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 27 August 2021

26th August 2021: Bangor-on-Dee (mod)

As always there was a warm welcome at the Gallery Cafe in Hawarden. A fast group of four were debating their destination and the mod group were still enjoying the coffee.

 Alan advised he had an off piste route from Hawarden eg not out amongst the hills. The destination of the Royal Oak was suggested and seized upon by the flat riders.

 So a mod group consisting of Steve T , Steve Hu , Andy, Alan, Peter and Mike G. As we left Hawarden Mike G let it slip he had just ridden in from Rhos only 37 miles, whilst Andy had been conducting hill reps up Tinkersdale road to warm up. The scene was set for a brisk day!

 The route took us up out of Hawarden only to stop at an unknown grave near Shortly. From here we headed for Rossett; on arriving at Rossett we were advised on the need to climb Marford Hill, this went down well. From here the route took in some fantastic small lanes before arriving at Cross Lanes. Unfortunately Steve Hu new bike decided to present a slow puncture. at this point the entire group were privileged to witness a masterclass in puncture repairs. 

Photo by ST
 Photo by ST
Some bystanders said “at no time did Steves hand leave his wrists”, repaired and ridiculed we set off again.

Photo by SHu
A quick blast on Bangor road brought the Royal Oak into view. A splendid lunch left us ready for the ride back to Holt , riding back through Bowling Bank Sutton Green and finally Francis road we arrived at Holt.

 With the Elite rider group currently baying for more we made quick progress to Kinnerton where Peter departed. The group of five then battled the A road to Handbridge where 5 became 3 as Mike left to set off to Rhos and Alan decided to remove his crank arm whilst doing 25 mph!. Lots of multitools and we were off again , around Handbridge , the Dee path and finally Hawarden for a well deserved rest. The mileage was 47 miles at a respectable 13.3 mph.


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Thursday 26 August 2021

26th August 2021 : Caerwys (brisk)

It’s trendy these days to have an algorithm  - mine is Hills vs Distance vs Speed: = I can do two out three, but not all of them so I try to perm just two out of the three.

So today’s route was going to be hills and speed (for the Brisk Group) but not distance. I think the last time I was at Hawarden was about year ago, so my ride over the Halkyn’s today would allow me to revisit some of the old lanes.

Ken, John W and Matt agreed to look after me today as we set off out of Hawarden up the curiously named Level Road towards Burntwood Hill. We rush through Buckley, then down the hillside to Llong and along the hillsides to Nercwys Road. The short sharp double chevron on Fford Pentre Bach catches the two younger members of the group out though. At Gwernymynydd, a left and right takes onwards and upwards towards Cilcain.

We then enjoyed the very sharp downhill  run to cross the Alun river, but the chevroned climb out catches my chain out as it comes off otherwise I would have burnt up this hill in seconds. In reality it was a struggle when I set off again after the trio now resting at the top. Exiting Cilcain northwards, there is a largely downhill run to the A541 (Mold to Bodfari) road. 

We motor along it until turning into Nannerch, then finding more chevroned lanes to climb down and out of before rejoining the A541 just before the Caerwys turn. There is a 1 km drag up into Caerwys which is the lunchtime venue. We decide on "On the Corner"  cafe which John tells me is very much a cyclists' cafe. We sit outside with our filled babs and coffee allowing our legs to recover from all of the hills.

After lunch, I had decided that I had enough of tiny gravel-strewn lanes so re-route on the fly to Gorsedd to rejoin the planned route at Pantasaph. It’s too early to stop for a coffee at the friary alas, so we motor on ever upwards to ride through Holywell Golf Course. I also decide against turning down to the Pet Cemetery cafe at Brynford as it is still too early to stop, so onwards and upwards to Halkyn Mountain topping out at 900ft.

The usual way back from here is down the deep lanes from The Bluebell to Northop. John and Matt need to motor on, so Ken and I take the more relaxed route back via Brookside. The route round is a modest 38 miles but with 2900 ft of climbs featuring several chevronned hills. Ken heads for home as I do which I reach at 1500. 

