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14 October, 2006

Cycle ride: Lancaster-Scorton-Garstang-Calder Vale-Lancaster

Not a bad ride today, combining a few previous trips to supplement (and replace) earlier sets of photos.  However, it became... complicated.

My route seemed straightforward and not especially long, but I made numerous diversions, probably adding at least fifteen miles to a direct, join-the-dots route; 25 miles on paper became about forty on the road.
For example, it's ten miles from Lancaster to Garstang along the A6 main road, which I can cover in less than half an hour. Today, I rode to Galgate, on to Bay Horse, then Forton motorway services, inland to Street Bridge near Dolphinholme, then back down to Garstang via Scorton, taking a couple of hours in all. Even at that first stage, I wandered around Galgate for five minutes refreshing my knowledge of what was my home village in the mid-1990s, and at Street I left the bike for a brief walk up- and downstream of the bridge along the riverbank. Scorton was another extended stop as I thoroughly explored side streets looking for photogenic historical buildings, particularly the three churches.

Entering Garstang, I paused at the information board outside the 'Discovery Centre'. This identified places of especial interest in the town, so I took time to explore the mediaeval high street, the canal basin & aqueduct, and Greenhalgh Castle.

I had half-considered going on much further from Garstang, perhaps even around the southern edge of the Bowland Fells again, through Chipping to Dunsop Bridge and home via the Trough of Bowland. However, it had taken much longer than expected to get even this far, so I decided to revisit Calder Vale instead, and take the shorter direct (yes, really) road back to Galgate and Lancaster.
The first stage almost went to plan, though I took a wrong turning. For future reference: turn left at Ringing Hill – it's very slightly shorter, but more importantly involves a shorter, steeper ascent rather than a shallower one which drags on without respite.

The first minor disaster occurred as I crossed Calder Vale churchyard. Opening a gate, I thoughtlessly gripped my handlebars in such a way that I held down the bike computer's 'reset' button, discarding today's distance, speed and time data. I suppose I could trace my extremely circuitous route on a map and calculate the total distance, but I think I'll just call it 'about forty miles' overall.

Just one more diversion: passing Grizedale Lea Reservoir, I turned into the gateway, spending a further unplanned half hour exploring that and the adjacent Barnacre Reservoir. Hence, it was sunset before I reached Galgate and fully dark by the time I got home.

I hinted above that there was another disaster. It actually occurred the following morning (yes, I'm writing this several days later). Downloading the photos to my PC, the camera batteries failed part way through the process, and I didn't notice. Thinking everything had been successfully saved to my hard drive, I cleared the camera's memory card , discarding at least a hundred images – everything taken after arriving in Scorton. Sickening.

There was only one thing to do: while the locations of all the photos were still fresh in my mind, I repeated the entire bike ride.
Well, nearly; I was able to take the fastest route straight to Scorton and familiarity enabled me to eliminate the unproductive digressions, saving about ten miles. Today's ride covered 52.4 km (32.5 miles) in 2:42 hours (19 km/h average, 52 km/h peak) between 14:20 and 18:00. I think I reproduced most of the earlier photos and improved on a couple. I hope you like the results – they were harder work than normal!

About fifty were worth publishing. That's too many for one index of thumbnails, so they're divided into three sections: Galgate to Scorton, Garstang, and the remaining route to Calder Vale and back to Lancaster.

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