Old haunts…

IMG_3040A hint of nostalgia today…

IMG_3041After seeing Paul’s recent early morning explorations around our local trails I decided to go out by myself and take a fresh look at those trails, the same trails I used to ride every day on my way into work.

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It’s been a while now since I was lucky enough to be able to retire early, an opportunity not taken for granted, and I’ve only been back this way on the odd occasion so I was keen to see if much had changed. The last few years I’ve mostly turned right outside the front door, the canal towpath allowing easy access away from the city, today I turned left and retraced my past route along the river towards the moss.

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It’s as flat as a pancake around here so a singlespeed bike is the perfect tool for one who isn’t rushing, coffee making tools and cake stashed into the bag, heck I even optimistically put a book in as well.

IMG_3044The trails are dusty, testament to the incredibly dry April and (so far) May, and the nettles still in their infancy so progress was swift (ish) and soon enough I was at the dog walkers track that used to be no more than twelve inches wide, it appears that it has been adopted by someone in officialdom as it’s now six feet wide and trimmed at the edges, previously it was a pleasure to ride fast along here, safe in the knowledge that in the early morning you aren’t going to bump into anyone, the twists and turns giving my commute a little extra excitement, it’s not that exciting now.

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Getting to the end and I’m out on the moss, I can see even more obvious changes, the petro chem site where I worked all my life is still there, fenced in as it always was but now very few of the original structures remain (hard to imagine that when I started there in 1978 there were around six thousand people employed there) the trails have all been tidied up somewhat, the new land owners making their presence felt with plenty of signs asserting their ‘rights‘.

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Anyway enough of that, I’m on a bike ride not a campaign, after the now non existent singletrack I pop out onto the old railway sidings and then start to cross the moss heading towards the Trans Pennine Trail and the bench ( or GUTM headquarters as we affectionately call it). Coffee made, cake consumed, fields stared at, book not even lifted out of the bag, and soon on my way again, the few people who passed by giving me unapproving stares for reasons best known to themselves was enough to unsettle me.

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Heading back the same way I came I remembered a really nice little spot near to the river that we used to go to as kids to go swimming, imagine that, swimming in the river Mersey in the 1970’s, good job our folks didn’t know about it!

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After a few false turns I eventually found the path, lined with cow parsley and wild garlic, it was a beautiful dead end, no one around, no noise from the nearby motorway (for now) and somewhere to sit and enjoy the silence, it could be a nice spot for the first wild camp of the year once we return to normal again, in the meanwhile I’ll be happy to just ride here and enjoy the silence.

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Words and pictures – Steve Makin

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