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7 June, 2008

Cycle ride: Lancaster-Caton Wind Farm-Lancaster

Somehow, I haven't got round to visiting Caton Moor since the wind farm was overhauled in 2006; I suppose I've considered destinations a little further from home as more 'exotic'.  That's a pity, as this corner of the Forest of Bowland AONB is understatedly attractive, so I returned today.

I worked on Caton Moor almost daily for the bulk of the 1990s (starting before the windfarm was laid out, in fact), so the route is rather familiar. My visits generally involved collecting river sediment during rainstorms, but I resisted the temptation to cycle out in thigh waders for old time's sake.

I also resisted the temptation to hurry: ~90% of the times I've followed the Littledale road from Stock-a-Bank (near Quernmore) have been nocturnal and/or during heavy rainfall, so I've rarely actually seen it. For example, I hadn't noticed that one of the first farms one passes was once, rather obviously, a substantial watermill, and this may have been the very first time I've looked south-east from the crest of the road, rather than fixating on the windfarm and my research catchment. That may mean the accompanying photos will have a novelty only I appreciate – thanks for indulging me!

Once on the southern flank of Caton Moor itself, I followed Roeburndale Road to its highest point, then walked my bike across the top of the hill (on a gravel track which had, thankfully, bedded-in since I last visited – ~1 km on very loose stones and ceramic fragments had been hard work) The views west though the windfarm were even better than I remembered but into direct sunlight, so photos of the turbines needed to wait until I'd reached Quarry Road and could look back at them from the south-west. Technically the site is private land, but **** it – this was my territory well before it was the power company's.

The return trip (~240 m vertically, over ~3 km) back down to the floor of the Lune Valley was rather easier than the climb, but again I avoided freewheeling too quickly and admired the (haze-masked) scenery for once. That took me into the very familiar surroundings of Caton; after a quick look at the Crook O'Lune, I cycled home.

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