This Issue: Cheshire and Shropshire lanes Words and photos: Mike Beddows
75 – Cheshire Lanes
In the last issue of ABR, we covered a few lanes near Malpas in Cheshire. For this issue, we extend this route by adding a further two lanes. Both of these lanes are on the TET (Trans Euro Trail) route and both are marked as bridleways on OS maps, so unless you know about them you would probably miss them (refer to issue 45 for more information on how to find legal lanes).
The first lane here is a definite no for beginners and a no for anyone wishing to stay mud-free. I’m surprised it is even on the TET route as I wouldn’t like to attempt it on a fully-loaded bike.
It was bad enough on the KTM 950 SE without luggage, but due to the sparse nature of trails in rural Cheshire, I suppose any lane is better than none. When I did it, it was the height of summer when lawns were parched and brown and it was still a rutted, wet, mud bath.
The second lane is very straightforward and could be attempted by anyone, on any bike if care is taken. Get out there and have a go…
Take a left turn into the lane and head towards the radio mast. The track starts as a 4×4-wide farm track with grass growing in middle. It’s pretty easy going as you ride between hedgerows. You will see a gate into a field, head to the right of this gate. The trail is less used from here onwards.
There’s lots of vegetation overgrowing into the track. It’s easier to ride on the grassy bit in the middle to save running into the occasional bush and grasses that appear to be trying to take over the trail. When you stand on the pegs you get great views over the surrounding fields. Continue to the end of the trail where it meets the tarmac.
Short road section
Take a left turn off tarmac and proceed over a cattle grid. On an Ordnance Survey map, this section is marked up as a bridleway, but it is 100% legal for bikes according to the council’s definitive online map.
The track is well graded to begin with, and you’ll want to head dead straight between fields before reaching a farm. Continue straight through the farm and head to the gate at the opposite side. Go through the gate into an overgrown track.
The lane is very overgrown and hard to see where the ruts are in places, but trust me, they are there. There’s lots of high grasses covering the track, and lots of side vegetation trying to grow into the track. Dodge the bushes and pretty soon the mud appears. It’s a very muddy, rutty track from here.
Choose your line carefully. Although the lane appears not to see much use at its start, these muddy sections prove otherwise. Some ruts are deep with thick, gloopy mud and it’s not easy on a large bike.
It’s very slippery in places and it appears farm vehicles regularly use this, or it gets hammered by local 4x4s which is probably more likely. It does become easier towards the middle of this section but before long you are battling ruts and mud once again.
Left turn on the tarmac, then right into next lane before the farm. Again, this section is marked as a bridleway on an OS map. This track is easy all the way. No ruts, just a well-graded lane that flows in-between trees and bushes. Should be easy enough on any bike in the dry.
As you pass the track to the right (marked as a byway on the sign) the track straight ahead becomes slightly harder. The track becomes more overgrown now as grass growing in the middle with loose vegetation over the trail from side bushes. There’s the odd rut but it’s still fairly easy.
76 – Clun Lanes, Shropshire
These are two great lanes in Shropshire, not too far from the rural village of Clun. They form a short loop but due to some technical bits are only really suitable for the more experienced trail riders.
An added bonus that between the start and end there’s a large car park which is ideal for leaving vans or, as I did, parking up in a camper for the night before the day’s riding.
The first lane is uphill for most of the way, but this also means the second lane is downhill all the way back.
The second lane has some deep ruts and the going can be slow as you have to continuously be careful not to catch your feet.
I managed a full day’s trail riding in the area on some cracking trails. Shropshire is a fantastic place to ride and the views of the rolling hills are never too far away.
In the village of Clun, there’s a ford across the river if you like riding through water. Unfortunately, when I was there the river was tearing through so I opted to take the nearby footbridge.
Start at the gate before proceeding uphill. It’s pretty muddy to start with, don’t stop otherwise getting traction again may be difficult. There was a fallen tree when I passed and I had no choice but to keep momentum and jump over it. If I had stopped I wouldn’t have been able to get going again.
Head through the next gate. You are still going uphill but it’s pretty straight. It’s possible to get some speed up but be careful, there were lots of loose branches on the floor and a few fallen trees to negotiate when I passed. The ground is fairly solid but there are a few puddles and muddier sections to catch you out.
Once out of the wood the track turns into more of a graded 4×4 track. The going is fairly easy now. Head round a few bends but take care as there are drop offs to the right.
Pass a road heading to the left, keep going straight on. Left goes to some buildings. End at the tarmac road.
Turn left into the trail and start by heading uphill slightly along a well-used farm track.
Once you enter the woods it becomes a lot ruttier. There are some deep ruts so keep an eye out and try not to catch your ankles.
The track heads to the left here, but the legal track goes straight on. It’s not the easiest riding and you may have to swap and change ruts depending on the vegetation that could be blocking your route forward. You soon get to a fence close to the right-hand rut.
Try to be in the left-hand rut at this point. If you are over to the right, it’s not easy riding and you may keep catching the fence. Keep going downhill to the tarmac road.