Ever wondered what it’s like as a fully grown adult to cycle from Glasgow to Manchester on a little pink bike designed for a toddler?
Our guess is probably not.
It’s safe to say it’s not something you think about everyday, but it’s certainly what’s been at the forefront of Wesley Hamnett’s mind over these past few days as he successfully managed to complete this incredible journey from Scotland’s largest city to his home in Wythenshawe for a number of very worthy causes.
As mad of a challenge as it may initially seem though, there’s actually a very good reason as to why the father-of-two decided to embark on the cycle of his life.
After the devastating loss of his Grandad to a second fight with cancer last year, Wesley knew he wanted to do something to pay a worthy tribute to him and his three other grandparents who are also all at peace, and it was from this that the challenge was born.
It wasn’t always the Manchester-native’s plan of action though.
While the challenge of cycling from Manchester to Glasgow is certainly no easy feat, he had actually embarked upon the much greater task of cycling all the way to Russia instead.
This was originally due to place in a few weeks time, but just as the majority of planned events this year have had to be put on hold due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the veteran cyclist regrettably had to postpone the ride until Spring 2021 and so, settled on a much shorter journey instead, but with a unique twist in the form of a little pink bike.
A unique twist that has seen him become a local hero in the process.
After arriving back home to his family and deservingly tucking into a Full English Breakfast this morning, we caught up with Wesley to gather his thoughts and see how he’s feeling after an experience he’ll never forget.
As the sun rose on Wednesday 16th September, Wesley said goodbye to his partner and two daughters before catching the train from Manchester Piccadilly up to his starting point in Glasgow.
He then set off on his five-day journey “with seat adjustment and the kids’ lucky mascot”.
And what a journey it was.
A journey full of highs and lows.
“[The] highlights were definitely the help I received fixing the buckled wheels and without doubt the skydive [too], which was a last minute cancellation [and did mean] a slight detour” explained Wesley.
As well as some of the large hills he had to scale – which as you can imagine were about as tough as they come – he also admitted that the trickiest aspect of the ride was not being with his family, but luckily, he met some real characters along his travels that helped to make up for it and remind him why he was tackling the challenge after all.
“The funniest moment [of the ride] was about five miles outside of Lockerbie,” he recalls.
“I saw an elderly lady stood at a very quiet village bus stop and said good morning to her so she wouldn’t be scared and think I was crazy [and then] she came back waving and shouted the she had seen me on Facebook.
“[It] made my day.”
After a few technical difficulties – including a buckled wheel which needed replacing – and stopping off for a quick spot of lunch at the Scottish border, he finally arrived on English soil in Cumbria on the Friday afternoon.
He then went on to make his way through some of Northern England’s most-notable towns.
As yesterday evening rolled around – with the finish point in sight and eager to be reunited with his loved ones – he decided to put in a real shift on the home-stretch.
“All I could think about was seeing my [partner] and kids since hitting Manchester city centre,” he said.
“[So] I picked up the speed on the last leg into Wythenshawe massively”.
And then, after 32 hours of cycling and almost 229 miles later, he finally crossed the finish line outside his home.
“I felt on top of the world when I finished,” said Wesley.
“The general public in Scotland and England have helped me do this in how good they have been to me – I couldn’t have done this without them”.
As well as the funds accumulated on his GoFundMe page – which have surpassed the £4,000 mark and counting – he even managed to raise a grand total of £350.91 in notes and spare change from those he met along the way, which just proves how much the public has been rooting for him.
How brilliant is this?
It’s stories like this that make Manchester so great.
Whilst the challenge has certainly earned Wesley a place in the heart of many Mancunians, the journey was about so much more than that to him.
From his Grandparents’ passings, teamed with a number of other situations he has previously experienced and had to overcome in life, Wesley identified four charities he is keen to give back to with the funds raised from the ride and the four chosen charities are Macmillan Cancer Support, the Christie Charitable Fund, the British Heart Foundation, and the MFT Charity at Wythenshawe Hospital.
And with a target set to raise £5,000, Wesley’s GoFundMe page is only a couple-hundred pounds from reaching that all important milestone too.
So, if you are able to spare a few pounds, then you can find more information and donate here.
Come on Manchester – let’s help out one of our own.
The award-winning cocktail bar hidden beneath the old Coronation Street cobbles
Unbeknownst to many, there is an award-winning cocktail bar hidden beneath Coronation Street‘s original cobbles serving up some of the best drinks in the city.
Recently named ‘one to watch’ at the UK’s Top 50 Bar awards 2023, Project Halcyon has also just won the Best New Bar award – voted for by a community of some 17,000 hospitality staff at this month’s Manchester Bar Awards (MBAs).
Brought to Manchester by the team behind Zymogorium distillery, it originally opened in early 2020 – launching just weeks before the Covid 19 pandemic hit.
Like many other operators, the secret speakeasy – which is connected to the working distillery for Manchester gin makers Zymogorium – closed its doors during lockdown, then quietly relaunched in late October last year beneath Old Granada Studios.
Since reopening, it’s been flooded with accolades. General Manager Adam has just been named amongst the UK’s top 100 bartenders by World Class UK, whilst house bartender Reah Owen recently won the Rising Star award at the MBAs.
And yet, somehow, it’s still managing to fly under the radar as one of Manchester’s best-kept secrets – although, considering all the awards the team is winning, we expect this won’t remain the case for long.
The bar is something of a labyrinth with numerous corners to explore within its underground warren. As well as housing a large bar at its entrance, it’s also home to a dedicated absinthe parlour, Salon Vert, which has been painted to look like a woodland scene and features vintage crystal absinthe fountains.
Elsewhere, there’s a still room and laboratory where the team uses chemistry equipment to create all the insane ingredients that go into their cocktails.
Add to this a self-playing grand piano and a rare collection of expensive spirits, and it’s safe to say Project Halcyon is very much up there with the city centre’s best cocktail bars.
As for its current drinks menu, open it up and you’ll discover that each signature cocktail is accompanied by a stunning illustration of a rare bird.
Choices include ‘Fourteen Days’, a long, tart drink that nods to the Halcyon days of Ancient Greece, and ‘Phoenix Down’, a smoky combination of smoky, nutty bourbon with bitter back notes that symbolises rebirth and eternal life.
Elsewhere on the list, you’ll find the brilliantly-named cocktails ‘Act of Vanity’, a combination of melon liqueur, blueberry and Veuve Cliquot champagne, and ‘Murder of Crows’, a moody and short mix of spiced spirits that promises to be both dark and funky.
The bar also serves up a list of six house classics, all of which are prebatched, prediluted and kept at -14 degrees ready to be poured at your table. Interestingly, though, because the drinks are already kept at the right temperature they aren’t diluted with water but rather with a variety of house-made concoctions.
General Manager Adam told The Manc that the most famous of these is the house vodka martini, made with Boatyard vodka, Cocchi Americano vermouth and clarified banana juice as the dilute.
“It makes for this insanely creamy, flavourful martini that’s classic but approachable,” he said, adding: “Our approach to the bar is that the science is for us to worry about, the hospitality is for the guests.
“We don’t put all this crazy techy stuff at the forefront of what we do. We prioritise good, classic, personal hospitality first and foremost.”
The bar also boasts a vast collection of rare and expensive spirits – and amongst the usual suspects, such as Louis XIII cognac, sit some interesting pieces like the latest seasonal release from Nc’nean and Elena Wright, the latter a close friend of the bar and an award-winning Manchester bartender.
It also serves up a strong selection of wines and beers, not to mention a cracking gin and tonic. Of course, being run by one of Manchester’s original craft gin distilleries, we’d expect nothing less.
Feature image – Project Halcyon
The Torrs Millennium Walkway – a stunning Peak District walk that hovers above a huge gorge
On first glance, New Mills may seem like any other Peak District town: small, picturesque with little-much-to-do. Venture just a few steps towards the River Sett, and you’ll find yourself in another landscape entirely.
Just below the hustle and bustle of the main shopping centre lies New Mill’s (not so) hidden gem – The Torrs Millennium Walkway.
Having done this route a few times, each time we’ve been amazed at the natural gorge that lies below.
The spectacular gritstone gorge was previously impassable to walkers, but the walkway built at the turn of the millennium, nicknamed the ‘steel spider’s web’, has transformed the dramatic landscape.
The Torrs Millennium Walkway is a 175-yard aerial walkway spanning the cliffsides above the River Goyt and River Sett, with links to many walking and cycling routes across the area.
If you’re new to the area, the heritage centre provides maps and guides for several nearby walks, including the iconic Kinder Trespass Trail.
Below, Getlostmcr has mapped out a couple of walking route options, one of which soaks in all the best bits of Stockport’s forgotten history.
And if you plan your walk to finish in New Mills, you can nip in to the dog-friendly, traditional local pub, The Pride of the Peaks, for a swift pint of Guinness by the real fire.
For those short on time, we recommend this route by Getlostmcr – a short, four-mile, out-and-back loop around the walkway and along the Sett Valley Trail. This route starts in the town of New Mills, easily reached via train or by car, with ample parking space at Market Street Carpark in the town centre.
And for those looking to get the extra steps in, why not extend the route by starting at nearby Marple?
History buffs, this one’s for you: Getlostmcr have mapped out a lengthier walk that takes in the best of Stockport’s forgotten history.
Starting from Marple, you’ll head towards The Roman Lakes, past the site of Mellor Mill Ruins: once a shining start of the Oldknow Empire. Back in its heyday, Mellor Mill was the biggest spinning mill the world had seen.
What remains of the site has since been taken over by the natural world, making a perfect pitstop on the first leg of your walk.
From here, you’ll make the ascent to Mellor Cross close to Cobden Edge. Mellor Cross was originally erected in 1970 by a group of local church goers who carried the individual pieces up the steep hill to ensure the cross overlooked the community.
Once you’ve marvelled at the size of this landmark, it’s time to head towards Mellor Moor where you’ll be rewarded with views right across the western edge of the Peak District and the Cheshire Plain.
The moor’s umpteen tracks date back to prehistoric Old Mercian trackways, said to be the route of monks and pilgrims way back when. Next, you’ll follow the trackways until you reach New Mills, where you can stop off to marvel at the walkway above. As for the return? That’s up to you!
You can follow Getlost’s out-and-back route here, or simply get the train back to either Piccadilly or the starting point in Marple if you drove down. For those following the half route, this is the link you need.
We parked in New Mills’ Market Street Carpark, £2 for 4 hours. 44 spaces.
New mills Carpark: Market Street, New Mills, High Peak, Derbyshire, SK22 4AA.
For those starting in Marple, there is ample free street parking near Hibbert Lane, SK6. There is also a carpark just off Hibbert Lane.
Marple carpark: Marple Memorial Park, Hibbert Lane, Stockport, SK6 6BD.
There are plenty of cafes in both New Mills and Marple. For those following the short loop from New Mills, Sett Valley Café is en route and have a 10/10 selection of homemade and vegan drinks and snacks.
We went to Pride of the Peaks in New Mills, but there are plenty to choose from in both New Mills and Marple, depending where you choose to start.
There are various options to suit different walking abilities. For those wanting to do the out and back from Marple, we’d recommend walking boots.
It’s also worth noting the ascent is all in one short stint so decent level of fitness is required. The short loop from New Mills is perfect for a Sunday dog walk.