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Going: A fairly easy outing. All tarmac apart from 1 mile along the sands from Roanhead to Askam. The sand is a bit bumpy, but firm, apart from the track onto the foreshore, and at the pier - very soft and dry here! A few short hills on the roads, but nothing too dramatic.
Total distance: 10.5 miles

    I’ve been trying for a little while to devise a circular bike ride from Barrow that both takes in the glorious scenery at Roanhead, and avoids mixing with too much heavy traffic along the way. This interesting route returns along part of the Cumbria Cycleway, using a little-known minor road.

    Hawcoat Lane is initially followed from Abbey Road, rising gently until the houses end abruptly, to be replaced by farmland and distant views of the Irish Sea. Turn left after Sinkfall farm, down the hill to the roundabout, taking care on this short section of main road. Cross the A590 carefully to the Roanhead turning, to enjoy a quiet gradual descent towards the sands of the Duddon Estuary.

    Reed-edged ponds on either side of the road are evidence of the extensive mining which took place in this area, and are now peaceful havens for anglers. On reaching the turning-circle, follow the sandy track on the right to the foreshore, with its magnificent views over to Black Combe and the Lakeland fells.

    A mile away to the right, the slag finger of Askam pier pokes out, forming our next destination. This stretch of foreshore is classed as a public byway, and the generally firm sand is easy to cycle on. Obviously, don’t stray out far from the shore, or venture here at high tide. The slanted rocks of Roanhead Crag are passed along the way, the sands in front littered with thousands of worm-casts.

    Passing under the bridge at the pier, a steep path leads directly up, or a more gradual ascent can be found further on through the houses. It’s well worth a detour to the pier end, a peaceful vantage point to enjoy the panoramic outlook. A mile and a half further north, the limestone finger of Dunnerholme juts out onto the sands, the first promontory encountered on the coastline after Humphrey Head in Morecambe Bay.

    Head straight back between the houses, turning right over the railway, until the A595 is reached, which must unfortunately be followed for a quarter of a mile. Pause for short rant here - this is a 60mph road, with a 15inch cycle track painted on the edge of the road (one side only!), next to a 3 foot pavement. There are no houses nearby, no pedestrians - why not have a dual-use pavement/cycle track, instead of luring cyclists next to fast traffic? Here endeth the rant.

    Soon after the brick works a cattle grid on the right heralds the start of a secret road leading to Thwaite Flat. Tree-lined, a quiet farm here, a green paddock there, how different this area must have been when the mining operations were in their heyday.

    The concrete viaduct of the Dalton bypass looms ahead, dwarfing the Victorian signalbox directly beneath. Turn right over the level crossing, and bear left immediately after the houses. When the main road is reached, Rakesmoor Lane is almost opposite, marking the return towards Hawcoat.

Roanhead Map.jpg (15536 bytes)

Refreshment possibilities
    A hut at Roanhead car park serves ice-cream, teas etc.

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The Lakeland hills, from Roanhead, with the narrow line of Askam Pier in mid-picture.

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The Coniston hills, seen from Askam Pier over the Duddon estuary.

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Another view from the Pier.

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Black Combe, seen over the Duddon estuary from Askam Pier.


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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