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 22 March 2024

21st March 2024: Whixall Marina (mod)

There was a decent turnout at Maggie’s in Holt. The moderate group consisted of Mike Gilbert, Andy Barber, Ray Baird, Trevor, Jim, Keith and myself. It was great to have Keith and Jim properly back on board. Dave Matthews and Andy were just out for coffee and chat. Dave Matthews had consulted his Compendium of Irrefutable Reasons for Not Riding, and Andy had decided he was just not worthy to share the tarmac with us. I had a vague plan involving some intricate small lanes (sound familiar?) and lunch at Whixall Marina. As nobody fancies writing up rides, my suggestion was accepted.

We headed for Tilston via Farndon and Wetreins. We were riding into the wind and the light rain was persistent. I am sure that Carol Kirkwood had said that we shouldn’t be getting wet at this stage. We were meandering south to Cuddington Heath, when we were met with the sight of  Steve Hughes heading towards us. It turned out that he had abandoned the brisk group’s ride as his heart rate was high following donating blood the day before. Steve decided to join us for a while before heading back later.  A crease in my soggy map was hiding the B5069, and so had me puzzled for a minute. At such times it is useful to have the likes of Mike Gilbert, Jim and Steve Hughes around to point out the correct direction. At Oldcastle Heath I popped into Peacock Farm to say “Hello” to the outstanding garage guys at Birchdown Autos. We crossed the A529 at Whitewell and reached Whixall on the familiar route adjacent to Fenn’s Moss, a National Nature Reserve. We made good progress on these flatter lanes and were now eager to eat in the warmth. We were made welcome by the staff at Whixall Marina, but it was busy and we could only just squeeze in. If Steve Hughes had not peeled off, we would have had to put him at a table outside.  We enjoyed our lunch looking out over the many colourful, tethered narrowboats. 

Photo by Mike G

We set off home by heading into the cold south-west wind to Northwood, but from there the wind was predominantly behind us all the way. We enjoyed dry conditions and some sunshine. We passed the attractive converted railway station house and the restored engine at Bettisfield on the former railway route which we often cross near Ellesmere and further west. After Hanmer there was the rough, steep bank at Three Fingers, and the curved climb from Sarn Bridge into Threapwood, otherwise progress was pretty briskish. Jim left us for Malpas to join his family; I hope that he enjoyed the day and will join us again soon. Despite still recovering from knee surgery, Keith wondered if anybody was attempting the semi- traditional fast sprint over the last five miles through Shocklach to Farndon. Andy said that he wasn’t, but when I looked up from avoiding potholes, Mike was already off the front, and Andy had decided to follow. It’s good to see the progress Mike has made. I decide that I needed a workout so eventually made a concerted effort over the last four and a half miles or so. If you can’t go fast on a flat road with a strong wind on your back, then you never will. Legal electric bikes can’t hack it at these speeds, so it was a rare opportunity to overturn Ray’s gloating rights. About forty-two miles covered, and despite our longish lunch stop, Alan and Steve Tan from the brisk group had not been waiting too long over coffee at Maggie’s, when we arrived back at Holt. Overall, a good day in very good company.    

See route map and/or gpx file download


21st March 2024: Loppington (mod+)

‘Enjoy your ride in the rain today’ were my wife’s parting words as Dave H and I set off for Maggie’s at Holt, as there was light rain falling in Runcorn. ‘It’ll be alright’ was my reply as, according to the Met Office forecast, the rain would ease pretty soon. 

I had planned a 40-odd ‘mod+’ ride down to Loppington and both Steve Hu and Alan were up for it. As we were getting ready to leave Maggie’s, Clive rolled in, so we delayed our departure for a bit so that he could gulp a coffee down. Heading off through Farndon, it was still raining a bit and I had to stop a couple of times to adjust my rear mudguard, as it was rubbing on the tyre – something that would plague me throughout the day.

All went well until we got to Horton Green when Steve Hu caught up with me to show me the reading on his heart monitor. A reading of 158 suggested that he hadn’t fully recovered from donating blood the day before and so, sensibly, he decided to return to Holt.

So, the three of us pressed on into the now strong south-westerly wind and the rain, which had still not stopped. In spite of this, we made good progress through Threapwood, Fenn’s Bank and Whixall, reaching the The Dickin Arms about two hours after leaving Holt. There, we were welcomed and seated next to a fire so that our clothes could dry off a bit and we could get warm. As usual, the food was excellent, being served quickly and hot, although a little more expensive than the last time I’d been here.

