Discovering the Trans Pennine Trail
Discovering the Trans Pennine Trail – Andrew Needham
Following repeat attacks of gout and being told by my doctor I was borderline diabetic, I decided it was time I did something about it. I began to sort out a diet and I purchased a cheap and cheerful bike from
eBay and headed out on it round my home in Rotherham. I’ve always enjoyed cycling, but like a lot of things it became a bit of a chore doing the same route and the excitement didn’t last very long. I was hoping this time it wouldn’t end the same way. I started to become more aware and interested in all the blue cycling signs around my area and began to head out a little further to see where these would take me. I found out this was part of the Trans Pennine Trail and researched it further.
At the age of 35 I was discovering routes on my doorstep I never knew existed, I felt the years roll back and I guess the excitement of an ‘adventure’ I once loved as a youngster came flooding back. I downloaded the ordnance survey map which showed all the different routes I could take, this really appealed to me as I’m not very confident cycling on the road. The main benefit of the Trans Pennine Trail for me is the majority of it is all off road with no traffic. I was beginning to become slightly obsessed, plotting new routes all the time, going further and to different places was great for me and at the same time without realising, my weight started to come down. I ordered the coast to coast book from amazon which is a fantastic read and fuelled my ambition to ride even further. I was starting to become even more adventurous and purchased a brand new bike. This gave me more motivation and I began to increase my mileage.
Lockdown was a very worrying time for me to begin with but there is often good to come out of a bad situation and my experience with cycling the trail has certainly been good. I guess having the extra time played a massive part. With a group of friends I headed from Rotherham to Dunford Bridge, then returned to Rotherham. It was my first ride above 20 miles and to think I had cycled almost half way to Manchester felt like a huge achievement. The views when reaching the top at
Dunford Bridge overlooking the reservoir were incredible. It was also a perfectly sunny day. From completing that route I then became even more adventurous, whether it be with a group of friends or riding alone. The ability to push my body further and explore new places was a fine combination. I felt myself getting fitter and the urge to keep going out on the bike increased after every ride.
I’ve completed the route to Leeds and back from Rotherham many times now, it’s one of my favourite rides and also my longest at 83 miles. I’ve cycled from Manchester to Rotherham on what was a terrible day weather wise but still
very enjoyable in its own way, even with a puncture and my friend’s broken chain, we did it. Rotherham to York was extremely tough given the fact it’s very low in elevation, this sounds odd to say but because there is a long time in the saddle due to it being so flat and constant peddling means a bit of pain the day after, I also rode to Hornsea which was a very similar experience. Apart from the section from Southport to Warrington I’ve conquered all of the trail. My aim when I can is to complete the whole coast to coast of 215 miles across 3 days which will probably be next year. In the meantime I will continue doing a mixture of the routes I’ve already sampled. I really value the Trans Pennine Trail.
I’ve experienced so much, I’m promoting it to others all the time and I have to say a big thank you to the people who maintain it. Ultimately I needed to motivate myself to get out, get fit and lose weight and just generally begin to feel better about myself, the trail has really helped me do this. At the start of lockdown I struggled to do 10 miles, next week I’m aiming to do 100 miles in one day, it’s amazing what you can achieve.
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.