With a surprisingly laden bike for just an overnight stop, I caught the 07.33 train from Lancaster to Barrow, keen to get one of the two official bike spaces per train. There were already four touring cyclists on the platform when I arrived. Being gentlemen, they let me get on first . . . so there were already five of us before the train started. Commuter cyclists got on as the journey progressed, and by the time we arrived in Barrow there were probably nine bicycles on the train. I’m not sure what happens if the train staff are not quite so accommodating.
I skipped the Walney Island section and started – after a second breakfast – along Cavendish Dock Road, past the gas terminal towards Roa Island and Rampside, hugging the coast all the way. It was a quiet route and the views across the bay are great. After a short stretch on the not-too-busy A5087, the routes take you inland and uphill on quiet roads. I ignored the Bardsea detour – it would have involved losing height and getting back on the A road – and sailed down into Ulverston for lunch. Crossing the River Leven by Greenodd was confusing – the path was surfaced in unrideable shingle and narrowed to a footpath – but I eventually found the little bridge that takes you to the other side. At Low Wood I had to get off and push (not for the first or last time) and overtook one of the touring cyclists from the train. That was a seriously steep hill! Then down into Cartmel (where everybody overtook me), Cark and Flookborough before joining the main road into Grange-over-Sands (the obvious halfway point for a 2-day ride). The last couple of miles were busier – and steeper – than I cared for, but I was glad to find my hotel for the night. I’d enjoyed discovering places I’d hardly or never visited so close to home.
Grange to the Arnside peninsula is a pleasant ride in itself. Gilpin Bridge has its own cycle path now, but the route still dumps you on the A6 outside Levens Hall for a mile or so. Once I got to the outskirts of Milnthorpe I cheated and chose my own way home, but the signposted route takes you through Arnside and Silverdale, Carnforth, Morecambe and Hest Bank before ending at Glasson Dock.
It’s well signposted throughout (route 700): the reason I thought I was lost outside Greenodd was not because of the signposting but because of the state of the path. There isn’t much new infrastructure, and you get the impression that it’s been done on the cheap (I’m not forgiving them for that stretch on the A6). The views, however, are tremendous. There are a few stiff hills, but there are also plenty of flat parts and stops for refreshment. As ever, I would recommend organising a tail wind before you go.