Southport – Liverpool – Manchester is a two day tour of beaches, seaside rivers, canals, docks, music, football, industrial history and two of England's most famous and historical cities. Liverpool the city of the Beatles, the Mersey, the Albert Docks, Anfield and Goodison, museums, theatres and music venues galore; while Manchester is the birthplace of the industrial revolution, and home to Manchester United and City, the National Cycling Centre, museums, symphony orchestras, canals, Victorian architecture and more red brick buildings than you can shake a stick at, it is also home to the 80's and 90's pop scene which produced bands such as Oasis, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, The Smiths et al.
Crosby Beach Statues
Manchester Town Hall
Starting off in the lovely seaside town of Southport, the road to Liverpool sees you pass grasslands, pine forests, famous sculptures in full view or almost submerged, beaches and nature reserves. This part of the tour was called 'one of the most memorable rides' on Sustrans traffic free cycle rides book. The ride from Liverpool to Manchester takes advantage of the extensive canal system and the NCN trans Pennine trail, while cycling in both cities takes you past some of the most famous sights under your own steam in your own time. There is an optional extra night stay in Manchester.
* All prices per person based on two people sharing.
|DAY 1||Southport - Liverpool||24 miles|
|DAY 2||Liverpool - Manchester||39 miles|
Leaving Southport train station we go straight to the coastal road where we find a cycle path looking out over Southport beach, then following the path towards Liverpool we begin to cycle beside grasslands and dunes which edge onto the beach and wooded areas. We continue along the cycle path until we get to the roundabout with shore road where we start to follow the railway track the into the magnificent Ainsdale Sand Dunes Nature Reserve Trail to Formby. After getting to Formby we jump into the National Trust's Woodlands, which are a mix of glorious beaches, dramatic sand dunes surrounded by coastal woodlands, which are themselves home to a population of red squirrels and are one of the few areas where these timid creatures can be seen.
Leaving Formby we cross over the River Alt following the train line, through the tall rushes and into Hightown. After Hightown we get up close to the beach as we venture along through the Hightown Dunes and Meadows Nature Reserve, one of the more secluded parts of the trip with fantastic views across the Wirral to North Wales. The coastline here heading towards Crosby is fantastic with tumbling dunes falling onto golden beaches. When we get to Crosby Beach we are introduced to 100 cast iron figures of men looking thoughtfully out to sea. The Iron Men, as they are known locally, are buried knee or thigh deep and submerged, sometimes up to their neck, depending on the tide.
Coming out of Crosby Coastal Park at Marine Lake we find ourselves in Waterloo, on the edge of the city of Liverpool. From here we head into Rimrose Valley Country Park where we pick up the Leeds – Liverpool Canal tow path. Jumping off near Derby Park we follow the city's cycle paths past Goodison Park, home of Everton F.C., through Stanley Park and Past Anfield, home to Liverpool F.C. and just a few hundred yards between both grounds. From Anfield we follow the city's cycle paths into the city centre and onto the waterfront and the Albert Docks.
Day 2. After an evening spent exploring Liverpool's sights and sounds, and a good night's rest we set off for Manchester. Following the Trans Pennine path we make our way to South Liverpool, passing the famous Liverpool Cathedral, cycle by John Lennon Airport before arriving in Widnes and onto the Estuary of the Mersey. Here we can look down to where the Mersey is at its widest, approximately 3 miles in diameter, before it runs into Liverpool Bay.
This traffic-free route now runs alongside the Mersey, a railway and then a canal until it gets into Lymn. Lymn is a perfect spot to stop for lunch, with its cobblestone streets, canal, countryside cafés and pubs, and lovely areas for picnics all surrounded by the tranquil Cheshire countryside. From Lymn the peaceful ride continues as we reach Dunham Massey, a national trust site consisting of a Georgian hall, park and gardens, which would also be perfect for lunch or even a second lunch.
We again continue until we meet the edge of Manchester and leave the leafy Cheshire behind. Now we pick up the Bridgewater Canal tow path, which has just been upgraded to make it a very peaceful ride through sale and Strettford. Going along the canal you'll pass barges, rowers, runners, walkers, other cyclists, ducks, geese, swans and other wildlife if you're sharp-eyed enough. There are lots of nice cafés here in the little towns you pass and some based out of barges at weekends. Following the tow path into the city we pass by Old Trafford cricket ground home to Lancashire Cricket Club and Old Trafford home to Manchester United F.C. Here we start to follow the city cycle paths which take us into central Manchester past the famous redbrick buildings, canals, converted mills intothe city centre and Piccadilly Gardens for a well earned rest before heading to the train station or hotel, if you are planning on having an extra night's stay in Manchester. For fans of football and competitive cycling there is a four mile out and back extra trip to take in the delights of Sportscity. Following the Ashton Canal tow path for two miles you will find the Etihad stadium, home to Manchester city and across the road is the National Cycling Centre, home to the UK's first indoor oympic cycling track – it also has a BMX centre, a skills zone and some mountain bike trails.