Thanks to Simon Geller (Friends of the Trans Pennine Trail Trustee) for submitting this wonderful story about Coast to Coast cycle ride along the Trail.
Total Distance East – West 207.75 Miles (Official) – in reality we ended up doing around 250.
The Trans Pennine Trail (or TPT) is a bit different from the other Coast to Coast trails in the North of England. Originally a regeneration project following the demise of heavy industry in the North, instead of following country lanes and passing through bucolic villages with genteel teashops it takes you right to the heart of the gritty post-industrial landscape. We cycled it in May, setting off from Sheffield.
We are the “Sheffield Slobs” an informal riding group whose claim to fame is that our rides are as short and easy as we can possibly make them. In fact, the true slob never turns up for the ride at all! Should so much as a drop of rain fall from the sky we head straight for the nearest pub, and anyone who suggests we should go a bit faster or further is summarily ejected from the group . However, once a year we do get off our carefully cultivated fat bottoms and do a slightly longer ride to make up for all the beer and pies we consume the rest of the year. In 2016 we chose the TPT.
We got to Southport by train – either the Liverpool/Merseyrail or Manchester/Wigan route. As bike-carrying public transport from the end of the route, Hornsea, is non-existent (they took the railway line up and turned it into a cycle route apparently!) some of had to drive vehicles to the East Coast and get trains across the country to the start point.
Accommodation for most was the Premier Inn down by the pier, which was fine (bikes in room), eve meal in the Pizza express, brilliant breakfast in Wetherspoons – both on Lord st.
Day 1 Start Point: Official TPT Start point on Promenade. 10 a.m.
Initially a disappointing narrow cycle lane adjacent a busy road, the route soon turns off onto the lovely old Cheshire Lines railway line (passenger line Liverpool to Southport for holidaymakers up till the 50’s). In Aintree we elected to divert off the main TPT route onto the Leeds-Liverpool canal and head down towards Crosby to see the amazing Anthony Gormley ‘Another Place’ installation: (the Waterloo Cafe at the top of the beach is highly recommended for its pies) and then regain the canal down to the docks – passing the Stanley Dock Tobacco warehouse, the largest brick building in existence, emerging on the front adjacent to the world famous ‘3 Graces’ – Liver building, Cunard building and the Port of Liverpool building.
We then followed route 56 (?) east past Albert dock along the front and then inland to rejoin the TPT, calling at Sefton Park (cafe) to see the fabulous restored Victorian ‘Palm House’. The roads were busy in suburban Liverpool – if we’d stuck to the Loop Line we would have had a more pleasant ride, but it was worth it to see the sights of Liverpool.
Once back in the main route you head south on a green corridor before turning east, leaving the Loop Line to follow the Mersey inland on pleasant parkland. We weren’t impressed with the barriers on the spiral bridge at Sankey and the road works around the new Mersey crossing were a pain, although this is all finished now. At Speke we found the familiar subway full of broken glass with bored youth hanging around – all part of the local colour!
The last section follows a canal towpath until you turn off to head to Warrington town centre, home of “Cycle Facility of the Month” and 20’s Plenty, of course.
- Finding Dave
- The Gormleys
- Canal into Liverpool with heron
- Lovely flowers
- Friendly locals
- The guy on the bridge (he was training for a trans-pennine ride by cycling repeatedly up and down a humpback bridge – there aren’t many hills in Warrington!
- Cheshire lines
- The smell of cow parsley
- The friendly RNLI man in Southport
- The weather
- The pies at the Waterloo cafe
- Liverpool frontage
- Losing Dave
- Roadworks in Widnes
- Poor surfaces
- Speke – riding in debris. The subway of doom.
- The food in Wetherspoons (specifically superfood pasta)
- Signage issues
- Trying to find Warrington
- The spiral staircase with barriers!!!!!!!!!!!! – Should be a detour option and prior warning!!
- Palm house being closed for a corporate event (and fat white nylon shirt heavies)
- The Cycle route between waterfront and loop line in Liverpool
Day 2 Warrington to Glossop 40miles Start Point: Wilderspool Causeway Access Point.
Day 2 stats: Distance 43.0mi Moving Time 5:50:04 Elevation 1,344ft
Heading out of Warrington we rejoined the trail and set off for Manchester. This was a lovely route through the flatlands, not far from Chat Moss, the route of the Liverpool – Manchester railway, the first passenger railway in the world.
The route however takes you along another disused railway running parallel to the Bridgewater Canal. The canal has had some major surface improvements in Manchester but they haven’t reached out to Cheshire yet. At Sale water park we got stuck behind some horse riders who were totally not interested in moving over for us.
In the interest of saving a bit of time, and because we’d heard some negative reports about the TPT through South Manchester (although this is much improved apparently) we’d decided to divert from the TPT and take the Manchester Cycleway (or Floop – Fallowfield Loop) instead. When I last did this it was easy to make the switch, but someone has put a tramline in the way now! We got a bit lost in Didsbury but a local cyclist was kind enough to guide us back onto the route. Apart from an altercation with a motorcyclist, which ended up quite friendly (just for a change!) all went well and the link back onto the TPT from the end of the Manchester Cycleway was easy to follow.
This takes you to Reddish, and continuing to use NCR6, you re-join the TPT at Hyde passing through the very pleasant Tame Valley Country Park. The trail rises through Hyde & Mottram, taking in a TPT project (an old railway turntable to be restored as a visitor attraction) and goes via Broadbottom to Hattersley and then along Stockport Rd towards Gee Cross. As we started to climb towards the Pennines good old Manchester weather made an appearance so we hot-footed it to our accommodation, some in Glossop, some in Hadfield (but they were able to use the train, which does a triangular route between the two towns, to join us for dinner) The pub we went to in Glossop had some of the cheapest real ale anywhere, £1.80 a pint anyone? Eat your heart out Londoners!
- Simon bought John & Bridget a pint!
- Breakfast in Wetherspoons
- Fallowfield loop esp sensible located access gates
- Woods in Altrincham
- New bit of trail at Broadbottom – lessens the gradient
- The pony paddock
- Functional signage by Rangers – rescue by signs.
- The switchybackingness
- West Didsbury
- The chap who directed us through to the Fallowfield loop
- The motorbike guy.(but ended well)
- ‘A’ gates & kissing gates – (Lack of consistency in design/size.)
- Graffiti on signs
- Diversion round Morrison’s in Warrington
- Cycling down the road into Glossop
- Having to use the pavement
- The intransigent horse riders
- East Didsbury
- Poor signage at the A57 crossing
Day 3 Glossop – Wortley 40 miles-ish Start point: Travelodge 10am
Day 3 stats: Distance 22.5mi Moving Time 3:13:36 Elevation 1,617ft
Again in the interest of saving time, although we didn’t have very far to go, we cut the corner and took the road over to Longdendale, meeting the Hadfield party half way along. There’s been a lot of work along this part of the trail, burying power lines and suchlike (which is all good) and following the previous days rain it was quite muddy and sticky.
Simon, who’s noted for his generosity had bet a half-pint of mild that no-one would be able to cycle up the steep and rough uphill path to the top on the Woodhead pass. Sure enough he was able to keep his pound coin in his pocket!
The route takes the historic Saltersbrook – one of the packhorse routes used to bring salt over from Cheshire. Mick spent some time waving at the traffic – some even waved back!
A rapid descent to Dunford Bridge and a steady descent on a good quality surface got us to Oxspring before continuing into Wharncliffe Woods and hence Wortley. We stopped for refreshments at the excellent cyclists cafe just off the trail at Penistone.
The overnight stay was in the amazing Wortley Hall, a stately home now jointly owned by Trades Unions and used for their conferences and other events. Mick gave us a tour of the house and told us about the many times he’d visited as an educationalist. We enjoyed the afternoon sunshine and some of us went to a wine tasting organised by the suppliers to the hotel, which was slightly strange. Another strange thing was staying in a hotel when home was just a few miles away! We’d decided it would be wrong to go home for the night though. Lenny regaled us with tales of the Dragon of Wantley (Google it!)
