Saturday 19 May 2012


No, fortunately not!

It was the big day for filming, after a week or so of no communication from our selected media student from Chester University - the day was forecast to be so sunny, I arranged to meet an hour earlier for a ride - and an hour later for the filming.  So, 9am on the 19th May saw us up before the cafe opened, and off down the Greenway to Shotton and back along the river.  A glorious 18 miles, just the three of us (someone overslept!)

We got back to Kingsway cafe, with time to have a coffee whilst we waited for our cameraman.  In fact, we had time for several coffees, as he had also overslept (working till 4am that morning), but finally was able to get a taxi and met us near the planned location.

We then spent 10 minutes riding up and down, to get arrival and departing shots, before settling into a gateway.  No sooner had I taken my wheel off than a tractor and trailer arrived at our corner wanting to go into the field.  We made space, but the farmer, a chatty sort, hopped down and stood with us (not actually making conversation, just standing pleasantly with us.  It was a nice day!).

Anyway, he reversed into his field, and proceeded to tractor up and down (watch for him in the clip!) and we progressed with the filming.  I would say what I was going to do, and Dan would film it, while the ladies stood and watched, looking glamorous and fabulous as ever, and holding items such as valve cap, pump etc, passing them to me dramatically as needed!

Just as we were packing up, the farmer came back across the field - did we want a parting shot of a water hen on her nest? There was one sat at the side of the pond in the field, with the male swimming nearby.  Not really needing a shot like this, but keen to please the farmer who was obviously wanting to share this with us, we all trudged across the field.  The Water hen (Coot) had given up as there was a throbbing tractor sat yards from her - it took a while to see the nest among the bulrushes (and would not have come out in a picture, unfortunately).  Both birds were swimming around, but not in  a hurry to return to the nest.

We took a few photos of each other, then pedalled off down the lane, leaving Dan to find his way back to student land!

Saturday 12 May 2012

The joys of spring

May should be a time of sunny days, warming up as the flowers start to spring out - but it remains persistently cold.  The forecast for the ride was to be blue skies and sunshine, so I was a little disappointed at the number of clouds.  However, the rain stayed off and the flowers were appearing, so all was not too bad.

approaching Tarvin lock
15 of us set off - not quite big enough to split into two groups, but still quite a few in number.  We headed for the canal, which we followed to Waverton (and despite some chap with his dog stating how 'ridiculous' it was.....most people were quite pleasant, as we passed by saying thanks as we do).

fields of rape still aglow

From Waverton we headed for Duddon, where we crossed the A51 at  not the greatest of spots, but did give us two new lanes, before we headed out to Willington.  We had a bit of a climb near Willington Hall, before turning right to climb up past the Sandstone Trail.  This was when I realised I had misplaced the cafe, and clearly pinpointed on the map where I thought it was, only to discover it was not there.

Horse and trap at the other end of the lane
When I had rounded up all the ladies, I checked the map, and to save quite a long deviation, or worse going back down the hill we had just done and climb a steeper one, I noted a farm with white road to and from it.  We set off along this track, which initially is part of the Delamere Loop bridleway, but as the loop swung off to our right (down a very interesting looking track - for another days exploring!) we were faced with a few 'private road' signs.  We had a conflab, and the majority choice was to follow the slightly naughty road through the farm.  I laid down some rules - to be quiet, polite, and if we had to turn around and head back, so be it.  We tiptoed (interesting whilst on bikes) along the track, up a hill at the end, and made it safely and without incident to the other side, a mere 150 yards from the cafe.

View from Summertrees gate across Cheshire Plain
Summertrees Cafe is placed actually on the Sandstone Trail, and the girls were very welcoming.  Some of us sat inside, whilst the rest of us braved the intermittent clouds and sat outside.  Much discussion and sharing of recipes accompanied the wonderful cakes, before we had to head back to the bikes. 

It was all downhill coming back!  We dropped down Boothsdale, which is stunning, and then down to Oscroft, skirting Tarvin on another new lane (packing them in today) which brought us to the Gowy Bridges again - it is just so pretty there I can't help myself!

15 riders, 20 mils (I think!)