We’ve just finished an amazing mini holiday – we cycled all the way around Morecambe Bay!
Stopping off in some lovely B&B and hotel accommodation along the way, we followed the Bay Cycle Way from Sandy Gap on Walney Island, all the way around the Bay to Glasson Dock, south of Lancaster.
Whether you are young or old, fit or a wreck (like me), this is an easy going 80-mile route that you can cover quickly or as slowly as you would like. We took three days to cover the whole route, cycling around thirty miles on each of the first two days, and then just about twenty miles on the last day.
The route takes you all the way from the start of the Bay on the north side (Walney Island), to a point most of the way round on the south side (note: the definition of Morecambe Bay is somewhat variable, but I tend to think of it as all of the area to the east of a line between Rossall Point (Fleetwood), and South End, Isle of Walney).
The route is mostly flat or very gently undulating, but there are a few hills to be aware of, including a right stinker at around the 28 mile mark!
Starting from Walney Island, the first big climb is from Gleaston mill up to Birkrigg Common. This isn’t a particularly big climb, but you are exposed to the prevailing winds as you go up, and it’s not unusual to catch the weather here…
After that, it’s easy going for a few miles, until you leave Ulverston. Here we are faced with quite a climb up through the back of town, and then on over the fells until just above Greenodd. Lovely country lanes here, and some amazing views across to Humphrey Head and Silverdale (and even Heysham on a clear day), but do be careful as the lanes are narrow.
The third big climb comes at around mile 28, just after you’ve ridden over the marshes beyond Greenodd. Known as Bigland Hill, it is BIG! You’ve got about a mile of climbing here, typically 1:6, but I am certain some of it is a lot steeper than that for short sections. This really is the “killer” hill of the entire route, and you’ll do well to ride this in one go with a heavy bike and panniers. We cheated – because of my arthritis I ride an electric bike – though even that was very hard work indeed! Do persist, though, because once you get to the top you have the most amazing swooping ride for mile after mile down into Cartmel (home of sticky toffee pudding).
After Bigland, there are only two more significant climbs in the remaining 50+ miles: just after Arnside the route takes you around the “Knott”, before a cracking zoom downhill into Silverdale, and a few miles after Silverdale there is a bit of a slog up Wharton Crag. A parallel road avoids the crag, but then you don’t get to visit the Old School Brewery in Wharton Village!
The vast majority of the route is very quiet indeed. The only busy section is a small run on the A6, by Levens Hall. There is a wide pavement at the side of the road here, if you prefer not to mix it with the traffic for this short (just a couple of hundred metres) section.
In all, this is a great route – just the right mix of hills and loads of gentle rolling and riding – and one that I cannot recommend enough. When the route was launched, it was described as having a “view, a brew and a loo every 10 miles”. I haven’t counted loos, probably because I didn’t stop that often for a brew, but the views are much more frequent than every ten miles! Riding around the Bay is one of the best ways I know to get out and see all those little places that you wouldn’t see otherwise.