The large sign on Morecambe promenade caught my eye some time ago and lodged itself somewhere easily accessible in my brain. It resurfaced when I was looking at holiday options for late October into November. Long distance cycling isn’t new to me but my love of touring alone has been revived only recently. ‘The Way’ looked to be the perfect ride for 3 days; just fitting into the shortening daylight. I found the website and read eagerly, then the wonderful Carnforth Bookshop furnished me with the Cicerone guidebook for more detailed planning.
Like with most activities, preparation is key; a good look at my bike, equipment and fitness ensued. I was reluctant to use full panniers and have the increased difficulty of towing heavy weights across the pennines (carrying myself would be enough!) With this in mind, and with increased ‘local errands’ usage since moving to Yealand, I invested in a ‘rackbag’ – a cuboid vessel with expanding sides; just enough space to shoehorn a few essentials (and in future for library books and small bits of shopping) My bike was working well with only a few bothersome punctures to
Fitness was building over the weeks running up to October 29th and I began to believe this expedition was possible. My relationship with the weather app became obsessive and as the date drew closer it became apparent that I could expect mostly dry weather but with an easterly wind every day. Oh well, it wasn’t gale force and I think I would choose wind over rain; fortunately it wasn’t to be both!
October 29th turned out to be a cold and frosty morning with a brisk (yes, easterly) wind. I
planned a slightly shorter day one than the guidebook suggested as I would ride to Morecambe for a hearty veggie breakfas adding 9 miles. The pootle along the canal was pleasant and the oystercatchers on the promenade once I reached Bare were bleeping away enthusiastically. My expected solitary breakfast turned out to be very sociable with two people homing in on my cycling garb and chatting prolifically and Paul, a Friend Yealand Meeting, joining the party soon after. Outside, a street performer was setting up his act for the day as a green statue and all was suitably eccentric!
I departed at about 11am, with Friend Paul for company. Green statue selfies were taken instead of Eric Morecambe ones and we headed off down the Greenway; a well surfaced bit of former railway which connects Morecambe to Lancaster. T
his trail is wonderfully practical and well used and the line down the middle dividing cyclists and pedestrians is really effective at avoiding mishaps.
After Lancaster, I was riding alone, along the side of the mighty Lune; another well maintained traffic free cycle route. On leaving the path and moving onto the road at Halton, I was abruptly introduced to steep hills, up, up and over and… back down to the Lune at Hornby! These lovely lanes had become familiar in recent months as my rides expanded and I was on familiar terrain until the route 90, Lancashire cycle way, headed off into the Bowland hills to the south and I continued east. The road ran almost parallel to the busy A65, but was nearly empty of traffic and significantly more undulating. I had just about used up the cooked breakfast energy when I arrived at Clapham and an inviting shop, complete
with hot drinks machine; perfect lunch stop. There was even a well placed bench outside for weary pedallers.
The theme for the majority of the next section was UP! Gradually the route climbed up and over to Stainforth then really steeply up to Malham tarn (I chose the Malham diversion over Settle to allow for a night here) I regularly needed to pause for breath, photos and, yes occasionally to walk. The day was cooling down considerably by the time I reached the tarn so I didn’t linger up here on what felt like the top of the world. The descent testified to this; it was at least as steep and continual as the ascent and must have shaved a good chunk from my brake pads. Malham was nestling and welcoming with a cafe which doesn’t close at 4pm and serves excellent cheese scones! This was welcome time to recover and reflect on a successful first day before checking in to the hostel for a shower, hot food and the usual array of meaningful yet inevitably brief associations.