Going: All tarmac apart from a very short section of bridleway,
with a good surface. Steep hill at the end of the Broughton railway track, and a longer
ascent from Woodland. Both are rideable however.
Total distance: 14 miles
This is another foray along lanes I never knew were there, crossing an area of flat peat mosses at the head of Duddon Sands, before venturing round the green byways of the Woodland Valley. The start point is Sandside railway station, Kirkby-in-Furness, where the minor road ambles alongside the marsh.
Join the main road for a short distance, then turn left down a wide bridleway just before the Chapels sign. This soon becomes surfaced, with the Cumbria Coastal Way markers to follow bear right at the broken one! Black Combe fills the view over the sands, while the Dunnerdale Fells rise to the right, leading on to Walna Scar and the Old Man.
This is Angerton Moss, a Special Area of Conservation under restoration by English Nature. The mire surface is covered with Sphagnum moss, and a wide variety of plant life encourages butterflies and dragonflies. It is also home to the elusive adder, while roe and red deer can apparently be commonly seen browsing on the heather. I admit to seeing none of these, but was nonetheless captivated by this unusual habitat.
Cross the railway twice at gated crossings, then back on the main road at Foxfield, after passing the magnificent signalbox, a cycle path gives respite from the traffic. Take the Broughton turn, and look out for Donkey Rocks on the right, a strange quarry face imprinted with the ripples of an ancient sea-bed.
Almost opposite the T junction in the village is the beginning of the former railway line to Coniston, now a surfaced footpath and cycleway for the first mile or so. It rises gently through a rock cutting, then emerges onto a high shelf cut into the hillside, trees over-hanging.
Drop down to the road, and turning left, the first hill of the day is soon met, a brief but stiff climb up the valley side to the Coniston road. Bear right to Woodland immediately, for a long downhill glide back to the green pastures below. Enjoy this delightful rural setting as you pass through it, the valley rising to the north to low fells, with the Coniston Hills forming a dramatic backdrop.
Swing to the right at the next junctions, and passing between the few houses of Woodland cross over a cattle grid at the foot of Blawith Knott, keeping ahead. The next section does involve a lengthy hill unfortunately, a cruel grey ribbon of rising tarmac bordered by swathes of emerald-green bracken.
Finally drop down the narrow lane to reach the main road at Grizebeck, and carefully cross straight over to return along the A595 to the right turn to Sandside.
Incidentally, I tried out two alternatives from Grizebeck, on the return. Using the OS Map, you'll find a bridleway called Back Lane running through to Chapels. I did'nt enjoy this - it's narrow and overgrown, although passable. From Chapels, I turned left up to Croglin Farm, and returned through Beckside. This is really quite a stiff climb, but it does give some nice views over Duddon Sands. The old cottages of Beckside are attractive too. It's up to you!
Black Combe, seen across the salt marsh near Foxfield.
A view from the Woodland Valley, near Woodland, looking north to The Knott.
After the long climb from Woodland, a rural view over the heaths and mosses of the Woodland Valley, beyond Kirkby Pool.
An English Nature leaflet about the Duddon Mosses.
From the 1851 Mannix history of Westmorland, about Kirkby parish.
An attractive booklet about the Duddon Estuary.
The Duddon Estuary partnership.
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