Furness Highway
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Going: All tarmac roads. A moderate climb at Sea Wood, Bardsea, and a longer one out of Baycliff. Another climb out of Lindal to Marton, followed immediately by another hard pull. Keep at it!
Total Distance: 19 miles

    Less than two miles west of the ceaseless traffic on the A590 at Swarthmoor there runs a quieter highway, diverging gradually from the route of today’s trunk road in a firm line towards Coniston Water. This must surely have been a way of some importance in years past, and the presence of an ancient packhorse bridge supports this thought. This road forms the centrepiece of this tour, and the most dramatic of surprise views will surely bring you back more than once.

    A start is made in Ulverston, heading out along the Coast Road past Bardsea. The newly green trees in Sea Wood will distract you from the climb, as will the fine outlook across the Bay from Baycliff. Turn into the village, and head right over the hill to Scales, past the substantial lime kiln. Continue on through this old Quaker village, and turn right to Little Urswick.

    A left at the last of the houses, past the country garage, leads onto a pleasant leafy lane. Look out now for a distinctive stone pillar, a last visible reminder of one of the tramways serving the haematite mines, and go right to Lindal. Pass the village green on its right, and plug up the hill towards Marton, picking out the many clues to the vast ore industry which once thrived here as you gasp onwards!

    The Marton sign marks the right onto our special highway, with a serious climb ahead. As this finally eases, fine views back to Barrow and west to Black Combe develop, to be replaced shortly by an open aspect over Birkrigg to Morecambe Bay. The road stretches straight ahead, following the contours past the Harlock Hill wind farm. Look out for the chillingly named Devil’s Bridge, at the bottom of the sharp dip to Rathmoss Beck, before a rise to the ivy-clad farmhouse at Horace Cross.

    Go straight over the crossroads, heading for the copse of trees which marks the highpoint of this ride. The view changes abruptly, ranging from Humphrey Head at the head of the Bay, over the rolling fields of Osmotherly, to a glimpse of Coniston Water, and finally to the Lakeland mountains, with Wetherlam, Coniston Old Man and Dow Crag to the fore.

    There now follows two miles of fast downhill riding, all the time with that wide vista ahead and to the right. It’s only at the junction with the Gawthwaite road that you must finally turn your back on the hills, and turn right towards Ulverston. Despite a series of dips and rises, the overall gradient favours the cyclist, and the ride ends with a long swoop down Soutergate.

Horace Cross Route.jpg (27621 bytes)

Refreshment Possibilities
There's a cafe at the Colony Candle factory at Lindal.

horizontal rule

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The long and winding road... Sea Wood in spring, with carpets of bluebells amongst the trees to the right.

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Devil's Bridge, on the approach to Horace Cross.

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The 'Furness Highway', just after the Harleck Hill wind farm. The route is heading for the copse of trees on the horizon, the highpoint of the ride, both literally and in terms of view.

Links
Some history of lime kilns.
More information on Sea Wood, Bardsea, with a mention of the fascinating story of Lady Jane Grey, briefly the 16 year old queen of England before her execution in 1553.
Some history of the iron industry in Cumbria.
The Baywind Community site, developers of the Harlock Hill wind turbines.

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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