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Chester Easy Riders is an independent cycling club affiliated to Cycling UK. We cycle every Thursday throughout the year with moderate and brisk day rides of 40 to 80 miles.

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Thursday, 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.


Photos JW and ID

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