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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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Friday 28 April 2023

27th April 2023: Llanymynech (mod)

I arrived in Chirk wondering how many other riders would turn up - the forecast was for a cool day with heavy rain in the afternoon. Steve Hu and Alan had already told me they had other plans. Andy W arrived by train and was simply planning to ride back home. Andy B arrived, meaning there were just two of us for the day. I'd prepared two routes: a 42 mile run eastwards to Whixall Marina because I remember Dave H saying he wished to go there; and a 37 mile run southwards to Llanymynech. A strengthening southerly wind, plus the predicted rain later made Llanymynech the choice. It was to be an eventful ride.

Our start was inauspicious. Leaving home, Andy B had already suffered a broken spoke and had swapped bikes. We now left the cafe to find drizzle falling. As we headed towards the A5 roundabout this dried up. Knowing the last few days had been dry, I chose to follow the lanes towards Hindford which are a muddy hell in the wet.  We crossed the A-road at West Frankton, reminding ourselves of places we had been forced to stop due top punctures and mechanicals. We passed through West Felton and Woolston making good progress and joined the road into Llanymynech at Maesbrook.

Less than a mile before our destination, Andy pulled up.  I looked back and saw him standing with the pedal and crank dangling from his foot - only a couple a weeks after George had also lost a crank. A bodged repair was effected, sufficient to get us to the pub. 

As usual we found a good welcome at the Bradford Arms. The cat was there but this time the fire wasn't burning. Nonetheless, we each enjoyed haddock and chips from "the two mains for £18 menu". I then waited inside while Andy made a more permanent repair able to get him home.  

We left the pub and took a lane northwards towards Morton with a spot or two of rain falling. We found the road closed when we reached the line of the filled in Montgomery Canal. Restoration work was underway, but we followed a sign for pedestrians. Unexpectedly this didn't bring us straight back to the road, but took us on a rough 1/2 mile walk along the old canal path. Reluctant to turn back, we manhandled our bikes over two stiles until we were able to get back on tarmac at a bridge, on the other side of which the canal was filled with water.  The Montgomery Canal here has been un-navigable between Maesbury and Llanymynech since the 1930s. This year saw the start of a two year restoration project along more than four miles of the route.

Back on tarmac again - photo by SHa

The rain was now steady as we took the familiar route through Maesbury, across the A5 and into Oswestry. We passed the old hill fort and continued northwards into Western Rhyn. From the Ceriog Valley we climbed back to our starting point, me to my car and Andy to his ride home. Our route had covered thirty seven miles. Although the rain had been steady for the latter part, we avoided the forecast heavy rain, and I'll count this as a successful ride. 

See route map and/or gpx file download


Monday 24 April 2023

20th April 2023: Delamere (mod+)

Today saw a good turnout at Alison’s on a lovely sunny day, although fairly windy. I think there were approx 14 of us, which included Jim on his stunning new electric Ribble, ( most of us didn’t even realise it was electric, which I believe weighs an incredible 12k - that’s half the weight of Paula’s Orbea- Lol)

I had a 50 mile route in mind, around my favourite Sandstone ridge, via the Whytegate way, if no other options. However, Nick & Clive, fancied my route and as there were no other fast boys we agreed to make a Mod+ group (agreeing that us mere Mods would try to step up a bit, but they also had to throttle back a bit- Lol). So the Mod + group were 5, with the addition of Alan & Steve Hu, heading for Delamere Forest cafe ( not the railway station cafe) 

Photos by NT
We set off to the right out of Alison’s and therefore straight into the winds. Once heading directly toward Beeston Castle and a full headwind, Nick stepped up and took the front, as there would be no way of us keeping the pace up in those stiff winds. That said, we were soon  into Bunbury, diverting around the back of the village and Tilly's cafe, due to the road past the Dysart Arms (superb pub & food BTW) being closed. I was aware of the roadworks, but expected them to be finished (semi prepared- Lol). The detour lead to the discovery of a nice bit of resurfaced lane (Bunbury Common, leading into Tilston Bank lane), which until this ride has always been a stinker. 

