Saturday 11 December 2010

Winter Wander to Walk Mill

It is nearly Christmas, and the big freeze we have recently endured ceased a few days ago, meaning that the lanes and tracks were no longer a skating rink (for now, at least!) - so it must be time for our annual seasonal meander to Walk Mill, near Waverton.

More new faces greeted me when I arrived at the cafe, and 8 of us set off along the cyclepath to Mickle Trafford, and then round to Waverton.  The Mill was as welcoming as ever, with warm drinks and toast.

Jean got herself two bags of flour (not the best thing to buy when cycling as it is quite heavy to carry!) and a few of us bought a loaf to take home. 

We returned along the canal to Chester - still frozen in parts which shows how cold it was last week as it has been much warmer for the past three or so days!

Well, that is it for 2010!  We have covered 227 miles over 12 rides (one a month minus January, but with an extra one in Nov); a total of 2600 miles between 42 different ladies - WOW!  We have averaged 11 riders per month (between 8-16) and 19 miles a month (between 10-29 miles).  Just in case you were interested!

(Photos to follow)

Saturday 13 November 2010

November Sun

Another November day dawned with blue skies and sunshine!  Despite the gales and rain of the previous week, the wind had dropped for us by the morning of the November ladies ride.  Three new faces to Chester ladies were welcomed, and a returning few who had missed several rides.  I think that is one of the really nice things about the ladies group; every month is a little bit different depending not only on the route but also who is out. 

So, 10 of us met and I managed to drag the early birds out of the cafe (this could be harder as the winter progresses!) and we set off up Mannings lane to the country lanes.  There were some large sticks and 'tree debris' scattered around the lanes, and a tree was down in Picton Gorse Lane (but the road was clear).  We headed to the zoo, where we had to walk on the pavement as the road was closed one way (we waved at Ali's house as we went past).  Then we had a lovely downhill to the canal, where I snapped a few pics!

There was a gentleman walking by, saying hello to each lady - until he got to the fourth and fifth, whereupon he exclaimed "how many of you are there??!!".  I caught up and we re-grouped at the top, before heading through Backford to the A41.  After crossing this busy road (unusually busy, Christmas shoppers??!!), we had another downhill-uphill to Mollington.

Crossing to Saughall, we passed the Vernon Institute (which had a farmers market on...wonder if they do refreshments?!), and on to the old railway bridge where we joined the Greenway back to Chester, Kingsway cafe, and cakes/toast/bacon butties!!

The whole gang, before departures

A very pleasant and surprisingly warm 14 miles!  Back to the cafe for 12.  Perfect timing!

Jean gets a cuddle in the cafe!

Sunday 7 November 2010

Congregating with The Chelford Chicks at Cotebrook!

15 ladies at the cafe
 It dawned a beautiful 'post-bonfire night' morning - not a cloud in the sky!  Possibly why 15 of us met at Kingsway cafe.

The plan was to have a coffee, and chat rather than leaving on the dot, as we were meeting another ladies group for lunch, and to leave too early would mean we may miss them (or be leaving as they arrive).  But as 11am drew near, black clouds were approaching from Wales.

So it was, unfortunately, that we got caught up in the said - and rather heavy - rain shower.  Not everyone had a waterproof (c'mon, it is November!) - including me!!  Ensuring everyone was across the main roads slowed us down, and my plans to out run the rain (which I am sure we could have done!) dwindled.  But there was blue skies behind the grey, and by the time we got to Tarporley it had actually stopped and was returning to be a nice autumn day.  No photos from the morning - it was too wet!!

We arrived at Cotebrook, and inside were nesting the Chelford Chick, headed by Carol, their Cafe Queen.  I satisfied my urge for taking photos by going round the tables - here we all are:


Fabulous Bun!

People left in different groups, as they needed to get back, so after we waved goodbye to the Chicks...

...only 6 of us were left to head home.  An enormous black cloud was pondering over Kelsall (as we waved ta ta to Veronica and sent her in the direction of that big black cloud!).  We managed to skirt most of it, but the tail end caught us - just as we had the most magnificent and brightest rainbow - the end was in the field next to us.  Again no photo - it was a bit wet, and people wanted to get back - and you have to be very quick sometimes to catch a rainbow, they can disappear so quick!

We landed back in Chester just after 3, so not too bad, and time to get to any firework displays that were on.
Janet, Carol and Sue; Esteemed leaders!

29 miles; 10 Chelford Chicks, 4 Bicycle Belles and 11 Fabulous Ladies!

Thursday 4 November 2010

Mechanical session for ladies (or how to change a bicycle tube!)

