Monday, 27 June 2011

Bacon for breakfast - and lunch

I was just finishing breakfast at The Plough in Southport when Nigel, the owner, presented me with a foil-wrapped package containing bacon toasties - "in case you get stuck for something to eat today". I've said this before, but people can be so kind. I managed to defer eating them until reaching the Albert Dock in Liverpool three hours later, when they were still quite warm.

The route today was mainly off-road, following either discrete cycle paths or old railway tracks; occasionally there were marked cycle lanes on main roads. Part of the ride followed the Trans-Pennine Route (NCR62), which crosses the country finishing in Hornsea on the Yorkshire coast. I had actually ridden along part of that route back in the early days when following the old railway line between Hull and Hornsea.

Liverpool was very busy, and construction of the new Museum of Liverpool (opening next month) meant that access along the waterfront was restricted. Still, it was very pleasant sitting in the warm sunshine, eating my toasties.

My route took me across the Mersey at Widnes, by which time it had clouded over. To get to the bridge the Trans-Pennine Route followed the river eastwards until suddenly it rose by a series of wooden ramps, as can be seen in the photograph (left) on the hill above the metal bridge. The trouble was that the ramps were not slopes, but a series of steps. Fortunately the steps were shallow, and the distance between each step just over a bike's length. Still, it took me at least 10 minutes to negotiate this section. I wish Sustrans, or whoever is responsible for these National Cycle Routes, could indicate their suitability (or otherwise) for heavy bikes like mine!

Ever since my 'Workington experience', I'm acutely aware of glass on the road. In places it's awful, with broken glass scattered everywhere; it just can't be avoided. I do feel strongly that local people (Sustrans rangers?) should be out there clearing the tracks. The worst places today were in underpasses, where the route went under main roads or railway lines. Clearly these are places where young people gather, for various reasons, and obviously they're not averse to deliberately breaking a bottle or two.

I ended the day at Eastham Ferry, just short of my planned destination of Bromborough, where John Turner was waiting for me. After a short diversion to look at a derelict pier at Job's Ferry (where he took this photo of me), he drove me back to his home near Chester. His wife Eileen had prepared an excellent roast lamb dinner with all the trimmings, followed by (how did she know?) rhubarb crumble and ice-cream!

Tomorrow, John will drop me back at Eastham, when I'll continue around the Wirral Peninsula, across the River Dee and into Wales.

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