Anyway, well on route and now, whizzing down over the river Gowy for the third time and through my all time favourite road section of Tilston Bank (a cracking half mile stretch of sweeping hilly bends over a couple of narrow bridges, into a gorgeous canal lock setting). Just as we hit the lock bridge, we have to abruptly pull up, owing to a couple of builders blocking the road. As we scramble to get around the van, struggling for the right gear, somebody cursed our loss of speed, just as we all climbed out of the saddle for a very short 15% gradient- Lol.  ( think it was Clive cursing, as he passed me- Lol)

It was not long after that Steve piped up,  thinking about his stomach as usual ( I refused to tell him how far and where our lunch stop was, which didn’t stop him bending my ear still further- Lol). The next few miles to Oulton Park raceway, were simply a delight as always, apart from the headwind. This is a lovely stretch of very scenic, open countryside lanes, on gorgeously smooth tarmac. Nick again lead us through the headwind, making it much easier and not even batting an eyelid- Lol. Now past an unusually quiet Oulton Park, it wasn’t long before we were upon the Whytegate Way. We joined it at the quaint Station House cafe & proceeded at a steady meander, as there were a few walkers and horses about. The gravel path of the Whytegate Way now behind us, we  start our gradual assent of the ridge, along a few of the best lanes in the county, one of which, according to Clive, was where Gary Barlow used to live ( famous pop star for those who have never heard of him-Lol)

We are now not far from our Lunch stop and the worst bit of our journey ( that dreadful rough, potholed road through Hatchmere, which is the only route into the cafe in Delamere Forest ( on this route, before anybody cry’s out “ no it’s not”-Lol) What’s worse is that we had to ride out on the same road, despite Clive requesting that we take the gravel track that leads out of the forest, to the opposite side and into the bottom of Yelds lane ( also happens to be where the Kelsall bike repair cafe is located)

The big advantage with Delamere Forest Cafe is the size, space, speed of service & quality of the food. However, much to mine and Nick’s despair, they won’t do poach eggs after 12 ( “sorry, breakfast has finished” was the explicit reply) but that wasn’t the worst of it. Alan & Steve had ordered the potato hash, which came with a poached egg on top, can you believe- What!! No doubt you can guess the conversation I will have with them, the next time I drop in- Lol. Anyway, lunch was served in a flash and was considered by all to be very good. My somewhat forced choice of a jacket potato was a cracker in fact, as they oven bake them over night. We sat outside, but the wind was almost howling through the pagoda we were sat under, so we didn’t waste any time and were soon on our way again.

Photo by AO

Now ripping through Delamere Forest, chasing Clive, who decided to show us a clean set of heals ( clearly doesn’t get cafe legs- Lol) We in fact thought he had taken off for home, as he had mentioned leaving us, but he was waiting at the next junction. We turn left, up another short sharp hill, heading for Kelsall. This was another loop on the route, that would lead up to Manley Mere cafe, just so I could fit in another favourite stretch of lanes, much to Clive’s confusion. This also meant we would pass the fabulous Blue Bell cafe, which I point out to Nick, who had not heard of it.

Anyway, we are rapidly through there and heading up through Tarvin and past 2 more cafe’s ( not tried them yet- Lol). We cross the A49 and speedily approach the river Gowy again for our 4th or 5th? crossing, once we manage to trip the traffic lights, by me doubling back- Lol. Now feeling the pace ( me at least) we pass Walk Mill cafe ( have you noticed the cafe theme yet- Lol Lol) Steve obviously did as he asked me if I had deliberately planned this as a sight seeing cafe route. It just so happens that the  amalgamation of the best local lanes, from numerous routes of mine, does in fact also take you past most of the local best cafe’s ( honest gov- Lol)

This is where we lost Alan & Clive, who headed off home, through Waverton to Chester and beyond in Allan’s case. This left the 3 amigo’s, to weave our way across the wind through to Hargrave and on to Tattenhall. My legs were now toast, clearly my fitness is not quite where I thought it was. We head straight into Tattenhall, now with the prevailing tailwind, which was very welcome and made for a nice easy finish. We got to Alison’s shortly after 2pm with 48 miles on the clock. 

