Furness Tour
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Going: Tarmac roads all the way. Plenty of hills, all fairly short. The steepest pull is out of Dendron, towards Gleaston, but it doesn't last long. From Gleaston to Scales provides two more hills to climb, with a further gradual climb from Scales to Birkrigg Common. If the ride is done clockwise, in the opposite direction to that described, there is a more sustained climb out of Great Urswick to Birkrigg Common, and another out of Dendron along Greystone Lane. Finally, if you're not familiar with the Furness lanes, you might want to have a more detailed map with you.
Total distance:
11 miles

    The area of Low Furness bounded by the Coast Road and the A590 is full of what the geologists call drumlins, long rounded hills shaped during the last ice-age. In between are ancient river-channels, which contain only a narrow beck today, and it is this rolling landscape that this ride explores. On the way we pass a restored 18th century water mill, and the crumbling ruins of a 14th century castle, using the network of lanes criss-crossing the area. The cyclist may sometimes rue this roller-coaster countryside, but there is a different outlook every couple of minutes it seems, with distant views a-plenty.

    I’ve started this circle in Dalton, but it could easily be linked into from either Barrow or Ulverston. Set off from Dalton up Station Road, and on to Greystone Lane, which soon reaches open fields, and continue on to the crossroads with Long Lane. Go straight across here, with an unexpected view of the extensive working quarry at Stainton developing over your left shoulder. Descend into Dendron, where the sharp left turn towards Gleaston will be followed, but first take a short detour on to admire the solid stone buildings and neatly-kept church of this tiny settlement. At Gleaston follow the brown water mill sign straight ahead, to Gleaston Water Mill, where the weary can recover at Dusty Miller’s Tea Shop.

    Further on up the valley, the substantial ivy-covered remains of Gleaston Castle appear, completed in 1340, too late to protect against the serious border raids by Robert the Bruce in 1322. Meanwhile the road leads on past tranquil Mere Tarn, a haven for birdlife, to the Quaker village of Scales. Turn right here, and then bear left after the houses, past the playground, and on towards Birkrigg Common, with views to the west to Black Combe. Turn left on the common, opposite the quarry where the stone for the Hoad Monument was dug, to drop down into Great Urswick, with a fine view of Urswick Tarn to admire on the way down. Several hostelries might tempt you here, but our route turns right at the Derby Arms, and picks up the next narrow lane on the left. Stay with this secret thoroughfare, across a crossroads and keeping to the right at a fork in the road, all the way back to a T junction. A right turn here drops back into Dalton on the same road on which we started.

    Furness_Route.jpg (21654 bytes)

Refreshment possibilities 
    Dusty Miller's Tea Shop at Gleaston Water Mill.
    Derby Arms and General Burgoyne pubs in Great Urswick.
    There is also a village store in Great Urswick, near the church.

horizontal rule

Mill PICT0014.JPG (39572 bytes)

Gleaston Water Mill, with Dusty Miller’s Tea Shop to the right.

Castle PICT0005.JPG (42662 bytes)

Gleaston Castle, by the lane between Gleaston and Scales.

Ulverston from Birkrigg Pict0114.jpg (45108 bytes)

A view from Birkrigg Common, over Ulverston to the Coniston Hills beyond. The snow-covered hills are, from left to right, the flat shelf of Walna Scar, the sharp peak of Dow Crag, Coniston Old Man in the centre, and Wetherlam to the right.

Links
Gleaston Water Mill's site, with details of the mill and other local features.
Some details about drumlins.
Information about St Mary's church Great Urswick, which has a long history.
The General Burgoyne pub's home page. Who was the general? Find out!

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.

 

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