Darton to London

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Liverpool to Darton

After a lovely night’s sleep on the bench on the ferry, I was awoken at 6am by my alarm reminding me to get off the ferry. Perhaps not quite enough sleep over the last two nights and a lack of food exaggerated the frustration of the next half hour in which I could find no way across the Mersey River to Liverpool. The ferry that crosses the Mersey starts at 10.30am and the two road tunnels are highly guarded toll tunnels, no bikes allowed. I eventually went to Birkenhead Hamilton Square and caught the train to Lime Street, which was, as it turned out, no hassle at all. I took the 30-minute wait before my train from Liverpool to Darton as an opportunity to get some sugar in my body and release the early morning frustration. The early morning Alice monster (an excellent impression of which can be recreated by Pete or Sam) was put to rest for the day. The train was a necessity if I wanted to see Kate, Adam and Eddie, as I was now 24 hours behind the plan to meet them.

As is often the case when one stops a hectic schedule, I became immediately exhausted when at the Seniors family house. It was dreamy seeing everyone in my hazy way and I spent the afternoon enjoying the family company.

Darton to the Reevell residence in Alderley Edge

(The route on Strava)

I woke up in Helen’s old bedroom and set about packing my things. Sam, Helen and Lottie packed into the car and I readied my bicycle for the off. We took a few photos of the Senior visit and we were all on our way.

Alice and the Seniors
Sam and Alice

The route took me into the Pennines along a former rail line, thus an excellent straight flat cycle track. Once I had climbed a short section on a road I was taken off the road again, but this time onto a mountain bike trail rising above the busy A-road below. I bumped along the rocky track, delighted at the chance to test out my equipment along uneven ways.

The sheep tended to run away from me along the track, so I felt like we were on an endless chase. Luckily for them I found the end of the trail and rejoined the road to cross a bridge. I thought my off road treats were over for the day, but I crossed the bridge to find the GPS taking me off to the left up what looked like a driveway. A group of cyclists reassured me that was the right way and I found myself heading along another converted rail line, this time with a gentle downhill. Dreamy. This track took me right out of the Pennines and to just north of Glossop. I found the road (after a surprising push up a woodland path) and continued.

Google maps has this down as a cycle route!

I was getting hungry so I stopped before Marple at Charlesworth to buy a flapjack, just in case Marple was further than I expected or the shops were closed on a Sunday. As I was eating the rather unappetising raspberry and coconut oat treat, a female cyclist on a road bike rolled slowly alongside me then dashed off. Seconds later another more lost looking female cyclist came rolling alongside and went to talk to me before realising that, despite our matching outfits, I was not her cyclist friend. I had to admit that I wasn’t sure which route her cyclist friend had taken so the second girl had to just hedge her bets. About a minute later the lost girl returned up the hill looking unsure having not found her friend down that road. I used my phone to find out which direction she needed to take and discovered that we were heading to the same little town for a coffee break. We headed down the correct road and soon met Kasia, a Polish 31-year-old, recently (only three weeks) having moved to Glossop from London. Cecile, her French climbing friend was staying with her for the weekend and they were on a cycle (post morning run!). Kasia knew the area well and directed us to a sophisticated yet cosy café, Dustons for lunch.

Cécile, Alice and Kasia

Eventually, the girls had to continue, as Cecile had a train to catch that night. With promises to keep in touch and a potential place to stay in Aix-en-Province (Cecile’s parents), they head off. I stayed in the café writing and daydreaming. In the words of Maia: dreamy.

Behind me in the café there were two gentle ladies having high tea. After a short chat I received an invite to be hosted by the one of the ladies who lives in Marple Bridge. Tempting as this was, I got back on the bike and pushed up a very steep hill (valley villages are all very idyllic, but the only way out is up). The hill was made slightly longer by the two bottles of Prosecco and a 500g cheese bomb that I had bought at the delicatessen counter in the café in Marple. At the outskirts of Marple I pulled left and found myself on the Middlewood Way, another former railway turned into an impressively flat and straight cycle, horse and walk way. I was treated to this way for over 10 km before turning off at Bollington. I stopped at Prestbury, a wealthy looking town with a mixture of footballers wives and their princess daughters alongside smartly dressed Methodists going about their day. I wandered around Prestbury’s coop for a good long time trying to work out what I could buy that would be light enough to carry in the panniers, but would fulfil my desire to eat something healthy and fulfil my desire to cook. I recalled my recently discovered brown rice, spinach, cheddar cheese and egg quiche, and packed up the panniers with the appropriate ingredients.

I arrived at the Reevell residence around 7.30 to find the key hidden where promised. I then set to the kitchen to make the quiche, whilst simultaneously trying to hold a conversation with Emma and Paddy on Whatsapp about the impending conversation we should have in the morning. We set a time of 2pm for a Skype and I finally got the quiche in the oven.

Paddy’s kitchen

Not long after the quiche was set and I had sent the necessary photo to my TeachFirst cycling team, Phil arrived through the front door. Before long it was time to head to Manchester Airport to collect Paddy, landing on a Lufthansa flight at 11pm. Standing in Arrivals we tried to interpret the meagrely dressed, slightly dazed and somewhat sunburnt passengers arriving through the double doors.  We concluded these were more likely to be representatives of the flight that had recently landed from Tenerife, than those coming from Moscow via Germany. Finally, our tousle haired Moscovite came through the doors looking equally dazed but at least not sunburnt. We trundled back to the car and heard about Paddy’s last three days. Sochi, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Moscow. He was as ever, reeling off stories about locations and events which, if you were to read the news you’d think to stay a million miles away from, but Paddy has a way of discussing the people, the individuals, the pluralistic nature of a location, the beauty of an environment.

Paddy’s Birthday: 17th August

Happy Birthday wonderful Paddy!

Alderley Edge to my cousin Sophie and family in Altrincham

My wonderful cousin Sophie making me a delicious coffee

Heading to Dunham Massey with the girls

From my cousin Sophie in Altrincham to Paddy in Penn (via Rebecca in Penkridge)

A rather lovely canal path to Penkridge to visit Rebecca, turned into a grass mission!

But it was totally worth it to get here to see this lady.

After dragging myself away, I managed to make it to Penn in the pouring rain to be rewarded with Carys, Paddy and a quiche.

Cycling from Edgbaston to Barnard Gate with Mr Bish’

Cycling through Blenheim Palace to Long Hanborough for a photo in the village where I grew up

Jessica cooking up a delicious feast for Tom, Abi and me in Barnard Gate

Cycling from Oxford to London with Tom and Matt


Tom, Matt and I then cycled from Oxfordshire to a familiar Islington street for a roast dinner with the Teach First team


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