Steve decided to call in for a coffee, leaving Nick & I to head off home. I said cheerio and a big thanks to Nick, only a few hundred mtrs later, as he departed up the hill for Tilston, which left me 1 mile to home, down Frog Lane. I only had a couple of extra miles on the clock with a total of 51. I am guessing Nick must have got roughly 65 miles in. As for the others I’m not sure of their totals, but still a fair bit more than me. As for Steve, he was again using CER to get a 100 miles in ( silly bugger- Lol)

Lovely day, if a bit tough towards the end. Some great scenery and a good group. Till next time ladies


Friday 21 April 2023

20th April 2023: Welshampton (mod)

The day started sunny and cool, with a stiff ENE wind. A good number of Easy Riders turned up at Alison's, including Jim. It was good to see him with his new steed on its first proper ride - an electric Ribble. George was there as well wearing new kit and with crank firmly attached!. We also welcomed Steve T back from south of France and Ray, recovered from his battery-less ride last week, who had this time remembered his battery. Four riders headed off to do a 'briskly moderate' ride, which left 9 to join me; in addition to the above mentioned - Dave H, Andy B, Dave and Liz. Given the wind, I had chosen a N-S route to Welshampton and to a  pub that we last visited to good reviews in 2018 - the Sun Inn.

We started climbing towards Harthill, but turned right to make for Brown Knowl. From there is was straight on to Hampton Heath, where Jim left us, still getting used to battery assistance. We continued southwards into No Man's Heath, where Dave H pleaded not to be taken into Malpas. Anticipating this, I headed back across the A41and then back again on good lanes to arrive at the other side of Malpas. We made for Higher Wych and and Iscoyd Park, where, warmed-up, dis-robing took place and pale knees were revealed.  The route went past Whitewell, over the two main roads and on towards Whixall. At one stage, waiting for us to regroup, Ray and I saw a group of young cattle charging up and down a field. On the other side of the hedge were two donkeys watching on from a mound which made a good viewing platform. Somewhere around here, the background map on the satnav disappeared and we took a wrong turn. Retracing our steps we passed a bemused woman standing by her gate for the second time. At Dobson's Bridge we took the track over the vertical lift bridge, which I'm told is called a bascule bridge. It would have been a good stop for a photo, but we were running short of our due time at the pub, so pressed on to Northwood. From here a was a quick 2.5 mile dash to the pub.

The Sun is quite a large pub, though was empty when we arrive at 1pm. In the sunny and now very warm weather we chose to sit outside - probably our first al fresco meal of the year. We discussed the challenges of keeping village pubs open especially at lunch times. Steve T explained that in France some form of subsidy exists to maintain shops and cafes in rural locations - there are no shop in Welshampton. 

Photo by Steve T

After a satisfying meal of mostly lite bites, though Steve T enjoyed the curry, we were back on our way. Our planned return route through Penley had included a couple of steep climbs, but for the sake of our digestion I diverted onto easier ground to Breaden Heath. A little further on we were brought to a halt by a couple trying to get two young horses into a horse box, but they were spooked, maybe by our arrival. Eventually they gave up and led them into a field, and we passed by. Fortunately Penley does have a general store because Dave H, who had forgotten his water bottle, was now feeling dehydrated.

Our route northwards continued to Holly Bush, Worthenbury and Shocklach. Here Andy left us to head home to Mold, and Dave and Liz expressed a desire for coffee. That seemed a good idea and the Lost Barn was on route, though we'd be lucky to get there before closing time. We pushed on through Tilston and arrived just before 4 o'clock. Coffee and cake was ordered, though at that time only available in paper cups and plates - we just about coped, though another cyclist who arrived too late was turned away.

On we rode through Stretton. Ray and Steve T in the lead, missed the small turn to Chowley and as we crossed the A41 again we were surprised to see them heading back down the main road from Handley. Back together in Tattenhall, we had completed an excellent 50 mile route through some beautiful countryside and reacquainted ourselves with a good pub. It's worth remembering that it is only about 3 miles from Ellesmere and therefore a good alternative to that destination.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday 14 April 2023

13th April 2013 : Special Ride : Ellerdine Heath (brisk)

The April Special Ride to Ellerdine Heath was a re-visit of that of October 2021; however on that occasion only Matt and John W joined me on a longer version of Dave M’s route. This time out I had extended the route to lanes anew along with old faithfuls to make a 65 miler. 