Dave Parry introduces Bike Session

A local bike shop kindly offered to do a free cycle maintenance session for the ladies, so we took them up on it!

Nadia demonstrated as Dave explained the whats and whys of how to change a tube.

He also talked through what you need to do to keep your bike working well, and we asked questions about lighting, clothing and anything else we could think of!

Any questions......

With thanks to the bike factory!

Sunday 10 October 2010

The Hills of Hawarden

I know the title sounds ominous, but always remember that what goes up must come down!!

Gathering of the Girlies

With autumn here and trees a-changing, I thought it would be nice to head for the woods, and a new cafe for the group in Hawarden.  14 ladies gathered at the cafe in Kingsley, but with new faces and old friends we were a little delayed in leaving.  We negotiated Hoole and Boughton, dropping to the river and crossing the Old Dee Bridge.  A little drier than the last time we came across (see Aug blog post)!

We then took a turn to Nowhere (a fact I think missed most ladies - next time I will stop for a photo!)  The track along the river here is still a little muddy and undeveloped - but council plans are to improve this, so I look forward to re-visiting Nowhere another time!

Climbing The Warren
Leaving Chester down Lache Lane, we were harangued by a series of hay (?) tractors until we picked up Welna at Gorstella. Bretton, Broughton and up the Warren, to much dismay!  but we re-gathered at the gate and continued over the top, to then descend a super if not very potted road to the main road.  Unfortunately we had a final up, but not until a descent through Tinkersdale.

Negotiating the gate in Hawarden woods
Riding through Hawarden woods

The cafe (Gallery Tea Rooms) was fortunately larger than I remembered and were also very accommodating, and welcomed us all in!  less cakes today and more bacon butties and teacakes were consumed before the all downhill (completely brilliant!) return to the river and Chester.

20 miles

Saturday 11 September 2010

Hidden Histories and Herons

The rain stopped at 8:33 precisely, and I was not sure what the forcast was to be. After a quick online check I was (fairly) confident that it would now remain sunny in Chester till about 4pm. That was what the BBC and Met office were saying, anyway. So, that was what I assured the ladies when we all met up at the cafe.

We set off down Mannings Lane and turned left at Mickle Trafford and followed that lane to the canal at Stoak. By now it was raining. "You said it was not going to rain today" was the cry from behind. Yes, but that was in Chester, says I pointing to the still blue sky behind us!

Hidden Heron!


At Stoak we were due to meet up with Pat - but there was no sign of her. After safely parking the ladies under the canal bridge (and in the dry), I set off towards Ellesmere Port, to hopefully meet Pat and come back with her. One mile later, and no sign of her. With no phone number (note to self, always get someone's mobile number if planning to meet them) I had to retrace - only to receive a call from Pat who was now under the canal bridge with the ladies. She had been sat on the canal bank, after arriving early and going for a short ride up the canal and back.

No Stoppin to admire the view on Oil Sites Road!

By now it had stopped raining, and so all together we set off along the canal, where we espied a Heron. There is often a Heron along this stretch of canal, and this dude was sat on the towpath!

Leaving the canal we swung round and picked up the celubrious Oil Sites Road - yes it is as glamorous as it sounds. We also ran into the rain cloud again (grrr) so that was nice!

I had thought I had found a new cafe, but when I turned into a side road the ladies were a little perturbed to be hearing a siren (there are all sorts of wonderful sights and sounds in the middle of an oil refinery!) and when we drew up to a building which had big signs proclaiming it to be a 'safe retreat', they thought the whole place was going to blow!

However, the cafe was a small hut with outside seating (it was still precipitating rather profusely), or the offer of a sofa and chair inside (not enough space for 9 soggy bottoms), so we carried on to Ince.

Ince Manor

We did a little circuit around Kinseys Lane, and all the old farms; returning up towards Ince Manor, an old Monastic Grange dating back to the Doomsday book. See Wikipedia for more history.
I had arranged refreshments with The Duke of Wellington Inn, and once we had tied up our steeds in the beer garden, we were welcomed with toasted baps (or rolls, Lesley!) and tea and coffee. Thanks Pam!

After we were refreshed, we tottered across to the Manor, where I had also arranged with Tony (the owner) for a 'private' view. He was not there to start with, but the door was open, and as we were exploring he turned up. He told us his story of how he had grown up in Ince,a nd how he came to own the manor, and all his tribulations and experiences of owning a schedule one building.

