Another isolation cycle ride – Lydiate, Maghull, Netherton circular

Farm access bridge over the former Cheshire Lines Railway between the former Lydiate and Sefton & Maghull Stations.

My exercise as we all try to keep safe is solo cycling around the East Parishes part of Sefton Borough and into West Lancs and South Sefton.

One of my recent rides (on a glorious Sunday morning) was from my Lydiate home down the Cheshire Lines Path/Trans Pennine Trail from the site of the former Lydiate Station down to the site of the former Sefton and Maghull Station, then on via Old Racecourse Road to regain the path at Meadway. From there through Jubilee Woods to the new Brooms Cross Road and into Netherton joining the A5036 cycle path at Copy Lane and back into Maghull via Switch Island, the A59 (Northway) and local roads and lanes back home. It was 9.5 miles in total.

I took a few photos along the way and here they are:-

I spotted this sign on a tree right next to the farm bridge in the lead photo above. It seems to be part of a trail by Altside Scouts but I’ve not seen any of the others.

Looking north from a bridge over the River Alt. Sefton Church can be made out in the background.

I wonder what the back story is to this road nameplate just off the Northern Perimeter Road in Netherton?

Commemoration boulder at Switch Island

A closer look – It’s Maghull’s very own Cliff Mainey now living in retirement in Maghull’s Gainsborough Avenue.

The road works which have been driving local folk around the bend at the Alt in Maghull. Still more to be done as the junction is upgraded.

I hope I can keep going with my solo cycling around our local lanes, roads, tracks and cycle paths during health crisis. You never know I might detail more of my rides……….

Alastair Campbell’s guide to surviving isolation

Like Gordon Brown and ex-US President Jimmy Carter, Alastair Campbell is someone we’ve probably come to respect far more after they’ve left the top job which made them famous. I’m sure there are other examples you can think of too.

I like this 20 point guide by Alastair on how to survive isolation. Go on have a read and look past the politician you maybe once cared little for as he is far more than that. Here’s a link to his blog article that may just help you through the coming weeks:-

alastaircampbell.org/2020/03/twenty-tips-for-guarding-against-depression-and-anxiety-in-the-era-of-self-isolation/

But look at number 9 again and then look at this video:-

twitter.com/campbellclaret/status/1213100165579579392?lang=en

Yes Campbell and Kennedy were good friends and what a haunting tribute to his old chum…….

And the photo at the head of this posting? Because it is peaceful and tranquil………..

Merseyrail/Northern – As the trains reduced frequency or stopped running – Our local lines

As our health crisis deepens here’s a snapshot of the consequences on our local railway networks as of today

End of the line from Wigan at Kirkby Station

Kirkby – Wigan: replacement bus (as it has been for last few days) every two hours

Ormskirk Station – The train in the foreground would have been Preston bound but it’s being replaced by a bus now.

Ormskirk – Preston: replacement bus every two hours and finishing early evening

This one is still running once an hour to Manchester – A Southport bound Class 156 DMU at Burscough Bridge Station on the Southport – Wigan – Manchester Line.

Southport – Manchester: hourly service to Victoria finishing early evening

Southport Station.

As I penned this posting Merseyrail was running a half hourly service across its network

But of course no one wants anyone to use the remaining trains or replacement buses unless they are key workers or the travel is absolutely necessary.

Aintree – Is the mothballed Nth Mersey Branch a Port of Liverpool access opportunity going begging?

Just south of Aintree Station there’s still a rail connection to the overgrown and mothballed North Mersey Branch, which heads off in the direction of the Port of Liverpool and Bootle. Here and above are a couple of shots of the rail connection as it is now:-

Both shots were taken from the end of the Liverpool bound platform of Aintree Station.

Surely it (the Nth Mersey Branch) could be, at least in part, a sensible contribution to the accessing the expanding Port of Liverpool. I might add that Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson wants a railway in a tunnel but Labour-run Sefton Council wants a road tunnel. Friends of the Earth are calling on Labour Mersey Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham to come out against the surface road solutions – I’m not aware that he has. Presently, Highways England are pressing ahead with their plans for a new road down and through Rimrose Valley Country Park.

The North Mersey Branch once went all the way to the docks (Gladstone Dock) but the the dock connection was removed many years ago, it connects the Southport – Liverpool and Ormskirk – Liverpool Merseyrail lines these days but it’s not been used (mothballed) for many a year. Merseytravel, the public transport arm of the Liverpool City Region, say they have long-term plans to reopen the branch for passenger traffic which was withdrawn from it and the former Ford and Linacre Road Stations in April 1951.

I recall going to the first public consultation event (a few years back) about how the expanding Port of Liverpool could be accessed by freight. On seeing only Highways England there I asked where Network Rail were so that the rail options could be talked through too. The answer was along the lines of they weren’t there and were not in reality a part of the process! I despaired then and I still do now…….

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Simonswood – More on those isolated buildings visible from Spurriers Ln/Outlet Ln

Since my original posting I’ve tracked down this aerial view of the buildings and site via the National Library of Scotland’s website.

In a posting of only yesterday – see link below –

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/03/21/a-cycle-ride-of-contrasts-spurriers-lane-outlet-lane-melling-simonswood/

I raised a query about some isolated brick built buildings visible in the fields from Spurriers Ln (Melling)/Outlet Ln (Simonswood) and I’m delighted to say, that via the Melling Community Page of Facebook, I now have an answer.

I’m grateful to Carl Wallace and John Climber for providing the answer to my query and here it is:-

Carl – ‘The brick buildings randomly placed were munitions stores in the war I believe, munitions were made in Kirkby and taken out into the countryside to be stored’

John – ‘that is correct. The brick buildings are the tops of an underground network of tunnels and stores. The small buildings were harder to spot from aerial photography at the time rather than a large hanger to store them in would have been’

And here are a couple of links back to why the site was constructed:-

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simonswood_Supply_Depot

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ROF_Kirkby

I hope you’ve enjoyed finding out about this as much as I have been.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

A cycle ride of contrasts – Spurriers Lane – Outlet Lane – Melling & Simonswood

I’m still cycling during our health crisis although always on my own and not stopping at cafes etc. anymore….

A lane I cycle now and again is Spurriers Lane/Outlet Lane which joins Prescot Road at the Animal Sanctuary in Melling (Merseyside) and then goes through to Simonswood Civil Parish (Lancashire) to join Simonswood Lane. It’s single track lane for its whole length but traffic is light to non-existent virtually all the time.

Sadly, and probably because of the remote nature of the lane it is often a site for fly-tipping. Sights such as this are far from unusual sadly:-

What is it about fly-tippers using their junk to block steams at the side of such lanes? They love tipping in water for some bizarre reason! As you can see this is basically domestic rubbish that simply needed taking to the nearby Sefton Meadows Recycling Centre. I despair I really do.

The lane also has what is turning out to be a near permanent flood (close to Hesketh Farm) which I have nick-named ‘Simonswood Swimming Pool’:-

I’ll give Lancashire County Council a nudge as it’s been like this for quite some time now and is clearly an obstacle for pedestrians and cyclists.

Only yards away from this flooded part of Outlet Lane there’s a sharp left turn and in the distance there are quite a few old brick built buildings which are well spaced out. I’ve often wondered what purpose they serve or used to serve:-

They clearly have flat roofs and a gander at an Ordnance Survey map shows them to geometrically spaced with connecting tracks – around 8 of them and the nearest noted building to them is Basford Farm. Just out of curiosity does anyone know what the buildings were erected for?

When I reach Simonswood Lane I usually turn left and head towards Royal Oak where there’s a crossroads with Cunscough Lane. Royal Oak is part of Bickerstaffe Civil Parish. To reach Royal Oak you have to cycle over the M58 Motorway:-

From single track road to motorway within a few yards. In fact Spurriers Lane/Outlet lane effectively parallels the Motorway. the photo is looking towards Skelmersdale.

This was just a part of my circular route from my Lydiate home through Maghull, Melling, Simonswood, Bickerstaffe & Aughton Civil Parishes – around 10+ miles to keep the old legs turning and to get a bit of fresh air in these troubled times.

Click on the photos to enlarge them although the first one is probably frightening enough without enlargement!