Going: Virtually flat all the way. The return by the shore is
easy bridleway for a short section from Bardsea. The rest of the shoreline is classed as a
footpath, so you'll need to push. The shore is very stony in any case.
Total distance: 5 miles
The recent rant from Suzanne in the Mail (this piece was written in August 2005) about the nuisance of cyclists on pavements, and some subsequent letters to the paper, got me thinking about one of the most popular little bike rides in our area. Every weekend during the summer months families can be seen heading out on the long tree-lined avenue, often with really quite small children in tow, pedalling gamely along.
For many of them, this might be their first introduction to the idea of cycling to a destination, rather than just up and down the road outside their house. It could sow the seeds of regular exercise, a habit which many children never seem to adopt. Yet Ive ducked talking about this outing, until now, because of the pavement issue.
The ride in question is from Ulverston to Bardsea, along the Coast Road, an almost flat route through pleasant countryside, with the reward of an ice-cream at the end. Theres also the attraction of the beach to mess around on. The problem is that this is a fast stretch of road, with long bends. Fine for experienced cyclists, but not for wobbly little ones, and I wince when I see them on the road.
So, many of those families cycle on the pavement out to Bardsea, quite sensibly in my opinion. Cyclists on Dalton Road are clearly a bad thing, but on lightly-used pavements, by busy roads, theres a case for dual use, especially for very young riders. Theres already a stretch officially marked out like this at Foxfield; elsewhere, cyclists and pedestrians co-exist on the Ulverston Canal tow-path. A Bardsea cycle-path perhaps then?
Its also possible to find a traffic-free return from Bardsea via the shore, initially along a bridleway, where cyclists are allowed to ride. The shoreline itself is classed as a footpath, but the pebbly surface means there are several hundred yards where the bike must anyway be pushed. This is a stretch to dawdle on in any case, a peaceful beach looking across to Chapel Island.
The sharp-eyed might spot a railway-bridge in one of the fields here, with the faint trace of an embankment running into the trees in Conishead Priory grounds. This is part of an unfinished 19th century railway route to Barrow.
A tarmac road is joined eventually, a quiet single-track lane leading past an isolated chimney standing alone in a field, the last vestige of the former brickworks, left in place as a navigational aid for shipping. The large pools passed soon after are clay dubs from the same industry, now used only by local anglers. Bear left at the T-junction to arrive back at Priory Road.
The A5087 Coast Road, looking towards Bardsea.
The beach at Bardsea, looking at Sea Wood. The sea does appear at when the tides are high, which isn't every tide. Notice the on-going change to salt-marsh conditions.
Chapel Island, from the beach below Conishead Priory.
Conishead Priory, which is owned by the Manjushri Institue.
All sorts of facts and figures about Morecambe Bay.
Some local history of Bardsea village.
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.
Open Country Prints, Main Street, Baycliff, Ulverston, Cumbria
LA12 9RN, England