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15 July, 2006

Cycle ride: Lancaster-Cockersand Abbey-Lancaster

A consequence of publishing photos of local landmarks is that they might subsequently appear in web searches, and some might be ranked quite highly.  That's fine in itself, but one has no way of knowing in advance which will achieve prominence, and it can be a little embarrassing to receive numerous visitors for a mediocre photo one only took as an afterthought.

Hence, I occasionally revisit certain locations for a second try, supplementing or even replacing the original photos. When I passed Cockersand Abbey last year, I only captured a silhouette of the ruins from 400m away, so today I went back, and right to the site itself.

The route was straightforward. I left Lancaster by Ashton Road to Conder Green and on to Thurnham, then crossed the coastal plain to the coast at Cockersand. Familiarity and the fact I'd photographed the main features before meant I made few stops, but one pause was to take a few extra photos of the disused Royal Albert Hospital on the outskirts of the city.

It isn't possible to cycle to the ruins, so I locked the bike to a fence near Lighthouse Cottage (Cockersand Lighthouse itself was demolished in 1954) and followed the sea wall on foot, a round trip of ~2 km. I won't bother to describe the remnants of the Abbey here; see the text accompanying the photos. It was certainly a little difficult to extrapolate the few half-buried walls and intact chapter house to a full mediaeval abbey which had dominated the district for centuries until the Dissolution in 1539. It looks more like a tiny, remote hermitage, which, ironically, was how the institution was founded in 1184.

I had been tempted to continue to Knott End-on-Sea, as the last time I was there, my camera batteries failed and I missed a few opportunities. However, by the time I'd returned to the main road, I simply didn't feel like at least doubling the length of the ride, so went on only as far as Cockerham before heading inland to the Bay Horse, stopping for a brief drink (not at the pub itself!), then returning to Lancaster along the A6.

Having had a specific objective and making fewer stops than normal, the 33 km (20.4 miles) took 1½ hours at an average of 12.8 mph (with a maximum of 27.3 mph, if anyone's counting). Those stops I did make, plus the walk to the Abbey, added an hour to the overall trip.

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