A satisfying day all round having re-visited those Welsh hillsides after a Covid-forced exile. The trio of support riders did a great job in dragging me round though.

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Sunday 22 August 2021

19th August 2021 : Wrenbury (brisk)

A What’s App chat confirmed that the brisk group was likely to be thin on the ground today;  myself, John W and Nick.  A last minute cancellation text from John reduced the 3 to 2.

Leaving the Moderates to sort out their itinerary and configurations  Nick and myself departed on our 70km route around Nantwich and Wrenbury but within two kilometres of starting  we had to don rain jackets and these were on off all morning.

From Delamere we  skirted around Oulton Park  passing through Wettenhall straight into  Nantwich. After crossing the Nantwich bypass we meandered along the cycleway, following the River Weaver, until we joined Marsh Lane and then headed out through to Ravensmoor and Sound.

The cafe at The Dusty Miller in Wrenbury was the initial choice for the lunch  but in view of the rain Nick suggested stopping at The Park as they have a covered patio area .The Park is a family run business in a lovely location overlooking the Cheshire countryside and close to the canal. The service was efficient and the ordered food and drink came promptly although the food we chose was  uninspiring. 

As we left Wrenbury the rain clouds gathered threatening to soak us again but as we turned east to cross the A534 at Faddiley the conditions improved and, by the time we reached Bunbury, the rain jackets and arm warmers were all neatly stashed away.

From Bunbury we went along College Lane, crossed  the Shropshire Union Canal at Tiverton lock and then briefly joined the A51 before escaping along the delightfully named Rabbit Burrows Lane into Tarporley. It was here Nick and I parted company each of us going separate ways to collect our cars.

Although the rain showers were annoying it was an uneventful and enjoyable day on the bike. The enjoyment was  especially highlighted for me given this was my first CER ride for nearly 18 months .

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Friday 20 August 2021

19th August 2021: Delamere to Comberbach (mod)

 Steve Tan, Dave Matthews, George, Steve Hughes, Mold Andy and myself were the potential moderate group. It was good to chat to Nick and Ken. Ken has made a successful recovery from his lymphoma and subsequent gruelling treatment, but still has to be particularly careful to avoid Covid. Amazingly, Steve Tan had turned up for a short ride after spending three days in Warrington Infirmary! The moderate group who were available for the day's ride consisted of George, Steve H, Andy B and myself.

Heavy rain was likely, so I asked the troops if a meandering route to The Spinner and Bergamot at Comberbach was acceptable, on the basis that a short, quick return route was then possible if the heavens opened. My suggestion was accepted, and we headed for Acton Bridge via Norley Hall, Crowton, Ainsworth Lane and Cliff Lane. Steve Tan had visitors due midday, apart from any health concerns, so soon spun off for home.  From the A49 crossing of the Weaver Navigation we rode north-west, passing the impressive, but discretely screened, Cogshall Hall. Proper little quiet lanes led to picturesque Higher Whitley with its attractive duckpond in front of the handsome, old farmhouse. We continued to use off-piste narrow lanes towards Whitley Reed and on to Barber's Lane, crossing Arley Lane. I was able to point out the hangar at the bottom of a garden where two vintage German planes were housed. The weather was a bit minty for private flying, but perhaps we will be lucky and see them in action in the future. We circled back south passing Garland Hall, Crowley Lodge and the Georgian Pole House before reaching Comberbach.

Lunch was very good at The Spinner and Bergamot after clocking up about twenty-three miles.I should have ordered something smaller, as I couldn't finish it in good time. Steve volunteered a small plastic bag, and my daughter's dog thereby enjoyed some tasty lamb for tea. 

Dave's 'lite lunch' 

The weather looked good when we remounted our bikes, so we headed away from home through Great Budworth and  close to Pickmere before cutting through the grounds of Arley Hall. We then turned south back through Antrobus and Frandley, and rode alongside the river to Dutton Lock. 