So six Briskets arrived at Audlem public car park just in time to park up their cars.  I came with Ken, Ray came with John M, and Richard and Nick arrived separately (and just in time for a last parking space). Ken and I did a brisk 5 mile warm-up to assess wind conditions before going to the cafe to meet up with the others.

The route was designed to take advantage of the brisk westerly wind at the start, then head southerly for many miles before turning into the wind to run along into Oakgate Nursery cafe for lunch. So we head east via Bunkers Hill and Madeley Heath to slide through Keele by the university. Back over the M6 and passing the Keele services, it was a fast run down to Chapel Chorlton.

Here we enter the long one and half miles of Butthouse Lane - a very muddied lane of agricultural usage (even with a tractor half way down it). At the grateful end of it at Standon Mill, we use a very large puddle to wash the wheels down. Onwards we wiggle to Croxton where I recall another long agricultural lane known as Ginger Lane. I remarked when we three in 2021 rode it that it would not be necessary for anyone else to do so again. This honour now is also bestowed on Butthouse Lane!

We work our way south westwards via Adbaston and Sambrook where the threatening sky deluges us with rain and hail. At Howle we phone the cafe as per instructions. The next 7 miles are a head-down ride into a strengthening westerley wind. We arrive at the cafe after 41 miles to see the Mods nearly finishing their lunch, and ours almost ready to bring to table. The cafe did us proud in not wasting time when we could refuel with the favourite of the day i.e. toasted paninis.

Suitably refreshed and carbohydrated, we set off about 15 mins after the Mods. We are now following the same route towards  Marchamley and its steep hill. We see them ahead but ignore their hilly route to continue onto to Hodnet. Up and out via Wollerton and Darliston, the rain threatens again as we cross the A41 bound for Ightfield.

It's now “downhill” all the way back into Audlem with 65 miles ridden and a well earned rest. After loading up the bikes, Ken and I drive out towards Whitchurch on the way headlight flashing several members of the Mod Group who are on their way into Audlem to finish their ride.

Overall a very satisfying ride with no “events” to speak of except for that muddy Butthouse Lane. Riding through this beautiful spring countryside was a joy, especially with great company of the brisk riding set who took it turns to punch ahead into the wind or lead on the hills.


Thursday 13 April 2023

13th April 2023: Special Ride: Audlem to Ellerdine Heath (mod)

Wednesday's weather was so soaking, that I wasn't sure who would take a long drive to risk more of the same on the Thursday. I was pleasantly surprised by the support, as both the brisk group and the moderate riders arrived in force at our staggered start. The new hosts at the Old Priest House cafe in Audlem were friendly and efficient. A few stalwarts were unavailable for various understandable reasons, but with Steve Hughes managing to join us, we were at full strength with regard to our lunch booking. Alan showed me a picture of Roy's post-crash purple leg. The leg and a broken thumb were why Roy was not with us. The images did not put Alan off scoffing a hearty breakfast! I believe that our attractive route was created by Dave Matthews in his hayday (circa 1965). We had ridden it before, about nineteen months ago, on a warm, sunny day. The moderates set out as St.James's church struck ten o'clock. The group consisted of Steve Haywood, Alan, Steve Hughes, Dave Pipe, Dave Matthews, Andy Barber, Battery-less Baird and myself. Ray had left his battery for his e-bike at home, a million miles away in Moreton, but was still game to have a go on his heavy machine.

Andy Whitgreave had sent me a copy of Dave M's previous route, so I had marked it on my paper maps in the hope of providing some helpful assistance. So it was, that Dave M led us out on the undulating lanes to Norton in Hales and on to Loggerheads. Andy's route map had an interesting looking back road featured at Mucklestone, which I must try if around here again. After Loggerheads, Dave took a turn that led us further down into a pretty hidden valley following the River Sow with Bishop's Wood to our right. The road was closed beyond Adbaston, so we had no alternative but to follow the road through Knighton, over the Shropshire Union Canal, and hope that the Roman Road at the end was viable. It all worked out well as we passed through Sambrook, and crossed the A41 to Howle. 

