Sunday 21st May saw the eagerly awaited launch of the Sefton Circular cycle route, a 24 mile route navigating around the borough, taking in many of the most picturesque parts of Sefton and being predominately flat it was an ideal route for both the beginner cyclist and the seasoned rider.
The proof of that was impressively demonstrated on the day, when well over 400 riders arrived across the three starting points, ready to embark on their very own Tour de Sefton. At Crosby alone 250+ riders started from the Lakeside Adventure Centre; the assembled group was made up of seasoned riders on high end bikes, families on borrowed bikes, children on tag-a-longs and sporting stabilisers, ladies on loop frames with wicker baskets, recumbent trikes and two tandems; creating a cycling spectacle that out shone the Jet Skis whizzing by and provided an impressive and imposing sight as rider upon rider snaked their way along the access road and past the lake, before disappearing north on the coastal path to Ainsdale.
Smaller but equally impressive numbers had registered to start from Formby Station and the Mecycle Cafe in Ainsdale, following the same route but starting further north; the multiple start points were organised to provide easy access for residents to take part in the ride and this proved to be the case with over 150 riders departing from the other two start points. The active travel team had requested riders to pre-register for the ride for us to order sufficient protein bars, water and medals, however the huge interest in the ride exceeded all of our expectations and with riders deciding on the day to attend, we unfortunately ran out of some goodies, huge apologies to those that didn’t receive a medal, bar or bottle of water, however everyone was understanding on the day, so thank you.
Heading north the cyclists enjoyed a slight tail wind and as requested we had asked for the sand to be swept from the promenade from the Lakeside to Crosby Leisure Centre, so this enabled a good clear ride up to and beyond the Life Boat station and onto Hightown, where the first of the very quiet road sections began. The route is approximately 24 miles in distance and enjoys approximately 21 completely traffic free miles, making it an ideal route for those looking for a peaceful, trouble free route.
Passing by Altcar Rifle Range and then into Formby, we negotiated the next stretch of road, here some riders dipped into Formby village for a refreshment stop, we continued on towards Freshfield and then Ainsdale Woods, a beautiful and fun section to ride, with the only really notable slope of the entire route, exiting the woods and going under the coastal road, we then left the coast behind for the time being, we would see the beach again when we returned to Crosby but for now we where at the northerly most point of the route, so it was time to turn inland and head south along the Cheshire Lines to Maghull.
Although the ride was self led, a group had remained with us since Crosby and were happy to sit in behind us, we were happy to to set the pace and we began to pick up other riders who had started from Formby and Ainsdale. Once at the end of, it has to be said, a very green and pleasant Cheshire Lines, we crested Jubilee Woods, crossing, in order, the River Alt, Brooms Cross Road and the Northern Perimeter Road, this took us into Netherton where we turned right onto the Leeds Liverpool canal, we were close to home now with time to enjoy the sight of ducklings on the canal, before we knew it we were at Rimrose Valley were we encountered a few slight issues with the signage, duly noted we rounded up some more, slightly confused riders and headed for the home straight, crossing at the Five Lamps crossing and sailing down Great Georges Road, those riders we had towed along saw their opportunity and like a scene from the Tour de France a full scale overtake took place as the group sprinted down the hill back to the Crosby Lakeside. Smiles abound with some tired legs in evidence but overall the feedback was extremely positive and the day was deemed a great success.
With so many cyclists in attendance and we know of many who couldn’t make it on the day, there is definitely a healthy appetite for cycling within Sefton and beyond, please continue to keep up to date with our cycling programme by visiting the events page on our website, following us on Twitter, or through our partners Facebook page or if you prefer the tangible feel of a hard copy, pick up a copy of our Sefton Walking and Cycling Newsletter from many community venues, leisure centres or health centres.
If you were unable to join us on the day for the Sefton Circular, then you can still enjoy the route by following the way marked signs and downloading a copy of the map