Dutton Locks
Photos by SHu

Here we crossed and proceeded through banks of colourful wild flowers with Pickering's Cut on our right. A pleasant diversion, and a 'first' for Andy and Steve. Stiff climbing from The Weaver can't be avoided, and we headed straight up the quiet, little lanes of Crewood Common Road, Beech Lane and Forest Lane. We had not suffered any serious rain to until then, but a heavy burst had us sheltering under some big trees for a few minutes. We were near Hatchmere at this point, and three of us had vehicles not far away, so we avoided a proper soaking. Andy, however still had to ride to Mold. The route was about 45 miles.                                                                                      


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Friday 13 August 2021

12th August 2021: Melverley, Edgerley (mod)

Today’s ride started from the Castle Bistro in Chirk – always a welcome opportunity to get outside our usual Cheshire territory. There were seven moderate riders: Dave H, Dave P, Andy B, Alan, Steve T, Steve Hu and myself. I had in mind two possible destinations – The Old Hand and Diamond at Coedway and the Royal Hill at Edgerley. In truth both of them offered similar rides as the same route leads to them, you just need to travel a little further to Coedway. Incidentally, the proper address of the Royal Hill is Edgerley, though on the map, Pentre or Melverley seem the more obvious locations.

Photo by AO

Our way out was familiar: over the busy A5 roundabout, out to Hindford and then to Welsh Frankton. The Hindford to Welsh Frankton road has been awful for ages, but today we were mainly contending with thick gravel and potholes, and not the thick mud that you can meet there. Things seemed to be going fine as we descended from the junction with the A495, until we heard the unmistakable crunch of a bike hitting the tarmac. Alan had suffered a nearly calamitous jammed chain leading to him tumbling off his bike. Fortunately, Alan himself only had minor scratches and bruises, so we pulled into the driveway of a friendly local villager while we assessed damage to the bike. The main problem seemed to be that several links in his chain had become twisted, though not so badly that he couldn’t ride. We carried on cautiously

We arrived in Bagley where we took the turn to Stanwardine-in-the-Fields and travelled through some lovely countryside on quiet and smooth lanes.  After Stanwardine, came Baschurch, and then Little and Great Ness before we crossed over the A5. Here we could see a densely packed herd of sheep on the opposite hillside. Though as we approached their movements looked unnatural, and it was only as we got closer that we could see they were in fact a flock of white geese! We continued, passing by the army camp and arrived at our destination.  

The Royal Hill is in a delightful south-facing location on the banks of the River Severn looking towards the distinctive Breidden Hills on the far bank. Atop the main hill is Admiral Rodney’s Pillar, erected to commemorate his victories in the American War of Independence. Obviously, his battles went better than the rest of the war. 

Photo by SH

We sat on benches outside. It was warm, quiet and relaxing in the sun. The Severn was close by, though we had to look over a hedge to see it. A chap came over to talk and ask whether we were from Shrewsbury.  He had arranged to meet members of a cycle club there for lunch and was checking to see if we were them. We admired his car, a classic open-top maroon Mercedes. Food arrived quickly and was enjoyed. Before long it was time to leave.

Our return took us to Melverley, where previously Mike Gilbert (I think) had shown us to the church, an ancient half-timbered structure on the banks of the river.  Today, we passed by and made for Maesbrook, then Maesbury and into Oswestry from the east. Negotiating the back streets we emerged by Old Oswestry Hill Fort, and took the road to Weston Rhyn. Avoiding the busy main road, we dropped down to the Ceriog Valley and climbed back up to our starting point. 

We covered 43 miles in some lovely weather and pastoral scenery, and with good company.  An excellent ride.

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12th August 2021 : Montford Bridge (brisk)

Back on 29th April, Ivan lead a ride around the hills of Wales to Montford Bridge. We ended up at a biker's cafe just off the A5 at Montford Bridge. With this in mind, and an urge to remove the Welsh hills, I crafted a 62 miler basically running SSE of Chirk through the glorious Shropshire countryside. I only had two takers for this ride, John M and Nick, but they were up for a flat ride in the August sunshine. 

Getting out of Chirk, we first go up to Weston Rhyn then down to Gobowen cycling along the busy line of Wat's Dyke then heading for the orthopaedic hospital to enter Oswestry from the east. We slide around the town through acres of housing where the quiet lanes start at Maesbury. I can’t resist a route taking in Knockin and its large satellite dish, nor the eponymously named shop. 

Knockin Shop -they were in and out in 5 mins!

We now have a long list of tiny village names to cycle through around the edge of Nesscliffe army training area. I have to re-plot on the fly as the planned route turns out to be a rough track; so we head for the River Severn then turn west to get back on route to go over the Melverley bridge into Wales again at Crew Green.

The wind was supposed to be SSW but it was more westerly which didn't help most of the day even on the return, but Nick was keen to take the front as we go up and down along the B road to Alberbury. We slip off to the right now going down lanes anew for the next 18 miles. Through Stoney Stretton and tiny Edge and Hinton, we are soon at Lea Cross. After Shorthill and Annscroft, Hook a Gate bring us into the SW corner of the burgeoning Shrewsbury metropolis. The tack NW takes us through acres of established and new housing estates before ending up at Montford Bridge. 

To get to the cafe, there is a half mile contra-directional dash along the busy A5 then wheeling off left, down and under the road to the cafe. As before, the food is wholesome and of good value as we refill our liquid reserves after 40 miles of delightful countryside. Back on the A5 re-tracing our route to Montford Bridge, we then take the NW long lanes to West Felton going via Ruyton -XI-Towns. Here Nick is keen to push on so goes off on his own route back to Chirk at apace. John and I meander up Grug Hill and near Eardiston, Nick appears at a crossroads behind us! He shoots off again towards Queen’s Head.

The route to Gobowen via Queens Head is the old A5, and it's a long straight drag to Babbinswood and Whittington, but up ahead we see Nick battling on in the distance. After Gobowen, we sidle passed Hennle Golf Club and head straight for Chirk via the canal side at the Poacher pub.

John informs me later on, that we had broken some previous Strava segment speeds on the route we had taken, which was surprising given that we had enjoyed viewing the new countryside. So thanks to both Nick and John for their company today and  for Nick taking the front on several occasions - is he in training for something I wonder? We rode exactly 100km!


Thursday 5 August 2021

5th August 2021; Hanmer (mod)

The forecasters had promised us strong SSE winds gusting to nearly 30mph, plus heavy rain from noon. Given this poor forecast there was a good CER turnout at Alison’s in Tattenhall. It was especially good to see Bob for the first time in some months. He is moving to live near Chorley, and we wish him well in his health and his new life in Lancashire.   

The anticipated weather affected our choice of route: either a longer trip south-westward in a crosswind to the Greyhound in St Martin’s, or a shorter route that minimised the time we would spend in rain.  The latter was chosen which meant a trip southward to one of our favourite destinations, the Hanmer Arms. The group comprised myself and the other two Steves, Dave H, George, Alan and Andy, plus Neil who was only able to join us for part of the ride. We headed off over the hills by Bolesworth Castle and then to Brown Knowl.  Although having not long been riding, we managed to lose both Alan and Steve Hu by the time we reached Broxton Old Hall. Luckily telephone communication was established and they re-joined us shortly afterwards. We continued on to No Man’s Heath and began the climb up to Malpas.  Here heavy rain began to fall and we donned our waterproofs expecting to be wet for the rest of the day. The route took us through Lower Wych, by when the rain had petered out. It didn’t take long to reach Eglwys Cross and join the A-roads that led us into Hanmer village by 1230. Although we had often been riding into the wind, it didn’t cause us too many problems, perhaps we had been sheltered by the landscape.

We had called ahead to alert the pub, but need not have worried as initially we were the sole customers. Drinks and food were ordered, the light bite fish and chips proving most popular and very tasty. Conversation ranged widely but, after George described having watched Jeremy Clarkson’s Farm, tended to focus on farming.  Specifically, Clarkson’s lack of farming aptitude and the massive cost of farm machinery, narrow margins and where did farmers make their money. 

Photo by SH

It was still not raining when we left the pub. We headed for Tallarn Green and Threapwood, noticing, as we leave Chapel Lane and join the B-road, a substantial house oddly named “The Holy Land”. From there we made for Tilston and Stretton, passed by Manor Wood café, and were soon back in Tattenhall. We’d only covered 34 miles, our return helped by a strong tailwind. The heavy rain hadn’t materialised, though when I reached home, I found it had fallen there and much more would later in the day.  I think we’d been lucky. 

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29th July 2021: Borras (brisk)

I arrived at Meadow Lea to see a big turnout of CER club members, predominantly ’Mods’. Ivan, Clive, Nick, Ray  and John M were all absent with alternative tasks. This left Ken and new rider Matt and myself to ride a brisk ride today.

Plan A: Was to ride half of an Audax 200k ride, going to Wilmslow, under the runways and back. This changed to Plan B: i.e follow compass into wind & make up as we go.  Ken was out today as well and due to fact 
that Ken was having to be home early, plus having another ride tomorrow, Plan B was adopted. We decided on a loop around Holt and let Ken cut out, with myself & Matt to continue.

So left out of ML, we pass & wave to ‘Mods’ following compass into wind, over the busy A51 to Waverton & familiar roads to Tattenhall (where Ivan is busy decorating for his daughter). Up Rocky Lane to cross A41 to pass Coddington & Barton, before Holt and straight past Cleopatra's (I will save up for stop next time!). Saying farewell to Ken here, he was riding strong after his great recovery, he cut out for Rossett & home.
Matt & I continue into a strengthening headwind on Borras Road, with a poor surface and progressively testing inclines, trying to be aero, towards Wrexham.  A short stop for fluids leads to temptation, with chip butties at Borras Park Fishbar; suitably refreshed, we head to, then pass Gwersyllt, the one time meeting place for CER many moons ago, now solely for Wrexham Reivers & Cafe Hoppers on Saturdays.

Heading North, towards Llay, zig-zagging passed & down Higher/Lower Kinnerton and through Bretton to thankfully head East on A5104 with a great tailwind on the newly surfaced cycle path, then turning off to cross the Dee onto Ferry lane and home for me, while Matt continues on the Millennium home.

I was asked what  I carry in my saddle bag - see picture - the Kitchen sink is just out of shot!

A testing ride into winds, making flats seem like hills, with great company to share the pain, roughly 425 metres of ups (seemed more!) with respectable 18mph over 43miles in 3 hours with chip butty stop for smiles.


5th August 2021 : Ravensmoor (brisk)

Only four brisk riders today and we really didn't know where to go. The rain was forecasted by lunchtime and it was quite windy from the South. So Nick proposed a run round to Ravensmoor, which we quickly assented to. Ray, John W and myself followed Nick out of Tattenhall bound for Bunbury - all at quite a lick despite the blustery wind. Passing straight though Bunbury, we take Long Lane out of Haughton towards Burland. At Ravensmoor, we turn for home via Nantwich where the wind starts to be helpful to us. 

Exiting Nantwich via Welshman's Lane, we are soon on the long and uncomfortable drag up to Wettenhall with only the following wind to make it bearable. Another Long Lane connects back to Alpraham and on to Bunbury.

The Co-op provides a sumptuous lunch as we sit on the bench at the road triangle watching the comings and goings of this busy village. Re-tracing our route this morning, we are soon back at Beeston Castle where we opt to head back to Chester via Huxley. Nick had peeled off here going back home via Bickerton.

The wind is well behind us now as we enter Chester with nearly 60 miles out and back at a surprising 17.1 mph average speed. The rain didn't really trouble us when it started around 1200, with only a couple of light showers, so well worth the effort  of getting out today.

This was a warm-up run for John and Ray who are riding a mid-Wales Audax on Saturday  - only 200Km!

See route map and/or gpx file download