Seeing the heart of Cheshire and beyond by bike?24th February 2010
Apparently, my late Uncle Jim had a fascination for exploring the byways of his local stomping ground and I am left wondering if my own inclinations come from the same gene pool. For instance, an unexpectedly Sunday morning from more than a week ago was the cause of dragging me out on my bike for a local run when the enticement failed to take me further afield. At the time, the main attraction was the prospect of having another go at making a photo of Little Moreton Hall. After a bright start, the day did progressively cloud over but that didn’t make my visit to the old pile an unprofitable venture. As it happened, I came away satisfied and it didn’t cost me a penny either because the National Trust hadn’t opened up the place to the visiting public. That reminds me of Irish forest parks in the low season when it is possible to get in without paying. In the case of Little Moreton Hall, I may have had to stay on the outside of its walls and its gardens but I was temporarily ensconced on its front lawn all the same.
On the way there, I took diversions to stop off at Gawsworth and Astbury. Photographic endeavours of either weren’t to better previous efforts but there were compensations too. Quite a lot of the fish pool in front of Gawsworth’s Old Hall was frozen, confining squabbling ducks to the end near the church and they amused me for a few minutes before I carried on down the A536. It looks as if Astbury will be providing me with another reason for going past Congleton on the A34 but it may facilitate another outing that takes me somewhere new too.
The journey that I took back from Little Moreton Hall was the main cause of my travelling around 37 miles in total. Apart from those aforementioned deviations, the outward journey followed the A536/A34 as if to make a bee line for the antiquity. Once there, I was lured towards Holmes Chapel with quieter lanes conveying me towards Rode Heath and the A50 taking me the rest of the way. The wideness of the road ensured that any traffic wasn’t in conflict with me nor I with it, a useful state of affairs when part of me began to complain about the time spent on the saddle; small conurbations like Arclid and Brereton Green were useful punctuations that made the distance feel shorter as I completed bypassed Sandbach, spot not without its own attractions. It was after Holmes Chapel that my legs began to fatigue so I left a busy A535 at Twemlow Green to pick my way along much quieter lanes around by Goostrey and Over Peover until I reached Chelford. After all, busy twisty undulating roads and tiring cyclists never make a good match. A stop in Chelford allowed for some rest and a spot of refreshment too before I followed the A537 back to Macclesfield for a longer recuperation, a direct end to a good day’s cycling.
The whole jaunt has thrown other ideas into sharp focus, especially those pertaining to exploring the middle of Cheshire by bicycle. Even the thought of a cycle through to Chester has come to me though I’d be catching a train back if I was to do something like that; the prospect of doing the most of a hundred miles in a single day sounds excessive. Nevertheless, there are places around the likes of Northwich and Delamere that I wouldn’t mind savouring from a saddle rather than a train like what happened one Sunday last November. With that in mind, I acquired a copy of Cycling in the UK from SUSTRANS. As a sample of what the U.K. has to offer, it’s good appetiser to have on a coffee table but I fancy having something more relevant to Cheshire. Nevertheless, it has caused me to ponder escapades like cycling from Barmouth to Porthmadog, all in Wales and all within sight of hills too. What really seals the deal for this one is that it would mean shadowing a railway line, a more than acceptable fallback if something went awry with the bike. While on the thread of dafter schemes, acquiring a Brompton folding bicycle is another that has entered an untethered head. After all, who knows what that might cause? Even with all these mental escapades, I am not planning to stop walking though hill country at all (I know that it is tales of those exploits that draw so many of you here) though I do need to admit some excitement at the prospect of exploring more places by bike too. Is this what could make 2010 different from other years?