Going: All on tarmac, with a number of modest hills here and
Total distance: 22 miles, returning via Scales (or about 12 miles to Ulverston)
With all the reports lately (this is written in June 2005) of heroic rides on the new W2W, Walney to Wear, long-distance cycle route, you might be forgiven for thinking this is only for the two-wheeled fanatic. After all, who else would pedal 150 miles in three days, two days or even one day how did he do that?
Yet this carefully sign-posted route can be used for an easy local outing, following it for a few miles along quiet lanes, before returning to base. Who knows, this might tempt you to try a longer section, or even the whole thing some day?
The first section to Ulverston passes through the heart of Low Furness, dodging the A590, and meandering along country byways between the lush green fields. After leaving Sandy Gap on Walney, the Dock Museum is passed, and Abbey Road followed until the turn down towards Furness Abbey. Remember, the ride is well-signed at junctions with the blue Route 20 markers, and a route map is now available locally.
A steady climb away from the Abbey leads on to Long Lane, and on through the rolling contours towards Lindal, where the café at the Candle Factory provides a good resting place. A short hop along the main road soon leads onto the back lane towards Loppergarth and Pennington, passing many remains of the iron ore industry which once dominated this area.
At Hill Foot, the traffic must be endured again for a few yards, until the sanctuary of Daltongate is reached, on the edge of Ulverston. There is a curious dive through an alley on the left, just before the Market Cross, to reach Upper Brook Street and the end of the first section at The Gill.
Various options are available for the return to Barrow; the Coast Road is one, but my preference would be to head over Birkrigg Common to Scales, then on past the crumbling ruins of Gleaston Castle. A final hill of the day leads on to Leece, and perhaps another rest by the calm duck pond. A further possibility is to use the train service from Ulverston, which does carry bikes, though I dont suppose a large group of cyclists would be welcomed.
Im going to describe the next section of the W2W, to Grange, next week, and try the train as a means of return. It would be quite feasible to make a longer expedition from Barrow to Grange in one go, using the train to get home. However, the gentle hills of the opening few miles are replaced by something that will stretch the legs a bit more beyond Ulverston!
Excellent cafe at Colony Candles at Lindal-in-Furness. Plenty of pubs and cafes in Ulverston.
Some of the enormous iron ore spoil heaps at Lindal-in-Furness.
Furness Abbey, in all its splendour.
A view on the return over Birkrigg (not on the W2W), looking back over Ulverston to the Coniston hills. (Dow Crag leftmost, the Old Man centre. and Wetherlam to the right.)
W2W information can be found at www.cyclingw2w.info
Some history of the iron industry in Cumbria.
A brilliant virtual tour of Furness Abbey, at the Dalton On-line site.
Gleaston Water Mill's site, with details of the mill and other local features.
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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