It was warm but cloudy when a large group of moderate riders assembled outside Rose Farm Café. Other members present were John W and Neil, each planning to do their own thing, and Jim in civvies. The mod group were somewhat at a loss as to where to go and who should lead. David M stepped into the confusion and offered a ride to the Lord Combermere at Audlem. Following him were Dave H, George, Andy B, Alan, and Clive, plus the three Steves (T, Hu and Ha).
We rode out through Clotton, Huxley and Tiverton to join a very quiet A49. As we left the 30mph zone we turned right into Dean Bank towards Beeston village and suddenly were in the midst of traffic flowing both ways. Why this was, was a puzzle to all. Next, we passed through Bunbury and headed towards Haughton. By the time we reached the ornate Old School House, a gap had opened up, so while the lead group passed through Haughton, the followers turned right towards Brindley. After a phone call, we decide to meet up in Ravensmoor. The lagging group then got itself confused on Whitehaven Lane. Dave H was convinced we should go one way, I was convinced we should go the other, to the extent that I got the map out. I was wrong! After re-joining at Ravensmoor, we passed through Sound and into Audlem.
The Lord Combermere was looking welcoming, with lots of vacant tables outside under a marquee. Unfortunately, due to a group of customers inside, we would have an unacceptably long wait for food, so another plan was needed. Clive cycled off to see what other local pubs could offer, while David M went to the Old Priest’s House Café, which most of the group felt would be too small for us. Clive had better news, that although the Shropie Fly was shut, the Bridge Inn was open and could accommodate us. I don’t think that CER has been here before, but it was very pleasant, sitting outside at the back with the canal alongside having our lunch. We should probably in current conditions always phone ahead to book. Meanwhile David M had been served quickly and passed by to say he would head back on his own. This left Dave H and myself to plot a route back.
We took the main road through Audlem to the east, then turned onto NCR552 towards Market Drayton, but not for long as we looped south of Audlem, to join the lanes heading north to Aston. Pausing briefly outside The Bhurtpore, we made for Wrenbury, but found road works (“delays up to 15 minutes”) on the way to the level crossing. Bypassing these to get to Wrenbury canal bridge, we continued to Chorley Bank where we said goodbye to Clive. By now talk had turned to another café stop, so we passed through Brindley and followed our outward route to Bunbury where we arrived at Tilly’s at 4pm, expecting that to be closing time. In fact, Tilly’s is now open to 5pm on Thursdays, and also Tuesdays and Wednesdays I think. Hot drinks were consumed and cakes for the indulgent few.
Steve Hu had already left us, but some debate was had over the route to take us home. Dave H, Steve T and George headed for the Tilston Bank and back to their cars in Utkinton, accompanied by Andy, while Alan and I separately made our own ways onward.
The total route distance back to Rose Farm was 53 miles. It had been a good day with fine, warm weather and little wind. Very enjoyable.