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a blog by Chris Barrow

Letters from a perfect imperfectionist – Roads less travelled

A stretch of the Trans-Pennine Cycle Path, this between Warrington and Altrincham and following the remains of an old railway line closed down by the infamous Dr Richard Beeching in 1963.

As a result of his independent report, the UK lost 5,000 miles of railway and 2,363 stations due to the then competitive pressure of road transport.

At the time, losses for the rail operators, the end of petrol rationing for cars and lorries and a recovering post-war economy forced the closures.

Ironic now that I have enjoyed well over a year without a motor vehicle and have travelled the length and breadth of the UK by rail, keeping up with my emails, reducing my stress levels and looking with an element of pity at the poor souls condemned to a life of congestion, jams and rising motor expenses.

I’m not at all sure that HS2 is taking us back to an earlier age of rail enthusiasm and convenience but for me personally, the shift away from the road network has been a game-changer.

Along the way, I’ve benefited (as have many others) from some gorgeous routes to cycle or, as in this case, build up my distances for marathons.

The beauty of rising early to run is the solitude.

What can compare to a forest trail, a beach-side promenade, a river’s meanderings or a reconstituted cycle path – first thing, before anyone else is about?

I’ve been running since 1978 and have never listened to music or e-books whilst out – just the sounds around me – the bustle of a rising city, the percussion of waves breaking on sand, the celebration of a new day in nature, the view from a mountain trail.

Running has been my number 1 “feeling good to be alive” place for 36 years now and I’ll keep going as long as I can.

Thank you Dr Beeching for inadvertently creating some beautiful routes all those years ago.

“These “letters” are the personal observations of me, Chris Barrow and are not intended to reflect the views of 7connections and its team members, they just give me permission to publish here on the basis that they can keep an eye on me, a bit like a mad relative at a wedding reception. I’m likely to upset the sensitive and outrage the sensible – if you fall into either of those camps then read at your peril.”

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