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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Thursday 26 January 2023

26th January 2023: Alyn Waters (mod)

There was a good turnout of riders today. Prior to setting off on Alan's “nearly’ guided ride there was a standing ovation for Dave H and Ray last week's Dancing On Ice finalists. It was a two horse race as other contenders Steve T, Clive Steve Ha and Dave M had the sense to turn around and go home in their cars. See the 19th Jan ride report for their intrepid adventures. 

At the Gallery Cafe Steve Ha bid us farewell as he planned to experience some joyous Welsh lanes before returning to Kelsall to take up his role as visitor exclusion officer. A brave troupe consisting of Alan (occasionally) ride leader, Dave H, Clive, Mike G, Richard, Steve T, Andy B, and Ray set off towards Wood lane. At this point it was apparent that Ray was pressing buttons faster than a teenager texts, and no power was being elicited from his mighty steed. At the foot of Col du Wood Lane Ray removed and re fitted the battery. Sparks resumed, electrons did their bit and motive power was resumed, so much so we rarely saw him the rest of the day as he was always at the front. 

A number of small lanes took us to Penymydd, prompting Clive to remark I could have had another 30 mins in bed as we cruised past my gaff. Lower Mountain lane took us via Town Ditch Lane through the charming hamlet of Golly, Burton Green then onto Lavister. We then followed the classic route to Holt only for Alan to have introduced a new lane, Park Lane which, with a few junctions, led us into Gresford. Not a good winter option as the lane is more farm track than lane.

Leaving Gresford we passed under the railway arch and took a left fork on to Pentre Lane. Clearly Alan had decided it was time to sort out the peloton into walkers and riders. It was not so much the steep gradient, but more the relentless pulls upward. 

Oxygen was duly consumed at the top as weary lactic acid filled muscles recovered. Revitalised we joined the busy Llay road before turning right towards Bradley and our lunch stop Alyn Waters Country Park Cafe. This venue was a CER starting point for a number of years until the winter early closing of 4pm necessitated a relocation. The most popular meal seemed to be “Welsh breakfast” which with a pot of tea came to a very reasonably £6.60. 

It was at the point that Mike G advised his free hub had given up (on the Col du Pentre Lane)  and he chose to limp back to Hawarden, hope you got back with little drama Mike. 

Photo by Steve Hu

Fully replete we set off re tracing our journey some 500 yds before plunging down through the woodland to climb up a suitably named “Blast Hill” I can assure no one blasted up it, it was tough on a stomach full of aforementioned Welsh breakfast! The route then wound through Abermorddu and into Hope. At this point Clive declined my offer to provide him with an “Alps style climb” back to “flat “ Kinnerton!  Choosing a more suitable route he and Richard set off for Kinnerton and then on to Chester. 

The remaining group circumnavigated Buckley before dropping down into Ewloe when Alan left for home and the remainder returned to Hawarden. 

A pleasant January ride on mixed roads that were new to a number of riders. 

Thanks to Alan for researching and planning the ride

See routemap and/or gpx file download


Monday 23 January 2023

19th January 2023: Arley Hall & Comberbach (mod)

Not for the first time this winter, the environment for cycling was what Frank Lampard may have called “challenging”, when most would have a shorter, more coarse word to describe the situation. Recently, we have had two rides from Chirk, that have included a dismount into a deeply flooded road on a stormy day, and viewing or navigating more water on the fields and lanes to Llanymynech, than most cyclists will ever experience in a single day. Perhaps paradoxically, the latter ride was also sunny, scenic and enjoyed by all (the excellent pub stop with an open fire helped). Wet is one thing, snow and ice something else. Our situation now, at Delamere, was more comparable with our -7°C Chancers' Ride to Pant-yr-Ochain in December, or the time a handful turned up at the Ice Cream Farm in the snow, but only Keith and Steve Tan were daft enough to risk a shortish, hazardous ride. 

So, here we were: Dave Matthews, Clive, Steve Tan, Ray Baird, Steve Haywood and myself. Steve Haywood wasn't 100%, but had hiked from Kelsall, and everybody else had arrived by car. Clive had found his car sliding on turning into the Station Cafe car Park, and it was unanimously agreed that riding conditions were probably dangerous, or “challenging” at least. Nevertheless, Ray, Steve Tan and myself decided to by-pass cycling the busy, dangerous looking Delamere Road and icy downhill lanes to Crowton, and to drive cautiously to “The Horns” before making a decision to ride or abandon. I drove down Norley Lane with Steve as my passenger, and Ray following. At Town Farm there is a wiggle in the road, and we pass a red BMW with its emergency flashers on. It looked like the car had just slid straight on into the grass bank. Steve said the airbags were inflated; this should have been a warning sign to us. 

