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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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Monday 29 May 2023

25th May 2023: Whixall Marina (mod)

Another week, another marina and, despite the good weather forecast, another low turn out. Only 8 members turned up at Cleopatra's on what promised to be a warm sunny day. Six of us intended to ride, these being Alan, Clive, Dave P, George, Ray and myself. Dave M had ridden out for coffee and was heading home afterwards. The 8th member was Peter, who was out to join us for coffee for the first time since suffering a stroke at the beginning of the year. Good to see that he is on the road to recovery and hopefully he will be able to join us for a full ride before too long.

As we were sitting outside in the sunshine enjoying our morning coffee someone pointed out that none of our usual ride leaders were present. I had my Garmin with me so I started looking through it to find a suitable ride and the first one I came across for Holt was a 40-miler which went virtually south to Bettisfield before turning back northwards for the return. So where was lunch going to be, I was asked, to which I had to shrug my shoulders and reply 'I don't know'. From the map my best guess was that it would be the Hanmer Arms but someone thought that it had closed again. Clive suggested Wixhall Marina which he knew was just a few miles from Bettisfield so it was decided that I would lead the ride with Clive leading the last bit to the marina.

The sat-nav doesn't show which way the route was originally ridden so for personal reasons, which will become apparent later, I opted to lead it in an anti-clockwise direction. The six of us set out across the Dee Bridge and as we passed the turning towards Chester it was immediately clear that the original route had been clockwise. Fortunately Garmin haven't introduced a voice which keeps telling you to 'turn around when possible' so we turned right, crossed the A534 and headed down through Shocklach to Worthenbury. Before reaching Bangor-on-Dee we turned left towards Holly Bush and then Penley. Passing through the village we turned right and passed through Breadon Heath and on to Bettisfield.

At this point my route turned us left but Clive took over and we turned right for Northwood. Here we turned left and then left again to Whixhall Marina at Dobsons Bridge. Whixhall itself is actually 2 miles away but what's in a name? The important thing is that it has a cafe where most of us opted for a panini. 

Photo by CER

After lunch we retraced our route back to Bettisfield then continued north to Hanmer. The Hanmer Arms was indeed closed and up for sale. Another sad loss to our list of lunch venues. After Hanmer we had just over a mile of A-roads before turning off at Eglwys Cross. A few miles later we had a long straight descent into Lower Wych. I barely had the time to pat myself on the back for missing this ascent by doing the route anti-clockwise when, shortly after passing through the tiny Hamlet, we started cycling up again on a hill which I'm sure was much steeper. To avoid a further climb through Malpas we turned left and after a short detour to avoid a one-way street (who puts one-way streets in the middle of the countryside?) we headed through Chorlton and Horton Green and into Tilston.

After turning left Dave cycled up to me and said that he and the others wanted to stop at The Lost Barn for coffee. Faced with this mutiny and being outnumbered I had no option but to agree. I must admit, though, that they do do good coffee. I was also quite impressed by their cycle rack. Much better on the wheels than the ground mounted racks that most places had.

Photo by TC

Soon after The Lost Barn there is a short cut along Wetreins Lane. Alan wanted to take it as he had ridden out from Flint and had a log ride home. He took it and Ray went with him. The rest of us carried on, crossing back over the A534 at Barton. We followed the winding lanes through Coddington to Churton. Here the route turned left for the final run to Farndon and back over the River Dee to Holt. However for Clive and I, who had ridden down from Chester, it was closer to home to turn right. (Aah, so that's why the anti-clockwise route was chosen). Checking that George and Dave knew their way back, I sent them on their way to complete what would have been about 47 miles while Clive and I made our own ways home.

See route map and/or gpx file download

TC

Monday 22 May 2023

18th May 2023: Wrenbury (mod +)

Rose Farm was the venue for todays ride and a somewhat smaller gathering than normal, for this location that is (8, if I recall correctly- had a few wines since then-Lol). The day was looking promising, with the sun out, light winds and a nice cuppa out side- Lol. I had in fact arrived early with Trevor, after catching him up at the top of Wood Lane. We were surprised to see the cafe already open. We subsequently discovered that they now open at 9am. I had a route in mind to ‘The Park’ cafe (Wrenbury) and the intention of tapping out a quicker ride  than usual, as I needed to get home a bit earlier than usual. This appealed to Nick, and Steve Hu, as none of us wanted or needed to end up back at Rose Farm. Steve also wanted to get 100 miles in and my route was roughly in the right direction to facilitate that ambition (mad sod- Lol). The smaller gathering meant we were all quickly sorted for the ride groups. No sooner decided and we were off, leaving Steve T, I believe, to lead the other group.

