was mainly due to Peter deciding to do his own ‘E’ thing, Steve H had other unknown plans and Dave M fancied Bunbury earlier in the ride and not at the end, so he turned off after 3 miles, which coincidently is when Keith got his puncture, just below the castle. Puncture fixed and Keith decides to turn back, leaving just 3!  (Dave H - Mike & me). At this rate I could be the 1st ride leader to arrive back at base with nobody left in the group Lol. Ironically, we passed Peter going the opposite way and then passed Keith 10 miles later, after passing through Waverton, so he could of carried on with us Lol. I guess he didn’t hear me say Waverton was on our route and I didn’t know he was parked there (what comms).

After passing Keith, going the other way, we head for the top of my favourite ‘Sandstone Ridge’ via the easy steady assent, thus avoiding Chapel Lane, but still passing the rather loveable Lamas at the top of said lane. We head along the ridge toward Kelsall and again avoid another tough climb (Yeld Lane) and turn left at the bottom in order to take Quarry Lane around to the Kelsall bike repair & cafe.

At this point, during our coffee, I suddenly realise, that it was the 1st time I have been at the top and bottom of Chapel lane, but never ridden it Lol. There were a fair few other cyclists also taking a breather at the cafe, despite only cake & fluids being available. We didn’t stop long, at which point we lose another from the group, as Mike headed for home, leaving just me & Dave.

Sticking to the theme of avoiding Chapel Lane, which Dave was very grateful for, we ride straight past heading for Bunbury, however I missed my planned turn (not looking at the Garmin), which meant we had to back track a few hundred yards to get back on track, as the A51 was not an acceptable option. I take the opportunity to pass through Tilston Fearnal, which is one of my favourite canal crossings (simply a gorgeous spot), with a lovely series of little hills and bends, leading to and from, before arriving at Bunbury.

The last 7 miles to Alison’s were uneventful, with Beeston Castle looking splendid, in the sunlight. We arrived at Alison’s with 43 miles on the clock and 630 mtrs assent, but Alison’s was closed. Dave then refused my extremely generous offer of coffee, at my house, thus he missed the best bit of the ride Lol. At least I made it back with at least 1 left in the group Lol.

NT 

Thursday 1 April 2021

1st April 2021 : Audlem (brisk)

We’ve been waiting since the start of the year for our first club ride - a long 13 week’s worth of solo or two-handed rides now behind us, and an opportunity now of meeting up with faces old and new on April Fool’s Day. So it was that we met at Alison’s in Tattenhall as we still aren’t allowed into Wales to meet a the planned venue of Cleopatra’s. My granddaughter, who occasionally works at Cleopatra’s, tells me that they have however been very busy with lots of cyclists stopping for coffee and cake!


Ivan had put together today's brisk ride and kindly informed me that I was to write up the blog. I had asked if we could go to Audlem to re-sample the fare from the Village Chippy - so I suppose his request was only fair. The weather was cloudy, fairly windy and distinctly chilly.

We had a five rider peloton comprising of Ray, John W, Ivan and myself with a potential new rider, Matt. Off and out to Barton, it is was pleasing to be able to chat away to friends old and new. We pass Nick’s door in Tilston and motor on to Oldcastle Heath bound for the border gulch of Lower Wych with its steep descent  then ascent towards Higher Wych; then down and up a similar valley towards Whitwell.  The long run to Fenn’s Bank takes us eventually to the A41/49 roundabout at the Raven Pub and the hazardous dual carriageway crossing that takes us onwards to Ash Magna and Ightfield. 

Audlem comes up at 35 miles with the welcome site of the busy "Village Chippy". Ivan has chosen well here as the food is good and there are public loos on hand along wth a convenient bike park and seating area - a patch of grass and a low wall. As the sun has hardly shown itself today and its a little windy, we cool down quickly despite the hot food.

The next section takes us north east to Wynbunbury followed by a north westerly track straight through Nantwich. It is now a “straight” track to Bunbury along disintegrating road surfaces. In and around to Beeston Crag, the bikes know their own way back now. Matt peels off for Kelsall and has apparently has enjoyed the route and banter. 

We four split for Chester on the outskirts of Tattenhall. It would be 58 miles round back to Alison’s but about 80 miles all told for us Chester bound.  A quiet ride with no incidents except fo two drivers who obviously haven’t read the Highway Code recently - especially the Harris Pie delivery van which we catch up with and pass by at the village shop in Tilston.

A memorable ride today, expertly crafted by Ivan with a classic 60% of miles and hills before lunch, and a relatively flat return.

Plotatoute metrics are 58 miles with 2350 ft of climbs and 3223 kcal i.e. we needed the fish and chips!

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA