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Introduction


This is where I'm starting my holiday for this year. This year's trip is different from my earlier o... ... Football! I'm going to try to visit every football ground in the top five divisions of this year... A park. I think the big chimney here is the Banks's Brewery. A dinky wedding car. I'm afraid I've taken the picture from an angle where the reflections make it h... I saw this van at the bottom of this hill towing the car. When I passed them just now, it looked lik... Just some scenery. My home county, a county which has only ever had one football club playing at the national level. Th... A fancy gatehouse. Kidderminster. I've ridden and driven past this park many times before but there's such a big traffic jam on the ro... The remains of Broadwaters Mill. According to an information board here, there had been a mill here ... The route to my first ground goes up this alleyway, along the side of that house, number 116. That n... Kidderminster station. The platforms for normal trains are on the right. Those for the Severn Valley... That was lucky timing. Here comes a train. Trainspotters! Train. Arriving at the station. Yes, beware of trains. You wouldn't want to trip over one. Ah, here we are. Aggborough, home of Kiddermster Harriers, who are not only the only team from Worce... They were obviously so proud to be in the Conference that they've kept the sign up even though it's ... 1. Kidderminster Harriers... Today is the fist day of the new football season. At least, it would have been except that for reaso... Kidderminster. Kidderminster. Near my hotel. The restaurant opposite my hotel is called the Watermill. There could well have been another mill he... I'm now back at Aggborough. Here come some Grimsby fans. Grimsby Town have been in the news a couple of times in recent weeks. One was because they raised 1... Aggborough, showing a good example of the two types of stand. The ones at the ends of the pitch are ... Home supporters. Home supporters. Away supporters, with their sharks. Generally, far more supporters go to watch home matches than away matches. In some stadia, the area ... The mascot. A big flag. A photographer. "It says here you're a bird" This ground has a real grass pitch. Here's a close-up. Half time and we're 0-1 down.... I've been planning to come to this match for a few weeks now so I've thought about the name "Gr... Oh, that's what Aggborough is famous for, is it? One last picture here. If you don't want to see the final score, ... Kidderminster 2 - 2 Grimsby... Kidderminster is famous for carpets. I didn't know there was a carpet museum here until I saw an adv... Kidderminster. Is the Queen in? I never knew graffiti were so planned. A stream in Kidderminster. The statue, wearing a scarfe covered in stamps, is Sir Rowland Hill, who was born in Kidderminster a... Kidderminster. Some of my colleagues have been rather disparaging about Kidderminster lately so I'm going to try to... Kidderminster. Kidderminster. Uploading the first day's pictures. The mobile Internet connection is about a hundred times as fast ... Day 2. Here's some scenery. Scenery. Two radomes on top of Clee Hill, about 20 km away. The large one is for air traffic control. The sma... I'm not actually looking for a ferry: I'm looking for a little bridge which my map marks just upstre... The bridge turns out to be in this water treatment works. Back to the main road then. Scenery. This looks more than seven years old. A cutting. Bridgenorth. From here, I thought the thing on the left was a natural feature. Bridgenorth. The River Severn in Bridgenorth. There are some old-style road signs above the blue door. Holes in a cliff. This is the station at the other end of the steam railway which we saw yesterday. You can see part o... Here's a close up of what I thought was a natural outcrop. It's actually part of a ruined castle. Bridgenorth. Bridgenorth. A country house. Much Wenlock. I wonder how that got stuck to the outside of the upstairs windown of an abandoned house. A fun descent from the Wenlock Edge. Are they making these places up? The Wenlock Edge. The Wrekin. The New Meadow, home of third division Shrewsbury Town. Here's their chart. The charts show clubs' p... The New Meadow. Ignore what it says on the sign. That's just a sponsor's name. This is the first new... 2. Shrewsbury Town... Plenty of bike parking. Plenty of car parking too. I bet it wasn't this peacuful yesterday when Millwall, the London club which had probably the worst ... The New Meadow is a replacement for the club's old ground, Gay Meadow, which was only allowed to hos... A sports club next to the stadium. A last look at the New Meadow. Cannock? It's always nice to see one of these. It means I've reached the top of a hill. Here's an interesting milestone. Not only does it measure in furlongs but it uses the old name for S... This way? Okay. Wales looks hilly. I'm glad I won't be spending much time there. Free range birds. Whittington Castle. A duck. Since Whittington castle has ducks and a quite few tourists, it seemed like a good place to leave on... Another canal. Here's where one of my followers in particular might suddenly recognise where I am. A railway viaduct and an aqueduct across the Ceiriog valley from England into Wales. A sheep in the valley below me. Passing people coming the other way requires walking pretty close to the edge of the canal but the h... The