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30 July, 2005

Cycle ride: Lancaster-Abbeystead-Lancaster

Processing a few photos last week, I realised that I didn't have any half-decent images of Abbeystead.  It's a quaint little village – well, just a hamlet, really – in Wyresdale,  so I decided to correct the oversight today.  It wouldn't be a particularly long ride, but the steep first ~10km are always challenging, and once I'd visited Abbeystead I could extend the route as much as I wanted.  Having seen the approaching weather from Jubilee Tower, that was unlikely; 'straight out, straight back' seemed sensible.

'Abbeystead' means 'abbey-place', as a Cistercian abbey, an offshoot of Furness Abbey, was built there in about 1170. However, the monks left a mere eighteen years later, for a more glamourous location in Ireland. I'm not aware of there being any remaining ruins, probably not least because any usable stone was probably salvaged and incorporated into dry stone walls.
'Modern' Abbeystead was built at the end of the nineteenth century, as grouse shooting became popular on the Bowland Fells. That's still it's primary purpose, at the hub of the Duke of Westminster's estate (yes, 'Westminster' as in 'City of...'; the Duke owns much of central London and is the third richest person in the UK. 'The Field' magazine admiringly calls him "quite simply the very best close-quarter killer around".).

Having taken the photos I wanted, and not really ready to head back, I noticed that the dam of Abbeystead Reservoir is accessible via a footpath, so I locked the bike to a fence and explored. The dam was far more elaborate than I'd expected; certainly worth seeing.

I decided to head home after that, but rather than slog back over Abbeystead Fell, I followed Wyresdale to Dolphinholme, then to Galgate and to Lancaster along the A6. The first section was easy, as it's almost all downhill from Abbeystead to Galgate, and I don't think I dropped below 22mph, apart from at junctions; my bike computer logged an average of 17mph overall. However, though I'd expected to travel even faster along the A6, I was riding straight into a light but insistent wind, and I was exhausted trying to maintain even 13mph.

I'm afraid I can't provide distance and speed data for the whole trip (I didn't think anyone cared anyway, but I've been told people have considered following my routes, so apparently it does matter!), as I was using my new, upgraded bike computer. It logs average speeds, as I mentioned, but it also has a less foolproof design; when I left the bike for my walk to the dam, I dropped the computer into my pocket, and the annoyingly prominent 'reset' button was accidentally pressed.

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