Dearnford Lake via Nantwich and Peckforton Castle in Cheshire, with Eccles Cake stop at the excellent Tilly’s in Bunbury.

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I really wanted to do a ride out to Macclesfield and then up the Cat n Fiddle climb in the Top 100 UK Climbs book, but I’m looking after our poorly dog this week while my wife is away on a course so can’t afford that much time out.

Instead, I opted for a ride out to Dearnford Lake for a late lunch, but with a twist … the reverse of the usual Dearnford route but extending the ride up into Cheshire by quite a bit!

I set off on very familiar roads to Market Drayton and then up through Calverhall to Whitchurch. In Whitchurch, I headed off out on the Marbury / Wrenbury road and then up through Ravensmoor towards Bunbury. Nice cycling on pretty familiar roads and great weather too.

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In Bunbury, I could not resist a quick stop for a coffee and delicious Eccles Cake at the excellent Tilly’s cafe. Lovely!

I then headed off up past Beeston Castle and the entrance to Peckforton Castle. As I was going past the latter I was reading the signs saying something like “Don’t be shy, come on up and check us out”, so I did exactly that! Despite living in Cheshire most of my life, I’ve never been here and always wanted to. I’m so glad I did!

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It’s a bit of a steep climb up the castle driveway as it’s obviously built on top of the highest hill in the area, but well worth it. I had a quick explore and got lots of photos while chatting to some castle staff about the history of it.

I then headed down through the Peckforton Hills and onwards to Malpas, then into the edge of Wales, Tilstock and finally Dearnford Lake.

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It was getting on for 3pm by the time I arrived at Dearnford, but they still had some tart of the day left so I opted for a nice homemade tart and some extra coleslaw. I was looking forward to this and it did not disappoint.

From Dearnford it was a quick and easy ride home, via Marchamley Hill.

Route: click here