We crossed the river on the A49 and stopped to inspect the surface. Steve was pretty sure that riding would be too dangerous. I was still keen to give it a try, aware that Ray had driven from the far end of the Wirral, and also wanted to ride. In the end the three of us set off gingerly. We reached Crumleyheath Farm having had a few slippy shimmies, but still in one piece. Steve decided to head to Runcorn from here on white roads before reaching the black asphalt of the A533 and sent a text to us to that effect, when he arrived home safely at noon. I had rung the Golden Fleece in Lymm on the Wednesday, and fancied it as a change, so Ray and myself continued in that direction, through Comberbach, Gibb Hill, Budworth Heath, and heading for Knutsford, before tuning north at Bate Heath. We had avoided Great Budworth, because of visions of sliding down the bank at the A599 and not being able to stop. Certainly Budworth Lane had looked treacherous from Comberbach. 

Our progress had been slow because of the conditions, so I decided to forget Lymm, stop short of crossing the M56, and cut back through the grounds of Arley Hall. I hadn't tried the official bridlepath and 'cycleway' for sometime, so gave it a go. I won't be doing it again, but with the sun out it was a lovely place to cycle and walk. Ray thought that he had lost his helmet, and retraced his steps for a few minutes, but had to give up. I thought it was a bit strange for his helmet to fall off, and both of us not to notice at the time. We walked down to the pond at Arley Green for a photo (you're not supposed to cycle here) then rode again across the cobbles on Back Lane to the entrance on Arley Road. If any surface should have been beyond the pale in the ice and snow it should have been cobbles, but the snow made the surface more level. The straightest way to our new lunch destination at Comberbach was via Crowley Lodge, Grandsires Green and Pole Lane. 

Photo by DH

The Spinner and Bergamot was friendly and warm and the food was of the usual high standard. It was a pleasant opportunity to get to know Ray and his 'backstory' as we sat in front of the fire eating thick cut chips. Any notion that the road conditions would improve as the day warmed up a bit were now binned. I guess that there was now some water on top of ice, which gave all the grip of wet plate glass. We needed to concentrate to the end as we headed for Little Leigh. There were plenty of cars arriving at the primary school for us to navigate around, but none, thankfully, on Leigh Lane as they must have thought it too dangerous! At one time on the way back the back of my bike slid right around. It was like driving a seventies BMW three series on Deeside Ice Rink. At the back of our minds today was that with the overwhelmed NHS, and a nurses' strike day, it was not the best time to risk falling off your bike and breaking something. We got away with it, and had an enjoyable, if 'challenging' short day out. We arrived back at the cars at 3p.m., taking care not to fall dismounting at the icy last. It had been even more risky for Ray - his helmet was in the car!


Saturday 14 January 2023

12th January 2023: Llanymynech (mod)

There were but nine CER members – 4 brisk and 5 mods - who gathered at The Castle Bistro in Chirk; perhaps others were put off by weather forecasts over the last few days which promised rain and high winds. In the event the sun was shining and the wind not too strong as Dave H, Steves Hu and T, Alan and Andy set off down Chirk Bank.

Our destination was The Bradford Arms at Llanymynech, a venue visited only now and then, but one which always gets a good review. To avoid the dirty lanes around Henlle and Hindford, we struck out through St Martins and took the lanes through New and Old Marton. However, although these were not too muddy, they were, in several places, totally flooded (see photo), but were passable with judicious use of the pedals to avoid getting wet feet.

The climb up to Perthy and Welsh Frankton got pulses racing, but the drop down to Lower Frankton gave us the chance to get our breath back. This was needed as the wind was getting up as we rode alongside the Montgomery Canal, over what must be one of the sharpest hump-backed bridges anywhere.

Having made the long climb up to Hordley, we now turned south-west and directly into the ever stronger wind, which made progress somewhat difficult. Running through West Felton, we eventually joined the B4398 at Maesbrook.  But as we did so, Andy suffered a punctured back tyre, which called a halt to our progress. At this point it we were only 5 miles or so from Llanymynech, so Dave, Steve Hu and Alan went ahead to the pub while Andy swiftly replaced the punctured tyre, helped (watched, really) by Steve T.

At the pub the fire was lit and the cat asleep on a bar stool. The friendly staff soon took our orders for food and drink and these arrived swiftly.  The locals were telling us that the A483 which runs through Llanymynech was flooded and impassable just south of the village, where it crosses the River Vyrmwy. Extensive flooding in the fields around the village had been evident as we arrived.

Photo by AO

Fed and watered, we re-traced our steps towards Maesbrook, but soon turned north-east through Crickheath and Morton. We now had a side or tail-wind, which made life easier, but still had to pass through a couple of sections where the road was completely flooded.

