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 29 December 2023

28th December 2023: Tilston (mod)

The venue on yet another windy Thursday was changed last minute from a shut Walk Mill to Meadow Lea. Fortunately, it appeared that everyone who intended to be out had got the message. Despite the high winds, likelihood of mid-morning heavy rain, and it still being the Christmas holiday period, several members had made the effort. Steve Tan turned up in his attractive six-cylinder BMW Z3 roadster and kindly bought me a coffee. Following his recent floor routine on ice near Venetian Marina, he was recovering, but far from ride ready. Dave Matthews has been a consistent venue attender through recent weeks of ice, flood and storms, but wouldn’t be out for the day.  Matt was riding having recently returned from cycling challenges abroad. Also riding were Clive, Big Ray, Alan and myself. It was also great to see Roy being able to make it.

There wasn’t a properly thought-out route available, but I fancied that Malpas via Tattenhall would work, with the familiarity of a large section of the ride being the same as I had covered with George last week. George wouldn’t be bored by the repetition as he was away in Skipton. We headed for Hargreave via Waverton and Greenlooms. Dave Matthews accompanied us before pealing off for home as planned. We were suffering heavy rain and fierce winds, when Roy was unfortunate to suffer a puncture. He insisted that we carry on without him and that he would catch us up later or phone his wife to drive out and pick him up. He already had his wheel out, and as it was a front wheel, and we were not in the Welsh mountains, I could see that having four people standing around getting wetter and colder was not strictly necessary.  Nevertheless, I for one think we should have stayed. Roy has gone the extra mile to help in poor weather in the past. I apologised to him later, and  I won’t leave anyone again, unless going for help, or to return with the Berlingo. Come to think of it, like Roy, I insisted on people carrying on when my wheel rim exploded some weeks ago, but I was able to spend three hours reading The Times and eating biscuits in a couple’s sunny conservatory. Not quite the same! 

My newish OS map had almost dissolved in the rain, so I was grateful for Clive’s knowledge of the lanes meaning that I didn’t have to fiddle about checking the way forward to Tattenhall. Last week Brown Knowl and Duckington had been my route to Tilston, and on to Malpas via a circuitous route through Threapwood. I felt that even heading straight to Malpas from Tilston on this route would involve climbing and be slower. However, just like last week the direct route to the A41 was closed, presumably flooded, so Clive led us to Milton Green, Handley, Coddington and Barton in a reverse copy of the return route with George last week. This alternative cannot be recommended in normal circumstances, because the A41 stretch does feel authentically dangerous on a bicycle. Still, it is an attractive and quiet little link otherwise. 

Malpas was no longer first choice for lunch. I know that Alan was feeling the wet and cold like myself. Ray was still trying to convert me to the attractions of cruises. I must admit that this aroused images of a hot Caribbean holiday for a few minutes, which diverted my attention from my wet discomfort. Mind you Ray probably had cold Denmark in mind, with Wakefield’s own pub singer Jane McDonald as the wailing, on board entertainment! Thankfully, the rain eventually stopped for the day. The Lost Barn’s coffee aromas were enticing, but the place was amazingly busy, so we finished up at The Carden Arms. Our gloves were temporarily warmed, but not dried, on the hearth of the open fire. Calls were made to check up on Roy. He had fixed his puncture, rode to his van at Mickle Trafford and driven home. I look forward to him having much better days with us in future. The staff at the Carden Arms  were great and the food fine.  I got a little mixed up over where Matt had conducted his recent cycle tour, being at the opposite end of the table. It is amazing how he has pushed on his progress from serious injury. You will have to ask him yourself about the details of his solo winter adventure. Clive had to take off smartly for a haircut in Chester.

