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30 May, 2005

Cycle ride: Lancaster-Silverdale-Lancaster

The sky was absolutely clear today, so I felt obliged to make the most of the weather and compulsory day off work and go for a bike ride, even though I'd already done 45 miles (73 km) yesterday.  For a while, I've intended to visit Arnside with the camera, but that would be best suited to catching the train there and cycling back.  As maintenance/upgrading work has denied Lancaster any rail connections at all each weekend from January to June, the Arnside trip has been delayed.  However, recent cycle rides have proved that I could comfortably manage that sort of distance as a round trip by bike alone, so long as I avoided too circuitous a route.

Hence, I blasted up the A6 main road to Carnforth within half an hour. Considering it takes me almost a third of that time just to cross the city centre and the river, twenty minutes for the remaining six miles, in traffic, isn't bad, even though I couldn't sustain 22mph as I had yesterday.

Leaving Carnforth, I discovered a new (to me) cycle track following the River Keer. It cut off a corner, but that's the sort of shortcut I should have avoided, as a short distance on a poorly-maintained lane, with a footbridge over the river, took longer than a greater distance would have on a 'proper' road into and back out of Warton. However, I wasn't that concerned about optimising the route, and having covered the boring 'lead-in' to the ride as quickly as possible, I was happy to wander and explore, stopping for photographs.

That's exactly what I did; I'd planned to follow the road round to Jenny Brown's Point, Silverdale (at 12-15mph), but passing the RSPB nature reserve at Leighton Moss, I realised I could cut off another corner, crossing the saltmarsh itself (at ~3mph...), passing a young family just finishing a barbeque in the nature reserve. I'm sure they knew what they were doing, and they had left no sign that there had been a fire!

Continuing into Silverdale, I was again struck how odd it seems, half-lost in dense woodland and somewhere around 1960.
I'd planned to go on to Arnside, but leaving Silverdale, I suddenly realised I simply couldn't be bothered – perhaps yesterday's long ride had caught up on me. I decided to save that part of the trip for another time, and instead just completed the circuit of Warton Crag, passing Leighton Moss, the Yealands (Yealand Stoors, -Redmayne and -Conyers), back to Warton. From there, I took a wrong turning, missing a photo opportunity at the ancestral home of George Washington's family and dumping me amongst the articulated lorries on a dual carriageway section of the A6. I'd intended to avoid that and follow minor roads back to Lancaster via Over Kellet, but: too late. I stuck with the traffic instead, rather nervously – legally, I was entitled to be there, but in my own judgement I don't think that section of road, by the motorway junction, is an appropriate place for cyclists.
Just past Carnforth, the road and canal run alongside one another, so to get out of the traffic, I followed the towpath back to Lancaster.

If anyone's remotely interested, I cycled 31.6 miles (50.9 km) in 3:41 hours (2:54 moving), with a maximum speed of 26mph (42 km/h).

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