It was at this point that we decided, with a headwind, but just two relatively straight stretches ahead, to ring Oakgate Garden Centre cafe to tell them we would arrive in thirty-five minutes. Then things unravelled! The apparently straight route to Great Bolas had a sort of 'disguised'(!), right turn in it, which we didn't take, so we ended up in the village of Tibberton instead. Dave M got splinters from scratching his head, and we had to navigate a hummocky three miles or so, which included crossing the River Meese and  the River Tern in order to get back on route. It was reassuring to have Steve Hughes' Garmin-led intelligence at this point. ( I was just hoping to run into Tonto, and was intent on keeping the sun to my left). Our e.t.a. was now out of the window, and I had to inform the Garden Centre to put our lunch back in the oven. This was also a real twist of the knife for Ray, who had to pedal even more miles on his unpowered tank in order to reach our lunch stop. 

Traversing the A442 was a bit dodgy, and it was a relief to get out of the headwind, and finally sit down for our grub. The Oakgate cafe was very busy, but there were two reserved tables for our club. Service was instant, and the staff put themselves out to take and deliver drink orders, rather than have us queuing at the busy counter.  The food was 'lite bite', pre-ordered quiche and Panini fare, but some of us had ordered extra chips. Andy 'seven bellies' Barber was still hungry though, and resorted to vacuuming any leftovers. Dave 'no carbs' Pipe had not touched his new potatoes, and Andy found these particularly enticing. I suppose he has to be a calorie loading machine to have the energy for all those long Audax rides. The Fast Lads arrived a bit wet and muddy, as Clive's longer route, and their timing, meant they had just been a bit unlucky with the precipitation.

Photo by Steve Hu

We returned via Stanton upon Hine Heath, and then headed north with the strong wind mainly helping us all the way back. The notoriously steep Marchamley Hill had some of us walking. Just before that the Fast Lads had been sighted behind, but they were headed for Hodnet. We had also passed the West Midlands Shooting Ground which disturbed a very peaceful, scenic area. On hitting the A442 my route map showed a brief downhill section, then a right turn on a tight bend into quiet lanes, but we had no sign of the lead riders. There followed a number of phone calls, and hopes of intercepting them on a  route through Fauls and Darliston. So, the three lagging musketeers were Dave Pipe, Steve Hughes and myself. Dave and Steve stopped for waterproofs at Millenheath and then stopped at Ightfield to take them off again. The threatening heavy shower was short, so didn't really soak us us. We were quite happy making our own way, but we didn't want the lead group wasting time trying to find out what had happened to us. Steve eventually managed some communication, which meant we all knew our respective locations, and could relax. 

We chose to hit the A525 into Audlem near Rookery Farm, and then had a speedy, wind-assisted last lap back to the start. Dave Pipe and myself had fancied a coffee, but the Old Priest House was, unsurprisingly, closed. We were the last ones to return. I apologise for my part in the ride leadership being a bit flawed, it was not the closely synchronised model of Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee, with clearly defined roles, and a bit of magic to ensure no mistakes. However, we are very grateful to Dave Matthews for constructing such an enjoyable route, and the weather was loads better than expected.  Congratulations to Ray for a sterling effort. Many thanks for your company and support, and I hoped you liked the ride, if not a lot, you still liked it!

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday 6 April 2023

6th April 2023: Tattenhall (mod)

Cleopatra’s was the meeting point today, which saw a turn out of approx 12 and unusually, no fast boys at all. Amongst the 12 was a new member (a slight man, with silvery white hair and a somewhat young looking face, for his age that is- Lol) pitched up on a rather lovely Scott bike. That said, we later discovered, that this particular model has a built in fault, where the crank arm randomly falls off (not so lovely after all- more about that later- Lol)

As usual I digress, before I have even introduced the merry band that formed my group for the day- Lol. And so it came to pass; Andy, DH, ‘new man’-Lol, Dave & Lizz, Ray B, Dave M and Steve’s; Hu, Ha & T became my group for the day, after what can only be described as a fine example of CER dithering- Lol. This was primarily due to nobody having a route, of course, although Steve T tried, but I think his pretend Garmin was not playing ball again- Lol. I had my usual local easy hills option, which I didn’t really expect to use. However, once I mentioned Alison’s cafe would be my destination, as it favoured the forecasted strong winds, then my route became the go to ride, despite mentioning a few light hills.