Photo by AO

After a quick stop by the church for a selfie, we turned for home. By now the rain had stopped and we would have, for the most part, the wind behind us. All good, you might think, but that statement would not  include some of the roads that we encountered on the way back. Between Lyneal and Worthenbury not only were they wet and very muddy, but the potholes were enormous and impossible to avoid. This made progress quite slow and difficult in places and at the end of the ride Clive handed me his ‘muddy road king’ badge!

Reaching better roads, we made our way back to Holt via Shocklack and Crewe by Farndon. Clive left us at Farndon to head for home, whilst Alan and I went back to Maggie’s for a hot drink. Dave H arrived there shortly afterwards, having led the mod ride to Whixhall Marina.

Thanks to Clive, Alan and Steve for a 48 mile ride which the weather and road conditions made less enjoyable that I would have liked. As Clive said ‘it’s so much nicer in the summer’.  

Steve Hu later reported that he’d done a few miles with the mod group before heading home and that he’s now fully recovered.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Sunday 17 March 2024

14th March 2024: Tilston (mod)

After a dry start the forecast was for rain in the afternoon, the worst of it coming at around 4 o'clock. I set out with Jim to ride up to Rose Farm with a route in mind that would get me home and my fellow riders back to their cars before then. A good plan but doomed from the start. As we approached Rose Farm we encountered workmen starting to resurface the road up the hill. By the time we were ready to leave the road was completely blocked, even to cyclists, and the plan had to be amended.

There was a good turnout at Rose Farm but after the brisk riders had left and Steve Hu, Alan, David M and Jim had set off to return home there were only 4 of us left for the moderate ride. So instead of turning left out of Rose Farm Andy B, Dave H, Ray and I had to turn right and start the long and steep, but unavoidable climb up Quarry Bank. Not what you want in the first few minutes of a ride but a necessary detour to get to Cotebrook and Eaton. Avoiding the village itself we turned towards Alpraham and after a mile or so my satnav pinged to announce that we were now on my intended route. We cycled on to Alpraham and Bunbury where we turned south and into the wind which slowed us down all the way to Faddiley. Here we turned west and now made better progress. We passed by Cholmondley Castle and turned left to climb over Hampton Heath where we were able to help a passing motorist who was lost. We now headed over the main road towards Malpas but avoided the climb up to the village by taking the lower road towards Tilston. We were now approaching our lunchtime destination at the Carden Arms but with still some way to go the rain started. Fortunately we were able to get there without getting too wet and arrived to find a virtually empty car park. The pub was similarly deserted and as far as we could see the four of us doubled the number of customers. 

The conversation while we waited for our food ranged from politics (lamenting the state of British politics and in particular politicians) to the much more interesting topic of the upcoming special rides. By the time lunch was over the rain had stopped but the sky still looked threatening and we took the decision to take the most direct route back. We headed north towards Barton but before we got there Andy B left us to head back home. We carried on to Coddington and across to Tattenhall now making good progress with the wind behind us. On the far side of Tattenhall we stopped and I explained to Dave and Ray how to get back to Utkinton via Huxley and Corkscrew Lane as I intended to head straight home. An easy enough route to follow but I left the final section (how to get back to Rose Farm without hitting the roadworks) for them to work out. They would have got back there having completed about 40 miles.  

Note: If you intend to use the attached gpx route it covers my originally planned route of 45 miles. The roadworks should be gone by then.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Saturday 16 March 2024

14th March 2024 : Whitchurch (brisk)

There were a fair few of us Rose Farm today. The first thing we all had to do was to negotiate getting into the car park. The road repair crew had arrived to (hopefully) resurface the Tarporley downhill side of the road. There were vehicles everywhere with Rose Farm customers trying to get into the carpark - chaos abounds, especially as the Rose Farm shops and cafe were not aware that the road was to be re-surfaced.

I had prepared a route to Whitchurch to visit Benjamin's Bistro which had been visited by a Brisk Group a few weeks ago. So I had a gpx file, and Steve T, Ray S and Nick didn't! So for once it was like an old ride where only the ride leader knew where they were supposed to go and any mistakes were not obvious!