bridges. Wales! The end of the aqueduct. Now the canal goes into a tunnel. The aqueduct. You know, if you measured the distances in distances, they would be the same in both languages. Chirk. One of my work colleagues comes from a farm near here. That straight tree-lined road looks kind of French to me. Chirk. Chirk. I assume the picture on the gate on the right is supposed to show the aqueduct and the viaduct with ... This tree has got lights in it. A funny pair of buildings. Thomas Telford also designed the aqueduct which brought me into Wales.... Another viaduct. I did get a good look along it from the hill on the left but I was moving fast and ... Wales. Ruabon. My colleague has a relative who used to live there. Ruabon. Ruabon. Helpful signs on the way into Wrexham, although I didn't follow all of them. Cows. My hotel for tonight. At least half of the people who left reviews of this hotel just complained tha... My room. I've found that because my camera has its mounting hole at one side, it isn't really compatible with... Oh, this hotel does have a bike rack, hidden round the back. The Racecourse Stadium, home of Wrexham. There are currently six Welsh teams and one from Guernsey p... As you might have guessed from the name of the Racecourse Stadium, and the presence of the Turf pub ... This is the largest ground I've seen so far. Current capacity 15500. Record attendance 34445. 3. Wrexham... A dragon. They've got this year's sign up: "Proud member of the vanarama NATIONAL LEAGUE" One more. The flag on Glendour University, which is next to the ground and sponsors it. This seems to be one of the swankier Premier Inns. Sunset. There was rain forecast overnight. Perhaps I should move my bike to that covered rack. Why does Capital FM have a studio in Wrexham? This cycle lane seems rather bossy. It's keeps telling me to switch between roads and paths. A school in Hope. I don't know where the tour goes but it seems to be a dot-to-dot. The number increments with each si... A Beluga cargo plane taking newly-made Airbus wings off to Toulouse to be attached to an aeroplane. I think at least part of all that is Stanlow oil refinery. I said yesterday that I would show you why Wrexham and a few other Welsh clubs play in the English l... The club's logo. A little plane coming in to land. This is the hangar where the wings for A380s are made. By my reckoning, it's large enough to contain... Cows looking at me. Most of the wings made here are flown out in the Beluga transport planes but A380 wings are too big ... The red area is space needed for for the wings. They must overhang the sides of that railway bridge. Ooh, I wonder what it is. Here's where the road gets closed off when it's needed for a wing. The inboard end of a wing, with a person for scale. The River Dee. In the distance is a barge waiting for that wing. The city of Chester with its football ground in front of it. These things are a bit of a nuisance. The Deva Staduim, home to fifth division Chester. Opened in 1992. Capacity 6000. I don't know what i... The Deva Stadium. 4. Chester... The Deva Stadium. After the peaceful paths along the Dee and from there towards the city, it was a shock to sudddenly ... Suburbs of Chester. An empty Beluga coming to collect more wings. Chester. I'm standing on a canal aqueduct. The bridge in the picture is a disused railway, now a foot and cyc... Ducks on the aqueduct. I'm on a towpath for a while. Sadly, this perfect tarmac didn't continue all the way. Sheltering from a rain shower. That's a lot of information on a milestone. The strange thing is that I would expect there to be mor... A pair of wings from Broughton in use. Bromborough. I didn't expect the road to Tranmere's ground to be this pleasant. Prenton Park, home to Tranmere Rovers, yet another fifth division team.... Prenton Park. Before I started planning this trip, I thought it was only Anfield which had a stand called the Kop.... This is the first ground on my tour where you can touch the side of one of the stands without having... 5. Tranmere Rovers... Tranmere Rovers FC. That's very polite. Another stand at Prenton Park. The pub which shares the stadium's name. A view towards the Liverpool side of the Mersey. Unfortunatley, I'm pretty sure bikes aren't allowed... An unusual house, with an Irish flag. These houses took me by surprise. They are much prettier than anything I had expected to see around ... It was at about this point that I realised this must be Port Sunlight, the utopian village construct... Port Sunlight. That must be the factory in the background. Port Sunlight. Port Sunlight. Bowls in Port Sunlight. I thought Port Sunlight was one of those puritan villages which didn't allow alcohol. If it was, it ... The theatre. Port Sunlight. Apart from the issue with the non-existent bridge across the River Severn yesterday, I've been rathe... It turns out that Bromborough Rake is the name of the station. I was wondering what a rake station w... Liverpool Airport. Just a house. A police helicopter inspecting the traffic jam that I've got stuck in. Traffic. I thought the traffic was queueing to get onto the M56 motorway. In fact, the queue is being caused ... The cause of the jam. Oh. I wanted to go that way. I'm having to come through some kind of industrial complex instead. A view from Runcorn. "Bridge View" seems like a sensible name for a bar near the Runcorn-Widnes bridge but I do... Most of those vans are on a train using the rail