Photo by AO

Somewhere along here, Steve Hu suffered a puncture, but he sent a message forward that Andy, Dave and I should not wait for him and Alan, as he had the route on his Wahoo. So on we went, crossing the A5 near Aston and threading our way through the housing estates around Oswestry, emerging on the lane past the Old Hill Fort.

From there it was along the lanes through Hengoed to Weston Rhyn and the sharp descent into the Ceiriog Valley. The climb up the hill into Chirk provided the last challenge of a day.

As Dave and I were loading bike into the Berlingo, Steve Hu and Alan arrived, having given it ‘full gas’ all the way back. Good to know that everyone completed the 37 miles safely on a day on which the rain held off (mostly) and the wind provided a greater hazard than the flooded roads.


See routemap and/or gpx file download



Thursday 12 January 2023

12th January 2023 : Whixall Marina (brisk)

Today, it is a January Sales offering – two routes routes and blogs for the price of one!

Last Thursday, Ivan had suggested a route to Whixall Marina from Tattenhall. So we set off and a few miles out it became clear we were not going to Whixall but were enjoying Ken's offering of a ride to Welshampton! As enjoyable as that was, I really wanted to go to Whixall Marina so decided that this is where today's ride would take us.

Ken had kindly offered a partial car assist for me from the end of Lache lane near Rough Hill (with no hill in sight). So we arrive at the Castle Bistro along with Steve T, Alan and Dave H. Ivan and John W had taken the train as usual from Chester and arrive shortly afterwards.

The Brisk group was down on numbers this week – only four of us – so we set off down the Ceiriog road as far as Castle Mill where there is a memorial to the Battle of Crogen in 1165 (see Wiki link) then take the short sharp hill towards Bronygarth. Ever upwards and down tiny lanes, we now have bypassed Weston Rhyn on our way to Gobowen and Whittington.

The weather was pleasant and bright at 14C but rather windy as Ken leads the charge down the old A5 towards Queen's Head. At West Felton, we now take 10 miles of small lanes and B roads through Ruyton-XI-Towns and Baschurch to Myddle. A left towards Burlton finds us sliding right up the long lane, with the wind now well behind us, towards Loppington.

Up until now, the small lanes had been quite passable with the occasional water bath, but the lane to bypass Loppington was very wet and agricultural so we head into Loppington passing the Dickin Arms pub. Was that a great DH sigh that we hear, or was it the just the wind?

We arrive at Whixall Marina around 1230 after 33 miles. A very modern cafe beckons us in and we ordered our food just in time before a dozen or so canal boat owners turn up for lunch. The food was very enjoyable as was the view of about £10 million of canal boats in their neat rows off the pontoons.
Looking very relaxed at Whixall Marina

Ivan and John had decided to ride home from Whixall at only 27 miles, rather than riding back the 16 miles to Chirk (see blog below). So John and Ivan ride north with the wind behind them as Ken and I ride westwards with the wind definitely not behind us. 

Ken bravely takes the lead as we head for Welshampton thence in and out of Ellesmere bound for St Martins. It is a long grind up to St Martins with the wind now gusting quite considerably making headway more difficult. We make the 16 miles back in little over and hour at arriving at 1430. Bikes on the car, I suggest a coffee at Caffi Wylfa which could be an alternative meeting site in Chirk if the Castle Bistro should be closed at some time.

So with this route at 49 miles all round and in surprisingly good weather conditions given the recent long spells of rain and some sunshine, in all it was 62 miles today for me and home by 1530.


Ivan's Route Home from Whixall Marina

Starting from Chirk the route to Whixall was a great route and I’ll leave Clive to describe the route in detail. After a good lunch at the café we bade farewell to Clive and Ken to enjoy a struggle with the head wind back to Chirk whilst John and I should!! have the prospect of a good tailwind for our ride back home. 

Not quite – but not bad as a lot of tacking was involved but overall the route up via Fenn’s Bank and Whitewell via Dymock's Mill was with the wind behind us then across to Threapwood to Shocklach the wind was everywhere.  Several flooded lanes but nothing impassable and not as muddy compared to the morning route for the downhill MTB track to the mill pond.

At Dymock's Mill

In no time we’re passed Farndon and along the B5130 to Alford and Huntington, again blessed with a reasonable tailwind. Back in Chester, John and I take our separate ways home and enjoyed a good split ride. Thanks to Clive for the morning route which explored a few new lanes and also revisiting lanes not been over for a while. 
Overall John and I covered 65 miles on the bike. Had a train on time from Chester to Chirk and an enjoyable 16mph average on a dry but windy day.