Photo by Alan O

We returned on a quick and direct route, which was mainly wind assisted. Alan and Matt departed at Farndon, and Ray and myself rode on to Churton, Waverton and Christleton. We took the Vicars Cross route with Ray operating the pedestrian lights, whilst I was directing a car heading toward me that was in the wrong turning lane. The right turn lanes here are unusually juxtaposed, and need amending. I wonder if Jim has a council number that works? We were soon passing Ivan’s house. Thankfully, he was not falling out of a tree wrestling with Christmas lights this year. Ray and I were glad to get back to Meadow Lea. I just had time to race back to get Harry the dog out before it got dark. Coffee and cake had to wait!  Many thanks to my comrades on the day for making the effort to make a go of it when once again the weather was not enticing, and Station Lane flooded by the time we returned.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Tuesday 26 December 2023

21st December 2023: Malpas (mod)

As I pulled up the slip road to join the M56, I was intent on avoiding being on the inside of any spray spouting juggernaut. The forecast ferocious crosswind was full-on, and the rain torrential on the high level bridge. The windage forces on a curtain-sided artic trailer in these conditions could result in it overturning. What was I doing driving in this “do not go out unless you really have to” weather?  I was driving to Tattenhall to go cycling with friends!  This choice felt like a gross misjudgement as powerful wind gusts hit the Berlingo, but I had committed by email to turning up, so stage one was surviving the journey to Alison’s. I felt a little more relaxed weaving slowly through Christleton village, as it was more sheltered and bone dry.  

I arrived early at Alison’s, leaving my bike in the back of the car, as it was probable that if anyone had turned up at all they would not be riding. Riding on your own is an added risk, if say, a tree lands on your head on a little back lane, and you can’t reach your phone. I don’t think Lynne would be able to find me in rural backwater twenty miles from home. At least, she would probably want to complete her Christmas shop at M&S Food first. Clive, Ken and Ivan were already ensconced at an inside table. Clive had driven Ivan over and had hoped to collect Steve Haywood to meet the club riders. Ivan was recovering well with his new knee, but Steve’s back operation was recent, so he had to decline. George then turned up and joined us, shortly followed by Dave Matthews in civvies. 

After a very pleasant and sociable forty minutes came the moment of truth: who was able and willing to have a ride? George and I decided to give it a go. We climbed up to Bosworth Castle, and then down and up to Broxton Old Hall. At Duckington we headed south west to Tilston and Shocklach. We agreed, that with the high winds and it being nearly the shortest day of the year, we would embroider a few miles around Threapwood and Oldcastle Heath, rather than stretch to Overton. George had coped well without the use of his inside chainwheel, but it was a reminder that it was possible for things to go wrong, and we would have to battle some headwinds later. We called in at my favourite garage, Birchdown Autos in Peacock Farmyard to wish Steve a happy Christmas, before heading for the Old Fire Station in Malpas. The café, was full, but on the suggestion of a nice young woman working there, we finished up at The Little Deli in Church Street. It had been ages since I had been, but I remember it as a favourite tea stop for Dave and Liz. The staff were friendly, and we were well pleased with lunch. On leaving I checked George’s front changer, but apart from a bit of adjustment of his stop screws, it didn’t seem worth getting into further by the roadside, as we had no hard climbs ahead. 

On our way back we intended to miss the Chowley route into Tattenhall, as in the morning the road passing “The Righi” had been closed. We returned via Tilston, Barton, Coddington, passing Aldersley Green Golf Club (where my dentist tells me, that we could probably get lunch). This route into Handley was a first for both of us. It is an attractive little village, mentioned in the Domesday Book with some thatched houses and a very old church. We braved a short stretch of A41 to Milton Green before crossing into Frog Lane, passing Russia Hall and over yet another stretch of  the disused railway line that we often cross in this area.  The old route runs from the main line west of Hargrave down into Whitchurch. We reached Alison’s just as the staff were locking up. They cheerfully declined my offer to pay for coffees that I had forgotten to pay for in the morning. I will pay the amount owed as a tip next time! George was excellent company as ever. Storm Pia had punched its weight and had provided the occasional “whooah!” moment, but the ride had never felt seriously dangerous. For the best part we had been well sheltered by the hedged narrow lanes, and it had been mild and dry. Thirty something enjoyable miles. 


