Around Backbarrow
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Going: All on the road, and fairly gentle. Steady pull uphill to Finsthwaite, but never really steep. A short climb away from Newby Bridge halt.
Total distance: 6 miles.

    This short circuit is tailor-made for two wheels – lots of reasons to dawdle and plenty of sights to look at along the way, most of which could be overlooked in the car. The starting point is just beyond Haverthwaite station, where the old road leaves the A590.

    Passing through the mixture of modern and much older houses, a forlorn array of crumbling industrial buildings lies scattered on either side. These are the remains of the iron furnace built in 1715, and protected today as an ancient monument. The famous Wilkinson family were local iron-masters, and had significant connections with the Black Country, son John building the first iron ship, and the iron bridge at Ironbridge.

    A little further on, and the power of the River Leven becomes apparent, channelling millions of gallons of water on its short journey from Windermere to Morecambe Bay, some of which is harnessed here by a small hydro-electric scheme.

    This energy was recognised centuries ago, in Tudor times, when a corn mill was built on the site of what later became a notorious cotton mill, whose once-grim buildings survive today as a luxury hotel. At the end of the 19th century, a process for making laundry blue, ultramarine, was established, and the Blue Mills, owned by Reckitt and Coleman, operated until the 1980’s.

    Up on the left, the steam trains chug up and down the Lakeside branch, until our route ducks under the line, and begins a steady climb towards Finsthwaite. Passing through damp woodland moving gradually into autumn colours, the road finally levels out on the approach to Finsthwaite, where St Peter’s church boasts an impressive clock tower.

    Keeping to the right after the High Dam car park, Stott Park bobbin mill is soon reached. Built in 1835, this site once produced a quarter of a million wooden bobbins a week for the Lancashire spinning and weaving industries. It remains in working condition, open for tours until the end of October.

    Affluent Lakeside provides the opportunity to enjoy a break and the splendid view up the lake to the central fells. If you’re enjoying the exercise so far, you might like to try the Gummers How fell race, which starts at Lakeside with a sprint to boats, followed by a row across the lake, a 1000ft run up and down the precipitous slopes of Gummers How, directly opposite, and then back across the water!

    Continue on to Newby Bridge, turning right towards the sleepy halt on the railway, passing the fish leap close to the river bank. Cross over the railway, press on up the hill, and bear left to return to Backbarrow.

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Refreshment possibilities
    Hotel at Lakeside, plus steamer facilities.

horizontal rule

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The River Leven rushing under the bridge by the former 'Blue Mills'.

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The Bobbin Mill at Stott Park.

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The view north up Lake Windermere from the jetty at Lakeside.

Any comments on the cycling pages would be gratefully received!

 Copyright J Chambers 2005. Unauthorised reproduction not allowed. May be printed for personal use only.

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