Welcome to the Trans Pennine Trail
A national coast to coast route for recreation and transport – for walkers, cyclists and (in parts) horse riders
All 6 Ends of TPT in 14 Months – David and Rosie – 2013
Trans Pennine Trail in 6 parts
An adventure over 14 months for David (8 ¾ at the end) and Rosie (almost 7) with Dad and for some bits mum.
Selby to York New Year 2013 14 miles Day 1
We got to the old railway line and the start of the solar system model with Pluto, which is great to try and get children and adults to understand the scale of it all. We met one mother and daughter doing the trail as a homework exercise.
Finally properly off road I could relax and let Rosie on the tag race David on his own bike from planet to planet.
Sadly Brunswick Nursery is closed on winter weekends (good for Icecream midweek), on into York we had time for a brief look in the Railway Museum. Bikes can be left on York Station but not the panniers so we had to cram these in a locker at the museum.
Hadfield to Old Moor Easter 2013 34 plus 6miles Day 2-4
Having decided against the Leeds Liverpool canal for our first long trip as the rural sections are apparently quite muddy and rutted plus the stages didn’t easily match budget hotels close to the route (a big consideration with an under 8 on his own bike ) We picked the Pennine crossing as a “baptism of fire”
Crowden Youth Hostel is a short distance off the trail (albeit via the pavement of the busy Woodhead Road) and a few miles from Hadfield, so a lunchtime train from Leeds got us there in time for tea.
We made an early start on a stunning morning, taking the bridleway from the Hostel back towards Hadfield and over the reservoir dam one down from where we came off. Our reward was a good view of a large raptor, goshawk?
We then settled down for the steady climb to the tunnel mouth, as we approached the landscape closed in, not quite the Gates of Mordor but certainly a daunting hill. After a stiff push up the loose gravel tracks we made it to the old packhorse road and peddled off across the moor with snow all around. The lane down to Dunford Bridge was 15minutes of agony as David was being very cautious and still struggling with the length of grasp needed to pull his brakes.
We had lunch while waiting for Mum’s stepbrother and family to cycle up from Penistone join us for the afternoon. This ended with all nine of us testing the echoes of Thurgoland Tunnel, the banshees ran off!
We then headed off on the packhorse trail section of TPT, the traditional stone signposts are a lovely touch. The farm tracks still had banks of snow along the hedges as we dropped down to the old railway. We still had nine miles to run but the 1:40 gradient for 3.5miles of descent got us moving, but we were glad when a section of poor surface gave way to tarmac for the last couple of miles to the Premier Inn at Dearne Valley. Having a Tag proved handy as Rosie could get off and open all the gates for us, much easier as there are not always easy places to prop a bike. The phrase “gate girl” has yet to vanish. Parents collapsed with pints whilst the two children dashed into the play barn whilst meals were cooked, oh the recovery of youth!
Tired and stiff next morning it was a relief and frustration to ring up National Rail Enquiries to check train times and discover everything from Doncaster to Leeds was bus replacement so the plan to carry on for another 15 miles was ditched. It was a blustery but sunny day so we settled for a wander round Old Moor RSPB (good view of a bittern) and brunch before cycling up the Elsecar Canal to a working railway to get us home.
Hadfield to Southport, Whit 2013. 79 miles plus c 20 miles of extras Days 5 to 9
Having proved to Mum we could do distance the three of us were duly dispatched from Leeds back to Hadfield. The day started foul and the children were soon wearing inexpertly tailored binbags. The section West of Hadfield is very wiggly and we were glad of shelter in the visitor centre at Werneth Low Country Park where the volunteers made us welcome with hot drinks and space to dry out a bit. In light of our eventual late finish it was probably ill advised to take a walk up to the monument, which with the whole country park is the War Memorial for Hyde Borough. Truly a visionary memorial.
Back on the trail we lost time again when a glass shard gave Dad a puncture and also revealed a bolt missing from a pannier rack, necessitating a stop at Halfords in Southport. More weaving along green valleys and through horse paddocks added to the bird list. Hauling the bike and tag combo over horse stiles became a bit of a grind as the wheel spacing is just wrong. We reached Stockport around 5pm and the challenge remaining began to sink in.
With Rosie on the tag the limiting factor was David getting his 20” Ridgeback to shift on any section with decent surface. Gradually we got clear of the sections parallel to big roads and Motorways.
A phonecall to Mum confirmed that bailing out on to the Greater Manchester trams wouldn’t work as they won’t take bikes, even if they did go almost to our accommodation. So on into the gathering dusk. We missed a vital turning on Carrington Moss but this took us past Manchester United’s training ground. Their security guards couldn’t tell us which way to Altringham (they use SatNav and come over the fields so no clue where they were) but did say ignore the fierce signs on the locked gate across the track past their entrance. Dad fortunately had left his bike lights in his panniers and with a front light on each bike and a rear on the tag, with David in front we were just about legal. Well we made it to the motel (to Mum’s relief) and at 10 to 10 the last two portions of fish from the chip shop next door. Bed time was a bit late!
The next day we had a leisurely start and found the start of the old railway section to Warrington and after a few miles came off for a detour to Dunham Massey Parkland. We explored the woods, admiring the ancient trees and getting good views of the deer. After lunch it was back to the railway line to burn off the miles to Warrington, so much easier than the endless looking for signs of the day before.
At the ship canal Dad recalled his childhood of watching ships in the locks and waiting for the swing bridges to open when on holiday at his grandparents, and of trains on the line we had just ridden.
By 6pm we were enjoying a pub tea.
Day 7 was also a short one with a visit to distant relatives near Fiddlers Ferry, a steady ride along the river bank to Runcorn and then down the massive timber ramp to cross Stewarts Brook before Hale and the run along dyke top roads into the edge of Liverpool. We’d chosen Speke as the overnight break so the late afternoon was spent enjoying the grounds of Speke Hall. It has a good maze playground and turf banks to roll down.
Day 8 Speke to Southport, another long one. The first bit round Halewood was a bit grim but once on the Liverpool Loop Line it was great. The old railway has quite a broad strip of land meaning there are plenty of trees to screen the houses and with also steep sided cuttings in the sandstone it is really a pleasant ride. At the choice point we went for the Leeds Liverpool canal stretch and the sunshine held giving good views of fish swimming. Eventually we made it to the Cheshire Lines railway and the final straight stretch to Southport. On the open section on the peat lands a strong headwind made life hard and we were glad to meet up with Mum who belatedly had made it over with the Brompton folding bike and accompanied us for the section from Ainsdale to Southport and could take the photo at the TPT marker.
Day 9 Lovely sunny day so we cycled down the coast through the pinewoods to Freshfield/Formby for some beach time, then a train to Hall Road so we could have a look at the Anthony Gormley’s Iron Men, before a local train from Waterloo Park into Liverpool and lifts at Moorfield that are too short for bikes!!
And finally home by Transpennine Express to Leeds. Total birds seen around 50 (Dad)
Transpennine North South Chesterfield to Leeds August 2013 Days 10-12 72 plus 6 extra miles
A bank holiday stay at my Mum’s in Rotherham led to a plan to tick off the North South section, which incidentally showed the children you can cycle home from Gran’s, still a bit early to send them down on their own!
Day 10, four trains, two bikes on each of two pairs of trains, Rotherham to Sheffield and Sheffield to Chestefield. Another meet up with Mum’s half brother and family.
Progress is a revelation as David has gone from a 20” Ridgeback to a 26” Isla Bike with better gears. Quite hard to keep up with him! Rosie has graduated from the Tag to the 20” Ridgeback and has the determination and energy not to get left behind.
Canal side and old railways get us to Rother Valley Country Park for a mass lunch watching the water ski tow before heading our separate ways. The relatively sort section into Rotherham has some big hills if you are six, although it was interesting travelling through the landscape visible from Dad’s childhood home.
Day 11 TPT goes past the entrance to Gran’s housing estate so very few extra miles. We are quickly in Rotherham and picking our way round the temporary diversions due to canal towpath works to reach Meadowhall. After a couple of miles of old railway the trail heads off into the ribbons of green in housing estates towards Parsons Cross and the high point at Grenoside. Once in the woods we stopped for lunch before tackling the sinuous route through the countryside and woods to Elsecarr, someone clearly had fun linking all the bits of bridleway into a usable route. Currently it is three sides of a wobbly square. Sustrans are hoping to extend the railway line route which will be the single side. Once at Elsecarr it is simple run down the old canal to the Dearne Valley Premier Inn. A quite a tough day, more the hills and wiggles than the absolute miles, but still energy to nip into RSPB Old Moor and get a glimpse of a spoonbill
Day 12 Dearne Valley to Leeds.
Back up the familiar TPT branch to Barnsley but off at Stairfoot onto new territory, smooth tarmac through the trees we are making such good progress we miss the turn for TPT near the prior and don’t realise until the other railway route gradually peters out to ballast and brings us to a fence above a new road. A bit of map reading (the road isn’t on the map) rescues the situation and we are soon back on TPT with the abandoned Barnsley Canal and stopping at Royston for lunch supplies. Powering on we save these until the Cold Hiendley Reservoir. After this we skirt Haw Park with its 7’ stone wall that Charles Waterton put round what is claimed to have been Britain’s first nature reserve.
The children have got more confident and the routine of pulling out on to roads and staying neatly close to the edge is less challenging so the links through Walton and Heath are relatively straightforward. All the height gained is soon lost as we drop down to the blue pipe bridge over to the Aire and Calder Canal. The Boat at Stanley provided a vital pudding and pop late afternoon stop before the push on to Leeds. Once under the M62 and the Welcome to Leeds arch (time for a lick of paint?) we are on familiar territory from the Leeds Country Way walk. Reaching Woodlesford I tell David and Rosie it is 55 minutes to the next train or we could cycle the last 7 (or so miles) home.
Correct answer! Sadly we are too late to call in for a cuppa as we reach my colleagues at TCV Skelton Grange just after 5 (more jelly babies all round) so it is on into Leeds and then just a few miles of Leeds Liverpool canal and up through the park to home.
Intermission for a wet autumn and winter. (and other holidays)
Dearne Valley to Doncaster Day 13 19 miles
We decide to finish the challenge before Easter and finally do the Barnsley Doncaster section as a warm up, meeting Gran at Old Moor for brunch and a go on the playground before resuming the TPT journey along the Dearne and then the Don Valley. By coincidence it was probably as windy as the day we cancelled last Easter and again sunny, the west country was under water at the time.
Doncaster to Hornsea Day 14-16 90 miles plus 9 extras
With plans to venture further afield for Easter we took a gamble that the deluge and high winds would stop (remember the floods of Feb 2014), which they thankfully did. The 7.15 from Leeds meant we were TPT bound for 8am, so averaging 3 miles an hour with breaks we would make Selby for dusk.
We followed the trail on old railways (green woodpecker at Tollbar) on to the lanes and up to the New Junction Canal. We admired the new railway flyover (£45m for a bridge and associated works) at Joan Croft crossing. The sun broke through on the canal giving striking views of the lifting bridges against a dark sky and a stunning view of the blue wings of a jay as it crossed ahead of us.
We found a fine cafe (the Kitchen) in Snaith and recharged our energy for the last leg. Fortunately there a pavements on the busy narrow A road over the Aire, it seemed a pragmatic choice. No time to check out the Sloop Inn but we took in the fine pub sign whilst fixing our lights on. The road had an ominous “Closed at Level Crossing” sign across the end. A bit of map reading indicated the A19 was the only feasible alternative so we took a chance and went up the closed road. We were saved by the Network Rail contractor who had opened the site fencing to let a farm vehicle over. The section across Burn Airfield was instructive in explaining the size of a WW2 bomber airfield. Off the airfield it was a short run up the canal into Selby and a warm welcome at the B&B
On to tackle the river section, although the cycle route is often not by the river and generally down below the flood bank, so you have to stop and climb up for a look. Although a lot of this is on roads the vast majority are minor or farm access tracks.
We made Howden before lunch with time for a quick look in the Minster, even with the bike lights we only found 4 Thompson mice, there are apparently 40. Fuelled up with baked potatoes we pedalled on across the flat lands. We got a brief view of a march harrier hawking over the reeds from Blacktoft Sands and some nice views of lapwings at Weighton Lock where the drop between high tide and the level of the drain makes you realise how vital the river banks are. A notable stop was an invitation to visit the signal box at one of the few remaining manned crossings, due to go in 2016.
After a full session on the kids eat free breakfast we dashed into Hull to meet Mum off the train for the final section to Hornsea. Well someone had to take the photos at the end. Having completed all major bits of the Transpennine we retraced our steps to Great Hadfield and then headed off over the field lanes to my cousins for tea (see Bill and Ted’s Excellent adventure 2011 in the TPT Stories) AND a lift back into Hull for 4 bikes and 4 people.
Totals Miles TPT Around 300, with diversions to places of interest and accommodation 350
Days 15 so average miles 23.
Trains used, around 24.
A great way to see the Liverpool Hull axis at a pace to appreciate the landscape.
By John Preston