Friday 15 December 2023

14th December 2023: Christmas lunch ride to Gresford (mod)

There are numerous traditions associated with Christmas. Christmas trees, mince pies, turkey and Santa, of course, to name but a few. To these, CER members can add the Pant-yr-Ochain at Gresford which seems to have become the venue of choice for our annual Christmas lunch ride. We've always been pleased with the food and service there so Dave H booked it again this year but this time he booked the meal for mid-day so that we wouldn't be cycling home in the dark. This meant that there were only 2 possible starting points for a ride out which would get us there in time and since we had ridden from Alison's last year we started from Maggie's in Holt this year. 

The weather forecast was good which resulted in a good turnout for the rides. After the brisk group had departed there were 11 of us left for the moderate ride. I left heading south towards the main road followed by Alan, Andy B, Dave H, David M, Jim, Mike, Neil, Ray, Shane and Steve Hu. Its only 5 miles from Maggie's to the Pant-yr-Ochain so I'd had to devise a route to get there at the right time and not an hour early. In the end I came up with a route including 2 large circles which would get us there at about the right time. So on reaching the main road we turned left then immediately right where we were confronted with a view of the fields completely covered by water. It looked more like the Lake District than the Cheshire countryside. Steve insisted on us stopping for a photo and risked life and limb by standing in the middle of the road to get one.

Photos by Steve Hu

After the photo shoot we turned right into Francis Lane and followed it until we reached the new dual-carriageway which carries traffic to the industrial estate. We wanted the road straight across but had to follow the cycle path down to the roundabout and back up the other side. A circular tour of Clays Golf Centre brought us to another roundabout which we crossed to get to Borras Hall Lane. At the top of this lane we turned right and right again, heading towards Commonwood, and in the direction of Holt. Before we completed the circle we turned left up towards Rossett, left through Hoseley and left again into Hoseley Lane. Before completing the second circle we turned right again. Some carried on here while some of us waited for a few of the others to catch up and and it was nice to see Peter. He had ridden out to wish us a Happy Christmas but had missed us at Holt. We carried on along Vicarage Lane towards Gresford and turned into the Old Wrexham Road for the final mile to the Pant-yr-Ochain, arriving with only 12 miles done and with 10 minutes to spare.

As we enjoyed our lunch we were reminded of why we keep going back to the Pant-yr-Ochain. Great food, great service and great company.

No messing about on the way back. We took the short route back retracing our route along Old Wrexham Road, Vicarage Lane then down through Commonwood back to Holt. At 17 miles its the shortest CER ride that I've ever done But then today was more about the lunch than the ride and we certainly enjoyed that.

Many thanks to Dave H for organising the lunch and for all the work he does for the club throughout the year. Happy Christmas to him and all our readers. 

See route map and/or gpx file download


14th December 2023 : Christmas Lunch ride to Gresford (brisk)

So popular is the CER Christmas celebration that Maggie’s at 10 am was bursting at the seams with virtually the full CER membership in attendance. The Christmas lunch is once again being hosted by the Pant-y-Ochain in Gresford, our venue of choice for a number of years and a real favourite with us all.The weather today was overcast and warm, a total contrast to last years event which was held on a very cold and icy day. 

Trevor led the mods on a loop heading south while I took the brisk group on a loop in the opposite direction to the north. I had five for company Ray S, Nick, John M, Clive plus Richard -who was out only for the ride as his planned golfing jolly had been cancelled. Ivan, one of the main pillars of the brisk group, is recovering well from his knee surgery but unfortunately not yet fit enough to attend. We will look forward to seeing him out on the bike in the new year.

The short route today is along roads that we are all very familiar with, visiting the villages of Dodleston, Kinnerton and Llay. I had posted the route earlier in the week but this was not the route we took. I decided that some extra resistance training (hills) to help sharpen our appetite’s would be beneficial and this detour was made easier by Clive’s request to visit Alf Jones’s bike shop. 

After leaving Holt, we headed out to Rossett and turned off  into Gamford Lane to join Wrexham Road at Lavister. After a few hundred metres we turned off onto  the muddy road that goes through Dodleston to Lower and then into Higher Kinnerton. At the junction of Sandy Lane, we began the detour going up Sandy Lane to Shordley where we  turned left gently descending the very wet roads to Llay at the junction with the Crown Inn. Skirting around Llay we crossed over the dual carriageway and up the very steep short climb to Gresford's 15th century Church -its  bells are classified as one of Wales Seven Wonders. (The bells are  also included in a rhyme dating back to the 18th century. See here for more information.)

