Spring/Summer 2010 Newsletter
Promoting cycling on the Wirral
Supporting the Environment
Exercising for Health
It‟s time to dust off the bikes, get out the shorts and get cycling. As the evenings get
lighter and the weather gets warmer (well maybe we have to wait a while longer for that),
it‟s time to put away the winter blues and lose some of those winter pounds. As always,
there are some good rides planned so let‟s get cycling!
Dates for your Diary
Wirral Bicycle Belles: monthly cycle rides for women organized by Chester and North
Wales CTC. Meet at 10am outside Port Sunlight railway station, third Saturday of each
month. Next ride 15th May. Word has it they are pretty good rides. For more details:
Cycling/Camping weekend 21st-23rd May. Join the group in Bay Horse near Lancaster.
Rides Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Accommodation at lovely Wyreside Lakes
www.wyresidelakes.co.uk Phone to book 01524792093. For further information contact
Kevin Hadfield 678 7501
13th June Wirral Bikeathon. Cycle 13 or 16 miles for Leukaemia research from
Arrowe Country Park. Take part www.wirralbikeathon.org.uk to register or help by
being a marshal – contact Sonia Oldershaw 342 7201 firstname.lastname@example.org
View a short film about the 2009 Bikeathon at: www.wirraltv.net
19th – 27th June Bike Week 2010. This year „Team Green Britain‟ Bike Week is
sponsored by EDF energy: „Demonstrating the social, health and environmental benefits
of cycling, the week aims to get people to give cycling a go all over the UK, to make
'everyday cycling for everyone'!‟ Keep an eye on www.bikeweek.org.uk for events and
offers or to register an event.
1st – 8th August Semaine Federale Verdun, France. Some of us have already booked!
Read Maria and Roly‟s article on last year‟s event in this newsletter. Information:
14th November. Advance notice of the Wirral Cycling Campaign AGM. Further details
Trip of a Lifetime: 71st Semaine Federale
Roland and Maria Birch
For nearly a year Roland has wanted to go to THE Big Cycle rally in France, and he
wanted us to drive down there and camp for 2 weeks. We have never taken the car abroad
before and it‟s been nearly 50 years since Roland has driven abroad, and I‟m still a
learner so he would have to do all the driving; so you can see my trepidation in going. I
came up with the idea of buying a Tom Tom so at least we could have proper directions
while on our trip. Even if it was only me screaming “DRIVE ON THE RIGHT ‟‟.
We made our plans and we decided to go for 2 ½ weeks, leaving on Thursday 30th July
and travelling down over 2 days, doing the same coming back. We also decided that I
would drive down to Brentwood Travelodge in Essex for our overnight stop, a journey of
6 ½ hours, ‟A‟ roads only (the Tom Tom was brilliant). There we met up with Ken and
Susie and we all trundled to the pub next door for a meal and some liquid refreshment.
While there we had our bag stolen with all our documents and money in it, luckily a
Good Samaritan found it on the roadside and handed it into the police station at Basildon,
where we went and collected it. Unfortunately, the money had gone but everything else
was there, including our passports.
We met Dougie and Carol at the 12pm ferry, Ken and Susie having taken the earlier ferry
as we had had to stop and find a bank so we could get some more money. Roland had
also managed to forget the red triangle and the stickers for the headlights, so a further
purchase was made on the boat.
We were in France by 3pm, and the Tom Tom was set to work again. Roland took over
the driving and off to Saint Omer we went, we saw no signage to the rally but we found a
lovely French lady who showed us the way. After finding the „Dossier‟ (located at an
airfield) where we got our documents and name tags, we set off to find our campsite,
camp F. Unfortunately, it was 6 miles away from the Rally‟s centre so I wasn‟t a happy
chappy. (There was a free shuttle bus that went between the camp sites and the rally
centre but the times were pot luck.) When we arrived at the „campsite‟ it turned out to be
part of an industrial estate! There were a few hundred there, mainly camper vans, the
facilities were basic and somewhat strange, the toilets and showers were all made out of
metal and had no roofs on them, plenty of sinks but no hot water (except in the showers).
