We said our thanks and goodbye’s to Rita and crossed the Sheil Road before mounting the Beast for our next leg on it. Along through streets ever more neglected and abused, towards the Liverpool Leeds Canal. Getting down to the towpath was a real problem as all the access points were down or up steps. After running parallel for about a mile with no luck, we tried and succeeded in getting the beast down a flight of steps that were wide enough for us to try it.
Our problems didn’t end there though, for every so often alongside the forlorn and flotsam filled waters, we encountered the same type of narrowed gates that have plagued us all along on our canal stretches. It meant taking the low bags off and leaning the beast right over then dragging it through the tight gap. Not something one wants every mile or so.
Eventually the canal became cleaner and more people were using it but it was time to come off it and head for the Trans Pennine Trail at Maghull. More gates, more frustration but now we were out in the country and the wind was on our back. We made good progress and by 12 we were at Ainsdale on the coast between Formby and Southport. Karon suggested it was way past tea time, so I came off route to find a tea stop. The Mad Hatter’s Tea Room sufficed, made more enjoyable with very nice Carrot Cake and the silky voice of Ella Fitzgerald.
Through Ainsdale we reached the coast road, running between the dunes. There was a cycle path alongside but with the strong tailwind we were running at 20mph+, so stayed on the road, which was acceptable to all but one driver, who sounded his horn as he overtook us and pointed to the path.
When the coast road ran out, we ran along lanes bordered by salad crops and then came to the A59. I had intended to use back lanes but the road wasn’t to busy and was nice and wide, so we headed down it towards Preston. It was now lunchtime and, conveniently, a classy looking Italian restaurant appeared roadside. We pulled in, parked the beast and went inside to refuel. Posh or not, we needed carbs.
Chatting to a local cyclist, it turned out that the back lanes were flooded, waist deep, so the choice to stick to the main road was a good one. Someone up there is looking after us. An hour after leaving we were in Preston. Not a cycle friendly town and one-way systems and bus only lanes had us walking into the town centre to find somewhere with a free wifi. Cafe Nero assisted and we found a hotel room for the price of a B&B. 43 miles and, apart from the odd drop, no rain to speak of.