bridge alongside the road bridge. The Runcorn-Widnes Bridge. The view from the bridge. On the left is the River Mersey, which flows from Manchester but is much t... The bridge. I like the turrets on the railway bridge. View from the bridge. The Halton Stadium is not on my main list of 116, nor in any of the other categories of grounds whic... And also sponsored by them. The Halton Stadium is alternatively known as the Select Security Stadium... It sometimes gets suggested that two professional football clubs could save money by sharing a groun... The Halton Stadium. A strange-looking off-licence. I had previously looked at this in Google Street View because this is... When I got to the first B&B, the man there wanted to take me to the new place in his car. That's obv... Hale. I'll be coming here for dinner later but I wanted to get a picture while the sunlight was reflecting... The Childe of Hale was a man called John Middleton who lived here in the 17th century and was allege... The replacement B&B is a little bit hard to find since the road called Church End is actually a spra... The house number and the doorbell are also quite hard to see, behind those flowers. The advantage of having been moved from the other place is that here I have an en-suite bathroom. This is the first hotel on this trip where the windows open fully. Doing that does make it intermitt... My room. Liverpool has a bike hire scheme. I bet they don't name them after Boris here though. From what I re... There's an issue with this cycle lane. The old terminal at Liverpool Airport. From here, I can use the esplanade along the bank of the Mersey to reach the city centre. A ship on the Mersey. The Mersey. A shipyard. A warship under construction. I'll have to wait here until that bridge goes back down. I think the building on the left is a brewery. The other two are Liverpool's cathedrals, both constr... A waterskiing park. And again. Liverpool docks. The Royal Liver building. Part of that building is a bike shop. I do need to visit one because it seems that I must have left ... The Anglican cathedral. A cafe in the cathedral. Liverpool. Some kind of art installation. The Catholic cathedral. Hello. With some bikes. Part of Liverpool John Moores University. Let's hope nobody complains about how I spell his name, li... Liverpool likes to have two of everything, presumably in case one goes wrong. As well as two cathedr... St. John's Beacon, also known as the Radio City Tower. I've been told that it's a chimney to vent un... As you probably know, this city has two clubs: Liverpool and Everton. Everton is a suburb of Liverpo... Okay, I knew liverpool were having building work done but that looks huge. Anfield, the first top division ground of this trip. Opened in 1884. Capacity 45276. Record attendan... The flagpole just to the right of the man is actually one of the masts of Brunel's ship the SS Great... The most famous of all Kops. Tourists. Why is there a chicken here? I thought that was the emblem of Tottenham Hotspur. The new extension. Now I'll explain some of the categories of places that I want to visit other than the 116 grounds cu... Several whole streets have been cleared away to make room for the new extension to the stadium. All the houses on the right are boarded up and waiting for demolition. Ah. I've just realised that getting to touch this stadium could be tricky. Here's a corner that's still accessible. 6. Liverpool... The Everton club shop, looking like a branch of Carphone Warehouse. I don't know what that Everton building is. What's of interest to me in this list is "First club to stage an FA Cup final". The FA cup... Goodison Park. Opened in 1892. Capacity 39572. The record attendance was 78299 for a match against L... "In memory of the footballers of the Everton clubs of England and Chile who gave their lives in... This must be something to do with the Chilean club. 7. Everton... Goodison Park. I'm now looking down the course of the Grand National at Aintree. This isn't a site that I wanted to... Aintree. On the right are some of the jumps of the Grand National. In the distance, the road becomes the Aint... Here's where the racecourse crosses the road. One of the jumps at Aintree is called the Canal Turn. This is the canal. I think I'll abandon my map for a while and follow the Trans Pennine Trail. It's clearly signed and ... A new road. The trail. The trail. Nice flat ground. An unusual bridge. There's a sign you don't see very often. Four fifths? What, of a mile? Who measures in fifths? The sea, seen across Royal Birkdale Golf Course. There's a house that makes the most of its sea view. We're back to the fifth division again for Haig Avenue, the home of Southport. Opened in 1905. Capac... 8. Southport... I'm getting the impression that footballers aren't very good at shutting doors. Haig Avenue. That's a bit mean. Prenton Park welcomed everybody in Woking. A good cycle lane. A trailer load of cabbages. Winter Hill, near my destination for today. Back onto a canal again. The towpath would go through a variety of styles along the way but was neve... The Leeds-Liverpool canal. This vaguely reminds me of somewhere I came once before. In fact, hang on... if I look down here... ... I have been here before! I hadn't been intending to go into any shops today because with a piece of the lock missing, I can't... The place is called Berscough Wharf. A closed canal. It's not the one that I'm using. Scenery. An old windmill.