9 day there and back challenge!
On 28th august our posse departed hornsea for the start of our epic 9-day there and back challenge!
Myself and fellow ranger liam had been planning this moment for 9 months and finally it was here, 9 riders heading west, heading for our first campsite.
Our first day was a simple 30-mile affair, having departed from hornsea at 5pm, an hour later than intended due to customers in my shop not being decisive. We passed through hull and onto north ferriby, where our friends at the riders for the disabled let us pitch the tents in a paddock. We arrived there at 8pm and set up camp.
Second day and we left at 9am. Leaving ferriby behind, we immediately hit head wind and rain all the way to blacktoft, where we sheltered in the stamping station in the village hall. Once the rain had passed, we set off again, heading into near gale force winds and covering barely 4 mph. On we struggled to selby. While everyone was enjoying a hard earned break in selby, I rang the next site to let them know we were en route only to find a new owner and it was full. Having spent half an hour ringing round, we were saved by the next stamping station at the old George in sykehouse, who let us camp and made the biggest Sunday dinner you will ever see! Well worth a visit! Colin’s rear wheel had split in selby and over the rough ground decided to give up just before sykehouse. Putting us an hour late, but we got there!
3rd day we headed south and stopped for breakfast at the threeways café, meeting up with local ranger Bill Lowes. After an hour of bacon butties and coffee, we left Bill and headed through to Paul’s hometown of Doncaster, stopping for a break at spotborough lock and pressed on through to the stamping station at wigfield farm in worborough.
Next it was through silkstone and penistone and on to windle edge.
I had persuaded some of our suppliers to donate prizes for the trip so up the hill the riders went. The first rider to the top of the climb was lee, who won his charity, cancer research uk, a brand new mountain bike to raffle off. Well done lee! Down the other side of the pennines now and to our next campsite at hadfield.
4th day and I was in pain! During the night I had been the subject of a midgie feast and had been bitten over my arms, legs and face, swelling up everything and leaving me looking like John Merrick. Not the best look! Onwards we pressed, and during a stop at broadbottom we got talking to a couple of local families who were so generous and lent us some mugs and sugar and also filled our water containers up. Just shows the generosity of strangers. We passed through Stockport and got lost as usual. Its bad hen even the local cyclists have to ask directions! The next obstacle was didsbury and its diversions, which we followed till we hit the park, leaving us to find our way back onto the trail at the rivers edge.
Once we were clear of the diversions and didsbury, it was on to lymm, where yet again, we had been let down by our campsite. Luckily I had previously worked as maintenance manager at the MacDonald chain of hotels. So after a call to the lymm hotel, we all settled down for a night indoor, camping in the conference suite.
5th day and we were up bright and early, knowing the halfway point was in sight. We had a quick stop at Morrisons in Warrington and pressed on to Pickering pastures and Widness. Going down the steps at the pastures is much easier than going up them! We stopped for lunch at Pickering pastures then headed into Liverpool. Swiftly heading to aintree we passed a few comedy moments, which only could happen in Liverpool. A young woman in front of us fell off her bike and we offered some assistance. Kevin went to help her asking if she was alright. “alright” she replied in a stern scouse accent. “do I !@#$%^ look alright”. We fell about laughing as she stormed off down the road. Kevin looked bemused… we set off again.
Paul took on wally’s steps and stayed on his bike all the way down, nutter! We carried on west till the signs for Southport had the mileage getting ever lower. We arrived at Southport at 6pm, exactly the time I had envisioned 9 months before. The only thing that went to plan! Here we celebrated with a glass of champagne and a promise that our final stop and a shower was only minutes away.
….it wasn’t! Our hotel that had been so kind to us during the planning stages had now been took over and the new management had filled the hotel, so quickly I had managed to find a campsite that was 2 miles from the center of Southport, which turned out to be more than 5 miles outside Southport. How quickly jubilation can turn to despair! We arrived at the site after 8pm and I got it in the neck, putting it down to tiredness, we sat and had some food and then went to the pub.
After a day off in Southport to recover a bit and just do our own stuff, we bid farewell to Paul and Colin and welcomed Bob into the fray for the journey home, now to go east!
6th day we departed Southport at 10am and quickly found our rhythm. Passing Liverpool we soon met up with the support van at Pickering pastures before heading back to the lymm hotel for our next sleep. Bob, being new to camping in a conference suite, decided to rough it and book a room, so we gratefully took it in turns to use the shower.
7th day we had to start off early again as we knew that the campsite we had been bitten on was not going to be of use this time, so we pressed on determined that we would cross the pennines that evening. As we approached stockport we met with a group who had departed Southport an hour before us, and we rode to hadfield as a big team.
As we approached the climb over windle edge, Angie got a puncture and at the same time, bob snapped his derailleur. I shot off to the support van for spares when my chain snapped! All problems within 5 minutes of each other, and at the only time we did not want to be held up. Queue f1 style pit crew!
After a delay of 30 minutes, we were on our way climbing windle edge and in no time had reached the summit. Going down to dunford bridge was certainly easier than climbing it. After a swift decent we checked our computers and found I had hit a speed of 43.9 mph on the trusty mountain bike! On to penistone we rode.
8th day we left penistone and passed through silkstone common onto spotborough where we met up with Paul. After a coffee and a quick break we turned north and headed to the old George again for another massive carvery.
9th day saw us leave the old George and head to Selby, which we hit by 11 am. We knew the end was in sight and as the wind was against us last time, it would push us along nicely to the finish… how wrong we were!
Finally arriving at blacktoft hall, we cheered ourselves up by donning outfits and playing instruments left by the previous occupants. Pressing on to ferriby and I had a puncture. Quick pit stop and under the Humber bridge to the deep in hull. The wind had by now sent waves over the river wall and we were soaked, cold and tired. But, on we pressed.
We met a few friends in hull who escorted us through to the finish line, where a great turnout had come to greet us. We finished the double trail crossing at 7.45 pm, just 15 minutes after our predicted time, we were better than British rail!
A brief photo shoot gave way to hugs and farewell handshakes. After 430 miles of rain, pain and laughs, all that was left was to cycle back to hull and go back to work.
We had managed to raise nearly 3000 pounds for 6 different charities in our efforts and a big thank you needs to go to
The riders for the disabled in north ferriby
The old George hotel in sykehouse
The threeways café in braithwaite who raised over 15 pounds, thank you.
The MacDonald lymm hotel.
The families of broadbottom.
The riverside campsite somewhere near southport!
And of course the riders and support crew.
Roll on next year! A bigger ride is already in production!
Pat and Bryan’s story has helped our Partners right across the Trans Pennine Trail network to see how changes can make the route more accessible. Take a look at what they've helped to accomplish.