Left out of Rose Farm for us and a nice little climb to start us off, as I turned right into Fishers Green and then up Ridge Hill, much to the consternation of the other two- Lol, as it is a descent drag, but way nicer than the horrible shorter Ukinton  Road. We are soon thrashing down the road into the top of Tarporley for the immediate left up another, but easier drag to Portal Golf Club, where we turn right into the lengthy down hill, through Ruddell Heath, thus avoiding Tarporley High Street.

This work around led us into a couple of lovely narrow lanes to the A49. We only have to use the A road for approximately 400 mtrs, in order to pick up the lane through to Tilston Bank (which you must know by now is one of my favourite little stretches, in the whole of the county). Right at the Dysart Arms and the immediate left lead us up and around the back of Bunbury (thinking the main drag was still closed, only for Steve to inform me it was now open again). However, I prefer Whyche Road anyway and our second crossing of the River Gowy - Lol.

As we pass Tilly's cafe, I imagined  a respectful nod, as they make the best ‘Eggs Royal’ in the land. However, I had a little smile, as I knew our cafe destination, serves a similar plate, almost as good. I think this was when Steve made his traditional query about how many miles we had till lunch- Lol. We were now whipping through the lanes on route to crossing the main A road at Faddiley and across to the more interesting section of my route. As usual I had planned a deliberately convoluted route to our destination, as there are some fabulous narrow lanes around that area, in great condition. This subsequently caused Nick to be continuously surprised, as I kept turning the opposite way to his natural instincts (he knows this area well and clearly rides them in a different way- Lol). Steve was, by now, already making a mental note of the route, in order to ride it with his wife, which he later commented he would do. The good condition of the lanes prompted a little discussion between me and Nick, regarding some of the worse lanes we have encountered, in particular how we both avoid the awful lanes around Hanmar- Lol.

Before we knew it we were passing ‘The Swan’, at Marbury, where  I pointed out, to Steve, a great picnic spot, at the back of St Michael’s church, over looking the ‘Big Mere’ (that is it’s name-Lol) I couldn’t claim the glory for discovering this lovely spot, as it was  DH who pointed it out to me on a previous ride, some years ago. Anyway, we now head off along Wrenbury Lane, through Marley Green and on into Wrenbury for our lunch stop (26 miles done).

We couldn’t help but have a little banter with the young girl who took our simple order of 3 teas and 3 ‘eggs royal’- Lol. “Wish every group was as simple as that”, was her reply. It didn’t take long to come either, which meant we were setting off again within 30 minutes, which suited us all. We did however, manage a little thoughtful laugh and a joke at Allan’s expense, after Steve commented about him missing the ride, due to him having to fix his car. Steve again commented on the exceptionally quiet lanes and the lovely scenery, several of the lanes he had not encountered before.  We both thought Al would be gutted to have missed such an interesting route, so we promised not to let him know what a cracking ride he had missed- Lol- Lol ( surely he won’t read this-Lol).




Photos by Neil

My return route now took us back through the same area, but on different lanes, until Nick decided he was at a convenient location for him to head off home (somewhere near Egerton). No sooner had Nick said cheerio, when Steve suggested we didn’t have to stick to the route, giving me the option to adapt it so we passed closer to Tattenhall, which would be convenient for me and also heading in the right direction for him. He also expressed a wish to keep the rest of the route flatter, being as he had another 40 miles to do.

So, a quick rethink by me meant that we headed off toward Tilston via Duckington, which ironically meant that Nick could have stayed with us, as we were in fact now heading directly toward his house and probably only half a mile behind him- Lol. I avoided the lovely Goldford Lane, through Bickerton, in favour of the relatively flat ‘Long Lane’, with its very high hedge rows and lovely tarmac. After a couple of miles we then turned right, slightly up hill toward Brown Knowl, but then head off left to Tilston, along one of the best lanes in Cheshire, which didn’t go a miss with Steve. My intention was to drop Steve at the top of Wetreins lane (only half a mile from the Lost Barn cafe, which we didn’t stop at- Lol). This would allow Steve to cross the river Dee, via Farndon/ Holt and then work his way home to Penyffordd. I could then swing back up through Carden Park for a last few miles of light hills, which I did.

I got home at 14:30 with 58 miles on the clock and a few small hills under the belt. What a cracking day in the sun, reinforced by not having to battle winds, several cracking lanes and a few good laughs. 

