Monday 23 October 2023

Presidents Ride 2023

The annual Chester and North Wales Presidents ride was planned for October this year, I think we are still a little out of kilter following the pandemic, as it always used to be in September.  It is also a Welsh hosted event, following the tradition of taking it in turns between Wales and England.

The plan was to meet in St Asaph, and to make our way to Llanfair DC along the lanes in the Clwyd Valley.  However, the weather had other ideas and following extreme weather and red weather warnings
(mostly in Scotland), storm Babet as it was named led to extensive flooding on the Friday preceding the ride. 

This led to a flurry of re-routing and a late email which I unfortunately did not see before I left home on the now very sunny and promising Sunday morning.  But I made it to the cafe (with my husbands new 'Go Pro' firmly fixed to my handlebars) to meet everyone before we made our way to a sunny spot by the bridge for further instructions and the obligatory photo.

This unfortunately put me at the back of the group, with no route (or the old routes loaded which may not be passable due to aforementioned floods), but Lowri very kindly waited for me and I eventually caught up with the electric bike duo of Glenys and Brian.  However, we had a lovely gentle ride, with stops for photos and I was able to do a little videoing.

We finally arrived at the lunch venue, Neuadd Elanor, and were greeted with tables laden with sandwiches and teas and coffees.  Soup was served, followed by apple crumble and custard.  

Dave Matthews, our President, gave a short speech, and awarded the Presidents Trophy to John Violet, for being a generally outstanding fellow and all round nice guy, after which we all departed.  

But I still had to get back to St Asaph.  I had been surprisingly tired on my way out and after arriving at Llanfair PG, which I put down to my double vaccination on Friday (Covid and Flu).  The crumble finally gave me the energy to return, but I plotted what I thought was a shorter route than the 19 miles we did out.  So, I turned out right, and everyone else went left.

All was well for a few miles, but it appeared that Komoot had plotted main roads, so after Ruthin, having followed the A525 for a few miles, I took myself off left, into some lovely quiet lanes. I merrily directed myself and came across a small church which caught my eye, with a wood carving outside.  

St Saeran's at Llanynys

I had a little explore, and to my delight the door was not locked.  The large wooden door, which had etched grafitti dated 1598 to 1602, was fantastic in its own right, but as I went in a huge medieval wall painting could be seen opposite the door.  This is the largest in North Wales, but in such a small hamlet.  Such an interesting little church, and well worth a visit next time you are passing.  

Grafitti from C16 and C17

St Christopher medieval wall painting

A very cute old Organ

I continued on my way, but - alas - I was faced with an extended flood just before Llandrnog sewage treatment works, where tributaries to the River Clwyd had burst across the fields, and could be seen flowing across the road.  There was no alternative but to turn back and return to my last junction, and so the A525 again. 

I managed to meet back up with Glennys and Brian, who caught up with me just before Trefnant, and we rode together briefly before we split as I was parked at the top of the hill, and they were at the bottom.  By the time I got back to my car parked near the cathedral, I have covered another 20 miles!  At least it is free parking on a Sunday!

Monday 16 October 2023

Let's Ride with the Canal and River Trust

One aspect about Chester that I love is our canal's and waterways.  We are lucky to have a lovely river, which is very pretty, and also an extensive arm of the Shropshire Union Canal winding from Ellesmere Port through Chester and out to the Cheshire countryside.  

I have always enjoyed cycling along our towpaths, and sharing some of the history I know.  However, the surface has suffered over recent years, making it less accessible and even unpleasant to use these routes; so when a few years ago I met and chatted with a volunteer along the canal, I signed up as a member in support. 

The canals are such an old transport network, with the Sankey Canal which was the first British canal opening in 1757; and the majority of the network was built between the 1770s and the 1830s.  We also in Cheshire have the Anderton Boat Lift and the Manchester Ship Canal.

Near the Sankey Canal, on my ride to Speke in August 2017.

Chester CTC ride to the Anderton Boat Lift in July 2007.

And only last month I was lucky enough to paddle (not pedal) across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (I have previously walked with my bike over, as it is a tad narrow to cycle over)

Canals have featured through all my thirty five years of cycling, so when I saw local rides advertised led by the Canal and River Trust, I wanted to support this (and, I will be honest, also try to let people know about our cycling clubs and rides - well, why not?)

I joined the first ride which was a very short jaunt along the Greenway to Meadow Lea Cafe, just a chance to get to know everyone.  We are meeting at Bren Bikes.

I was away last week, but was able to book on and come out again today.  There was a larger group today, and we set off the other way on the Greenway, picked up the canal and headed out of Chester towards Ellesmere Port and as far as Croughton.  I mentioned that the surface has been awful, but in the last two years there has been significant resurfacing, so this is now a very pleasant route.

 Setting off along the Greenway




 It was a beautiful calm day along the canalside




I can't tell you how many times I have photographed this viaduct!

We joined the road at Croughton, but as we also have fabulous quiet country roads it was a pleasant pedal now back towards Chester and Upton, where we picked up a cyclepath alongside the A41, before re-joining the Greenway and heading back to Meadow Lea for refreshments.

Rides will be held each Monday morning until early December, and you can book on here

Sunday 16 October 2022

Tour of Burtons (part 2)

 Burton - a 'settlement at a fortified place'

The ride started by Rick two weeks ago was missing two Burtons; so with a 'vacancy' for a ride leader this week, he kindly offered to finish the job.

This time we met at Chester Town Hall, and with a fine sunny October day it was marvellous to see faces of people who have not been out (or I have not seen) for some time.  Today I also dragged out the good old Selfie Stick, and after some juggling of people to make sure we were all in the sun (although a bit squinty, it also means you can see everyone)

We dropped down to the river, and followed to Saltney Ferry where we crossed and continued to the main road.  up the 'Saltney Straight' on the relatively new cycle path which does keep us off the main road (until at least Bretton) and then we went through Bretton and on to Lower Kinnerton.

We headed to Walters cafe, based in the old primary school in Higher Kinnerton, and which has been there for a couple of years.  They are very dog friendly, noted by the fabulous wallpaper, and small pin board with 'Instax' small polaroids of visiting Pups.  I have taken the (Fab) ladies to this cafe, but it was a new venue for most of the group.

After I had laden myself with cakes for all the family (All variations of Brownies and Brookies to choose from), we set off again, cutting across some back lanes
and after passing through Burton Green, we arrived at the small hamlet of Burton.  

Here is what Wikipedia has to say:

"Burton (near Wrexham) is an ancient village that...dates back to Saxon times and was settled by Anglo-Saxons from the Kingdom of Mercia

In the early part of 2002 a trio of friends were metal detecting on a farm close to Burton, when they found a hoard of gold and other artifacts from the Bronze Age. These included a twisted wire bracelet, a necklace called a torc, a bracelet, a pendant and a collection of beads and rings - all gold, along with several axes. The finds later to be known as 'The Burton Hoard' were declared treasure trove and purchased by the National Museum Wales (formerly NMGW) for £85,000.[2]

In September 2021, a three-week archaeological dig was conducted following the discovery of a Roman villa on farmland near Burton Green"

After Burton, we crossed the railway, taking great care to dismount my bike whilst I held the gate open for all, and through Rossett to pick up the back lane to Holt.

Arriving at Cleopatra's, no-one was particularly hungry as it had only been about seven miles since Walters; but there were other no well placed alternatives on our route, so we settled in for lighter snacks and drinks.  It was nice to still be able to sit outside too!





We crossed the river, and made our way over to our final Burton, near Duddon.

The house dates from the early 17th century, and is listed as a Grade II building, the wall you can see with the door is also listed as Grade II.  In 2018, after extensive refurbishment, the owners tried to sell it via £5 raffle tickets, but I do not think they sold enough - it was as then noted to be worth £1.8 million.  (It actually sold for £600k in Oct 2018, then in May 2019 it was listed for £1.4 million, but sold for £625k in June 2021; and sold again in September 2021, this time for £550k.  So watch this space, it is becoming affordable!).

From here it was a short hop home, satisfied with have seen all three Burtons now!