The problems started right outside Rose Farm's gate where Traffic Management said No! to a request to ride or walk down the hill toward Tarporley which is where I had planned to start the ride. So we had to grind up and around Quarry Bank, then to Eaton and finally back on track at Alpraham where we took Long Lane to Wettenhall. At Cholmondeston, there were more Road Closed signs which we ignored to take the open road towards Church Minshull. Turning right, we take the main road south turning off into Aston juxta Mondrum which is a small farming hamlet with good roads but blighted by fast tractors and large lorries.

Near Burland, wanted to go down Ravens Lane to Ravensmoor but another Traffic Management team said No! and we had to marginally divert to get to the Farmers Arms crossroads at Ravensmoor then onto Sound and Aston. We turn off here bound for Burland and thence Ightfield. This is a long uphill drag into the strengthening southerly wind.

Recognition arrives as we are now not far from lunch - just Ash Parva and Ash Magna and thence the little lane via Edgeley Bank,  then cross the main road and into the town centre. 

Another Road Closed sign as we take this final narrow lane  - and it was really closed except for a slight gap in the fencing which allowed Nick to lead us into the out-of-bounds. There was a centre trench cut and partially filled as I gingerly went ahead to find the trenching digger sitting astride an open trench and driverless. So we went across the open trench and out to main road where the trenching crew are in their vans having lunch. 

It'll be alright. - lunch is the other side of this closure

We are now into the High Street but Benjamin's is full and the back-up cafe has gone upmarket and is shut.  I then remember Jones Coffee House just a little further along the High Street where there is room in the inn for us.

It's warm and busy but it has food and drink and that is what we need. So three plates of smoked salmon and something else, plus a double cheese-on-toast hits the spot, along with excellent coffee. We chat about how Whitchurch is coming up in the world with all the modern housing and a full suite of supermarkets. There was more banter but I missed it as I had to hurriedly re-arrange a 1 tonne gravel big-bag delivery for Saturday as the promised delivery for Thursday was derailed by a burst tyre on the delivery wagon.

Only 20 miles to go now as Nick heads for home via Malpas and we three head out to Marbury. Cholmondeley Castle estate passes us by as we turn off for Bickerton. There is a discussion for the best way for Steve to get back. We opt to take the Peckforton lane ignoring the often mud-encrusted lane into Bunbury, which was the official routing. At the Beeston Castle turn, Ray peals off and heads for home. We two now turn down Dean Bank to arrive at Tiverton's "bottom". 

Pausing at the Huxley Lane turn, I offer a couple of choices for Steve, and we opt for the longer but flatter route to Huxley then Corkscrew Lane into Clotton. Resting here, Steve calls Dave H to ascertain whether he can access Rose Farm carpark from the re-surfaced hill direction. He is in luck, and we split as he heads for a ride home and 56 long miles ridden. Well done Steve!

I battle on to Waverton and the Chester A41 ring road. Ray must have 75 miles as I clock-in with a long 81 miles today - the furthest I have been for a long time.

So many thanks to the trio blindly following me today. It must have been Cheshire's "Close the Lanes Day" today as we had four to contain with, but if it means smoother surfaces, then I'm not complaining.


Photo ST

PS : The route above was the route we actually rode

This one is the one I planned  See route map and/or gpx file download  sans road closures.

Thursday 14 March 2024

7th March 2024: Caerwys (mod)

Quite a crowd of us met up at our first visit to Gladstone Library, Hawarden, with its lovely architectural features and good coffee. Jim and DaveM had cycled out before a return home. The Brisk contingent consisted of Clive, Ken and Ivan who were off to investigate the north Wales terrain, Steve and Alan of the Mods+ were to visit Llandegla and the remaining 6; Andy, DaveH, George, Electric Tandem duo Dave & Liz plus myself eventually forming a group and would go with Dave’s planned ride to the Piccadilly Inn, Caerwys. Our route out via Northop Hall and Northop was largely wind assisted and we did not feel too cold. Dave & Liz then demonstrated the advantages of electric assist by taking us to Rhosesmor where gradients of 16% plus encountered. We thought Dave was trying to get the record for the most climbing in the fewest miles. The wind was with us as we progressed via the ‘Big Dippers’ on Halkyn Mountain to Babell. The lunch at the Piccadilly Inn was quite pleasant the group having a variety of sandwiches and cottage pie. Discussions took place on the Bert Bailey 100, recent Budget (that lasted less than a minute) and other topics.

