Going: The first part, round to Allithwaite, is almost
totally flat. There's a vicious hill over to Cartmel then, and some steady climbing to
Brow Edge, becoming steep in a couple of places. Brow Edge is a long curving
descent, and requires some care.
Total distance: 22.5 miles
A journey on a bike can be a quick dash from A to B, a swift circuit on a pre-planned route, or a random meander with only the vaguest of targets in mind. It was with this last approach that I set out down the mosses road from Haverthwaite, towards Cark, with the general aim of reaching Humphrey Head, the long limestone finger protruding into Morecambe Bay.
Just before Holker Hall, a right turn to Old Park beckons, a leafy lane leading down to the Leven shore, a wide sandy expanse looking across to a distant Hoad and the blue-tinged Coniston Hills. The road can be followed on past ancient oaks and a lime kiln to the ruins of a Frith Hall, before further access is discouraged. If you were just looking for a short outing, this would make a fine destination in itself.
Returning to the main road, pass through Cark and onto Flookburgh, crossing diagonally over the old square. A left turn leads on to Humphrey Head, home to many limestone-loving plants. Legend has it that the last wolf in England was killed here, after one Peter Covert was commissioned by Edward I in 1281 to rid the country of the predator.
A sad little tale is enshrined on a tablet set into the cliff-face, which reads "Beware how you these Rocks ascend, Here William Pedder met his end, August 22nd 1857 Aged 10 Years".
Retracing your route, take the first right to cross the railway line, and look out for Wraysholme Tower, a substantial 15th century pele tower. This is attached to a farm now, but was built by the Harrington family as a three storey tower house.
This two-wheeled wander has so far been completely flat, but the stiff climb past Boarbank Hall ends the easy run. Keep straight ahead and drop down the hill to Cartmel, going over the main road at Headless Cross. This is a common term around the country, and referred to a Market, or Vinegar, Stone, used during a plague visitation. Goods would be left by farmers afraid to enter the town, in return for money left in a bowl of vinegar, which was thought to prevent infection.
If you need re-fuelling, the village shop has plenty of tasty temptations, which you might need because there are four miles of steady hills to follow. Leave the Square to the right of the shop, passing alongside the racecourse until you see a blue Route 20 cycle route sign, our old friend the W2W.
Follow these markers to the top of High Brow Edge, where you are rewarded with a mile-long downhill swoop back to the start.
Pubs in Cark, Flookburgh and Cartmel. Village shop in Cartmel has lots of mouth-watering stuff, including their own famous Sticky Toffee Pudding!
Looking across the Leven from the shore near Old Park. The few remaining stones of Frith Hall can be seen on the right.
Humphrey Head, on the edge of Morecambe Bay, and its only sizeable sea cliff.
Wraysholme Tower, near Allithwaite.
This carved figure lives high up on the wall of Cartmel Gate House!
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
LA12 9RN, England