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13 April, 2007

Walk/Cycle ride: Silverdale-Burton-in-Kendal-Holme Park Fell-Lancaster

I made a point of avoiding popular tourist destinations such as the Lake District this week, as last weekend was the statutory easter holiday.  Hence, despite being obliged to take 5-11 April off work (statutory days plus employer policy), I waited until today, when people were likely to be back at work, to take voluntary leave and to visit the Lakes.

That was the plan, anyway, rather defeated by the weather: totally cloudless and warm (for April, anyway), but humid, with a thick haze limiting visibility. It seemed pointless to climb, say, Bow Fell for the views if one couldn't see more than a kilometre. So I went to work....

A couple of hours later I saw sense and decided to go for a bike ride anyway – I'm not paid to sacrifice leave.

My chosen destination was Hutton Roof Crags, an area of limestone pavement north-east of Carnforth. That's within cycling distance, but I avoided the familiar lead-in by catching the train to Silverdale by 14:33. From there, it was an easy ride past Leighton Moss and Yealand Redmayne to Burton-in-Kendal. I stopped there to take a few photos of the Georgian main street, then went on to the outskirts of the village and the lane towards Newbiggin/Hutton Roof.

There's a layby and information sign at the head of the pass between Hutton Roof Crags and Farleton Knott, with footpaths leading to each summit. Parking my bike, I planned to visit both; according to the map each path was only 1 km long.

I began with the northern route, towards Farleton Knott via Newbiggin Crags and Holme Park Fell. The former was particularly photogenic, even in the haze, but immediately made me realise the impracticality of my plan. Walking across limestone pavement, taking due care of the fragile environment and my own safety, was a slow process, and it took a long time to reach the summit. I stopped for a drink and to peer at vague hints of nearby hills, but then returned only as far as my bike. I'll have to visit Hutton Roof Craggs on another, hopefully clearer occasion.

Studying the map again, I concluded that I'd save scenic cycling routes for another day too, so simply dropped back down to Burton the way I'd come then followed the main road to Tewitfield and the northernmost navigable point on the Lancaster Canal. I made another photo stop there, then returned to Lancaster by 18:00 via the Kellets and the familiar 'B' roads. I'd cycled 36 km (22.4 miles) in 1 hour 50 (average 19.5 km/h, peak 48 km/h).

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