The Lancashire Cycleway
The tour and 17 day rides
By Jon Sparks
A guidebook to the Lancashire Cycleway, a figure-of-eight shaped route that visits Morecambe Bay, the Bowland Fells and the West Pennine Moors. The two distinct loops are around 130 miles (225km) each and meet at Whalley in the Ribble Valley. Also includes 17 day rides of 13¾ to 46 miles (22 to 74km).
SeasonsYear-round possibilities, although poor weather in winter is to be avoided.
CentresWhalley, Clitheroe, Burnley, Wigan, Preston, Lancaster, Blackpool, Lytham St Anne's and Kendal are all within easy reach or on the route.
DifficultyEasy through to fairly challenging. All within the range of a moderately fit cyclist. Access by rail at numerous points means that less experienced cyclists can do it in shorter sections.
Must SeeCrossing the Forest of Bowland, exploring the villages of western Lancashire.
Comprising two distinct loops that intersect at Whalley in the Ribble Valley, the 425km (265 mile) Lancashire Cycleway showcases the idyllic scenery of England's historic Red Rose County. The Northern Loop contrasts the quiet lanes and peaceful countryside of northwestern Lancashire with the thrill of the open moors of the Forest of Bowland AONB; the Southern weaves its way between the villages and towns in the south of the county, an area rich in social history. Easily accessible from the region's rail network, the route – which is all on-road – can be cycled either as a tour or a series of day rides.This guidebook presents the Lancashire Cycleway in 11 stages of 26.6-49.7km (16.5-30.9 miles), plus two short connections to link the loops to the major regional stations at Lancaster and Wigan, as well as 17 varied day rides for those wishing to explore the county further. Detailed route description and 1:100,000 mapping is presented alongside a wealth of information on local points of interest and facilities, and the magnificent colour photography offers a small taste of what the routes have to offer. The guide also includes useful advice for those new to cycling or cycle touring.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's easy riding on the flat expanses of the west of the county and the gentle undulations of Arnside and Silverdale or the Ribble Valley. More stirring challenges are found in 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 Lancashire Cycleway
Bike choice and setup
Potholes and pitfalls
Deviations from the route
Maps, apps and timings
Using this guide
The Northern Loop
Stage 1a The Lancaster Link
Stage 1 Halton to Hornby
Stage 2 Hornby to Slaidburn
Stage 3 Slaidburn to Whalley
Stage 4 Whalley to Bilsborrow
Stage 5 Bilsborrow to Great Eccleston
Stage 6 Great Eccleston to Halton
The Southern Loop
Stage 7 Whalley to Laneshaw Bridge
Stage 8 Laneshaw Bridge to Holcombe Brook
Stage 9 Holcombe Brook to Appley Bridge
Stage 9a The Wigan Link
Stage 10 Appley Bridge to Croston
Stage 11 Croston to Whalley
Day Ride 1 Lancaster–Silverdale one-way
Day Ride 2 Lancaster–Silverdale–Lancaster
Day Ride 3 Lancaster–High Bentham
Day Ride 4 Lancaster–High Bentham–Lancaster
Day Ride 5 High Bentham–Slaidburn–High Bentham
Day Ride 6 High Bentham–Long Preston
Day Ride 7 Clitheroe–Slaidburn–Clitheroe
Day Ride 8 A circuit from Whalley
Day Ride 9 A circuit from Colne
Day Ride 10 Colne–Accrington
Day Ride 11 Entwistle–Haslingden–Ramsbottom–Entwistle
Day Ride 12 A circuit from Leyland
Day Ride 13 A West Lancashire circuit
Day Ride 14 Preston–Whalley
Day Ride 15 Whalley–Longridge–Whalley
Day Ride 16 Preston–Longridge–Woodplumpton–Preston
Day Ride 17 Kirkham–Lancaster
Appendix A Further information
Appendix B Transport
Appendix C Bike shops
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"domiciled in garstang, a few miles north of preston, jon sparks resides pretty much in the centre of his world, ideally situated to be better acquainted with the surrounding roadways than the majority of his readers. which, to place not too fine a point upon it, is precisely the sort of fellow i'd want to be guiding me around the lancashire countryside north west of manchester.
all [routes] are extremely well illustrated with both photographs and clearly defined maps, while sparks' narrative takes the prospective rider from start to finish via every turn in the route.
those northern and southern loops, while suitable for one-day rides by the intrepid cyclist aboard an appropriately speedy machine, are further split into smaller rides that might also occupy a more leisurely approach, festooned with a modest quantity of coffee and cake. each to their own; it's very much to the author's credit that his organisation of the book's contents allows for a very wide interpretation of what constitutes energetic and exploratory cycling.
if you plan on holidaying in the lancashire area for a day or considerably longer, it ill-behoves you to leave home without a copy of this book either in a jersey pocket or ensconced within a bar bag."
Brian Palmer, the Washingmachine Post
The guide makes imaginative use of the rail network. Admirable form a green perspective, this strategy allows a wider variety of day routes to be offered, as well as escapes options. It would be entirely possible to use bike and train to complete most of the routes described.
Overall, this guide can be recommended to get you away from the beaten track and to take you through some well-known beauty spots, as well. I have enjoyed reading it and will now tuck it into my jersey pocket and head for Wigan!
Seven Day Cyclist
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Jon Sparks is a photographer and writer based in Garstang. He has been a lover of cycling, especially cycling in Lancashire, for many years. His background includes riding road races and hill climbs very badly, and time trials not quite so badly. More recently he's become a dedicated mountain biker and has also ridden a number of road sportives.
Jon is also a walker and (now very occasional) rock climber and mountaineer. He is a member of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild.