Another weekend, must mean its time to get a few more miles on the camper and the bikes. Saturday morning and loaded up in double quick time with our fabulous new CYKELL bike rack. No more heaving the bikes above our heads, just snap in on the towbar and the bikes are wheeled up the ramp and locked on within minutes.
Destination – Chester again, this time a few hundred yards over the border from Wales at Thornleigh CL campsite. Just off Sealand road but a million miles from traffic noise. The campsite is next to the farm and well sheltered behind the trees, the main source of noise being the many horses kept on the livery, well that and a constant hum of helicopters taking off and landing at the nearby Hawarden airfield. The site was busy with 5 other units on site but its a big area so plenty of room with the next van a good 50 ft away from us. We sat out the thunder and lightening storms in the afternoon tucked away in the van with a good book (The Gone Girl – fantastic read) and plenty of coffee and biscuits. By early evening the sun was shinning so we ventured out for a walk up Ferry Lane to the river. From the bridge we could clearly hear the Chester Rocks concert – a free listen to the The Feeling – before heading back in glorious evening sunshine.
Sunday dawned a little windy but the sun was breaking through the clouds so we popped the bikes off and decided to head up the bike path at the end of Ferry Lane and then onto the new Dee Marshes cycle path heading over to the Wirral. Traffic free except a road crossing through to meet the bike path at Hawarden and onto Cycle 568. We picked up our cycling buddy, Phil who joined the path at Connah’s Quay and headed over the Rifle ranges through to Little Neston. By now the sun was fully out and the cycle paths were amazingly busy, of the hundreds of cyclists out for the day we asked the two who were lost which way to go to the Wirral Way, We could have followed the sign, no lets follow their “shortcut”. This resulted in a loss of route but luckily a dogwalker put us back on track and we picked up the Wirral Way in a mile.
The Wirral Way is again totally traffic free, according to the signs they are widening the route this year – not surprised as its really popular with mainly cyclists but plenty of walkers too. Mostly tramac but a few rough spots that have been filled with gravel so an easy pedal all the way to West Kirby where we parked up on the promenade for a quick butty stop sitting watching the windsurfers and sailing boats. By now the sun was well and truly shinning and it was getting warmer so we decided against plan A of continuing to New Brighton and decided to start back mindful that the breeze that there was (head wind apparently) was against us all the way home.
A pleasant ride back down the Wirral Way until we found the spot with the gravel again. Not so pleasant as I hit the ridges at an angle and a rather spectacular “off” followed, obviously with several spectators! Luckily just a grazed bottom and a few bruises and a touch of bruised pride. By now we had covered just over 30 miles so legs were tiring all round. We decided on a refreshment stop at the Net’s Coffee shop on the bike route just outside Little Neston. The cafe is on a small lane with no access for cars, full of cyclists with bikes parked everywhere. It overlooks the marshes and I am sure the recent opening of the Dee Marsh cycle route has boosted their business and its not surprising, a very cycle friendly with tons of outside tables and lots of cakes as well as meal and sandwiches – we will be going there again. So tracing our route back we arrived back at camp 42 miles later – our longest ride to date and to be fair other than my few war wounds felt remarkably well for the effort.
Monday morning the sun was back after some more thunder and lightening overnight so we left the bikes and aimed for the Chester. A four mile walk straight up Sealand Road past the racecourse and we were in the city for a browse around the shops and a wander along the rows. Despite it being a Monday Chester was awash with tourists as always, a few heavy downpours each followed by the sun coming back out doesn’t seem to damper the spirits of the cameras as many hundred of visitors on tours with guides dressed as Roman’s. We treated ourselves to lunch then jumped on a bus back to the end of the lane from the campsite where we sat out the remainder of the weekend in the sunshine.