County Gathering at Birkenhead Park

Since taking on the role as volunteer group coordinator for the Merseyside North area, it has taken me the last few months to acknowledge and reflect on the aspects of the role, organise some initial events, recognise the dynamic of the group and try to meet as many of you as possible during these times.  I have gathered some ideas and made new contacts that I hope will aid us in the development of an annual plan for 2016.

Part of the Slide Presentation - Sustrans County Gathering
Birkenhead Park Nov 2015

In the Merseyside North area we are honoured to have the start/finish point of the Trans Pennine Trail.  I would like to take this opportunity to invite you all to visit our area.  The Trans Pennine Trail forms an important link in our cycle and walking network of Merseyside North and it would be good to have as much feedback, suggestions and ideas as possible for the development of future plans for the Trail, our local NCN and volunteer group. The Merseyside North area offers open countryside and safe cycling/walking (and in places horse riding) routes in combination with villages and towns that provide rest and refreshment. 

Initial plans and ideas for 2016 centre around the Cheshire Lines section of the Trans Pennine Trail but aim to extend beyond to reach out to the communities of our area and continue to the full extent of the Trans Pennine Trail and National Cycle Network.  General activities for 2016 will hopefully include a regular ride around and a regular maintenance activity.  I want to also incorporate my own professional background of photography and introduce a series of 'Photography Rambles' taking in some of the open landscapes, coastal paths and interesting locations of our area.

Part of the Slide Presentation - Sustrans County Gathering
Birkenhead Park Nov 2015

We appreciate all our friends and volunteers but we are also in need of building our volunteer numbers.  In order to facilitate this and raise the profile of the amazing resource which is the Trans Pennine Trail, I hope to introduce some more focused projects.  Sustrans are land owners of a small area in the Sefton Meadows area of Meseyside North which is part of the TPT Cheshire Lines.  Discussions have been had with the idea of possibly creating a wildflower meadow developing a sanctuary for the preservation of the bee and butterfly population.
I also hope this may become a turning or rest point with seating (or even perhaps sculpture!) forming a leisurely ride from Southport and Ainsdale for cyclist and walkers.  Discussions have also been had with the local Scout groups and we hope to increase their usage of, and support for the Trail.  It's very much a 'Watch this space' at the moment!

Attending the recent county gathering of Sustrans Volunteers at Birkenhead Park, I was able to present and discuss our area plans.  I feel these are exciting times for Merseyside North and I believe we have great resources that can benefit people in a multi-level way such as health, fitness, sustainable transport links and helping the environment where we live.  As always all these ideas will need maintenance, support and funding...any further ideas, suggestions or contacts are always welcome.  To keep up with the developments in our area please keep visiting and don't forget to give us a 'Like' if you are on Facebook

Mysterious Moving Signs

It seems to be a commonly reported issue and as Halloween approaches maybe as a volunteer group we can keep an eye on our mysterious moving signs.

The most recent reported issue has taken place in Bootle on route 810 where two signs on Worcester Road have had a mystical force dislodge the posts from the ground and turn them to point in the wrong direction.  The issue has been forward onto the local authorities so that the posts can be fixed.

If you are out and about on our areas network of cycling and walking routes and you come across similar, let us know and perhaps together we can resolve the mystery... or at least get it fixed.

'Ditch Those Stabilisers' at Litherland Sports Park

On Tuesday the 27th October my five year old Son and I attended the 'Ditch Those Stabilisers' session at Litherland Sports Park.  The session was organised by Seftons Travel Awareness and Safety Team.  The track at Litherland Sports Park offered the perfect environment for my son to feel safe and confident whilst attempting to ride his bike.  Staff were on hand to give practical advice and assistance.  I'm proud to say it didn't take him long to get rolling and I'm looking forward to having many fun adventures with him on two wheels over the coming months.  I can recommend the workshops and encourage you to look out for future dates in Sefton's Walking and Cycling Newsletter.

An August Bank Holiday Weekend of Activity.

Over the weekend of the 29th and 30th of August, I was out and about publicising, cutting and sticking.  On Saturday the 29th we had a publicity stall at the Family Fun Day at Crosby Leisure Centre and Swimming Baths.  I had some good discussions with members of the public in relation to future activities and the cycle network in our area.  I was able to introduce the Trans Pennine Trail to a number of people who were looking for a quiet family friendly area to cycle with their children.  It was also good to network with other organisations such as 'Crosby Community Markets' and 'Guide Dogs for the Blind'.

The following day on Sunday the 30th I cycled from Ainsdale along the Trans Pennine Trail/Route 62 towards Lydiate and Sefton Meadows.  The main purpose of this ride was to address some of the issues that have been reported by members of the public.  With the bike trailer fully packed, some new signs have been added in certain areas to hopefully alleviate anyone straying from the Trail.  Nettle encroachment and the occasional bramble on the path seems to be the main hazard at the moment so, some trimming also took place.

Some examples of the work...

Before and after... 
addition of some new signage to hopefully guide Trail users in the right direction in the Ainsdale area.

Coastal Road... confirmation signage added.

Before and after...Clearing of the vegetation encroachment on the path near Plex Moss Lane.

Confirmation and repeating signage added to the Old Moss Bridge Station/Formby area of the Trail

New Signs added to the Lydiate Station area of Route 62 of the Trans Pennine Trail and the end of a busy weekend!

'Another Place' - Family Fun Day 29th August 2015

On the 29th of August 11am to 4pm, Sustrans and TPT publicity stall will be set up at the Crosby Leisure Centre as part of a family fun day celebrating 10 years of the Anthony Gormley's 'Another Place' Sculptures.

News and Activities Update

Thanks to Abigail, Mandy, Kathryn and Hannah, I now have 5 litter pickers, 5 refuse sack holders, 5 pairs of tough gloves, 2 hand/pruning saws, 2 Sustrans table cloths, 2 Sustrans feather flags and some bunting, a TPT zap stand banner and stacks of publicity leaflets, maps and merchandise... Some extra signing for our area has been ordered and... I think we're ready for some action!

  • Can I ask you all to keep your ears and eyes open for any events that might be worth us getting involved in with a publicity stand.  Let me know if you think of anything.  The recent pitch at Sefton Meadows and Lydiate Scouts Car boot sale went well with good interest shown by the visitors to the stand.  Updates and pictures are on our webpage.
  • I've put some dates on the calendar for activities... Saturday the 22nd of August I'll be pitching up a publicity stand again on the area of Sustrans land by Sefton Meadows between 1pm and 4pm.  It would be useful to have at least one person assist me during this time for general security reasons.  If you are available and can help out, could you let me know?  All are welcome to visit, bring a flask, snacks, stay and chat.  
  • On the 30th of August 10am-1pm, if you're available, join me in a leisurely cycle from the Mecycle cafe near Ainsdale train station and make our way onto the Cheshire Lines (Route 62/TPT) heading towards the old Lydiate station area.  This will be a maintenance activity of litter picking and general/basic clearing of path vegetation encroachment (Mainly brambles).  I can provide the tools listed above, but please feel free to bring along your own clippers if you prefer.  Again if you are able to come along, could you let me know in advance? (If the new signage arrives in time for this event, this will also be delegated as part of the activities).
  • The project I am running ENGAGE the Trail (The Trans Pennine Trail Community Photography Initiative) was sadly unsuccessful in achieving the funding goal in it's recent Kickstarter fundraising campaign.  It was well supported and the publicity that the project has received over the past month and a half has been awesome.  Although the project didn't achieve the funding goal, I am still hoping to form ENGAGE the Trail in the coming weeks.  I am carefully considering alternative funding options including sponsorship.  If anyone has any suggestions or contacts to potential avenues of sponsorship, it would be great to hear and really appreciated.

Ainsdale Discovery Centre

Thanks to Dug for informing me of the location, I recently made inquiries at the Ainsdale Discovery Centre.  Located just off Route 62/Trans Pennine Trail and easily accessible by foot, bike and public transport, this could be the perfect venue for some future meetings and events. 

Lydiate Scouts Car Boot Sale

The 8th of August had an early 5am cycle ride over a beautiful mist covered Sefton countryside. Destination was the Lydiate Scouts Car Boot Sale.  It was a well organised event.  Distribution of Sustrans and Trans Pennine Trail leaflets was well received and it was interesting to visit the car boot sale with only a bike and trailer.  With its close proximity to the Trans Pennine Trail/Route 62 It is certainly an event to visit in the future .

Packed and ready to visit the Car Boot.
The Pitch with Sustrans and TPT leaflet stand.

Ainsdale to Maghull Route 62/810 Inspection

On Sunday the 2nd of November, Dug, Norman and I cycled from Ainsdale and followed the Trans Pennine Trail south along the Cheshire Lines towards Maghull.  This was an opportunity to ride some of the route 62 and observe some areas where issues have been reported or potential hazards exist.  I'm glad to say that with a small amount of attention, many of the issues can be addressed quite quickly particularly in relation to signing.  An order for some signage has been made and this will lead the way for some future activities for all volunteers in the coming weeks.

Dug and Norman at one of the 'problem' signs that moves with the wind often pointing across the fields or in completely the wrong direction!

An area of confusion for many Trail users? Junction at the Coastal Road to be addressed with the addition of some 'confirmation' signage.

Sefton Meadows area due to be cut back in the coming weeks.
New gate system at the rail crossing at the Fishermans Path, Formby.

Sefton Meadows Publicity on the Trail (Route 62)

A big thank you to all those who attended the Sefton Meadows area of the Trans Pennine Trail today. We were able to meet and greet current volunteers and highlight the NCN in our area to members of the public. Special thanks to Abigail and Kathryn for attending and providing information and leaflets that will be really useful for raising the profile of our volunteers in future activities.

Some of the visitors today at Sefton Meadows

Dug bringing Abigail up to date with some issues in the area.

Sefton Meadows, Maghull. Publicity Event on the 29th July 2015

On the 29th of July 2015 between 10.30am and 4pm, we'll have a publicity stand located on the Sustrans owned area of land at the Maghull area of the Cheshire Lines path, Route 62 and part of the Trans Pennine Trail.  This is behind the houses on Sefton Drive, next to Sefton Lane and near to the Sefton Meadows Garden Centre.

It would be good to see you there.  We'll have information on the local area, Sustrans, The Trans Pennine Trail and an opportunity to meet members of the volunteer group, ask questions or discuss issues.  It would be great for you to visit and perhaps you can even tie it in a cycle or walk along this beautiful section of Route 62 and the Trans Pennine Trail... hope you can make it!

ENGAGE the Trail

Photographer and Lecturer Using Pedal Power to Launch a New National Community Initiative. 

John Callaghan, a photographer and lecturer based in the North West of England has formed a photography collaboration project with the Trans Pennine Trail.  John is a keen cyclist, walker and volunteer group co-ordinator for the Trans Pennnine Trail and Sustainable Transport Charity, Sustrans. John also lectures on the photography degree programme at St Helens College, Merseyside. 

The Trans Pennine Trail is a national route for cyclists, walkers and in parts horse riders.  The route starts from Southport running through Merseysidedown to Widnes and then across towards Stockport, over the Pennines making its way to Barnsley.  From here you can travel north to Wakefield and Leeds, south to Sheffield and Chesterfield or continue onwards towards Doncaster, Hull and Hornsea on the East coast of the country. 

John with his interest in cycling, walking and professional background in photography brought together the idea of using photography to run creative, fun, learning activities out on the Trans Pennine Trail.  Titled 'ENGAGE the Trail', the aim of the initiative is to be mobile with the events taking place directly on the Trans Pennine Trail and visit the local communities that surround.  The equipment and resources will be transported using bicycle and public transport.  The belief is that the accessible nature of photography will allow a creative, expressive platform for the community participants to enhance and record their experience whilst on the Trail.  The imagery captured will be shared through exhibitions and in online posts forming a discussion and link between the diverse communities that the Trans Pennine Trail joins across the country. 

"People are often amazed to find out that they can travel from the Irish Sea across the country and reach the North Sea on mainly traffic free paths and Trails, it really is an amazing resource.  It's excellent whilst carrying out my volunteer role to see the enjoyment that people get from exploring the routes of the Trans Pennine Trail.  I believe ENGAGE the Trail is a way of bringing the public and communities attention to this resource that really is on their doorstep." 

On the 29th of June John launched a 45 day Kickstarter fundraising campaign to assist in raising funds to get the ENGAGE the Trail initiative rolling.  Through the online Kickstarter, financial support is offered from those who wish, after viewing the information and film clip about the project.  Rewards are offered in return for any support pledges given. 

"It's a good question to ask why people should pledge financial support for the project.  I'd like to think that people can see the community enhancement and value in the initiative.  I want to aim to provide the workshops and activities to the community members regardless of skill, talent or ability.  I want to provide a level platform and friendly environment where participants find personal value, confidence and enjoyment through the imagery they produce and their interaction with the Trans Pennine Trail environment." 

John continues... 

"We value and appreciate every ounce of support we can get which is why we have opted for the Kickstarter platform of fundraising.  With the Kickstarter we can offer rewards to show our appreciation in return for the pledges made.  We've also included the reward opportunity for any businesses that might be interested in an advertising with us.  In 2014 the Trans Pennine Trail had over 1.4 million visits made to its 370 miles of Trails and paths.  This in combination with it's online presence provides a real audience potential for the activities that, with your help, will be running in your local area and that you can participate in." 

The downside to Kickstarter is that it is an 'all or nothing' way of raising funds. John and the ENGAGE the Trail Initiative have 45 days to reach the funding goal.  If it is not reached, the project does not receive any of the funds.  For more information and to make a pledge, visit

find the link for the Kickstarter on the ENGAGE the Trail website .  If you have any questions about the ENGAGE the Trail Initiative, you can email John direct  

Check out exciting Trans Pennine Trail #photography project @engagethetrail with Sustrans Volunteer Group Co-ordinator John Callaghan