Ince Manor from the Gallery

Ince Manor from the garden

Return home
We left Ince and headed to Wimbolds Tafford, Mickle Trafford and returned up the cycleway. Of course, the sun was shining here as we were back in Chester!

19 Miles, 4 of which were wet.

Saturday 7 August 2010

Summer Berry Picking

The grand plan was to investigate a local fruit farm and maybe involve ourselves with a little harvesting of the fruit......that was the plan!

Onto the Cycleway
12 ladies met at the cafe...obligatory photo....set off down cycleway where we met Jane pedalling frantically towards us!  12 became 13 and we continued.

I took an unusual route through the centre of town, not too busy at 10:30am, but caused some suprised looks from the early shoppers, not used to cyclists whizzing through the streets!

Sheltering under a tree by the Old Dee bridge!
We dropped down to the river, but as we re-grouped it started to rain.  So the coats came out, and we crossed the Old Dee Bridge after which we sheltered under a large tree.  However, despite my conviction that it would soon blow over, it did not so we had to brave the rain, and headed up through Handbridge, Eccleston until it finally stopped halfway down to the Old Wrexham Road.  We were decidedly soggy!

Plan B was to go as far as the Grosvenor Garden Centre, eat cake, and return - but the overwhelming decision was to carry on, dry off while riding and continue to Holt.  Despite being soaked, there were still lots of smiles - that is what makes the ladies Fabulous!

When we got to Pulford the roads were dry, then the sun came out - but we were being followed by an even blacker cloud.  This was OK until we turned left to Holt, and now, running parallel to this pending downpour it was able to gain on us.  We turned into the fruit fields and cycled through the Raspberry fields, and cut through to the garden centre and cafe (new route for me as the gate is usually shut!).  No sooner had we locked the bikes, than the rain came down, heavier and wetter than the previous shower!!!  There were many knowing nods and smiles - "just in time"!!!!!
A second democratic vote was taken about whether to stop and pick fruit, or just head back, and the motion was carried to head home now. 


The sun was now coming out and we had a very pleasant if not decreasing in numbers ride back thruogh Churton, Aldford, Bruera, Saighton and Caldy VAlley Nature Park - after which we were treated to a fly past by the Red Arrows!! (see on their way from Bournmouth to Blackpool!)
The RAF Red Arrows!

A Semi-eventful 25 miles.

Saturday 10 July 2010

Rhino Hunting in the Suburbs

Chester has had a recent invasion of over 50 5' Rhinos, brightly decorated and scattered around the city.  I thought we could hunt some down, as a one off different type of ride.  So we did - this is our hunt diary!

12 Rhino Hunters met at the Kingsway Cafe Hunting Lodge, with perfect hunting weather - the strong winds would cover our scent and the warm humid weather would bring them out of hiding!

We set off down Kingsway, and joined the cycleway through the new houses by New Scene Youth Club - a new entrance to many ladies!  Following the cycleway we also tried out the new link to the canal, following the latter till we came to the bridge, and followed up through Blacon.

Crossing the old railway bridge we paused and checked out the new mosaic, unveiled at the station only 1 hour previously!  So - we had a quick gander (and photo!) before continuing to seek out Rhinos!

First stop was Dee Point Community Centre, to visit Rhinocerbus, with his sunglasses; then we dropped down Clifton Drive, and after crossing Sealand Road (easier said than done!) we located BIGgles at Big Storage.  Weaving through the industrial estate to the stadium, we found a rather sinister rhino with a moustache.  I don't know why!!!!!

Retracing and joining Sealand Road we then headed down ferry lane to cross the river by Saltney Ferry bridge.  At the end, due to a mis understanding (when I said left I meant on the road, but some ladies turned onto the riverside path) - so, we all went down there - a new route for me!

Through Saltney, and round Boundary Lane to Lache, where I asked a lady if she had seen any rhinos (not something you can usually ask in Chester!).  She had, and so we found Rhino No. 4, African Rhino.

Leaving Lache we went through Westminster Park and Handbridge to locate the Rhino outside Queens Park High School; then we crossed the river (again) on the Suspension Bridge from where we saw a few but were only able to snap one (a lovely gold one with hearts).

Now we had a decision to make - did we head along the groves to the right and find a few more Rhinos - or do we head left to the cafe?  Oddly there was a rapid and unanimous call to head straight to the cafe!

After welcome refreshments at the Blue Moon Cafe, we had one final Rhino to find - it was a tricky one hidden in the park, but he was no match for us and he was soon found and photographed!

So, that was our successful Rhino hunting trip!

A suprising 14 miles, 7 Rhinos and 12 ladies!

More about Rhino mania can be found at