The 2010 World Cup in South Africa and Wimbledon made a nice sporty backdrop for our group of (8) Scousers and (4) Czechs from Prague as we made our assault on the Tran Pennine from LEEDS back to LIVERPOOL.
The group was all male, aged between 28yrs to 63yrs (average age; 46yrs)
The weather blazed sunshine for the (3) solid days of our odyssey, nobody expected that.
We arrived in Leeds via National Express coaches for 1pm Thursday, whilst our driver (“John the Tour Manager”) parked up our huge (hired) Mercedes Sprinter opposite the ETAP hotel and fed the meter an obscene amount of cash.
This enabled us all to check in @ The Etap Hotel, (excellent, clean and a fair breakfast for the price.) then meander across to The AIRE BAR in time to watch Slovakia defeat Italy 3;2…..even the Czechs were delighted.
Further sustenance was sought at The Palace hostelry opposite Etap. A proper pub with fine fayre. Also recommended.
Then we all went to “Bo Bo’s”
FRIDAY morning saw us drag the ‘horses’ from the van and steel the team. Tip; The parking meter needs feeding from 7.30am. (!!)
At 8.50am we stroll up the road to the start of the trail at The Armouries.
After a Team photo session (big cheesy smiles) we depart proper at 9.00am. The weather is glorious and so is the trail, ‘High Noon’ sees us at our pit stop at WALTON Social club. (approx 19 miles). Many thanks to Mandy for making us so welcome, and to the guys on the committee for their hospitality.
Refreshed, we plough onward and upward to PENISTONE, arriving at 6pm, (46 miles) where we are made very welcome by Michelle at The Rose and Crown and by Debbie at The Crown pub too. Steak pie and mash was eaten in almost monastic silence and the first couple of beers got the same treatment too.
After testing the decibel capacity on Raquel’s Karaoke rig in The Rose and Crown, (She’s a ‘Fun-gal’), we finally go “Bo-Bo’s”.
SATURDAY morning saw us devour bacon sarnies before hitting the trail at 8.30am.
The sun continued to blaze, the Longdendale trail, just outside HADFIELD, was like something from the Rio Grande, and whilst admiring it we had a four cycle pile up….!!! ‘Mack Sennet’ would have been proud of us. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries but later one cycle gave up the ghost due to it.
We stopped at the ‘The Bluebell Top’ in GAMESLY were Heather serves us cold drinks whilst we chew the fat with the friendly locals. Another hostelry I can recommend.
We summon the Tour Manager, Sat-Nav is a wonderful tool and asking barmaids their postcode is a great chat-up line. (!!!)
John arrives and we drag out a complete spare bike,……!!!…….to the gasps of the assembled crowd. ……..”Here’s one I prepared earlier” …I announce, as they say on ‘Blue Peter’.
Then the posse presses on,… the sun is now like something off that old ‘Skol’ lager advertisement, we succumb after (2) punctures and make another pit stop in STOCKPORT, at The Crown pub, set beneath massive Victorian railway arches. Another proper pub with a vast array of wares.
We finally reach The Altrincham Lodge in ALTRINCHAM, at 6.30pm (48 miles), we shower in the comfortable rooms and retire to The PELICAN pub adjacent for (16) Fish and Chips……..(we now have “Hangers on” joining us for the final push onto Liverpool the following day). The food (and the beer) appears to be getting better and better, we watch the football and Wimbledon and pundit the living daylights out of it.
Then we retire to go “Bo Bo’s”.
SUNDAY is a massive day as England will play Germany at 3pm, yet we are still in Altrincham.
I recall through the mist of the previous evening that I had rallied the troops with a tub-thumping Churchillian style speech about “Blood, toil, tears and sweat” late the previous evening, about the need for 8mph and an 8am departure in order to be in Liverpool for 2pm and to enable our driver to rid himself of the Mercedes.
The team responds and doesn’t disappoint. We depart Altrincham at 8.02am.
We arrive on the edge of Liverpool at Noon, a colleague has arranged for us to take a shower at a local sports club. Refreshed, and reeking of cheap after-shave, we have only the fabulous OTTERSPOOL promenade and ALBERT DOCK, to negotiate. For greater effect, we are all now resplendent in nerdy yellow tee-shirts.
We turn up from there into CHINATOWN in LIVERPOOL and finish our journey beneath the magnificent Shanghai gates there at 2.05pm (35 miles). Champagne in plastic cups and a frantic photo shoot made the scene look more like ‘Formula 1’ than old guys cycling. The bikes are volleyed into the back of the van, John is away.
We all repair into a famous old pub in Chinatown, THE NOOK, where we are made very welcome and we watch the debacle that was England that day.
Never mind,……our spirits couldn’t be higher……the High Fives continue.
After the match we realise we are starving hungry again (How strange).
No Problem………across the road is the ubiquitous CHINA PALACE restaurant on Berry St, we pile in there for an “All you can eat Buffet” costing just £7 per head. The Buffet must have felt like General Custer as wave after wave of hungry cyclists (and hangers on) scooped out its contents. Finally sated, we all feel a song coming on so we ‘Up sticks’ to the VINES pub for Karaoke. ……….. I won’t attempt to describe it…….for obvious reasons, as the pic below of yours truly bashing out “Calendar Girl 2…3…4…5” sums it up. The rest of the evening just got blurred as we recounted a fabulous trail.
The (4) Czech guys have a lovely country too, but they were astounded at what they had witnessed.
Thanks to everyone who has helped make it possible. It was a privilege to cycle it.
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.