“Slow tourism”, they call it. No mountains to conquer, no exhilarating five-mile descents, no twisting singletrack. That’s not what the Bay Cycle Way is about. On the other hand, if you could be tempted by a relaxing tour with stunning, slowly shifting sea views, locally caught fish and rare birds to spot, this is your route.
Opened in 2015, the Bay Cycle Way hugs the coast for 80 miles from Barrow-in-Furness, through Morecambe and Lancaster, to the sleepy canal port of Glasson Dock. There are just ten hills on the whole route, and the only difficult one has sticky toffee pudding at the top. (Really.)
And there’s a lot to see: not just the views over Morecambe Bay, but the miniature port of Glasson Dock, Morecambe’s art deco architecture, and a brace of market towns and sleepy villages. It’s possibly the only cycle tour where you’re unlikely to lose weight – if the sticky toffee pudding doesn’t get you, the oysters, cheese, chocolates and artisan bread will…
Almost all the route is paved, so any bike should be fine: hybrid, road bike, or (given the lack of hills) even your normal commuting bike.
At 80 fairly flat miles, it’s a comfortable two-day or long-weekend ride for the regular cycle tourer, and no doubt there are people who’ll polish it off in one. But it would be a shame to rush it. Consider taking longer over it, especially if it’s your first ride – a four-day holiday would really give an opportunity to enjoy the local area.
Absolutely. The route is short enough to be achievable, long enough to feel like an achievement. There aren’t many hills, and the attractions and views are plentiful enough to make this the ideal route to win your reluctant partner over to cycle touring. The intention is that “you’ll never be far from a loo, a view or a brew”.
Occasionally you’ll encounter a little more traffic than you’d expect on a National Cycle Network route, but it’s never oppressive, and you can duck onto the footway if you’re really apprehensive.
Yes. The route is mostly signposted as National Cycle Network route 700, but there are stretches on routes 70, 6 and 69. A few short sections follow modestly busy roads and therefore aren’t eligible to form part of the NCN until an off-road path is built. For those parts, just look out for the circular Bay Cycle Way logo.
The intention is to develop loops and spurs along the way, but right now only the main route is open. That said, the Bay Cycle Way weaves in and out of other NCN routes, so you could easily add in a few excursions or diversions. Kendal is just six miles away by NCN, Carnforth will appeal to devotees of Brief Encounter, and the southern tip of Lake Windermere is only four miles from Low Wood.
There’s a train station at Barrow-in-Furness, the northerly start of the ride, on the ‘Cumbrian Coast Line’ which follows the coast from Lancaster to Carlisle. Guards on the route are accustomed to cyclists, principally those arriving for the C2C, so you shouldn’t have any problems getting on.
At the other end, there’s no station at Glasson Dock but you can retrace your steps for the last six (level) miles to Lancaster.
There are several stations along the way, so you can break your journey if convenient.
If you’re travelling from further afield, you’ll probably arrive at Lancaster by a long-distance train (Virgin or Transpennine Express) on which bike reservations are compulsory.