We turned into Pant Lane which brought us to Alf Jones shop where Clive completed his purchase and Nick received help from the workshop to free off the seized bolts in his brake callipers. Great service from our local bike shop. Following which we continued to the ‘Pant’ with only 18 miles ridden.

The ‘Pant’ with Dave H’s help were very well organised and quickly had our group of 19 seated, fed, and watered. Plenty of noisy banter, accompanied by good food, provided a great atmosphere. A perfect way to start the Christmas celebrations.

After lunch we set off down Marford Hill where soon I turned off for home and John, Ray and Clive motor towards Chester homeward bound for a 35 + mile round trip

Dave, thanks for steering the the club so brilliantly through 2023 your hard work is really appreciated by  all members.

Happy Christmas everybody, and I'm looking forward to burning off the Christmas calories!

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday 8 December 2023

7th December 2023: Mickle Trafford (mod)

Despite a rather discouraging forecast, several CER members arrived at the re-arranged venue, some earlier than others, it has to be said.

Our plan was relatively straightforward - shortish morning ride and back hopefully before the rain.

4 moderates set off, Ray B, Dave H, George and myself, a bit later than planned, following the lanes up through Burton village, across the A540 Parkgate road and straight on to Willaston. Onto a rather grotty Wirral Way, but only for a short distance to the missing link and Capenhurst. The weather was breezy but not as bad as we had expected, and dryish for the most part.

We continued across the A5117, down the gated track alongside the railway and across the A41 to Backford. The lane down to the canal was a disgrace as usual - let's hope some of the £1,262,000 in extra funding that CWAC have received  from the cancelled HS2 finds its way onto some of our lanes !!

We were aiming for a lunch stop at Meadow Lea, and after a slight diversion to view the Mickle Trafford Alps, we settled down in the warmth. Naturally, a few minutes later it started to rain steadily, not good for those going back along the Greenway to Ness, but ok for Dave and myself as we only had about half a mile to do up to chateau Jim!

After a pleasant lunch, the rain was still coming down persistently, so George and Ray set off while Dave polished off a tribal size mince pie.

All in all, I was glad that we’d made the effort, and managed about 30 ish miles

Jim Dale 

7th December 2023: Ness (mod +)

On a day when torrential rain was forecast from 2pm onwards the turnout at Ness Gardens was most encouraging. Steve Hu, Alan and George had ridden over from Deeside. Ray S had ridden in from Chester and Clive & Every Ready Ray had driven in. Clive had a “tooth hurty” appointment with the dentist so was on four wheels today. Dave H was expected, however as the clock ticked past 10:20 it became clear we were secretary less.  On going to the car park, it became clear where our errant secretary was, as he and Jim were just arriving having ridden in from Guilden Sutton. 

With two groups available Ray S, Alan and Steve Hu set off following Ray’s ten year old route of the Wirral. The tail wind on leaving Ness was like a turbo charge, however its force would be less welcome on the return leg!

Ray’s route took us west of Neston and along the pretty front at Parkgate. At this point Ray regaled us on a previous memorable CER Christmas do at the boat house. On this particular day the wind and rain plus an unusually high tide led to the road being flooded and all manner of rodents making a bid for freedom from the rapidly flooding marsh. 

The long drag upto Gayton certainly warmed us up, whilst the air temperature remained a stubborn four degrees C. This section between Gayton and Heswall is certainly a millionaires' row with beautiful houses set in large grounds on both sides. Unfortunately the manner of the car drivers was less genteel as all the big SUV’s seemed to be in a rush to get “somewhere”. 

A quick dodge through Acre Lane saw us on the busy Brimstage Road. Brimstage is often a lunch stop when CER visit the Wirral, however today we were on an “out and back” route with a late lunch at the end. This plan was to try and stay inside the weather window for rain and wind. We nearly succeeded………….

