Trans Pennine Trail 3rd and 4th time adventure - Aussie's do it 4 times
Thursday 10 September - Left Heathrow at 7:00 a.m. and caught buses into London. This was great as we saw all the life of the city in the morning and between buses, enjoyed some walks along the streets. Eventually we got to Kings Cross Station. We felt a bit lost because of all the renovations in progress. We caught the train to Hull and stayed at the familiar Ibis hotel. We needed two bikes so I walked to the information centre. They gave me a map showing all the cycle shops, which was great, so I set off walking and at bike shop number three bought a reasonable looking bike for eighty pounds.
Friday 11 September - There's a huge influx of people in Hull due to the international yachts arrival and festival so we had no accommodation for Friday night so decided to buy Heather's bike as quickly as possible and start riding to Hornsea. By lunch time we had another eighty pound bike and we set off. It wasn't long before we realised that the bikes were a bit dodgy. Heather's bike was hard to ride and had a most annoying squeak which we couldn't remedy as nothing was loose. We both had sore bottoms from the old seats. We wanted to get to Hornsea to buy maps and the accommodation guide to make the trip easier. Unfortunately we arrived to find that the little 'end of trail' shop at Hornsea had closed down, so we were quite disappointed. It meant another trip taking 'pot luck' on accommodation. So we commenced riding back.
Saturday 12 September - The next day we went west through Hull. Heather slipped off going through a corner and injured her ankle which really swelled up. I suggested quitting but Heather wouldn't hear of it so we pressed on up uphill through the beautiful little villages. At the highest point Heather got back on her bike and set off down the hill. I tried to follow, but as I mounted, the chain broke, dangling behind on the road. My bike was really disabled now but I coasted down the hill without peddling. Heather was waiting for me. We felt a bit discouraged. Heather was limping along with a bad ankle and squeaky bike and I couldn't pedal at all. We came to another village with a concrete seat. Here I examined the chain carefully and realised that the rivet was still there and a temporary repair might be possible as I had a wrench that I could use for a hammer. At that point a man walked past and asked if he could help. I said “Yes” and with his hammer as well, we got the rivets back together. We were on our way again after this delay of about an hour. Fortunately the weather was sunny. Around the corner, one of the chain rivets popped off again, but the other side of the link was still holding and I realised that by peddling gently and evenly, the bike would perhaps get along for miles. Darkness fell and we looked around for a suitable place to stay. We had to keep on riding until we reached Howden. It is such a beautiful place, and we think that the Trail should be re-routed to take in the historic main street. We stayed at the very comfortable Bowmans Inn.
Sunday 13 September - We left Howden at 10:30 a.m. and pedalled gently to Selby. The best part was seeing the familiar scenery from our two previous trips and feeling at home in this pleasant countryside. We decided to go to Doncaster for the night. Heather's bike still had its annoying squeak and my bike still had the chain holding by one side of a link but amazingly we arrived just on dusk. The Regent Hotel, where we had stayed before was full but eventually we found a room at the Rockingham Hotel. In the morning we were entertained by two ladies, who, when they heard we were Australian, told us of their woes and how they would like to get out of England. We thought how privileged they were to live in England, a place where we can only go for holidays.
Monday 14 September - Just after leaving the Rockingham, Heather suggested we ride through a nearby park. A good decision because just on the other side was a bike repair shop. In a short time my bike had a new tyre fitted and new rivets in the chain. Heather's front wheel had the bearings greased which fixed the squeaking. The kind repair man told us that anyone can ride across England on a new bike but it's a challenge to do it on old bikes. It was just what we needed to hear and we then rode all the way to somewhere near Hadfield.
Tuesday 15 September - We crossed the moorland and rode on the pleasant downhill towards Manchester. In the town of Charlesworth we rested at a wooden table outside the pub. The pub was closed of course, as it was still only about 10 a.m. Heather bought some breakfast at the newsagency across the road and got chatting. Soon the pub manager came along on his way to work and it was chatting all round. Then before we knew it the pub manager had brought us out two large coffees with biscuits. He insisted they were his treat. This kind act made us feel very welcome in England. We rode on and as the sun set we were riding past Sale, so we decided to look for accommodation. Many directions from locals later, we arrived at the Cornerstone B&B, which had the most beautiful room and breakfast. The owner told us stories of the building's fascinating history.
Wednesday 16 September - Knowing the Trail makes the distances seem less and we pedalled on uneventfully to Merseyside, a place of pleasant memories and then further still. In the evening, we stopped at Hale for a delicious pub meal. We love that place but none of the B&B's had vacancies, so we kept going and soon it was getting dark. As a result we missed a Trail sign and ended up lost somewhere near Aintree.
Thursday 17 September - The fun part was finding the Trail again. We headed off in the general direction of Southport hoping to come across the Trail again on the way. Quite a few people helped us with instructions like “Follow the canal until you come to an overpass, then go to the next overpass, then soon after take a lane to your left, go through a gate and turn right. Then go past the chemist shop and when you come to a school, turn left and look for the third street on your right. Then you will see a trail sign.” They were all lovely people, and I'm sure they knew the way but I could only remember the first two or three instructions. The canal out of Liverpool to Leeds is beautiful though. We seriously think it should be part of the official Trail. Eventually, we did find the Trail but left it again for the adventure of walking the last couple of miles to Southport on the beach, looking across the Irish sea and enjoying the wide empty beach.
We adore Southport and would have loved to stay longer but unfortunately we were on a schedule. We stayed at the cosy Sandown Hotel where the owner put our bikes in her best sitting room.
Friday 18 September - We started on our journey back, reasonably fit and rested although Heather's injured ankle was still hurting. We got all the way to Hale and stayed at Richard and Maureen's B&B where we were treated like royalty. The next morning, they had to leave early for a wedding in Bristol, so we were alone in the house and let ourselves out.
Saturday 19 September - We rode back east to Sale again and stayed at the Eskdale Lodge Hotel. We got there at 2.00 p.m. so it was great to have a half rest day. We loved staying at this hotel looking out over the English rooftops.
Sunday 20 September - An uneventful pedal for many hours but we just enjoyed each familiar scene so much. At Charlesworth we rested in the little roadside park and met a man with two very old dogs, aged 18 and 16. By the darkness fell, we were once again on the high moors.
Monday 21 September - I couldn't believe how the Trail seems shorter each time we ride it. By 2.00 p.m. we were back in Doncaster. This time we found an obscure little B&B with a fabulous Victorian room. It was called Oakdale Lodge.
Tuesday 22 September - We rode to Selby again and stopped for lunch at Morrisons. Then it was back to lovely Howden and a second night at the Bowman's Inn.
Wednesday 23 September - We continued on to Hull via the new Humber track. We loved this new section by the river avoiding the climb up through Swanland. By 1.20 p.m. we were back in Hull and at the Ibis again. Less than an hour later, I had sold both bikes for 80 pounds. So Heather and I celebrated our achievement by dining out at Princess Quay. Next time? If there is a next time, we'll get better bikes.
Lloyd and Heather Chilcott
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