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5 May, 2007

Cycle ride: Lancaster-Knott End-Lancaster

Another warm Spring day, so I decided to go for a bike ride.  The only problem was the humidity and consequent haze, which restricted visibility (though not to the same extent as last month) and hence limited my choice of destinations; there'd be no point going somewhere for the long-distance views.

I selected Knott End-on-Sea, somewhere I'd been planning to revisit for a while to supplement/replace photos taken in 2005, as my camera batteries had failed in the middle of that earlier trip. The village is just across the Wyre Estuary from Fleetwood, at the north-western corner of the Fylde, itself a near-featureless low-lying plain. Apart from hills on the horizon, there aren't really any long-distance views anyway, so I wouldn't be missing much.

The first stage was straightforward: from Lancaster to Pilling via Cockerham. I was tempted to turn back there, as I had last time I considered this route; I don't cycle in sunglasses, and the haze-diffused sunlight was literally painful. I'm glad I went on, as crossing the width of the Fylde in light mist was an odd experience. I could see a couple of kilometres, but there were no landmarks visible in any direction until I approached Pilling and Damside Mill faded into view, yet that didn't seem to get any closer for several minutes, as if a mirage. Evidently, I can't really describe it.

Though Knott End was the furthest point on my intended route, Pilling was the main objective, to take photos of the windmill and church, plus anything else I might discover, such as a unicorn.

Unfortunately, the effect of the haze was greatest facing the sun, so my photos of Fleetwood from Knott End ferry quay / slipway weren't as clear as I'd hoped and the Blackpool skyline was totally hidden. I did have a good view out to sea, though, so watched the Irish Sea ferry approach and enter the mouth of the River Wyre, fully loaded with cars and lorries. It's extremely rare for me to just sit and watch the world for half an hour or so; even on mountain tops I only stay long enough to absorb the view before moving on. Sitting on the sea wall today was surprisingly relaxing.

I didn't want to retrace my outward route exactly, so took a different road out of Knott End, to have a look at Preesall windmill (now part of an industrial estate and not exactly photogenic) then, back at Pilling, headed east towards Garstang via Winmarleigh. Rather than join the A6, I followed the parallel minor lanes north to Forton, admiring the fresh growth in the hedgerows. From there, I did join the A6, and headed home.

I'd covered 63 km (39 miles) – further than I thought; the roads across the Fylde may be flat and fairly straight, but they're not short, and I did follow a rather circuitous route back from Pilling. Not counting photo stops and time at Knott End, the ride itself took 2¾ hours, at an average of 22.5 km/h (14 mph). If it matters, I reached 40.5 km/h (25.2 mph) at least once.

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