There were, however, electric sockets supplied for shaving and charging up your mobile
phone which I thought was a very good idea and the weather was gorgeous, wall to wall
sunshine; and the people around us were pleasant even though our French was limited.
There was a grand opening ceremony on the Sunday, it was all in French, but the booze
flowed so no-one cared. The rides officially started on the Sunday too, you could choose
when to start and which ride to do, it was a just a matter of following the different
coloured arrows on the road and there were refreshment stops and entertainment along
the way. Unfortunately, I was unable to participate on any of the rides due to my health
but I did get out on my bike for small rides of about 10-12 miles, which was enough for
me. Roland and George managed a ride on the Wednesday (which turned out to be quite
hilly). George, by the way, came down by train with his bike and took the ferry from
Dover to Calais (we sailed to Dunkirk) then he cycled to St Omer arriving at 9.30pm
without a clue where to go; luckily, a volunteer found him and offered him a bed for the
night. The next day the volunteer brought him to our campsite and we made room for
him on our pitch so that he wasn‟t on his own in another camp.
The bread was heaven, fresh every day, the booze was cheaper than at home and we only
had 2 half days of rain the whole time we were there. Who could ask for more? We also
took a trip to the V2 rocket museum at La Coupole which was very interesting, and well
worth a visit. At the end of the Rally on Sunday 9th there was a closing ceremony ending
with a parade around the town , 8 miles altogether with a few hundred bikes, all set out
by countries and areas; flags flying and bikes decorated. That was the end of the Rally
but not the end of our trip. On Monday we packed up and moved 2 miles nearer to St
Omer to the municipal campsite with Steve, it was a very nice campsite and the toilets
On the Tuesday we all travelled to Ypres in Belgium and had a good look around visiting
the Menin Gate for the Last Post, a very enjoyable day and we had a lovely coffee with
advocat and a chocolate éclair for 2 Euros.
We also had a trip to Agincourt to see where the battle was, again well worth the visit;
the museum was hands on, try picking up one of their swords, wow.
Friday soon came around and we were heading home, not keen on staying at Brentwood
again we decided to drive all the way home, so we caught the 10 am ferry and got home
This year‟s rally is at Verdun; are we going? (Do I have a choice?!).
I fully recommend this for a family holiday, reasonable prices - £24 per week for
camping, £20 per night B/B with a French family. Plenty of activities for all, music,
dancing, parades... An ideal time to book is February for the best ferry prices.
You can go by train to Verdun, 150 miles from Calais, this will be the 72nd rally.
If you would like more information please contact me (Roland) 932 1591
Or e-mail: email@example.com
The Usual Suspects in France
The Long Ride
Our friends had kindly driven down to
Lands End with us and our bikes, and
then taken super photographs of us.
Here we are waving goodbye as we turn
our bikes northward at the start, not
knowing how far I would manage to
ride or how far I would get. Sue would
do the distance, she was very fit, but I
was less certain. We started with a
lovely ride along the North Cornish
coast, and then came the hills. Cornwall
and Devon were difficult and hard
work, you struggle up the steep hill only
to find the road descends down dark, muddy, pot- holed lanes, again and again. Some
idea can be gained from the total climb made each day, first day 3746 feet, second day
5938 feet and third day 6078.
However we passed through some beautiful villages and over Bodmin and Dartmoor. On
the fourth day we started by climbing up Cheddar Gorge, and then crossed the
Avonmouth Bridge and the Severn Bridge into Wales, all in one day. Next came the Wye
valley and the beautiful apple orchards and vineyards of Hereford. We experienced the
gradual changes of accents, agriculture, hedging, and architecture, as we went along. The
route got easier as we came up the country through Shropshire and Cheshire but not so
pretty in industrial Lancashire. However, the Trough of Bowland and the moors beyond
were fantastic and well worth the hard work.
We had a rest day in Moffat before passing through the Devil‟s Beef Tub then eventually
joining the superb cycle way that takes you from South of the Clyde right through the
splendid City of Glasgow until suddenly there before you are Loch Lomond and Ben
Lomond. Scotland was wonderful from Loch Awe, the
Great Glen, and the wild moors of Sutherland and
Caithness, where it was difficult to stay on your bike
owing to the strong cross winds. We even saw the
salmon leap at the Falls of Shin. The final day along the
North coast was unbelievable, sunshine and 72 degrees,
from Dunnet Head magnificent views in all directions,
and so, with some sadness, we came to the end at John
O‟Groats; 1073 miles of fun.
Our friend Ian Pentin was waiting for us at Inverness
with the car. All that remained was to drive home with
wonderful memories and, should you ask, no sore places,
and no sore muscles, or joints, just fitter. Our grateful
thanks to the Club for your support. The thought of the
sponsorship kept us going: now over £2200 for the
British Heart Foundation, jointly raised, and Sue has
raised, in addition, £500 for the Asthma Charity.
Well done Dave and Sue and congratulations from WCC!
Not mechanically minded? Bike in need of repair?
Look no further…
Mobile bicycle repairs and service 07796402 106
Dave Voller is based in Meols but will come to you! He offers a mobile bike repair
service and covers all areas of the Wirral.
Dave has been involved in cycling and bikes for over 25 years as well as being from an
engineering background so he knows what he‟s talking about.
In his 20‟s Dave was a keen time trialist with the North Wirral Velo riding distances from
10 miles up to the 12 hour event. He was also an avid tourist and has always kept his
own bikes in tip top condition.
Unfortunately, Dave cannot offer emergency roadside assistance at the moment but he is
happy to demonstrate basic maintenance as he fixes or services your bike to help you
become more self-sufficient.
Why not check out his website: www.cycleogist.co.uk where you can see details of his
services as well as his unique „ReCycledbikes‟ made from „donor‟ frames and
Also check out: www.thebicyclerack.co.uk for mobile servicing and repairs in the Wirral
and Merseyside areas. 0151 677 7536.
In the Liverpool area College Cycles in Crosby have been recommended as they don‟t
charge for labour when servicing and repairing bikes: www.collegecycles.co.uk 0151
*If anyone knows of any cycle roadside/emergency assistance service, we‟d be interested
to hear about them – Ed.
While we‟re on the subject, pencil in the Wirral Cycling Campaign Cycle Workshop –
26th September – with a new venue – Ken and Susie‟s West Kirby. Details later☺
As cyclists there are days when the Wirral hills get to be more noticeable and harder to
get up, especially as one gets older. The article Three Wirral Hills, which comes from
Greg Dawson‟s book Wirral Gleanings (2005), is a fine piece of writing about these
hills we get to know so well on our cycle excursions, telling us about the origins of the
names, the location of the Viking parliament and the heights of the various hills.
Three Wirral Hills
Wirral is not a hilly area although ridges run down each side of the peninsula. Toward
the Mersey we have a long ridge running from Bebington through Prenton, Tranmere and
Oxton to Bidston. Another ridge runs parallel with the Dee through the Heswall, Pensby,
Thurstaston and Caldy areas to Grange, West Kirby.
All the hills have names but are really quite small, some, such as Bidston Hill, appear to
be higher than they are because they rise steeply from the docks at sea level and low
lying land slightly above sea level.
It is a gradual climb from the River Dee to Heswall, then the ground levels out a bit and
rises again to the top of Heswall Hill at Poll Hill Road and Tower Road North. The climb
is one mile and it doesn‟t seem to be so high until you stand on top and look around. It
can be deceiving, but Heswall Hill is the highest point in Wirral at 350 feet above sea
level, but it is by no means the steepest.
Some of the best known hills and their heights above sea level are: Thurstaston 298,
Caldy 250, Bidston 216, Ford 185 and Grange 179. Most hills take their names from the
village where they are situated. Others are Arrowe Hill, Thingwall Hill, Irby Hill, Upton
Hill and Prenton Hill.
There are many other hills, some quite well-known and others with local names hardly
known outside the area where they are. Some of these local names are taken from the
roads which go up them, or old buildings, pubs and other landmarks near by. Examples
are; Bull Hill in Little Neston, Clay Hill in Neston, Windle Hill near Hinderton, The
Beacons and School Hill in Heswall, Cross Hill, Thingwall, Montgomery Hill, Frankby,
Black Horse Hill, west Kirby, Rest Hill, Storeton, Swan Hill, Prenton, Holt Hill,
Tranmere, Dacre Hill, Rock Ferry and St. Hilary Brow, Wallasey.
