Monday, 22 Jul 2019

Lancashire Pennines

This is a hard old slog with very little flat road and some pretty challenging hills. Two of them have been used by cyclists as venues for national hill climb titles. It’s a rugged part of the country, full of gaunt valleys, witchy heights, squat little villages and big industrial towns. Lancashire Pennines is one of the most beautiful place in this world. The start is in Bury, birthplace of the first British racing cyclist to become a household name here and abroad. Reginald Hargreaves Harris was the Sir Chris Hoy of his day. He won Olympic medals, but the Olympics were restricted to amateurs back then; the real glory boys of the velodrome were the professional sprinters. Harris won four world professional sprint titles between 1949 and 1954, and he was dubbed ‘Milord’ by European track-racing fans for his fine manners and his love of fast cars and good living.

Lancashire Pennines - photo 1

Lancashire Pennines

Bury is on the outskirts of Manchester and at the foot of the Pennines (Lancashire Pennines), which you enter at Ramsbottom – and with a bang. You don’t have to climb the Rake – you can avoid it by carrying straight on where the route turns right as you enter town – but getting to the top of its 25 per cent slope feels good. Anyway, it’s only 950 metres long and the only really steep bit is at the start, and near the top, and … well, the bit in the middle is steep, too. A string of mill towns comes next as you follow the Rossendale valley over into Yorkshire and Todmorden, where the route switches into the upper Calder valley to climb onto Todmorden Moor. There’s a huge wind farm here along a high road called the Long Causeway, which eventually rewards you with amazing views over Burnley, Nelson and Colne, with the great bulk of Pendle Hill looming in the distance.

Lancashire Pennines - photo 2

Lancashire Pennines

Pendle Hill is an outlier of the Yorkshire Dales hills, and you brush the Dales in Barnoldswick. The route swings west from here to Clitheroe, where you enter witch country. The road over Pendle Hill crosses a lower peak called the Nick of Pendle, which is another regular hill-climb venue. It’s also the scene of a harrowing tale from the 17th century, when a number of Pendle women were blamed for some deaths in the area, convicted of witchcraft and hanged. The story gives the hill a spooky air and it’s said to be one of the most haunted places in the country. From Pendle the route dips into the Hyndburn district, skirts Accrington and then goes through the pretty village of Whalley. As you climb up the side of Whalley Nab, check out Whalley Arches on your right; it’s a 48-span viaduct across the Calder valley. Whalley was where the first Roses cricket match between Lancashire and Yorkshire was played back in 1867.

Lancashire Pennines - photo 3

Lancashire Pennines

It’s not easy to find a countryside way through the ribbon of towns above Bury, but there’s one between Blackburn and Oswaldtwistle, which leads out onto the Hoddlesden moors and over to Edgworth for a moorland run back to the black-pudding capital of Britain. It’s said that so much of this sausage made from pig’s blood is consumed in Bury that the standard test for possible bowel cancer, blood in faeces, doesn’t work here. There, I bet you are glad you know that. On a lighter and more wholesome note, the Bury Black Pudding Company supply Harrods with the delicacy.  Head north on the B6214. Turn right onto the A676 into Ramsbottom and turn left at the second church on your right to climb the Rake. Turn right at the top on the B6214 and follow this road to Helmshore where you turn right.

Lancashire Pennines - photo 4

Lancashire Pennines

Go over the A56 dual carriageway and turn right immediately after the roundabout, following the hospital sign. Go straight ahead at the next junction onto the A681 to Bacup. Turn right at the roundabout, still following the A681 to Todmorden.  Turn left at the roundabout near the church, then turn right to climb Stiperden Moor. Follow the summit ridge road and descend into Burnley. Turn right at the roundabout and right onto the A6114. Turn right onto the A682 and right onto the A56 and follow this road through Colne and north to Kelbrook; there, turn left onto the B6383 and ride through Barnoldswick. Take the last left in Barnoldswick and follow this road to Clitheroe.  From Clitheroe town centre follow signs to Pendleton, then climb the Nick of Pendle and descend through Sabden and turn left to climb Padiham Heights.

Lancashire Pennines - photo 5

Lancashire Pennines

Then go left and left again to Sabden Hall and Newchurch in Pendle, where you turn right, right and right again to Fence. Turn right on the A6068, cross the A671 and turn right onto the A678 to Clayton-le-Moors. Turn right onto the A680, then left onto the A671, then left again to Whalley. Turn left at the church and climb the side of Whalley Nab. Turn left at the top, descend to Rishton, and there turn right onto the A678. Go straight at the next junction, then take the second exit on the roundabout and go south to pick up the B6236. Turn right onto the B6231, then left at the roundabout, go over the M65 junction and turn right after the second pub. Follow this road to Edgworth, where you turn left and at the next junction take the B6213 back to Bury.

Lancashire Pennines - photo 6

Lancashire Pennines

Start + Finish. Lancashire Pennines: Bury.

Getting There. Lancashire Pennines: Bury is five miles north of Manchester. It has tram and train links with the city.

Bike Shop. Lancashire Pennines: Pilkington Cycles on Bolton Road.

Cafe. Lancashire Pennines: There are loads in and around Bury Market.

Local Delicacy. Lancashire Pennines: Black pudding.

Lancashire Pennines - photo 7

Lancashire Pennines

“Best 100-Mile Bike Routes”

Chris Sidwells

 

  •  
    8
    Shares
  • 8
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

2 thoughts on “Lancashire Pennines

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *