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 31 May 2024

30th May 2024: Loppington (Mod+)

The weather first thing was awful and, given the strong north-westerly forecast for the day, it wasn’t surprising that only five members appeared at the Castle Bistro in Chirk. I’d planned a mod+ ride down to The Dickin Arms at Loppington; by coincidence Dave H had also planned to go there, but at a more leisurely pace. The mod+ group would comprise myself, Alan and Steve Hu, whereas Dave would be chaperoned by Keith, now returned from sojourns in Spain and Las Vegas.

It was dry but cool as the three musketeers sallied forth from Chirk, taking an outward route which took us towards the A5 roundabout, but turning right at The Poacher to pass through Chirk Bank before reaching Weston Rhyn. From there the conventional route was followed towards Oswestry, but along the way, we had to negotiate passage past a ‘Road Closed’ sign near Upper Hengoed. It was quite easy to wake up the guys who were ‘guarding’ the road from inside their truck and they let us through without any problem.

Weaving our way through Oswestry town, we were soon on Weston Lane, which popped us out near the Mile Oak industrial estate, where we crossed the A483. We were now on Maesbury Road with the wind behind us, so we flew through Maesbury and Maesbury Marsh trying to catch up with Steve 'Filippo Ganna' Hughes who had clearly recovered from his issues of last week.

The lanes through Wykey and Western Lullingfields were dry, smooth  and mostly traffic free. The occasional steep climb reminded us that this part of Shropshire is not The Cheshire Plain. Emerging onto the B-road at Marton, we followed it through Burlton, arriving at The Dickin Arms about 12.30.

Just as we were securing our bikes outside, Dave H and Keith arrived having taken a shorter route (or maybe the X43 bus?). All five of us were ushered to a table inside and food and drinks were soon ordered. As usual, the food (lamb tagines, steaks and beefburger) were excellent, although they did take a while to appear as the pub was busy.

Pausing outside St Michael and All Angels church for a photo, we set off back. By now the sun had come out and it was pleasantly warm as we made our way through English Frankton and Tetchill, although we now had the strong north-westerly in our faces as we went along, which made progress slower than our pace before lunch.

Crossing the A495 just outside Ellesmere, we made our way through the beautiful Shropshire countryside towards St. Martins and thence to the busy roundabout at the A5. On reaching The Poacher pub we diverted to pick up the tow path along the Llangollen Canal to avoid the steep climb into Chirk, arriving there at about 3.20. Steve and Alan headed off home while I waited at the café for Dave and Keith.

42 miles covered on a day which started with little promise, but delivered an excellent ride and great company.


See route map and/or gpx file download

Tuesday 28 May 2024

23rd May 2024: Aston (mod)

The early morning view from my bedroom window was discouraging; every surface was soaking wet. This was not untypical in recent months, when contemplating a Chester Easy Riders Thursday outing. Only ridiculously positive personalities like Steve Tan could expect that a dry ride could be possible. Apparently, not many others fancied a wet coldish day on the bike. Apart from Steve Tan and myself, only riders conditioned in slate grey wet Wales were comfortable with attempting to enjoy a bike ride on such a day. So it was that George, Alan and Steve Hughes met us inside at Alison’s, as we wistfully recalled how we had all enjoyed a beautiful warm day earlier in the week. Steve Hughes was thinking of joining George and myself as he said that he wasn’t feeling too frisky. I discouraged him, thinking that he would become frustrated and cold at our leisurely pace. Of course, normally his company is always welcome (as welcome as a hornet getting inside your Lycra ). 

Without Megaphone Ray, the moderate group then, consisted of just George and me. Not for the first time over the years. I recall one enjoyable but icy ride to Bangor-on-Dee a few years ago with just the two of us. As far as George is concerned, you could not have more interesting and easy-going company. We headed out towards Beeston Castle in the hope of missing a hard climb or flooded roads on other routes from Tattenhall. The tactics sort of worked overall, but by Castleside Farm the road was well flooded, so much so that we stopped to allow the car behind to pass and test the depth. The lady in the car didn’t move as she was waiting to use us as her depth gauge. Anyway, by staying tight to the castle side of the road we ploughed through without incident. After Bunbury came Brindley, but the little lane to Gradeley Green was likely to be flooded, so we turned  left for Swanley Bridge, right to Ravensmooor, and south to Wrenbury. Then, quite a surprise! I had tried to contact 18 The Park a few times without success in order to book lunch. As we turned in at our intended venue a helpful, short, round man walking a small black and white terrier told us that it was no longer operating there. The good news was that it had relocated at the Bhurtpore  in nearby Aston. When we arrived at our old favourite, we had this wonderful hybrid of real ales and curries as of old, and the staff of 18 The Park doing their thing in the dining room at the end. A pleasant guy greeted us as the new owner. He had been a local dairy farmer and long-term customer. They were doing some renovation in the old bar area but had a high quality wigwam /marquee in the garden with a bar and tables. We settled for lunch in the tent, which had an attractive ambience, and really nice staff. The takeover had evidently been a friendly affair with the previous owner advising on beers.  They hadn’t got soda on draught in the tent yet, and in a true Dave Pipesque, north-east reaction, George immediately turned down his first choice of drink, because of the possible extra five and six required to buy a bottle of soda to go with his blackcurrant .   This from a man whose pension is rumoured to be comparable to that of the nearly eighty Tory MPs currently retiring. I can’t remember much of our amiable conversation, apart from discussing  a suitable small car for George to purchase next year to go alongside the Yeti in his stables.   

The ride back was direct as it would be largely against the wind, and Alison’s closes at three so if we arrived long after the mod plus threesome, Steve Tan could be stuck in the car park waiting  for his chauffeur. So, we headed for Cholmondeley Castle via Chorley Bank. The stretch up to Bickerton Hill is not my favourite slog, but the escarpment appeared to eventually shelter us from the wind. After the Harthill climb and welcome fast decent, it is easy to forget that there is a further sting in the tail up the road. I remember Bryan Wade cruising past me on his electric Cannondale on this steep bank. George recalled Mike Gilbert (the Irish Scouts Orienteering Champion circa 1899) of all people, once being caught out, having overlooked this low-geared last little challenge. We kept up a decent pace on the descent and run in. I only had ten or fifteen minutes to wait for the Aspirational Group, as they had adjusted their distance because Steve Hughes was more concerned about expiring than aspiring  this week. I received an email from him this morning, so he is still alive, and hopefully will soon be back to his best. Many thanks to George for his valued contribution to a relaxed day out. And Steve Tan, sometimes labelled as a deluded optimist, was right to be positive, because we were neither wet nor properly cold all day.  About 33mls. Covered. 


Friday 24 May 2024

23rd May 2024: Whixall (mod+)

The weather had been awful over the last couple of days and it was still raining as we drove down to Alison’s. Dave H had even thought of ringing me up to cancel as it was so bad. So, it wasn’t a great surprise when only five CER members arrived at the café – Dave H, Steves T and Hu, Alan and George.

Earlier in the week, before the weather had turned bad, I’d planned a ride down to The Sun Inn at Welshampton. Today the forecast for southern Cheshire and Shropshire suggested that the rain might subside, which it had as we took to our bikes. That left the concern about muddy or flooded roads for us to consider. Dave and George decided to head for Wrenbury and 18 The Park, so that left the two Steves and Alan for the ride to Welshampton.

We set off climbing towards Harthill, but turned right to make for Brown Knowl.  Pausing to catch our breath at the entrance to Broxton Old Hall (the residence of ‘Mr Iceland’), I was already getting complaints from my compatriots about how much climbing we were doing. At least we now had the run downhill to Hampton Heath and on to No Man’s Heath. Here we crossed the A41, passing through Bickleywood to re-cross the A41 to head into Bradley Green.

By this time the sun was peeping through the clouds and, to our surprise, the roads were largely dry and clean. We made for Higher Wych and Iscoyd Park, where we came across a small section of flooded road which we navigated without difficulty.

Crossing the A525 we paused at the other side. Steve and Alan asked if we could shorten the ride as Steve wasn’t feeling 100% and Alan was having some problems with his front mech and couldn’t get his chain on the big ring. So, we decided to stop for lunch at Whixall Marina and to figure out a route back from there. Continuing past Fenn’s Bank and Welsh End we soon arrived at Whixhall Marina where we were quickly served with a good lunch at a very reasonable price. After lunch Alan was able to fix his gear issue.

Our plan was to use the ‘Take me to’ feature of Steve Hu’s Wahoo computer to find a short route back to Tattenhall. However, the route that was offered seemed to be a combination of a canal bank and a very long stretch along the A41, which none of us fancied. In the absence of an alternative and missing Dave H’s ‘paper Garmin’ to be able to find one, we decided to use another option on the Wahoo which reversed the todays route. This was successfully achieved, so we set off for Tattenhall re-tracing the route we had followed in the morning.

To our surprise there seemed to be plenty of hills to get up; you never seem to notice them as you fly down them. The ride back was fairly uneventful, although we did have to pause for a photo at Higher Wych and also to adjust my gears as I was finding problems getting back onto the big ring.

Photo by AO

We arrived back a Tattenhall about ten minutes after Dave, so the timing was near perfect. 44 miles covered on a day when the weather turned out to be far better then we’d expected. As usual, we were glad that we’d made the effort.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Monday 20 May 2024

16th May 2024: West Kirby (mod)

Despite a bad weather forecast for mid-afternoon there was a decent turnout at Ness. The sky had been blue and promising on the way to the venue, and the temperature was ideal for cycling. In order to save time this week, Steves Hughes and Tan were doing static warm up preparations using a MadMuscles App and café chairs.

Dave Matthews had cycled all the way from Oscroft for our meet, so not surprisingly was returning home. Trevor also was riding back but accompanied us for some miles; both, no doubt, had the threatened wet afternoon in mind. So, the slow group initially consisted of just Big Ray and myself, but Mike Gilbert changed his plans and kindly accompanied us in case of a likely attempted homicide. Mike was a valuable guy to have along, as he is the only one who had framed parchment orienteering certificates on his wall at home and could map read effectively as well as follow routes on a Garmin. Ray actually knows The Wirral well, so his subsequent bits of advice at rural junctions he no doubt felt were useful. It would have been more useful if he had led the ride and written it up! As I told him on the route, It was good to have an intelligent lieutenant at my shoulder, but Steve Hughes was with the other group.  

We gave the coastal route from Eastham to New Brighton a miss, and I thought we could have lunch in Hoylake at a venue perhaps recommended by “local boy” Ray. We set off on roughly the same route as a few weeks ago: through Burton, Oaks Farm,and around Willaston to Raby. Our intended route from Brimstage to Storeton was not possible as a big bruiser of a concrete lorry forewarned. We turned west to Heswall, and at Irby Hill skirted Royden Park and swooped through wealthy Greasby and into West Kirby. The possibility of rain had looked threatening from early doors, but it was not cold or windy and the countryside had looked attractively lush where we had managed to stick to back lanes. Mike had resisted an early stop at The Farmers Arms, but roaming around Hoylake for a lunch venue was a stretch too far if we were to avoid the worst  of the expected rain. Ray had fancied the café on the front a few weeks ago, but we gave it a miss as it was likely to be too busy in such a prime place. This time we gave it a go, and turned into the park on Banks Road, entering just before a group of old codgers even slower moving than ourselves. The service was excellent and the food was fine, but we only just made it, as the tables soon became full. As we left Mike pointed out the plants that had been ruined by seawater in heavy flooding just a few weeks ago. As widely televised, despite the fancy new sea defences Tanskey’s Bistro was flooded, and basement stock ruined. They have made an admirable new start.

It was spitting with rain from the moment we unlocked our bikes for the return ride. As we pressed on towards Neston on the Wirral Way the rain increased, as I unsuccessfully tried to avoid the mud from Ray’s back wheel. Mike set a strong pace at the front. Views across the Dee were blotted out by grey cloud down to river level. However, we were back to the Ness Garden’s Car Park in about fifty minutes and not too wet. Steve Tan, Alan and Steve Hughes arrived shortly after, as the rain stepped up to another level. Mike had already set off for Wales, and I hope Alan and Steve didn’t have too miserable a ride back.  Us “mods” had only covered thirty two miles, but as usual were glad we had made the effort.


Friday 17 May 2024

16th May 2024 : Wallasey (Mod+)

A bumper crowd gathered at Ness Botanical Gardens on a morning warm and bright enough to warrant a liberal application of SPF50.  I'd elected to be lazy today and drive to the start, having picked up Clive on the way.  The en-route conversation was mainly around Clive's recent holiday in the Welsh micro-city of St David's, somewhere I often used to enjoy cycling when I lived in West Wales.

Prior to the meet up, I had dug out and shared on WhatsApp an old route that I used to cycle frequently around the year 5 BC [Before Covid]; a time when I was apparently more adventurous/cavalier/kamikaze than now - more on that later. Aside from modifying it to start/end at the Botanical Gardens and adding a stop at Stollies Cafe in Wallasey, I hadn't really studied it at all, assuming somebody else would come up with something much better.

Well nobody did and so it was that Clive, Alan, Steve Hu, Steve T and I (Matt) headed north on along Neston Road and up the hill on Mill Lane.  Considering he'd claimed earlier that he was only up for an "easy going" outing today, Clive was setting a cracking pace, pulling us along at 24km/h (that's 15mph for those amongst you still living in Ye Olden Days).  Despite the pace, conversation was rife and varied, although the only bit I can remember is Steve's encylopaedic knowledge of the mechanics of motorcycle tyres.

As we headed up Willaston Road, some concerns were voiced about whether we were going to tackle the "Killer Clatterbridge" roundabout.  Alan suggested a "short cut" along quieter roads and given the mood I went along with it, forgetting that Alan didn't have the route on his computer and was therefore unaware that we were supposed to be heading towards Brimstage rather than Bebington. It soon became clear that we were going completely the wrong way and we doubled back to find Clive - who'd sensibly stuck to the plan - waiting for us at the M53 roundabout.  More murmurs of discontent rumbled about the sheer idiocy of riding on the Brimstage Road, an argument slightly undermined by the number of solo cyclists heading the other way. A brief interlude along a quieter lane brought us to another A road (Barnston Lane) and prompted Steve Hu to give the ride the grand title of "A Tour of Roads Normally Avoided by Cyclists".

Somehow we survived the treacherous traffic and arrived at Thingwall [Old Norse: þing vollr = assembly field] whereupon Clive educated us on Viking politics and Henry I.  After passing through Irby and encountering a road sign declaring Greasby to be "one of the earliest settlements in Britain c.8500 BC" [Before Covid?], Steve Hu shared his thoughts on why a barren hill in Wirral would be first choice given a whole lush island to choose from, and thus be older than both Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids. Given the old name "Gravesberie" I can't help thinking it wasn't a great choice.

Arriving into Hoylake, I realised my gears were only changing up and not down anymore, and we took a quick 'mechanical' stop while I figured out how to change the shifter battery whilst receiving advice on the benefits of old tech from Steve T. [Note to self: changing the battery requires a coin; remember to carry a coin next ride!]

After pausing on the seafront at Meols for a picture before the inevitable rain set in, we arrived at Stollies Cafe in Wallasey, fortunately bagging a table for 5 despite having not been able to reserve one over the 'phone. The popular choice of repast was the amply-proportioned Club Sandwich with chips. One end of the table discussed Steve Hu's "Ballast" role in an upcoming sailing event, whilst Alan and I, at the other end, considered the looming splurge of colours on the rain radar. A swift route replan ensued, aided by Alan's local knowledge.

In light drizzle, we set off again, along paths skirting Bidston Moss and, briefly, yet another scary A road, before climbing the B5151 through Prenton and down the still-terribly-surfaced-after-all-these-years Lever Causeway, to rejoin the original planned route through Storeton.  Sadly that didn't last long due to the type of road closure that repels even intrepid cyclists.  Another crossing of the dreaded M53 and Clatterbridge roundabouts was therefore in store for us.  Again, we somehow avoided not just murderous motorists but also the predicted deluge and returned through Thornton Hough and Raby, arriving back at Ness without getting a soaking.

A good day out in the end, though maybe more diligent route-planning homework is required for next time!


Photos MT and AO

Monday 13 May 2024

9th May 2024: Ellesmere (mod)

Because I don’t wish to receive a contribution to petrol costs when driving to a start venue with Steve on Thursdays, he buys the coffees. But, where had he disappeared to? I wasn’t sure which  type of coffee he preferred. I guessed that he would have liked a cup of Camp Coffee, the one with a kilted Gordon Highlander on the label. It would, perhaps, have reminded him of his Yorkshire tyke childhood, but Maggie’s didn’t stock it, so I chose an Americano for him in his absence. It was probably cold when he turned up with Steve Hughes. Evidently, as highly tuned athletes they had require a twenty-minute warm up ride before the main event! I know, I ask you! You would think that they had been approaching Stage 8 of the Giro d’Italia.  

The non-athletic group consisted of Dave Pipe, Large Ray, George, Mike Dodd and myself. It was good to have George back who had been doing a helluva lot of walking recently including from Bologna to Florence. It was a beautiful warm day, so I rang The Boathouse at Ellesmere to reserve a table for lunch beside the edge of The Mere. I regretted that Dave didn’t cross the start line at Rose Farm last week but this time it took one mile before he became detached, with Mike keeping him company. I rode back near Crewe-by-Farndon fearing an accident or a mechanical, but it turned out that I had just taken off with a hint of briskness and they didn’t know where we had headed to. No harm done. Our route out was via Farndon, Tilston, Chorlton and Lower Wyche, crossing the A525 at Eglwys Cross. In the distant past we have used sticks to clear our mudguards of thick mud here, but this welcome hot and dry weather meant that the notoriously messy lanes to follow shouldn’t have been a problem. Well! The lanes were quiet, and I tried a route past Llyn Bedydd just to explore, but soil and potholes meant that I won’t be using it again. From Bettisfield we cut across to Hampton Bank on the Llangollen Canal, but before long realised that George, Ray and myself were on our own. We sorted things out on our mobiles, but unfortunately Mike and Dave missed the more attractive route via Lyneal, Colemere, and Spunhill, although we arrived nearly together at The Boathouse. It was so sunny, that we changed our table to one in the shade on the veranda. The service was friendly and efficient, the food was very good, and the setting idyllic. Dave didn’t fancy German beers, and his favoured Shropshire brew, ‘Black Frog’ or something, was only available in a bottle, and at a 2024 price (Dave still thinks in 1960’s prices when he was a young man). Nevertheless, after all the bad weather we have tolerated this winter, it was all exceptionally enjoyable in this company.  It was very tempting to just stay there drinking to slumber in the warmth with the gentle lapping of water nearby.  

Photo by DH

On unlocking our bikes we met about six male and female riders from the Wirral. I’m not sure if they were couples, a friendship group or swingers, but they were very pleasant and intending to stay overnight in Shrewsbury.  

The route back was direct, heading up left from just past the cemetery, crossing the course of the old railway before heading for Penley. At Penley we could just see the charred hulk of the Dymock Arms, set on fire in 2010. Part of the pub dates to around 1550, and the building has been Grade 2 listed since 1962.  Worthenbury was the next target, and then up to Shocklack and Farndon. Inexplicably, we managed to lose Dave and Mike again, but again having our mobiles on sorted things out, as the route was now obvious and familiar. I met Steve Tan at the car park in Holt, as Big Ray’s appearance had heralded our arrival.  Steve had been waiting some time, so I turned down Mike’s invitation to join him and Dave at Maggie’s for a late coffee. My leading had obviously been as unaware as Notts Forest’s defence, for which I apologise. I suspect that the situation was compounded by Dave deliberately not using his electric motor in order to strengthen his legs. Anyway, the inquest will probably be settled over coffee next week, but I think that we all had an enjoyable ride in great weather. I guess that we covered about forty-three miles.


Friday 10 May 2024

9th May 2024: Plassey (mod+)

A Thursday with wall to wall sunshine and no wind, what could be better for a CER ride? Following what seems like months of grey and dreary Thursdays a number of CER riders made the trip to Holt. There were sufficient riders to facilitate three groups. Neil threw his hat, metaphorically speaking into the rings with a nice lanes ride to Plassey. Little did we know Neil had not one but two routes up his sleeve. 

So the intrepid bunch consisting of Big Roy, Steve T, Fiona, Elwyn, Alan, Neil T and Steve H set off. In addition Fiona & Elwyn had invited Stuart a M&G rider to join us, welcome Stuart. So bading our colleagues in the mod group good bye we set off down Castle Street out of Holt past Bellis’s garden centre. At this time our esteemed leader Neil announced he had navigation issues and needed a re boot. Was it Neil or his Garmin that needed the boot, possibly the former LOL LOL!

Armed with an alternative route we retraced our steps and briefly rejoined the mod group, who were leaving Holt for the first time today, not the second like ourselves. By now we were on our way on this windless day, through Crewe in Farndon on out into the countryside. The sun was out the roads were quiet and the suggested vote of no confidence with the leader was long forgotten. 

We quickly zoomed into Shocklach and took the quiet roads out to Chorlton and then onto Threapwood. As we crossed the busy Whitchurch road many of us recognised we were on the reverse route we use from Hawarden to Bangor on Dee. A brief zoom down the busy road from Overton into Erbistock saw us take the sharp left over the Dee and parallel the river. This section of the ride probably accounted for fifty percent of the climbing of the whole ride. As we left Twining Hill, Fiona’s dulcet tones could be heard suggesting we had lost some riders. Apparently Stuart's derailleur hanger had broken and fortunately just outside a pub. So Stuart had retired for some lunch and Elwyn had headed directly for Plassey. 

The lunch stop was excellent as normal and afforded an opportunity for a group photo. Talk over lunch was as per usual varied from wonder drugs to Phantom jet aircraft. Neil's route took us through Cross Lanes and then onto the outskirts of Wrexham Industrial Estate. Whilst as ride leader Neil had spent the day in the middle of the pack chatting, however at the industrial estate he chose to lead the group down to one roundabout and then back up the same way. I think he just wanted to witness the majesty of the athletes who were accompanying him today. 

Photos by Steve Hu

Not content with parading Neil then decided to take to the small pavement to avoid the busy road. However students of algebra and maths will remember the use of converging lines and the path certainly converged. When it was about nine inches wide with brambles tearing at our £200 cycling tops Steve T must have been thinking about Clyde in the Clint Eastwood film Every Which Way but Loose, and threw in a right turn, straight into the undergrowth! Other than surprise Steve T was uninjured and we carried on. A quick plunge into Marford raised the question of a coffee at Alf's, however the consensus was to carry on into Rossett where Elwyn and Fiona left us. There are two routes around Trevalyn and the peloton split. On joining Rossett Road it was clear Roy Philippo Ganna was using his time trial bike for its intended purpose. The feisty domestique Alan Pogacher O was quickly on his wheel and surfed Roys power all the way into Holt. The remaining peloton had in Phil Liggets words “burnt their matches” and dribbled into Holt.

The group assembled in the early afternoon sun for a closing coffee at Maggies before Neil caught a bus, sorry rode home to Tattenhall. Thanks for making it an enjoyable route Neil and enjoy Anglesey

See route map and/or gpx file download

Steve Hu 

Friday 3 May 2024

2nd May 2024: Beeston (mod)

Rose Farm was the cafe of choice this week and only my second ride in 3 weeks, due to the lurgy that seems to have affected half of the population. Suffice it to say I turned up to be sociable and to ride a lone, easy meander. However DH had other intentions - Lol. My short local meander, taking in some of the best local land marks, appealed to more than DH. And so, I gained  7 followers, who managed to follow me all the way home - Lol. The 7 were  DH, Roy, Ray 1 & Ray 2, Mike G, Mike D (he’s the one with the shirt on his head in the photo- Lol. I think he was doing magic tricks, entertaining the others on his table- Lol). DM was also in the group, but he left us early, somewhere around Bunbury.

Anyway, we set off left out of Rose Farm and straight into my first meander, which was to avoid the usual nasty little climb toward Tarporley by taking Fishers Green & Ridge Hill. No sooner back on Ukington Road, we turn left up Heath Green and  my 2nd meander. This well know CER short cut not only circumvents Tarporley, which I hate, but also gets us across the A49 and quickly on to the more interesting lanes. At McDonald Portal golf club we turn left toward Eaton and a nice little descent. Barely a mile or 2 under our belts and we are already passing Drays cafe, which I point out to Roy, which became a common theme-Lol. That reminds me; I was informed, by a Bunbury resident, who I was chatting to only hours after completing the London Marathon, that Tilly’s has been sold. However, it will reopen somewhere near the Co-Op- apparently!

We are soon on one of my favourite lanes, after skirting Oulton Park, which even if you didn’t know the lanes, you would have known where you were from the noise coming from the race track ( I believe it was practice for the British Superbike event over the coming bank holiday) The scream of the super bikes was diminishing fast, due to the very light headwind, as we track slightly upwards toward Bunbury on ‘The Hall Lane’ ( what a crap name) Anyway, you get a fabulous view of the comtryside through here, as the lanes are  very exposed, with no hedgerows. After a couple of miles we are descending down into our first photo opportunity at my all time favourite canal lock ( Tilston Fearnell.) I make no excuse for leading the group here again, as it is a gem of a spot, that most of us know, not just because of the scenic canal spot, but also because of the lanes that lead in and out. After a quick team photo ( included) we are soon in Bunbury, although not via the usual route. I take the group on another meander through a lovely little lane that brings us into the back of Bunbury. Not a lane that most cycling clubs are aware off and not one for winter. Even DH was unfamiliar, prompting him to ask where we were.

We exit Bunbury via Peckforton Hill Lane, as I wanted to get another group pic at the entrance to the stunning Peckforton Castle. I did suggest climbing up to the castle, for a quick look, as most people in the group have not seen it before. However, time was against us, as I knew we had to make the cafe before the lunch time rush. The castle is really worth a look and is a stunning luxury experience, especially if you stop over night and dine at their  triple A restaurant. The castle is not in fact genuine, despite its glorious facade. It was in fact built as a home by John Tollemache, who bought the 36,000 acres and became Lord of the manner, after he was made a peer of the realm for his services to agriculture. Many of the cottages in the surrounding area were in fact built by him for his workers, apparently more than 200. Most of that land is now part of the Bolsworth estate.

Anyway, back to our ride- Lol. It was only a mile later when we stopped again for another photo (Beeston Castle this time-Lol)

We now follow the lane around Beeston mount and turn right toward the ‘Shady’ pub, on the canal bank. 300 mtrs later we turn right towards the quaint village of Tiverton and our destination, now only a mile away. After a quick 300mtr descent on the A49, we arrive at the Lock Gate cafe and grab the remaining two outside tables. If there was any doubt as to the temperature going up, my Garmin was showing 36 degrees, although it was sat in the sun- Lol. Some of our food orders were a touch on the slow side but all very good though. I’m guessing Mike’s meal was one of the slowest, which might explain why he was doing party tricks- Lol.

There was so much conversation on our table that I have forgotten most of it, although I do remember Ray getting all sentimental about his beloved 18 year old BMW, despite the rusty wings- Lol. It was difficult to drag ourselves away from the cafe, due to the sun and scenery. However, after cracking the whip, we get moving, not before we all drool over the gorgeous Aston Martin Vantage parked by our bikes.

We set off in the opposite direction to our arrival and after a few hundred mtrs turn right up Beaston hill (that’s what I call it) Bit of a kicker straight out of the gate, but short. Only a mile or so later and we are swinging up past Beaston castle again, but the other way this time and heading for the Ice cream farm at Tattenhall ( a blast from the past) That reminds me. On my arrival home, I was sat out side the front of my place and got chatting to a dog walker, who happens to live on a barge in Tattenhall Marina. Anyway she informed me that the Marina cafe is finally open again, but not everyday at the moment ( Second time in a week that I chat to a stranger and learn something about a local cafe- Lol). 1 kilometre further on and I depart my little group, at the crossroads. Home for me was just 2 miles away and so I set the guys off in the general direction of Huxley and the optional routes to Rose farm from there on. DH was confident he could find there way- Lol.

As usual a pleasant ride and one of the shortest I have lead. I got home with 40 miles on the Garmin and I imagine the rest of my merry band of men got back to Rose Farm with a similar total, depending on DH’s maps- Lol.

What a lovely day, some cracking lanes and scenery along with great company, as usual. It was nice to see Mike D, after a lengthy hiatus away from CER. He was telling me that he had lost his Mo- Jo, but he’s found it again now ( I guess it was in his garage- Lol) We were blessed with the sun and low winds today, not to mention no mechanicals or punctures, although Roy did manage to snap one of his laces, during lunch, which he had to then cobble a repair- Lol.

Till next time gents.


Photos by Neil T

Thursday 2 May 2024

2nd May 2024 : Bradfield Green (brisk)

At last - a warm, dry, sunny day with light winds. When was the last time we had one of these - I can’t actually remember!

At Rose Farm cafe there were a few riders already there as I arrived after the 14 mile ride out. As I arrived, I noticed Dave M looking at a Tiguan which had been “assaulted” by a large motor-home when it’s driver had attempted to squeeze passed the Tiguan to park near the car washing station. It looked to be an expensive day for the motor home driver, especially as he hadn’t realised what damage he had inflicted on the Tiguan and even more on his newish motor home.   

More riders arrived so there were four of us up for my 47 miler brisk ride to Sandbach. Well that was the original route which I had now reversed so that Nick and Shane could  drop off later in the day back towards Tilston. This meant that a Sandbach lunch stop was too early so I had espied Minshull’s Garden Centre cafe at Bradwell Green as the now preferred option. If this was heaving, then the nearby "Coach and Horses" would be a back stop.

So Alan, Nick and Shane were the trio following the route today. Steve H had just returned from his NY holiday and picked up something nasty in NY or on the plane back. Ken was busy elsewhere, and Ivan was in South Wales, whilst Ray S was just out and back for a gentle ride whilst nursing an injury. So we set off conventionally down the newly-laid tarmac on the hill outside Rose Farm and onwards to Oulton Park motor circuit where we turn left to ride through Little Budworth Country Park. Clay Lane brings us to the largely dry Whitegate Way which we ride turning off on a recently re-gravelled Grange Lane into the centre of Winsford.   

Winsford has to be borne unfortunately, as we move through to Clive Green with Coalpit Lane bringing us into the top of Middlewich. Once again acres of housing and speed bumps, plus nearly being mown down by a speeding mini-motor bike, is needed to get us into open countryside via Cledford Lane. A right at the T -junction takes us down a quiet and long Bradwall Lane to Hollings Green and thence into the market square of Sandbach itself. We look longingly at the George Inn, where we have had many a quick Spoons lunch, but we haven’t cycled far enough for lunch yet, so pass it by and out to Malkins Bank via Hassall Road.

We stop briefly at the canal basin at Malkins Bank where an ancient relative of ID once lived in the row of white-painted canal-side cottages. It’s warm and sunny and our resident photographer obliges us with a couple of snaps.

Today's peloton

At Malkins Bank

Onwards now we are through Hassall passing Wheelock Heath by emerging at Winterley and its shimmering pool. Skirting around the East to the North West of Crewe, we try to take the usually quiet Moss Lane - but No! - a definite “Road Closed" sign is evident and especially closed to cyclists and pedestrians. So a quick re-route soon finds us skirting the ever-expanding Leighton Hospital to Bradwell Green and Minshull's Garden Centre after 32 warm miles.

I expected the cafe to busy and had tried to call and book a table, but no bookings are now taken and no one answered the phone! As the car-park is packed, I go in to negotiate a table for four and fortunately we are quickly accommodated by helpful staff. We ordered up and the welcome repast soon arrives. It all looked good and was reasonably priced.

The good news about having had lunch here is that it is only 15 miles back to base! So riding well-known lanes, we head back for Alpraham via Church Minshull and Cholmondeston where Shane and Nick branch off bound for Tilston and Stretton. Alan and I head now for Eaton. Alan remarks that the air temp is now 25C according to his Garmin - and I am prepared to believe him today. We both go back to Rose Farm at about 1500 where we take a coffee in the sunshine and note that the mod group must have got back evener earlier as Dave H's car is not evident in the car park.

So I ride back to Chester and Alan drives home to sunny Wales. It's 47 miles around for Alan, mid-60's for Shane and Nick and mid 70's mileage for me. I was somewhat tired when I reached home - our speed was modest at 15.7mph but I was unaccustomed to the heat! It was an enjoyable ride as we all kept together in a tight group making for an easier ride all round. 

See route map and/or gpx file download


Photos AO