Photos JW and ID

Friday 6 January 2023

5th January 2023: Aston (mod)

For the first ride of 2023, the plan was to ride from Alison’s at Tattenhall to The Park Café at Wrenbury.  Eight mod riders gathered at Alison’s (Dave H, Steve Hu, Alan, Andy B, Pete, Trevor, Ray and Steve T) and it was also good to see Jim out for coffee before his holiday in warmer climes.

Getting the group started was, to quote Steve Hu, like juggling jelly, but we did eventually get going, heading out towards Chowley. Here we turned into Dog Lane, provoking a complaint from Steve Hu about rough roads.  This was entirely unjustified as Dog Lane itself is quite smooth and we were not destined for Pump Lane as, at Coddington, we veered south for Stretton and Tilston.

This struck fear into Dave H as it seemed that we might be headed for Malpas, his least favourite town in Cheshire. But no, at Kidnal we turned eastwards, crossing the A41 at Hampton Heath, passing the fisheries at Hampton Springs before reaching the gates of Cholmondeley Castle, where the group photo was taken.

Photo by Steve Hu

Arriving at The Park Café, we secured the bikes and headed in, only to find that there was no food available today, only toasted teacakes. So, Plan B was enacted and a quick phone call to The Bhurtpore at Aston elicited the news that they were open and serving food. Whilst the rest of us headed the two or so miles to Aston, Pete decided to do his own thing and left us.

At The Bhurtpore, food and drinks were ordered and paid for (as is the practice there nowadays) and contrary to a previous visit, they arrived quickly. The small fish and chip and chicken curries went down well and we were soon gathering in the car park for the return journey. This meant going back to Wrenbury where, after a small mid-course correction, we headed for Ravensmoor, Gradeley Green and Brindley.  We were soon passing Tilley’s, but there was no time to stop today, so it was on to Bunbury Heath and Beeston and then the stretch up Tattenhall Lane, which was directly into the wind and an unwelcome rain shower. Trevor peeled off up towards the Ice Cream Farm and Andy continued to Mold while the rest of us returned to our cars at Alison’s.

Once again, a winters day on which the wind was fairly light and the rain held mostly off, allowing us a pleasant 37 mile ride around the lanes of the Cheshire plain.  Although many of the roads were greasy and muddy and the bikes got dirty, the company and scenery made it all worthwhile.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday 5 January 2023

5th January 2023 : Welshampton (brisk)

Today's ride to Alisons was 15 degrees warmer than my last visit in December when we were undertaking the ride to the CER Christmas lunch. However the recent heavy rainfalls were reflected in the high river levels in Farndon and an indicator that the lanes would be choked with debris and standing water. So it was  of little surprise that on reaching Aldersey I met Nick in the process of repairing a puncture. This required two pairs of hands to remove and refit the stubborn tyre before we were able to  carry on to Tattenhall.

There was a good turnout today with everyone obviously eager to burn off some of the Christmas excess’s.The moderate group seemed to be heading towards Wrenbury once Dave H’s saddle pack was repaired. The Brisk group comprising of Ivan, Clive ,John W and myself  headed out to The Sun Inn at Welshampton. Nick was joining us for only part of the day as he was required to be in Cheltenham later.

The route over Harthill warmed us sufficiently that a brief stop was required to remove our rain jackets . Nick left us at Cholmondeley to head home and we continued on a southerly heading through Norbury and Marbury to briefly enter Whitchurch before exiting on Ash Road and continuing onto Prees Heath.
It was here, after passing over freshly cut hedge cuttings, I picked up my first puncture of the day which was fortunately in my front wheel and quickly fixed. The predicted showers duly arrived meaning rain jackets were once more donned and stayed in place until lunch.

After crossing the A5 at Prees the rest of the morning was spent  weaving swiftly through the lanes that  link the villages of Tilstock, Quina Brook and Northwood before joining the busy B road that led us eventually to the The Sun Inn. The 58 km morning section of the ride plus the delay in repairing my puncture, meant it was  after 1 o’clock  when we arrived at the pub, so we were thankful that  our food and drink orders were taken quickly by a very efficient  barman.

Fed, watered and with rain jackets stowed away, we set off with a nice southerly breeze pushing us along all the way into Hanmer where we stopped for a photoshoot.

At Hanmer Mere

A kilometre further on and I picked up another puncture which unfortunately took slightly longer to fix and involved  Ivan donating a spare tube. (Many thanks Ivan.) Back on the road we continue our journey through Tallarn Green, Threapwood, and Shocklach, where Ivan, Clive and John turned off to follow the route back to Tattenhall  whilst I carried on towards home. 

The route today was 83km with 723 mtrs of ascent ridden on very wet and dirty roads; my ride today was over 100km with Ivan and John recording nearer 120km.

Thanks guys for all your help and patience today.

See route map and/or gpx file download