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9th July 2017 VCC ride for lightweights Cheshire Section “Heading East to the Tree of Imagination”

This was the first time I have organised the Lightweight ride for the Cheshire Section, this having being the preserve of Bob Bennett for many years.

Eleven intrepid explorers arrived at the Courtyard coffee house in Knutsford full of glee in glorious morning sunshine for the start of this ride. The weather was ideal, blue sky with sunshine but was not too hot.

Most people see Knutsford services on the M6 and never visit the town. It is a pretty Georgian town, being the setting of Elizabeth Gaskell’s “Cranford” and is full of history, originally being the town that served the neighbouring Tatton Estate. Henry Royce of Rolls Royce fame lived in Leigh Road, Knutsford at the time of his forming the partnership with Charles Rolls in 1904. Leigh Road also made a guest appearance in Steven Spielberg’s film “Empire of the Sun” (1987), doubling up as colonial Shanghai.

We set off across the Knutsford Moor (adjoining Tatton Mere) and under the railway bridge to Mobberley Road. Although only a B road this connects Wilmslow & Alderley Edge to Knutsford so is fairly busy. After a short while we turned off this road and headed into the Cheshire Countryside to Warford, then on to Nether Alderley, part of Alderley Edge.

We picked up a cobbled track here which was likened by a few of our riders to that of the Paris–Roubaix race!

Although Cheshire is considered flat it does have its lumps where it borders on the Peak district to the East, Shropshire to the West and Staffordshire to the South. This did not go unnoticed by Peter!

Alderley Edge is packed with folklore- it was also the site of copper mines going back to the Bronze age. These are open certain times of the year and are a sight to behold with vast underground caverns- something hard to believe when walking or cycling on the surface.

The riders on Alderley Edge

A gradual ascent was made followed by a good descent down to the main Chelford-Macclesfield Road. On this road we passed a beautiful church, St Catherines, on the right. This is unusual in that it has an octagonal tower and is also known for having beautiful German and Dutch stained glass. It is listed in the top 1000 churches in Britain.

Crossing this road we went around the back of Redesmere lake. This was where Ben Ainsley learned to sail as a youngster and won the RYA club of the year in 2016- a great achievement for a land locked sailing club.

From Redesmere we headed into the deep Cheshire countryside surrounded by fields of wheat and cattle, indicating the rich diverse nature of Cheshire’s agricultural base.

Our Lunch stop, which was over half way, was reached early afternoon at the Swettenham Arms in the picturesque village of Swettenham. Here we sat out in the gardens, adjoining a field of beautiful blue lavender. We had a lovely mixture of freshly made sandwiches and chips!

Following a good break, setting off from here, for a bit of fun, I decided to go via a local ford. This has a concrete base so is quite safe.

Marion and Cathy

Me. The RRA was thoroughly cleaned and dried afterwards!

This was enjoyed by everyone but was a lot lower than when I first checked out the route for the ride in March!

Heading back through countryside we passed through Goostrey, which is close to the radio telescope at Jodrell Bank, and then to another off road section through the Peover Estate to the main Knutsford-Holmes Chapel Road.

We cycled for a short way along this busy road and then turned down another small lane.

This led to the “Tree of Imagination” where we stopped. This has been carved from an old tree stump in the form of a fairy’s home- it has now become quite an attraction in the area.

The Tree of Imagination

It was originally quite an eyesore- the local parish council held a competition as to what to do with it- fortunately the carving won the day!

Heading back into Knutsford we finished the day with a lovely ice cream on the Moor.

Altogether a glorious day with great company!

Riders and Machines

Bob Bennett                1953 Carlton International

Andy Coley                  1954 Dawes Tartan Club

Peter Havelock            1970s Gios Evolution

Simon Head                1948 Raleigh Record Ace

Cathy Head                 1987 Raleigh Caprice

Simeon Head              1986 Raleigh Granada

Marion Head               2010 Scott ATB

George Mumford         1970s Benotto Racer

Marion Rowlands        Bosch E-Bike

Nick Russell                1999 Fondriest Molven

Patti Wilson                 1980 Ladies Sun Solo