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12 August, 2006

Cycle ride: Lancaster-Claughton-Lancaster

Claughton, in the Lune Valley 6-7 miles inland from Lancaster, is one of those places everyone passes through without stopping, or even especially noticing.  I've done it myself dozens of times; it's a little further than I'd reach on short bike rides and merely somewhere en route on longer rides, but not itself a destination.

Yet the hamlet contains an ancient church, a barely younger manor house and an interesting old brickworks (if bricks are your thing), all in an attractive rural setting. It's worth pausing for a closer look.

That's what I did today, as the primary objective of a medium-length ride to eliminate gaps in my local knowledge and to replace substandard photos of places I had already visited. The latter didn't really work, as the weather was awkward: dry and bright but overcast, which seemed to confuse my camera's metering.

First, I blasted out to Claughton along the main A683; no messing about with cycle tracks and I was able to maintain 18-22 mph all the way. After a quick look at the brickworks (virtually hidden by trees – disappointing) and Claughton Hall Farm, which I'd seen before, I left the bike, to wander around St. Chad's churchyard. Even from the point-of-view of an atheist it felt a little regretable that the church closed in 2002 after over 900 years, and parts are already degrading.

I explored a tiny side road onto the floodplain before turning back to climb the steep lane onto the edge of Claughton Moor, specifically to see the 13th Century Claughton Hall, a manor house moved ~1km uphill, stone-by-stone, in the early 20th Century. I took a couple of discreet photos.

Back to Caton from there, following part of the Lune Cycleway to the Crook O'Lune then the road to another even smaller and lesser-known hamlet, Halton Green. This is composed of well-preserved yet clearly old farm buildings; I wish I knew more about the place, and that my photos had been better... maybe next time.

I'd done everything I'd intended, so returned to the cyclepath at the Crook O'Lune and followed that to Lancaster, pausing briefly at Halton Weir.

Including a round-trip to Sainsbury's this morning (I forgot to zero the bike computer before heading back out to the Lune Valley), today's ride covered 21.26 miles (34.2 km) in 1:52 hours (not counting time spent stationary); an average of 11.3 mph and a maximum of 25.5 mph.

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