Monday, 4 August 2014

The Three Pigeons at Graigfechan

My turn to inflict hills on the Chester section!  The way that I plan a route is basically just using 'yellow' roads on the map, and joining them together.  My plan for today was to introduce Chester to the two (relatively) small hills that make up the hill climb and freewheel competitions (usually held in October); with additional coffee shop used for the treasure hunt and map reading held in May and to visit the Stone Zoo which I have not been to in a while.  Furthermore, I did not want to repeat roads and lanes used by Dave only two weeks ago

We met at the Little Roodee car park, me with my brand spanking new and very shiny frame.  A hardy 7 set off, fairly directly down Lache Lane and even more directly down Wrexham Road due to level crossing and road closure at Pulford.  It was not too busy, but nice to pull out of the wind and onto the little lane from Marford that parallels the main A483 and sneaks around the back to Llay.

Bob passing what I think are
Horsetail ferns (

One little hill and we picked up Alyn Waters country park, retracing some of the treasure hunt route I did earlier this year.  After Bradley it was a short road then to the cafe.

I planned to mostly re do the route I plotted for the map reading in May, although I seemed to remember it went up, up and up again.  And so it did.  Diane was heading home early as they were going out for lunch with the family, so after we dropped and climbed out of Moss Valley, we sent her off along a B-road to find her husband.

We instead climbed again up to Brynteg, with Dave and Bob happily plotting the old railway courses and bridges that made up this industrial area (shame a few bridges don't remain, to save dropping down and climbing again!).  We climbed up to Brymbo and then passed Penrhos Engine House.  There are many relics in this area, of the old mine workings and quarries, and a long industrial heritage.

After crossing the B5102 we climbed again into Bwlchgwyn - highest village in Wales did someone say?  (Some contention, OS Maps name Garn Yr Erw near Blaenavon in the Valleys is higher, but only looks like two rows of houses).  We followed a nice little road that passes the Llandegla Moutain bike Centre, before charging down a bit of the A525 (again fortunately not too busy) to enjoy a super descent down the Nant Y Garth Pass.

At the bottom, I took the group to the start of the Hill Climb road - a short mile of deceivingly steep and prolonged climbing, culminating in a flat 'sprint' (if you have any puff left!).  We then followed the lanes left (Left Bob, Left - no the other left!) and mostly down (excellent descents!) to stop everyone and show them the freewheel - down the hill to the pub without pedaling.

Lunch at last!  Sat in the beer garden, with fab views across the valley, perched on the edge of the Clwydian Range.  Sunshine and a couple of wasps - well it is August now!

After lunch we had to back track up the freewheel hill, nearly all the way with a tiny hidden lane off to the left.  As it levelled, I came face to face with a majestic peacock (who had shed a couple of tail feathers - Ray and I both took one - although they are a little large and delicate to transport on a bike, but Ray managed to attach his to his saddlebag, so that it stood up like his own tail feather!

View over your right shoulder
as you climb from Graigfechan

This is a lovely lane, that doubles back after about a mile, and follows a lovely 'shelf' road, with stupendous views across the Vale of Clwyd (over your right shoulder).  At the top I had lost them (I am too slow to lead a hilly ride!) and had to phone Dave and bring them back down to join me on a little track past the Fisheries and into Llanarmon.  Cracking little track, really good value and very rideable!

From Llanarmon I was now heading to the Stone Zoo.  As we headed along,Bob says 'oh yes, we passed that on my April Ride...'.  Humph!  No-one told me (and there were no photos) so we had a proper tourist stop and took photos!  The property in the 1920's was owned by Hunter Seeds of Chester, and apparently was heavily involved in trials recognising farm animal breeds and cereal trials. The hall also had a significant airfield, parts of which can still be seen.

The next road,after descending to the B5101, climbed again up Hope Mountain - to the very top.  It did mean we passed a few very old landrovers (especially for Bob!).

On top of Hope Mountain

Then a fantastic drop, with views now from Buckley and Deeside, and picking up Pigeon House Lane skirting Hope and dropping around Kinnerton.  Final run home from there!

60 miles by the time I got home, which was fairly late!

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