FAVOURITE PLACES TO RIDE, PART I: TROUGH OF BOWLAND

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The Forest of Bowland is very close to my heart. It lies between Lancaster and Clitheroe in Northern Lancs, and puts paid to the stereotype of Lancashire as a grim industrial county. Bowland is beautiful, both barren and lush, timeless and quiet. It’s an ideal alternative to the often manic tourism of The Lakes, which lie no more than an hour’s drive North.

20% Climb at Sykes, out of Dunsop Bridge

The Forest of Bowland is very close to my heart. It lies between Lancaster and Clitheroe in Northern Lancs, and puts paid to the stereotype of Lancashire as a grim industrial county. Bowland is beautiful, both barren and lush, timeless and quiet. It’s an ideal alternative to the often manic tourism of The Lakes, which lie no more than an hour’s drive North.

Bowland is where my wife Emmalou grew up and I’ve been visiting since and riding around there for 15 years. We even got married at the Inn at Whitewell, in the Trough of Bowland, a fantastic old unpretentious but cosy hotel with incredible English food and a perfect stop off for a pint or a long weekend. Weekends are booked up 1-2 years in advance though! It was featured in the first episode of The Trip, and Steve Coogan & Rob Brydon stayed there the whole time they were shooting.

Nick Hussey & Emmalou Johnson married
Emmalou & My Arm, Just Married at Whitewell (sentimentality hijacks the blog for a sec)

For road riding, I recommend a trip starting from Whitewell, go to Dunsop Bridge, head West around the Bowland Fells to Quernmore, then to Wray. You can see over Morecombe Bay and Heysham Nuclear Power Plant to the West as you climb. This is the less difficult part!

To complete the circle, head back to Slaidburn and then onto Dunsop Bridge again. 50 miles of unstinting beauty and some long steep climbs. Bring the compact! The hardest part are the Eastern fells towards Slaidburn. You’ll need a gilet or jacket for the often bitter winds and changeable weather. And the descent down into Slaidburn is awesome and challenging, with blind spots as the road briefly rises, or disappears behind tight bends. The roads are quiet, and to my constant amazement, being used to riding in SW London and Surrey, the drivers will stop and wait for you on narrow roads and before the numerous cattle grids.

Trough of Bowland, cycling
Sitting by Lythe Fell Road, Checking Results of Milan San Remo! (Awesome descent over the other side). *CLICK TO VIEW FLICKR GALLERY*

Gisburn Forest is the obvious destination for mountain biking. It’s got proper rated trails, for everyone from me and the Mrs when we go picnic pootling, to black routes for rocky full-suss challenges.

There’s loads of accommodation round here, though I can’t recommend that many places apart from Whitewell, as I always stay in Emmalou’s village, Chipping (which, along with Wray and Slaidburn, are very beautiful.)

Bridleway sign, mtb
Bridleways Galore

If you fancy it, give me a shout with any questions. Enjoy.

9 thoughts on “FAVOURITE PLACES TO RIDE, PART I: TROUGH OF BOWLAND”

  1. Absolutely true, always remember to stop, re-fuel and check out the ducks at Dunsop Bridge plus don’t tell too many people about it, we don’t want trains of cyclists heading North to unspoilt pastures x

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