There was a bit of confusion at Rose Farm as various cyclists seemed unsure of where to ride and who with – but then this is not unusual for CER. Eventually my suggestion of heading for the Rising Sun at Scholar Green, beneath Mow Cop, found a number of takers. The mod group comprised myself, Andy, Fiona, Elwyn and Peter. Trevor, who it was good to see after a long absence (apparently due to the competing attractions of bridge), chose to join us for the initial miles.
We left on the usual route to Cotebrook and then past Oulton Park to Marton Green and along the Whitegate Way onto Winsford. We negotiated the big roundabout to then passed through Clive and on to Middlewich. We weaved our way through its estates to emerge into more open country. At some point I phoned the pub to see if they could accommodate the five of us. No, they couldn’t! It’s a good pub in a popular location beside a canal and the Gritstone Trail and they were having a busy time. The decision was made to carry on and in the words of Micawber, “hope for something to turn up”.
We caught our first glimpse of Mow Cop as we crossed the M6. Then it was on to Brereton Green and Spen Green. Here about four miles short of the Rising Sun, we noticed the Blue Bell Inn. A quick check confirmed they could feed us and we settled on of their many outside tables. Orders were taken outside and we chatted generally about bikes and when Rose Farm gates would be locked for Fiona and Elwyn had left their car there. The internet informed us that they were safe up to 6pm. Our food and drink had arrived and the consensus was that our lunch was good value and the beer drinkers appreciated their ale.
|Photo by SH|
We continued towards Mow Cop discussing various routes of ascent, but with no-one willing to take on the challenge. We passed through Scholar Green and Rode Heath, before entering open countryside again. Wheelock Heath came next, but we were brought to a halt by an extremely busy A534. It was only due to a kind motorist that we were able to cross. Next came Clay Lane, “the worst surface in Cheshire”, partly due to subsidence but there is no excuse for the dreadful surface. At least, afterwards we appreciated smooth roads more. The northern suburbs of Crewe followed, then Church Minshull and Wettenhall, before we rejoined our outward route near Cotebrook. It should have been a straightforward return, but for major potholes near Utkinton Hall, but somehow we lost Fiona. Elwyn tracked her down using Strava on her way to Tarporley, and we all eventually made our way back to the start.
We had covered a total of 53 miles. The morning had been cool and overcast and we were starting to feel the chill as we left the pub. But then, we caught a few rays of sunshine, and as we continued our ride it became noticeably warm. With very little wind it was a pleasant ride through a landscape that was largely unfamiliar to Fiona and Elwyn.