Discover the Lancashire Cycleway with a Cicerone guidebook
The Lancashire Cycleway
A comprehensive guide by Jon Sparks
This handy guidebook contains route descriptions for the Lancashire Cycleway. It has been split into two loops each of around 130 miles long. Each loop covers both long flat expanses and gentle undulations. The seasoned cyclist would have no trouble completing a loop in a weekend but there are easy rail links for those who wish to cycle in sections More...
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Lancashire is a great place to cycle, and cycling is a great way to see Lancashire. One of its delights is its sheer variety; there is easy riding on the flat expanses in the west of the country and on the gentle undulations of the Ribble valley. More stirring challenges are found in the West Pennine Moors and the epic crossing of the Bowland Fells. But even on the wildest stretches, you’re never too far from a welcoming pub and somewhere to sleep.
The Cycleway comprises of two distinct loops, each around 130 miles (225km) in length, which meet at Whalley in the Ribble valley. Seasoned cycle-tourists can comfortably tackle either loop in a weekend, or do the whole thing inside a week. However, access by rail at numerous points means that less experienced cyclists can do it in shorter sections. The route description is divided into sections, which average around 40km in length. The break points of these sections are either reasonable candidates for an overnight stop or places with a train service, and often both.
The northern loop is approximately 205km (128 miles) in length, while the southern is a fraction longer at 222km (138 miles). There are similarities between the two loops – for instance, both are flat in the west and hilly in the east – but there are distinct differences in character too. The northern loop is almost entirely rural, while the southern route, cannot entirely avoid some urban passages. However, none of these is too long, and there is generally a rapid escape back into open country. Both loops are described in a clockwise direction, though of course they can be tackled either way.
The northern loop is entirely on tarmac. Apart from the (unofficial) Lancaster Link which exploits a dedicated cycle-track, all of it is on public roads and mostly minor roads and quiet lanes at that.