Off we finally trot, once DH had found the tel number for our cafe destination, which secured us a reservation. 10 bikes and 11 cyclists ( no, DH was not riding crossbar on Ray’s Ebike- Lol.) We of course had Dave & Lizz on the tandem. We headed out directly south with a nice tailwind, which made it easy for some of us to tap the pace along, until we turned east around the bottom of Malpas, as that was roughly when the infamous crank arm fell off. This meant that George would have to turn back for home. (That’s right, there wasn’t a ‘new man’ after all. It had been so long since anybody had seen George that we simply didn’t recognise him- Lol Lol). However, in true CER fashion, a few volunteers were on hand to help out and escort George back to his car at Cleo’s (thanks to Andy, Steve Hu and DH) 

So, after a little coordination by Steve T, via the dog & bone, (as so often happens, we were all scattered in small groups along the road) the remainder of my depleted group of 5 regrouped and resumed our ride, with the knowledge that the others, minus George of course bless him) would meet us at Alison’s. We pedalled off and I couldn’t help wonder about the likely conversation George might have when he got to the bike shop who serviced his stead, only the day before (Ouch!) 

Now through Malpas we head north east on a steady upward trend, through No Mans Heath and on past the lovely Bickerton, which I by-passed for the sake of the Tandem, only to find out, from Dave P, that Bickerton Lane would not be a problem. This meant we could now go straight over Harthill and no need to take the easier way around, which was already planned for the return leg anyway.

After regrouping at the top of Harthill we swoop down and turn right into School Lane and swing across to the rather lovely Poffee cafe at Burwardsley, which I point out to Dave & Lizz. They had heard of it but weren’t sure of its location hence, a minor detour to that end. A smart descent into Tattenhall saw us quickly at Alison’s (only 2 minutes late for our table)

Fortunately Paula was already there to warn them of our slight delay, which Lorna ( the waitress) found very surprising when Paula said we were 5 minutes away. “How do you know that” was her remark, which Paula promptly responded to by flashing her 360 app on the phone- Lol. (She likes to track me when I am on the bike, gives her peace of mind bless her.)

Our now smaller group now all settled and menu’s in hand the conversation, before DH arrived, started off with the story about the two Flying Wallendas, from the previous weeks ride- Lol. I was hearing about it for the first time, as were a few others. Cut a long story short (for those who also didn’t hear about it) Roy’s injuries were not to serious, fortunately, although a broken thumb was the latest update (get well soon mate). Then Dave arrived and filled us in on the rest of the story, as he was the second Wallenda- Lol.  Apparently DH’s acrobatics, before he hit the deck, were more akin to a Torville & Dean performance than a flying Wallenda- Lol. Again and fortunately, DH only suffered a minor scratch on his finger. Inexplicably, the two Wallendas touched handlebars, in some way and the rest is history, as they say. All jokes aside, it is nice to here that they got away with no serious injuries. It is a poignant reminder of how easy it can be to hit the ‘Old Macadam’, which at our ages is not advisable, as we don’t tend to bounce as well as we once did- Lol.

Lunch over, but notably, there was no sign of Steve Hu, only Andy & DH made it from the infamous ‘crank group’- Lol. I later discovered, from Strava, that Steve was on a 100 miler ride and CER was a bit of a prelude to the main event hence, I assume, he decided to carry on with his own thing, 

We set off again up the hill, out of Tattenhall and then down again- Lol. I was in auto mode, being so close to home and ignored the Garmin, telling me to take the left toward Harthill. Anyway, back on route, we were quickly assending the easier option, around Harthill and beyond to Brown Knowl and across to Tilston via a few particularly favoured lanes of mine. Once in Tilston we head up toward Wetreins Lane where I depart for home, as Steve Ha knew the way back to Cleo’s only 3 miles away. 

I got back with a respectable 47 miles on the clock, after a very pleasent meander with some great company.

Final comment, for those who may not have heard and use gas pumps. The Gov has now inexplicably outlawed gas cylinders, which is apparently due to the teenage craze for sniffing the bloody stuff. So get online quick and get your supply. I for one don’t want to struggle with a hand pump ever again, so I got myself 30 cylinders, no prob on Amazon- Lol.

Cheers everybody, till next time.


See route map and/or gpx file download

PS. We arrived back at Cleopatra's at about 2:45, to discover we were only just in time for coffee and cakes as they were closing at 3pm for a zoom meeting. Total distance covered on the route was 35 miles. SH