What better way to treat yourself on your birthday, than a long bike ride around your hometown.? Many people would disagree, but that’s exactly what I did the other day on the occasion of thirty-eighth birthday.
My hometown of Liverpool is blessed with many miles of traffic free paths, with diverse and interesting landscapes and waterscapes to explore.
Like all of my favourite rides, it started at my front door (I have problems with the notion of packing the bike into the car and driving out somewhere). My destination was the Liverpool Loopline, a 13 mile former railway track that circumnavigates the city from Aintree in the north to Halewood in the south. The Loopline forms one of the most westerly sections of the Trans Pennine Trail, which stretches all the way from Southport in the west to Hornsea, near Hull, in the east. The Loopline was formerly the Cheshire Lines railway, before Beeching’s axe fell. After a couple of decades of redundancy and decay, the line was cleared and restored by Sustrans and now serves a Liverpool’s primary cycling artery.
I took the Loopline north as far as I could go, on the edge of Aintree’s famous racecourse before a short hop onto the roads to link up with the Leeds and Liverpool canal towpath at Melling Road. From here I followed the canal towards Liverpool City Centre. The towpath had a wide variety of surfaces, from narrow muddy paths at the start, through to recently improved tarmac sections at the end. The scenes along the canal are always equally various, from leafy autumnal colours to old abandoned warehouses.
I followed the canal as far as I could, until a diversion took me onto the roads in Bootle. I made a beeline for the docks and the Mersey waterfront, passing the massive brick-built Stanley Warehouse and the equally impressive Waterloo dock. Closer to the Liver Building I stopped to take a look at HMS Argyll, a modern warship which was docked just north of the isle of Man Steam Packet Company jetty. An impressive sight. From here I cut through the city centre and headed home, calling in to see my Dad in hospital and grabbing a Starbucks along the way.
All in all, a satisfying ride of around 25-30 miles, during which I was never more than about 6 miles from home.