Dave didn’t have a route for our return. So Andy came up with a cunning plan, which we dutifully followed going through Babell, then picking up the route we came out. Unfortunately, it was against a very cold strong southerly wind. It wasn’t helped by the low cloud. And we suffered. At Rhosesmor Andy decided to head home in Mold, the remainder of us returned to Hawarden via Steve Tan’s lane, Northop and Northop Hall. We survived, even though we had to stop whilst we navigated around one of those modern tractors that take up the whole width of the lane. We returned safely to Hawarden having covered 31 miles and all looking forward to getting warm. 

See route map and/or gpx file download

Mike G

Friday 8 March 2024

7th March 2024 : Gwaenysgor (brisk)

There was a good turnout at Gladstone Library cafe on a cold overcast day. We had “Reserved Tables” no less! The staff are always pleased to see us and service was brisk.

Talking of brisk, the brisk ride today was put together by Ivan as a useful personal test post knee surgery. The only other taker was Ken, so the three of us set off the usual way out to Northop Hall and onto Northop proper. We take the long slow hill up towards the A55 but thankfully avoid this busy and fast section of the expressway by taking a No-through road westwards up the hillside. 

Ivan had taken this route before and had met the farmer, whose private road this was, but was allowed to continue. We hoped today would be similar. Round the bend the farmer is there herding a few ewes and their lambs into a trailer. We wait patiently and somewhat subserviently hoping permission is granted for us to take the very private concrete farm track up the hillside and passed the farmhouse. All is well as we grind our way up and out onto a lane which looked somewhat familiar. It was in fact very close to where Steve T had his very nasty accident a few years ago.

The route now is the familiar “Ride of the Halkyns” passing though Babell and beyond. We take an awful tiny lane the surface of which gets progressively worse as we speed alarmingly downhill to pass over the A55 via the pedestrian bridge at Ruallt Hill. Pleased to be down, a sharp right soon takes us up again and on to Cwm and Pentre Cwm before hitting the main road at Dyserth.

More upwards knee punishment is in store as we dive down Pandy Lane and then ever upwards passed the old lead mines until the turn for Gwaenysgor thankfully appears. Upwards again we are soon supping a pint in the Eagle and Child pub. Hot food comes pretty quickly as we now have recently enjoyed a little warmth with misty sunshine over the last few miles

Knowing that the hills are almost over, there is just one more incline up to the car park overlooking Prestatyn. I take a memorial photo of the 33% downward decline that we shall now “enjoy” providing our brakes work well and there is not too much trafffic.

The best hill of the day is behind us!

Ivan swoops down as Ken and I take a more controlled descent. At this time, I realise my front derailleur is stuck on the small chain ring so it’ll be going round quite quickly on the way home. Ivan makes the executive decision that, in the gathering gloom and increasing cold headwind, we would eschew the usual route via the golf club, caravan park and Talacre amusements and just motor down the A548 Mostyn Road. This was not much fun as we take turns to be the domestique as the cold headwind blunts our speed.

It is a grind but it served the purpose of getting back to Connah’s Quay without having to think about it. Here, Ken carries on to the Queensferry Interchange and onwards to Rossett. Ivan and I take the Greenway back towards Chester.

So a successful day for Ivan’s knee as we all get 60+ miles ridden. If we had gone back to Hawarden it would have been about 45 miles. So thanks Ivan for the route planning today.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday 1 March 2024

29th February 2024: Bunbury (mod +)

On this a leap year many of the CER faithful leapt at the chance to visit Delamere on this nice day sandwiched between yellow weather warnings. An additional bonus was seeing Steve Ha out and joining in the craic with Dave H and the guys. 

The turnout was sufficient for two groups and thus a mod + group was formed of Matt, John M, Neil T, Alan and Steve Hu. Prior to leaving Delamere Stn cafe the assembled crew were captured on Alans “soft focussed bokeh camera ;) “ 

Neil had promised Matt T a clean and mud free ride, which to an extent he delivered. Choosing a route that ordinarily takes in the Whitegate Way he safely navigated us up to Hatchmere and along the pleasant mud free B roads towards Cuddington. A quick diversion through Sandiway brought us out on Dalesford lane at the head of the Whitegate way. 

Photos by AO

Normal lanes resumed we meandered through the towns of Little Budworth crossing the Shropshire Union Canal just outside Calveley. Looking forward, if the high prices experienced yesterday at Tilly’s becomes an impediment, then the farm/cheese shop at Calveley offers a superb cafe as a possible future lunch venue.