Thanks gents, enjoyed it a lot and please don’t mention anything to Al- Lol- Lol- Lol.

Till next time.

Neil.

Friday 19 May 2023

18th May 2023: Audlem (mod)

It was warm and still enough to sit outside Rose Farm cafe for coffee at ten. I think Neil was offering to lead one of his interesting circular rides, which are usually moderate plus in pace and  climbs. Nick and Steve“Yozza”Hughes joined him. The remaining motley crew consisted of Steve Tan, Dave Pipe, Ever Ready Ray, Trevor and myself. Steve offered to lead as he had a route to Audlem, and this could be adapted for our chosen destination of  Cafe at Bridge 80, 

Photo by Steve T

We headed down through Clotton where I recalled to Trevor sliding down the lane on an icy day decades ago. I had managed to use a spoke key to partly straighten a very buckled  front wheel, and with the brake disconnected, rode back to Runcorn relatively unscathed. Unusually, we hit the A49 at Tiverton, went south for a short stretch, turned right to Beeston, then crossed to Bunbury and rode on to Haughton Moss, passing The Nag's Head, which always looks attractive, but you can't be sure if it's operating. Dave and Liz have enjoyed eating there in the past. At Burland Hall we headed left toward Nantwich on the A534, before turning south to Sound, via Ravensmoor on familiar lanes. The weather was sunny, and this was Chester Easy Riders at our best, cruising through lush Cheshire countryside, chatting to friends, and pace not being a pressure. 

We turned off Coole Lane, and ate a tasty lunch sitting next to the Shropshire Union Canal . The staff were friendly, and the company was convivial. I can't remember much of the conversation apart from enjoying some banter with big Ray, and asking Trevor where he got his excellent teeth from. They turned out to be his own! The ride back started on a south west loop including a stretch on the Audlem to Whitchurch road before heading to Aston, Pinsley Green, Wrenbury, Chorley Bank, Brindley and coffee and cake at Tilly's. Tilstone Bank provided its usual challenge. At the A51 Dave Pipe deemed heading up toward Eaton as the safest route, and then we slogged up to the top of the by-pass before crossing into Heath Green. Somewhere along the way, Trevor made his own way back to Guilden Sutton. The awful road surface had to be dealt with on the short, stiff climb to Rose Farm, but everybody was happy to have covered fifty one miles in good company on a fine day. Many thanks to Steve for taking the responsibility for leading once again.

See route map and/or gpx file download

DH

Friday 12 May 2023

11th May 2023: Gwaenesgor (mod)

 The unpredictable weather certainly did not deter a sprinkling of mod and fast riders at the Gallery Cafe, Hawarden. The new owners made us very welcome and the food and drinks were served up efficiently and quickly.

The fast lads were off on a 100 miler to Colwyn Bay. Trevor & Dave M were doing their own ride; this left ride leader Alan, Ray, Matt and Steve Hu as the fearless foursome to set off into the Welsh Hills.

The weather forecast had been particularly poor in terms of accuracy this week, however certain knowns were, it will rain at sometime today, if we go towards Mold it will rain all day.

The Eagle and Child at Gwaenesgor was selected and began with a plunge down to the river past the blue bridge. The route took us along the cycle path to the Dee which in turn threw up challenges on width restrictions for the trike. The quiet roads passed by Kelsterton College and Alan led us through an innovative way of bypassing  Flint by way of a new housing estate. By now the rain had arrived and rain jackets were donned.

 The climb past Bagilt Wood can never be described as easy , yet today complete with rain jacket it seemed “super hard”, as the Vuelta riders are fond of saying. The road climb continues to just before Whitford where we joined some lovely lanes and the temperature hit 16 deg C, a full five degree C warmer than in the rain earlier. The wild garlic was in full flower and greeted our swooping progress though the small glades and valleys. These lovely lanes skirt the hillside with panoramic views of the Wirral. Shortly the road drops into the picturesque village of Llanasa.

 The last push up to the viewing point above Gwaenesgor provided an ideal opportunity for the group photo. Lunch was then consumed at the excellent Eagle & Child.

On top of the world

Replete with fish finger / vegan or beef rolls we set off on the slightly busier road to Trelawynd, a sharp right resumes quiet lane riding as we head towards Caerwys road. A quick scoot along the cycleway parallel to the A55 results in some road side maintenance from Matt as he adjusts the tracking on his trike.

