Going: Mainly tarmac surfaces, with about a mile of off-road
unsurfaced bridleway. This is easily rideable, but with plenty of muddy potholes and
deeply rutted for a while. The narrow lanes from the Common have loose gravel build-up
here and there needing care.
Total Distance: 11.5 miles
I wonder how many people know the hilly, bracken-covered countryside, threaded by a network of narrow lanes, just to the west of Blawith, at the foot of Coniston Water? The crowds rush on past along the lake, and you wont find a single ice-cream vendor up here, just a lot of peace and quiet, and plenty of wide views. All within ten miles of Ulverston.
I started this varied ride at Sparkbridge, where theres a little picnic area on the bank of the fast-flowing Crake. Cross the bridge and follow the east side of the river for the first three miles or so, until the left turn to Water Yeat is reached, not long before Nibthwaite. Bouthrey Bridge makes a good spot for a short break, the rushing water fringed by over-hanging trees. Head back left at the main road for a short distance to Blawith, then turn onto the narrow road directly opposite the church.
An off-and-on climb ensues for the next mile, steep enough in a couple of places to get the best of us in a sweat. Be sure to bear left after the cattle-grid, by the sign to Tottlebank. The tarmac turns into a bridleway, for a mile of off-road cycling. Although this is fairly straightforward to ride, there are plenty of muddy pot-holes, and some deep ruts to negotiate on part of the way. Keep right at the fork in the track. Back on the tarmac, a left will lead to a favourite view-point for those in the know, looking out over the Woodland Valley, and on to the Coniston hills.
Continue over the empty Subberthwaite Common to a left turn, forking immediately right towards Birch Bank, below the slopes of Great Burney. One more stiff climb leads on to a long glorious descent down a gated road, with views over the Crake valley. Turn left at the T junction down to Lowick, cross the main road once more, then the river, and finally re-join the east bank for the return to Sparkbridge.
I have a cautionary tale involving Subberthwaite Common for those who approach cycle maintenance rather casually. Back when the days were short, I was at Blawith, on a longish ride from Broughton, with daylight rapidly running out. Although I was vaguely aware that the rear brake hadnt been well for a while, it was only when the inner tube exploded through the slit worn in the tyrewall I realised why. It was un-repairable at the roadside, and I trudged the long eight miles back to Broughton, over the Common, into the spreading blackness. Im much more interested in brakes now.
Pubs at Lowick Bridge and Sparkbridge.
The woods on the east side of the Crake, after Lowick Bridge, will soon be carpeted with bluebells, as seen in this view taken in the spring of 2004.
Any comments on the cycling pages would be gratefully received!
Copyright J Chambers 2005. Unauthorised reproduction not allowed. May be printed for personal use only.
Open Country Prints, Main Street, Baycliff, Ulverston, Cumbria
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