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7 August, 2004

Cycling: Lancaster-Lower Bentham-Hornby-Lancaster

Another hot, humid Saturday, so I obviously went for a long cycle ride.  Erm....

Having passed through Hornby last weekend, I decided to go back to the same area, via Caton and Brookhouse to avoid some of the traffic on the main A683. I haven't mentioned in the blog that one of the bridges at the Crook O'Lune is closed for major repairs, so the quiet cycle route to Caton is currently unavailable.

This meant that the trip began with an uphill section I ordinarily avoid. Unsurprisingly, I regretted wearing a black T-shirt by the time I reached the top, so took it off. I didn't think to put it back on until I returned to Lancaster, after 3½ hours in direct sunlight - it's lucky I didn't burn.

After taking a couple of photos of Brookhouse Church, I followed a road I'd never encountered before, other than on the map. The main road from Caton to Brookhouse is extremely familiar, as I travelled that way literally hundreds of times to reach my PhD research site on the Moor, and the A683 is equally familiar as pretty much the only route east from Lancaster, yet I'd never followed the road linking the two. There's an entire hamlet I didn't know existed, Caton Green.

Just before Hornby, the road splits. The A683 goes on to Hornby, but I did that last week, so on a whim I turned onto the Wray road, to turn back towards Hornby by a different route. That idea was abandoned, and I went on to Wray. I consulted my map there and spotted the word 'waterfall', so went on, along a back route towards Lower Bentham which I've only used once in a decade. The waterfall wasn't accessible, but it didn't seem much further to Lower Bentham. Though a pleasantly isolated, peaceful ride, nothing caught my eye as a good photograph.

Lower Bentham was much further from home than I'd intended to travel (in an entirely different county, for one thing!), and there was still a very long way back - if I rejoined my planned route, I wasn't even halfway. The plan had been to ride through Hornby, cross the River Lune at Loyn Bridge, then return to Lancaster along the northern side of the Lune Valley, via Gressingham and Halton. Examining my map in Wennington, my options were to go straight home along the A683 from Hornby (as I did last week in ~45 mins of intensive riding), or continue as planned along a very hilly and slightly longer route, which would have been more recreational if I wasn't tired already. I was, but did that anyway. I stopped on Loyn Bridge to drink a can of Coke, which seemed to restore a bit of energy.

I was glad I went that way, as the altered viewpoint over a familiar landscape was worth seeing. This is one to try again, perhaps later in the year when haze might be reduced and photography improved. I took the uphill sections slowly, but there was a long, fast hill down into Halton - great today, but less conducive to heading out that way in future, up a long, fairly steep hill.

I popped into Sainsburys as I returned to Lancaster, which wasn't out of my way but added ten minutes to the overall travel time of 3 hours 23 mins, 2:32 hrs spent moving, covering 32.97 miles (53 km). That's probably my longest single bike trip of the year, and the peak speed of 31.7mph (51 km/h) is one of the highest, too.

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