Adventures in Culture part 7: Trans Pennine Trail Cycling Trip. Hornsea to Selby.
987 minutes past midnight.
That time will ring long in my memory. It is the time that the only train from the tiny station of Broomfleet, East Yorkshire, leaves for the town of Selby. The fact I caught it was nothing short of a miracle. And how did I end up there? Well. The birds told me to do it!
I was thirty miles into a fifty mile stretch of the Trans Pennine Cycle Trail. My legs were sore. My ‘goochal area’ was bruised and a head wind was slowing my progress down to a crawl. I inched into a sedate village, unsure of my next move.
Suddenly a hedge burst into bird song. Hundreds of the things. Maybe more were in there than the entire population of the village. Surprised, I ground to a halt. What the hell was going on?
Bird song wasn’t alien to me on my expedition - I had been cycling in the countryside for most of the day with individual calls soporifically soundtracking my progress. But this cacophony was uncanny, as if they were trying to tell me something.
Checking my map, I realised the lane they were singing on lead to a sleepy train station a mile away. Stranger still, I checked my phone to discover the only train that stopped there was due in ten minutes time. My luck was in. Turning down the lane, I mustered up one final push to salvation.
And then the birds fell silent.
The eastern part of the Trans Pennine Trail is perfect for ‘fair weather' cyclist: the majority of it is on disused railway lines. It’s flat. It’s straight. It’s relatively easy. And when I found out my friends’ place in Selby is en route - and close to York, pub capital of the UK - I thought, ‘why the heck not? I could do with a pint.’
I’m not a hardcore cyclist. The Adventure Cycling website advises to pack dozens of things for a journey, including: a pocket knife, bandannas, a sewing kit, brake wires and bear spray. For my trip from Hornsea to Selby I packed deodorant, my wallet, a map, bonjela, a toothbrush and a phone charger. With a spring in my step (and half an eye out for bears) I set off full of optimism.
If you haven’t cycled a long(ish) journey before, I would highly recommend it. My route took in the Humber Bridge Country Park, passed through the beautiful village of North Ferriby, snaked languidly along the Humber Estuary and boasted breathtaking views of the vale of York from the top of the Wold hills (although I have to admit I got off and walked up to the summit).
My one piece of advice is wear padded shorts - and do not stop in a pub for an hour for a jacket potato and a San Miguel. Although refreshing, the lengthy lunch gave my bum time to bruise up, making afternoon progress painfully slow - and lead to my weird avian salvation later in the day.
The one underwhelming part of the journey was the route within Hull. Once the old Hornsea railway line finished, signage frustratingly dried up and the route took an unnecessary course through the docklands and then dangerously onto the dilapidated St Andrews dock, with glass strewn paths and overgrown tracks. A great shame. Hull: sort it 'aht!
That aside, I was glad I gave it a go. And when I jumped on the train at Broomfleet, although slightly disappointed I hadn’t completed the full trip, I knew I’d had a fantastic adventure - and been guided by birds.
You can find more information on the Trans Pennine Trail via their website. A bike can be bought at any local stockist, or online auction sites. Bonjela can be found at Boots.
Where to next?
It's happening! I'm going to a Mexican Wrestling night somewhere in Bethnal Green in a couple of weeks. Can't ruddy wait! If you know of a a show or activity that I MUST go to, let me know: @stephensonrich.
Until next time, keep it loose.