Cycling is frustrating at this time of year as you never know what weather conditions are like generally until the day before and even then things can change. After the Christmas and New Year period finished, it was time to get back on the bike and start riding again.
As the temperature was heading closer to zero and the roads were icy, I decided to stay local and ride along one of the North West’s best, mainly traffic-free routes – the Trans-Pennine Trail on my new touring bike with my friend Scott. It was a nice sunny day and a chance to explore somewhere new very much on my doorstep!
Having cycled much of the 200 mile route east of Manchester towards Hull in the past, I decided to embark upon a 40 mile cycling day-trip to Liverpool Pier Head via Lymm on the ‘TPT’ from Manchester City Centre. Liverpool and Manchester are well-known city rivals, yet are linked together with a shared path and waterways. Check out your OS Map and you will realise that the River Mersey actually flows through much of Greater Manchester!
One of the advantages of living in the North West is that it offers many easy opportunities for waterside cycling. Many of the canal towpaths, riverside promenades and former docks have been converted to cycle paths or shared use facilities. For example, the Bridgewater Canal section is now a shared use path towards Sale and has been recently resurfaced.
On the western section, there are two former railway line routes to ride along. These are the excellent Altrincham to Thelwall and Liverpool Loop Line railpaths. Promenades and riverside trails make up the remainder.
Much of the route from Thelwall on the outskirts of Warrington follows the River Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal to Widnes and the site of the legendary Stone Roses concert – Spike Island. There is also a museum dedicated to the area’s chemical past.
One of the route highlights in this area is the Grade II listed Silver Jubilee Bridge in Widnes. Interestingly, its design is based on the Sydney Bridge in Australia and makes for an impressive sight on a clear, sunny day.
After riding through the housing areas of Hale and Speke, you arrive at Liverpool John Lennon Airport. At this point, it is possible to make a choice to continue along the Trans-Pennine Trail along the converted, old railway line in the direction of Aintree and Southport or continue to follow the River Mersey as closely as possible.
We decided to head towards the promenade at Otterspool Park and continue with our ‘Mersey Tour’ all the way up to Pier Head and Liverpool City Centre to finish at LiverpoolOne.
Pretty much 40 miles to the yard, this was a nice, simple day out with very little route planning involved and I estimate that we were on traffic-free routes for 70% of the way. The Trans-Pennine Trail is an ideal leisure cycling route for those looking for an active family day out or for an interesting city-to-city ride.