From here to Halkyn is a series of long climbs culminating with Halkyn mountain. Unfortunately, Ever Ready Ray did not live up to his monika as his battery was flat. Fortunately the back of the climbing had been broken and we dropped into Northop where Alan left us. The three musketeers headed for Ewloe where Matt set off back to Chester. By now huge dark clouds had descended, necessitating a spirited ride to Hawarden to avoid the thunder and lightning which ensued within 5 mins of the end of the ride.

Thanks Alan for planning the ride which was just 44 miles with a respectable 3000 feet of climbing.

SHu

See route map and/or gpx file download

Saturday 6 May 2023

4th May 2023: Little Bollington (mod)

 It was dry and bright as I rode out to Delamere, but there was a blustery wind from the east which would affect us during our ride today. A dozen Easy Riders gathered at the Station Café - Electric Jim and Trevor were doing their own thing, Dave H was doing his and Neil arrived exhausted after battling the east wind all the way from Gresford and would do his own thing as well.

That left and octet of Dave H, Steves Hu and T, Alan, Ever Ready Ray, Clive, George and Roy who was still recovering from his collision with Dave H four weeks ago. Our destination was the Swan with Two Nicks at Little Bollington, one of Dave H’s favourites and on our list of favoured lunch stops, but somewhere that we haven’t visited for over four years.

Our route out took us via Hatchmere, Norley and Crowton to Acton Bridge, where we enjoyed the run down Acton Lane to the swing bridge. Our climb up it later in the day would be less enjoyable! Having crossed the A49, we climbed out of the Weaver Valley heading for Comberbach.  Just before there, near the Cheshire Riding School, the lane is badly potholed and these have been marked up for repair. Someone has written ‘Do all of it!’ in spray paint on the road here. Perhaps we should do the same on the road from Delamere Station to Hatchmere!

Going via Budworth Heath, we followed Budworth Road towards Knutsford. The strong east wind made itself felt all along here until we diverted from the route of four years ago to take ‘Tan’s Tabley Transfer’.  This allows safe crossing of the busy A556 close to where it intersects with the M6, but requires a ride along a very rough section of road past Tabley Moss Wood.

Entering Tatton Park at the Knutsford entrance, we were rewarded with the sight of a herd of red and fallow deer.

Leaving the park via the Rostherne entrance, we crossed the A556 near Bucklow Hill and turned to the east again to run through Arthill across the M56 and A56, arriving at Little Bollington just before 1 pm.

The Swan with Two Nicks gets its name from the practice of swan upping. Swan upping was the means of establishing a swan census, as all swans belonged to the Sovereign. Under a 15th century Royal Charter, the Vintners’ Company and the Dyers’ Company, two Livery Companies of the City of London, are entitled to share in the Sovereign’s ownership and it is they who conduct the census through a process of ringing the swans’ feet. Those caught by the Dyers and Vintners are identified as theirs by means of a further ring on the other leg. Today, only swans with cygnets are caught and ringed. 

Originally, the two companies made their own marks on the birds’ beaks: one nick for a dyers’ bird and two for a vintners’; today the two Companies use their own rings. This practice provided the name of the pub. This was a 16th century pun, the word “nick” also meaning “neck”.

Food and drink orders were quickly placed and we were able to sit outside in the warm sunshine. As usual the food was of a good quality, although a little more expensive than it was four years ago. Nevertheless, the ciabattas, fish and chips and sandwiches went down well. The only blot on the landscape was the sight of Dave H polishing his helmet, but the less said about that, the better.

The peleton...
....gathers....

..and leaves.

Our return journey took us along the busy A56, but we soon diverted along Spring Lane to Oughtrighton and past Lymm High School. After another short stretch along the A56, we hung left into Crouchley Lane past Lymm Rugby Club and then right into Mag Lane where we crossed the M56 once more. From Sworton Heath, we were soon cycling through the former RAF base at Stretton, which was set up to protect Manchester and Liverpool during WW II. Parts of it are still in use for private aircraft.

Crossing the A559 and Antrobus , we then followed the small lanes through Frandley to reach Little Leigh, where the road was clogged with cars as it was turning out time at the local primary school. Crossing the A49 at the swing bridge proved difficult and it was only due to Steve Hu’s selfless action of walking his bike across that we were able to reach the other side. The hill up Acton Lane provided a test of stamina to all of us. At the top Dave H decided to cover the rest of the ride at his own pace and so fell off the back of the peloton. The ride up into Norley provided our last challenge and so we arrived back at Delamere a few minutes before 4 pm with 49 miles covered.

Thanks to all participants for their support and company and special thanks to Alan for the photos.

ST

See route map and/or gpx file download