Around Stoke (Audax, DIY, 100km, 1.75AAA)

Not Validated Due To Covid 19

Testing the route, which needs some minor changes between Haslington and Betley. I had forgotten how much I enjoy riding overnight.

The leg from Hilderstone Road (Meir Hay) to Cheadle and Foghall is generally boarding and of little interest. However, there are few churches and cenotaphs which you may want to view as you pass by. The climb from Foghall to Ipstones is more of a kick in the head followed by a ramp that has a small kick in at the end. I often stop at the corner shop on the left turn or you could opt for a quick pint in the pub. A few hundred yards up the road is St Leonard church (Ipstones) which also marks the right turn for Cheddleton. This section to Cheddleton is on narrow roads and there is a lot of loose gravel (in the dark this can catch you out so be careful).

I had forgotten how steep the road is from the Churnet canal (Churnet Valley Railway, which has a cafe) to the main road which passes through Cheddleton (A520). From here it is a quick leg on the A520 before pulling off into the housing estate but be warned this is a very busy (and dangerous) road. The road leading from the housing estate becomes very narrow with blind corners but this is generally a nice road. You very quickly arrive at Deep Hayes Country Park just in time for a very long and steep hill that climbs up to the A53 Leek road, which you crossover and continue to Rudyard lake. This section is very pleasant as the roads are open and you have views of the surrounding countryside.

The climb from Rudyard lake to Biddulph Moor is another long climb with a kick at the start and end. However, the descent of the top to Biddulph town is fast and exciting. I believe that Biddulph Grange Gardens has a tea room. I opted to stop on the main road to take a photo of St. Lawrence’s Church which was illuminated by orange lights.

It is a quick sprint along the main road before turning at the Biddulph Arms Hotel make sure you take the correct road, you want the first one which ramps downwards (Mow Lane). This road climbs all the way to the top and the to Mow Cop village. The climb has three sections a) through the trees to the b) ramp (there are some great views along the ramp to keep you going) from the ramp c) up the ridge road to the village. The ridge road has a few layby’s to take photos from and I recommend the first layby as you join the road. You will be going so fast when you descend back down that you will not want to stop.

At the top of the ridge road, you descend down into the main village and turn for the Woodcock Lane which will bring you to Mow Cop Castle, passing the top of Station Road (killer Mile). There is a short steep climb that takes you over the top back onto the ridge road. I recommend tucking in and enjoy the decent but be warned there are a few sharp corners, potholes and loose gravel as you descend. Turn when you see the pub (Horseshoe Inn) … you will have to break!!!

Turning at the Horseshoe Inn will take you through to Smallwood, Winterly and Haslington. This road is fast with an occasional short climb along the way, so power up the hills. Both Winterly and Haslington have roadside shops and cafes if you want to stop. Turning off the main road (Crewe Road) represents a transition as most of the roads through to Madeley are main arteries so watch yourself. You finally turn off the main road (A531) and climb (Bowsey Wood Road) upwards before dropping into Madeley (shops and cafe) and skirting the lake through the village. To be honest the up and down remains a theme and eventually you pop out on the Whitchurch to Newcastle Road (A51) which you follow all the way to Stone. However, this road is fast but a little busy at times. Be careful on the roundabout as the flow of traffic is very fast.

You turn off the A34 after the next roundabout (500 yards-ish) which takes you over the canal which you follow into the back of Stone. Cutting you through the housing estate to bypass the main town leads to the final climb up through Moddershall (Death Valley) which brings you back to the start.