Alan wanted to include the old Lever Bros railway line which runs from the centre of Port Sunlight Village to the cycleway by Riverbank Road and the Mersey. From here we had a quick spin through Eastham village before heading across the Wirral again via Childer Thornton. This route consists of some quiet lanes only occasionally crossing the busy arterial roads that feed the Wirral. 

A brief stop just outside of Burton allowed Alan to show us Hampstons Well. This well dates from 1602 and was originally called Patricks Well, It’s current name stems from a local family who lived in Burton since the sixteenth century. It is displayed that “All able bodied men of Burton were required to help keep the well clean under pain of a fine of six pence” 

Photos by Steve Hu

From here it was a gravity assisted plunge to Netts Cafe for lunch. During finer days it is quite normal to see as many a 15 to 20 cyclists all enjoying the hospitality, today there were just three. 

Ray was returning to Chester via the Greenway so he accompanied Alan & Steve  back to the Millennium Bridge, leaving Alan and Steve to retire to their warm cars. Ray's 48 miles and Alan and Steve’s 38 were a pleasant break in what feels like a week of rain and icy roads. 

Steve Hu.

Friday 1 December 2023

30th November 2023: Wrenbury (mod)

It was a freezing day at Rose Farm. Clive had ridden up and Dave Matthews had driven; neither would be riding with us today.  For the third successive week there would be just three of us in the truly moderate group. Reliable Ray had turned up from Far Wirral on his one-horse open sleigh, Steve Tan was going to have to rein himself in, as myself and icy conditions would ensure a modest overall pace.   

We went a familiar route to Wettenhall, with a clear blue sky and quiet lanes making us feel glad we had taken the risk to ride. Steve had a popping-out problem with his rear mudguard, which it took a couple of stops to finally sort out. Ray was out of sight, up the road trying to stay in the weak warmth of the winter sun whilst waiting. At Venetian Marina I warned that the steeply cambered curves ahead could be particularly hazardous if icy. Unfortunately, Steve tried to steer himself out of the camber, and his bike duly slid from under him. Fortunately, Ray, in the middle of the road, only gave the slightest of touches with his left pedal to Steve’s helmeted head six inches above the tarmac.  We could have had a Dave Heath - Steve Forster incident, with the extra weight of Ray’s electric tank ensuring another visit to A&E. Anyway, Steve’s a tough tyke, and escaped with a sore hip. Not long after, we turned down a little-used lane to Henhull Bridge on the Shropshire Union Canal, rode a few yards on the main road, and rang 18 The Park to ensure that we could be accommodated. Raven’s Lane at the back of Dorfold Hall was pretty as ever, but a precarious choice in the conditions. It was a relief to get back on the main drag to Ravensmoor and on to Wrenbury. We arrived for lunch on time and were soon warm and well-fed. Ray was trying to persuade me, not for the first time, that I would enjoy a cruise. My response was that if I ever requested such a holiday, that I should be taken out of the care home and shot!

Photo by CER

A no-frills return route was required, as a puncture would leave us very cold and too close to dusk for comfort. Despite the low wind speed, it was a cool ride into the breeze. Nevertheless, the sun was still scintillating as we headed for Bunbury via Chorley Bank and Brindley. We made good progress to Beeston Castle, where the predictable mini glacier awaited us on the sunless north side. The road down to the canal and railway wasn’t to be trusted regarding its slipperiness. I think Steve has completed a Cresta Run in the past but was still glad to put this slope behind him without further mishap. From here on, there was the usual climbing back to Tarporley, and then Utkinton.  Steve’s fitness and light weight, and Ray’s electric assistance meant that they were ahead of me at Rose Farm. Steve was shivering badly when I arrived, and was keen to get in the Berlingo, and have the prospect of some heat.  It was the sort of winter’s day where you had to remain vigilant for ice, but overall, it was a very enjoyable ride in brilliant sunshine and good company. Mileage was eighteen out, and the same on the return route. I could have done with another extra top layer to keep warm. Steve needed a Santa costume and a pair of Dave Matthews heated cycling shoes. Ray didn’t require anything extra, because where there is no sense there’s no feeling.                 

See route map and/or gpx file download