Replete with sandwiches, eggs benedict and other exotica the decision was taken to return via Beeston. This allowed Neil T to divert to Tanner Town and Matt to head off to Chester. The plunge to the now renamed “Shady” was followed by a pleasant ride through Tarporley and back to Delamere.  A modest 33 miles but excellent company and thanks to Neil's guidance a mud free route. 

See route map and/or gpx file download

Steve Hu 

Mod + ride No 2 

Not to be outdone our foreign correspondent Steve T embraced the spirit of Thursday CER rides with a Lanzarote epic. Braving winds of 30 mph he completed a 49 mile loop and added in 3300 feet of climbing for good measure. all of this on a hire bike. 

Not content with his cycling achievements , Steve went on to form a CER outreach group in the local bike hire shop consisting of himself Elwyn & Fiona. What are the chances of meeting other members of our highly regarded club. The reach of Easy Riders knows no bounds. 

Thanks for the mini ride report Steve.   

29th February 2024: Little Bollington (mod)

There was a strong turnout at Delamere, and conditions were fine for cycling. It was great to have Dave Pipe on board again. The chilled cruising group consisted of Dave Pipe, George, Trevor, Andy, Dave Matthews and myself. I had missed Ray’s email on Wednesday evening, which explained that he had just had a large tooth removed, so would have to give the ride a miss. 

It was going to be possible to cover a few more miles today than we had been doing, so with this in mind we started out in the direction of Kingsley before turning down Forest Lane. There was the usual steep climb under the main railway line at Cliff Lane, before plunging down from Acton Bridge to the A49. We somehow managed to lose Dave Matthews and Dave Pipe at Willow Green. We made a few phone calls to both, but to no avail, and thought that there was a strong chance that they had gone through Little Leigh, and we would cross paths near Crumleyheath Farm.  It was not to be, but phone contact was made at Comberbatch, and Dave Pipe said that he would meet us at our lunch destination. Dave Matthews had intended to peel off anyway. After well thatched Great Budworth we made quite brisk progress to Knutsford, and turned into Tatton Park. The deer were an attractive sight with two impressively antlered stags prominent. We passed through pretty Rostherne and crossed over the A556 to Booth Bank, which in years past would have been almost impossible but was now facilitated by a bridge over the Mere by-pass.  

We were very pleased to see Dave Pipe waiting for us at the top of the lane down to Little Bollington.  The service was friendly and the food fine at The Swan with Two Nicks. The young woman taking our order was bursting with personality and was clever enough to remember our orders without the need for pen and paper.  There was just one fly in the ointment: in a typical Pipesque act, Dave had disappeared to the toilets just as we were ready to order!  Never mind, the waitress passed the frustrating old fogies test and soon returned with a smile to take Dave’s order.  Lunch was very pleasant with interesting conversation. It was unusually quiet without Ray’s decibels, but at this stage we didn’t know about his tooth extraction, and the concern expressed about his absence was quite touching. I was just pleased to eat in peace.

The first leg of our return was on nice quiet lanes to Sworton Heath.  A straight flog into a slight headwind on Swineyard Lane, and then we were winding along the narrow lanes toward Arley Road, and beyond to Antrobus, Frandley and Little Leigh. George and I had recollected at lunch the run of wet afternoons that we had suffered returning from the Swan with Two Nicks in past years. One day I had watched Dianne Oxberry’s weather forecast, and I reckoned that we would find a dry window between fronts on our return to Delamere. We set out in drizzle anticipating a change for the better, but it never came, it just battered down instead. I think Kate from Neston, with the beautiful smile, was with us that day. I remember coming across a taxi, and I swear that on my own that I would have climbed in. Some of you will remember another extremely wet afternoon in the Lake District when Brian MacDonald had a little crash, and we took shelter in a hotel at Newby Bridge. We watched Wales beating England 1-0. Kate and George were on that ride too. Anyway, thankfully, today was dry.  After the hard climb to Acton Bridge, we returned to Delamere via the challenging Marsh Lane from Crowton to Norley. Andy was a bit concerned about reaching Mold before dark, as he was without lights. Dave Pipe and I managed a swift coffee thanks to the kind staff at Delamere Station Café who were just on closing. Forty-six miles covered on the day. Trevor, once again, was getting more miles in, about sixty-five. Andy, after a day with his Ruthin chums the day before, must have covered over a hundred miles. Where does he get the motivation?                                                                 

See route map and/or gpx file download