- Woodhead summit
- Going downhill
- The Path through Penistone
- Lapwings & curlews
- Picnic stop at Dunford
- Other people
- Bike shop & cafe at P’s.
- Wantley Dragon story
- Wortley hall – deco, views, staff
- Triple height barn at Wortley
- Mick waving at the traffic
- Sandy path on longdendale
- Pushing up the hill
- Road crossings
- Simon didn’t buy anyone a half pint of mild
- Wortley hall Noise
Day 4 Wortley. – Selby 51 Miles Start Point: Wortley Hall 10am
Day 4 stats: Distance 37.3mi Moving Time 4:54:38 Elevation 504ft
After using the Timberland trail to get over to Elsecar (rough surfaces here) we drifted down the Dearne Valley (Coffee break & meeting point at Old Moor – Wath Wetlands) to the outskirts of Doncaster passing the former Earth Centre (now a kids outdoor centre) picked up a disused railway line around the outskirts, then wind our way north on a combination of trails and quiet roads. We got a bit lost in North Doncaster but after the ride our Sustrans Ranger friends went out and fixed the signage so it should be fine now. (Lesson Learned: Don’t just moan about poor signage to your friends on Facebook, get something done about it!)
North of Donnie the route winds pleasantly through flat countryside with always a giant power station in sight (quite a few level crossings to negotiate as well but there is a new rail flyover and road bridge for the worst one, where three lines merge and the biomass trains heading for Drax pass through) However, as we headed up the New Junction Canal rain started to set in so we cut our losses and got onto the A19 to get to Selby as quickly as we could. This wasn’t very pleasant and I’m sure the motorist weren’t too pleased about having to get past a dozen slow-moving slobs but it had to be done and as luck would have it our lodgings were right on the first roundabout we came to as we got to Selby. We dried off and as the rain cleared away headed into Selby for dinner.
- May blossom & cow blossoms
- Barn owl
- Swans doing a courtship display
- The Braithwaite café
- Lots of off-road & quiet roads
- Motorists when we were on the main road
- Skip lorry on the way to Braithwaite
- Lenny vs. the quad bikers
- Good group discipline on the main road
- Having Jonny on the ride
- Arriving in Selby in heavy rain and the hotel being right at the roundabout.
- Boy racer who splashed us.
- Crossing the railway.
Day 5 Selby – Hornsea 60 miles Start Point: Selby Swing Bridge, 10 a.m.
Day 5 stats: Distance 59.0mi Moving Time 6:12:01 Elevation 854ft
At Selby the route veers East (heading North you would soon be on the celebrated Selby-York railway path) Some bumpy paths and some quiet roads, and plenty of strawberries to be bought at the roadside. We stopped at Howden for coffee and had great views of the Humber Estuary & Bridge
Some Trans-Pennine Trail volunteers from Hull, hearing of our adventure, had offered to guide us through their city, met us at Ferriby (although we were late) and rode with us all the way to Hornsea, showing us some the preparations for Hull City of Culture on the way. Thanks a lot guys!
We went on the former railway line, passing through allegedly the largest housing estate in Europe, to the official end point at Hornsea. I’ve never had better Fish & Chips than the ones we had on the beach at Hornsea!
- Being guided through Hull by the local Rangers
- Fish’n’chips at Hornsea
- Tree Roots on Hornsea Rail Trail
About the Friends of the Trans Pennine Trail
The Trail is a fantastic achievement and keeping it open requires a lot of work.The Friends of the Trans Pennine Trail work with the TPT Office in Barnsley to help stave off threats to the Trail and raise funds to improve it.
But to demonstrate to the funding authorities the public support there is for the Trail they need members! Every member the Friends have represents a demonstration of public commitment to the Trail. Membership is cheap, but the important thing is that you show your support through a small financial contribution.
To become a Friend just go to http://www.transpennineTrail.org.uk/friends/ fill in the form, go through to MyDonate and make a small donation and you’re done!
Please take a few moments to become a friend and help continue to make the Trail the best experience it can be for locals and tourists alike.