Some of the names are ancient. Cross Hill is said to be where the Vikings met to hold
their parliament and its name also tell us it was probably some kind of religious meeting
place. Holt Hill more than likely took the name from an old Anglo-Saxon word “holt”,
meaning a wood, and The Beacons or Beacon Hill was one of a chain of hills where
beacon fires stood ready to be lit as a warning of invasion.
Other hill names in Wirral are dying out such as The Plantin from Pensby up to Heswall,
which should properly be called The Plantation after the wood planted along the road
near the top. Also Horrocks Hill from Harrocks Wood up to Irby and Chapel Hill from
Moreton Cross up Hoylake Road where an ancient chapel once stood roughly where Digg
Three ancient hill names which, sadly, are almost dead are Bunkers Hill in Upton,
Scarbrook Hill in Heswall and the Yeth at Woodchurch.
Bunkers Hill is the section of Arrowe Park Road running up from Upton Police Station to
the cottages opposite Champion Spark Plugs. Arrowe House Farm, once the home of
retired slave-ship owner and Lord Mayor of Liverpool, John Shaw, stood where
Champions is and there were also two very old cottages a bit lower down.
In Victorian days, the name Bunker Hill was actually the official address of the old
cottages and shops, most of which still stand there. The name “Bunker” is an old word
meaning a large bank by the roadside, which there may well have been centuries ago.
Scarbrook Hill was named after the brook which ran down it before the days of culverts.
The brook was so named because it cut a scar in the red sandstone.
The old local name for the hill up Woodchurch Road from what is now Ackers Road to
Arrowe Park roundabout was called The Yeth. “Yeth” is an old dialect word meaning
“heath land”. Therefore land covered in gorse and heather which years ago would
usually be rough common land. Woodchurch Common once stretched across this hill and
is clearly marked on old maps. Before the Woodchurch Estate was built, the name of the
field on the hill was the “Common Field”. I believe it was always rough and even today
you can see sandstone rock sticking out from the grass verge between Woodchurch Road
and Common Field Road.
So The Yeth had an accurate meaning as do most old place names if you can only dig the
information out, but if details are not recorded then they are lost. Who knows somebody
in years to come might be researching their family and find these names on old
documents and wonder where they are. Now they will have something to refer to.
Our thoughts and best wishes go to Larry. We hope he‟s feeling well and wish
him all the best.
Best wishes too to Peter Hughes, we hope he gets well soon.
Riding a unicycle is a great way to focus the mind while working out the legs,
core muscles, balance and co-ordination. It burns around 329 calories per hour
for an average person.
To learn to ride will take about an hour a day for two weeks and you
should always wear a helmet and wrist guards. A Liverpool Hope
University study has shown that learning to ride the unicycle in a
group is beneficial to young people and can help them build
relationships and work together.
Fancy giving it a go? For more information about unicycling log on to:
And from one wheel back to two. Tandem front riders needed on a regular basis to ride
with partially sighted cyclists. If you‟d like to help contact Barbara: 678 7501
! Remember !
Sunday rides now meet at 10.45am for an 11am start until October.
Thursday evening rides begin 6th May (to 19th August)
Leave from the Cherry Orchard, Arrowe Park at 7pm
Chairman: Tom Giles
Secretary: Barbara Murdoch
Treasurer: Susie Dickinson
Membership: Maria Birch
Committee: Roland Birch, Sheila
Coetzee, Kevin Hadfield, Rod Lester,
Ken Mullin, Ron Povall
Newsletter: Susie Dickinson 625
Wednesday Rides: Kevin Hadfield
678 7501 Contributions to the autumn/winter
Sunday Rides: Ken Mullin 625 3069, newsletter welcome. Send to Susie:
Kevin Hadfield firstname.lastname@example.org
Website: www.wirralcycling.org.uk Thank you.