Reflections of riding the Irish Sea Cycle Route.
Rural Wales is behind me, I am moving into a post-industrial landscape, a built environment of towns and cities that seem to blend into each other. From the outskirts of Runcorn to the north of Liverpool, it is almost a ribbon-like mega-city. My goal is to navigate a suitable route through this metropolis, safe with traffic yet both interesting and intimate with the coastline.
Bridge over the River Dee
After crossing the Dee to reach the Welsh-English border, it’s a case of following cycleways for Helsby then Frodsham. The route around Stanlow and Ince Marshes wasn’t suitable, full of pot-holes and loose stone hazards, I decided it’s much better on the main road. Passing under Helsby Crag, it looks green, damp and uninviting, not a place to be rock climbing, particularly when the crags of North Wales beckon.
A number of visits to Runcorn helped to establish a straightforward route from Frodsham to Runcorn Bridge avoiding Expressways, dual-carriageways and those featureless back-waters of housing estates.
River Weaver crossing
Over the Weaver, before Sutton Weaver, there’s a B-road that leads to Wood Lane then Beechwood Avenue, a meandering road to the park and Clifton Drive. It’s then a simple task of riding the road into town, finally on cycleways to Runcorn Bridge.
Once over the Mersey, its riverside cycleways, then through Hale with its thatched cottages to John Lennon Airport. I followed leafy suburban avenues of Garston to Liverpool Cricket Club and the red cow sculpture on the Waterfront, then the superb traffic free section all the way to Pier Head.
Liverpool Dock at Pier Head
Liverpool Waterfront is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this was and still is a famous maritime city and gateway to the world. The iconic ‘Three Graces’ buildings on the Pier Head overlook the wonderful waterfront. Famous not only for its past, Liverpool is the home of popular music, the home of The Beatles and many other singers and songwriters. Proud with at least two famous football teams, two cathedrals, Liverpool is a wonderful city with a wonderfully rich culture. I am so pleased the ISCR visits this great city, Liverpool is a highlight, it brings a great sense of down-to-earth truth and honesty that can only add to the experience of the Irish Sea Cycle Route.
At Crosby Beach are one hundred cast iron sculptures by Antony Gormley. ‘Another Place’ provokes thought on a huge scale. The cast-iron figures exposed to light, time and tide interact with those natural elements creating a varied and ever-changing response. The ‘iron men’ remain static, forthright, almost defiant in the face of adversity. It’s a most interesting experience.
Crosby Beach and 'Another Place' by Antony Gormley
The overall effect is stunning, I enjoy art that provokes deeper thinking. John Berger wrote in Ways of Seeing The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet the knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight. The same can be said of art.
Sand erosion at Formby Point has revealed prehistoric footprints from the Neolithic era, some 7000 years ago, giving us a glimpse into our past. Away from the dunes around Formby to Southport, I then head for Preston and the bridge over the River Ribble and onto Preston Dock. When I was a child, I remember the cranes on the dock-side, the hooters from the ships could be heard a couple of miles away at midnight each New Year. Today it is a small marina.
Places of Interest along the way
The Boat Museum, Ellesmere Port Chester Delamere Forest Park Liverpool Liverpool World Heritage Site Another Place by Antony Gormley, Crosby Beach Formby Point and Sands Marshside RSPB Reserve, Southport