Going: All tarmac, with some short hills around Arnside
and Silverdale, and also Yealand.
Total distance: 21 miles
Cumbria has many isolated corners, little areas we rush past on the way to somewhere else. One such area lies to the west of the A6 at Milnthorpe, on the countys south-eastern border with Lancashire, and forms a fruitful destination for two-wheeled exploration.
I set out from the little village of Heversham, where an ancient well can be found close to the church. Flat marshland is crossed first, and the route soon emerges on the edge of the broad sandy estuary of the River Kent, where it is possible to appreciate the full scale of Whitbarrow Scar, three miles away.
The promenade at Arnside is like a mini-seaside resort, looking out over the impressive railway viaduct. A short climb inland must be tackled now, forking right to follow the Silverdale road. With pleasant woodland on one side, the shallow valley below contains the substantial ruin of Arnside Tower, a 13th century pele tower. The countryside around here is one of the few refuges of the red squirrel, although the grey intruder is inevitably making inroads.
A sharp drop to the shore follows, with the first sight of the limestone cliffs, unusual for Morecambe Bay, which characterise this corner of Cumbria. After the genteel main street of Silverdale, a sign pointing to the shore offers a worthwhile detour to a popular spot.
A half-mile further along the main road, another sign shows the way to the right to Jenny Browns Point. This adds a mile and half to the ride, but leads to a fascinating bit of shoreline, low limestone cliffs edging sands cut with deep, snaking gullies.
Return inland to the main road, and bear right at the next junction, before another turn leads past the visitor centre at the entrance to the extensive wetland of Leighton Moss. This is an RSPB nature reserve, where the wildlife includes rare birds such as bitterns, bearded tits and marsh harriers, as well as mammals such as roe and red deer. Its reedbed is the largest in north-west England.
Carry on towards Yealand Storrs, to follow the indicated route back through the limestone country towards Beetham, which lies close to the River Bela. Some careful map work will be required to navigate the network of lanes along the way - I unintentionally ended up following a more easterly way back through Holme, close to the Lancaster Canal. This was pleasant enough, but unplanned!
The proper route passes the parkland of Dallam Tower, which was once fortified until transformed into a classic country house in 1720. The surrounding grounds are home to a herd of distinctive pale menil fallow deer.
Pubs and cafes at Arnside and Silverdale. Also the Visitor Centre at Leighton Moss.
Whitbarrow Scar, seen from Sandside across the Kent Estuary.
Arnside Tower, on the road to Silverdale.
The beach at Silverdale, where the tide rushes in at a huge rate.
A little bit about Arnside Tower
About the Silverdale area of outstanding natural beauty.
Some historical notes on Beetham Parish.
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