Biking England Lands End John O Groats

The Wirral, the Mersey ferry and more

Looking across to Liverpool from Seacombe
Written by Kirstie
On the Mersey Ferry

On the Mersey Ferry

Ferry cross the Mersey

Stuart Profile SmallIt’s a shock when it happens; the sudden loss of traction, feet spinning wildly, bike wobbling like jelly, the struggle to get feet out of toe clips before toppling over. I was 100 yards ahead at the time but there was no mistaking something was up behind me.

“Stuart, Stuart. Stop. Stop. Stop.”

Kirstie’s voice reached me quickly on the wind.

Cycling on the Wirral

Cycling on the Wirral

Chain trouble

By the time I managed to turn and get back to them, Matthew was already off the bike retrieving an oily chain whipped clean off its sprockets into a small sand dune drifted across the prom.

“Dad, the chain’s actually snapped,” he said incredulously, holding up the sand-clogged chain.

The situation reflected the tension we were all feeling. Three long 60km days heading for Kirstie’s mums house and now half-hourly phone calls from her to establish our precise location and ETA. Dinner was nearly in the dog, wine was flowing and we were long overdue.

Tandem in Wirral Country Park

Tandem in Wirral Country Park

A beautiful place for a breakdown

It was a beautiful place for a breakdown, having ridden up the woody disused rail-trails of the Wirral Country Park to West Kirkby, we were pushing against a coastal headwind along the breakwaters of Hoylake when the toolkit came out.

Offshore, the windmills of Hoyle Bank windfarm made good use of the wind while onshore it blew oily baby wipes along the prom as I struggled to replace the chain-link sheared by the brute force of Kirstie and Matthew’s struggle with the elements.

I’d never noticed the beauty of the Wirral before; in my head it was all old docks, run down seaside resorts and aspiring residential areas. But I hadn’t ridden there before. And when you ride you see a place differently. And what started as a diversion to see Kirstie’s mum and avoid Warrington, Wigan and Widnes became a fine, if slightly longer and windier, route North towards John O Groats.

Cameron and Blackberries

Nothing more beautiful than blackberries from the Wirral country park

The Seacombe Cycle Crew

The following morning, chain replaced, dinner consumed, wine finished, we met Christine, Robbie and Jonathon outside the Mersey Ferry terminal at Seacombe. Sitting on deckchairs next to a clutch of bikes and trailers, tending a colourful box full of cycling helmets, they too were advocates for coastal rides around the Wirral.

“People don’t realise how flat and beautiful the cycling is over here, and how the place has changed,” said Christine. “We’re trying to promote it, renting out bikes for people coming across on the ferry.” But despite plenty of them coming across, school groups, family groups, tour groups, not many seemed to be taking up the option to hire.

Liverpool Bicycle Cooperative

Jonathon, Christine and Robbie of the Liverpool Bicycle Cooperative

“It’s a bit slow today,” Christine admitted, “but we’re just here for six weeks to see how it goes. It’s a new thing for us. We’re a mobile cycle hire business, so if it doesn’t work out here, we’ll go somewhere else.”

Christine and the lads from the Liverpool Bicycle Cooperative kept an eye on our bikes while we took a break from touring Britain to take a tour of the Universe in the Mersey Spaceport.

“We’ve had a lot of interest since you left,” she said when we returned, “a lot of people looking over your bikes, asking if they’re for hire.”

There are some days when I think we’d gratefully rent them out but today wasn’t one.

Looking across to Liverpool from Seacombe

Looking across to Liverpool from Seacombe

Then on the Mersey ferry

With the wind gone, and the sun shining over the Liver Building, we took the Ferry across to Liverpool along with the throngs of other holidaymakers humming along to Ferry cross the Mersey piped over the ship’s tannoy.

Mersey Ferry

Over the other side after a ride on the Mersey Ferry

About the author


Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

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