Riding in Cumbria
It probably goes with out saying the Cumbria is one of the most beautiful places to ride in the UK, with its epic mix of Hills, Valleys and well to be honest more hills. Whether it’s a long hill, a short hill, a steep hill, a never ending hill or gentle hill there really is something for everyone. That said there are a few flat rides around the Kendal area heading to the coast and at least 1 flat ride up the Lune valley from Sedbergh where we are based.
Here are three of my favourite rides from Sedbergh, but even if your not from here it’s worth travelling over for.
The route starts in Sedbergh and goes out towards Hawes through Garsdale, on the way up there is some open common land so watch out for sheep, there are a few statistics when it comes to sheep so beware:
- The sheep has just crossed the road, 70% chance the sheep will turn and cross back over the road
- The sheep is looking in the opposite direction, 50% chance the sheep will cross the road
- The sheep has a lamb that is on the other side of the road, 100% the sheep will cross the road, so just keep an eye out for them.
To be honest they just aren’t the brightest!
The route goes up Garsdale, it’s a 11 miles of gentle uphill (only a couple of % gradient) all the way to the Moorcock Inn where you take a left, the road goes up and over the tops before dropping back off after crossing the rail way, and then the fun really begins. It is a lovely long descent with very little traffic. The route then takes a left past the ruins of Pendrangon Castle before heading up and over the Tommy Road. The views from the top are spectacular and you may even come across the herd of wild horses. As you head off Tommy road turn left on to the Kirkby Stephen to Sedbergh road. There is a pretty awesome road sign warning of Rhinos to look out for, always good for a selfie. Then the ride heads back down through Cautley and into Sedbergh. If you want a lunch stop Ravonstonedale, which is about 2 miles off the route has two amazing pubs, the Black Swan and the Kings Head, but be careful you don’t over indulge, it’s pretty easy to do when everything tastes so good.
2/ The Coal Road, 37km of hard work, and 697m of climbing, enjoy!
In summer we ride this nearly every Thursday evening as a time trial, yes that’s right we are slightly mad. There are 2 ways to do the loop, Garsdale to Dent or Dent to Garsdale and the age old discussion of which way is harder. Following the latter option you head out of Sedbergh towards dent, the road is a single lane quiet country road. Pass through Dent over the Paris-Roubaix style cobbled section (it’s only about 200m long though) when you have gone through Dent Village bear left towards Cowgill, the coal road has it own sign and is a left turn. You climb a couple of sharp steep corners up to the station, before continuing to climb up to the top, the gradient gets over 20% in places. It really is a tough climb, but you get to see right down the valley from the top, before flying down the descent, some of the road surface is not the best and it’s pretty steep. You go past Garsdale station before turning left at the bottom and joining the road back to Sedbergh. The ride back in is all down hill and you can get some pretty awesome speeds up chain ganging down the valley, just watch out for the red squirrels, they don’t have the best road sense.
I have had mixed experiences on the coal road, the first time I was sweating so much I couldn’t see, and the second time it was so hot that the road was melting on the descent which made it a bit interesting to say the least, I was slightly relieved to still be alive when I reached the bottom. That said if you are near Sedbergh its defiantly on the must climb list!
Head out of Sedbergh towards Kirkby Stephen, and apologies but it is uphill for 12 miles. About 5 miles out of Sedbergh on the left is Cautley spout waterfall, which is well worth a look, you can see it from the Cross Keys car park. The road passes through a few areas of common land, (please refer to the sheep advice above). From the right turn at the junction the road into Kirkby can be a bit busy so it you want to avoid it, heading over Tommy road will add in a little more climbing, some stunning views and wild horses and a great descent down the valley to Kirkby. When you reach the mini roundabout in Kirkby turn left and then follow signs towards Orton. You climb out of Kirkby then over the tops where it feels very wild and unspoilt before dropping in to Orton.
There are a couple of café options, the Chocolate Shop, which staying true to its name does amazing hot chocolate and also the Silver Yard which does a mean cheese scone. After Orton head towards Tebay, after you cross the motor way there are 2 options, the first taking the first left under the viaduct, then heading right, which takes you along the bottom of the Howgills and back into Sedbergh along Howgill lane. The second option which is a long old drag up parallel to the motor way towards Greyrig. When you get the the mast on the top turn left towards Firbank and enjoy! Another amazing descent with stunning views. You will pass a disused viaduct and continue descending, it really is one to put a smile on your face. Eventually you will reach the Sedbergh to Kendal road, turn left and it’s just a few miles back into Sedbergh.
The bad bit, the weather can be pretty extreme and change rapidly especially if you are high up. The met office forecasts seem to be pretty reliable but it’s always worth checking the one at Shap because of the altitude, even in summer I always pack a gilet and a pair of arm warmers just incase.
Places to eat…. You are pretty spoilt for choice really, in Sedbergh the Three Hares is actually incredible, everything is made on site by Nina who gets up at 3am to make the bread, and their cakes are outstanding. Duo is another Sedbergh favourite mine. The bakery in Kirkby Lonsdale does a good cake or if you are after something a bit bad then the butchers do pie, peas and gravy, my guilty pleasure. If you are heading out towards Kendal and the lakes a couple of my favourite mid ride cafés include Wilfs in Stavely, where they serve a wicked vegi chilli, and across the car park from Wilfs, the More Artisan bakery makes the most amazing lemon cake, it’s worth riding 14 miles for me to get some, and I have been known to ride back home with a baguette in my pocket! There is also some great mountain biking around Stavely on Kentmere and Long Sleddale, along bridle ways with stream crossings which I always manage to fall in (don’t ask).
Other things about Sedbergh and Cycling. Cycling has become a bit of an attraction in Sedbergh. Of course it is where Cyclista was founded and it’s where we test ride all our new designs. If our ladies cycle jerseys don’t make the grade on the Tommy road or, our ladies bib-shorts don’t keep you comfy on the coal road they don’t make it into the range.
In 2016 Sedbergh is also hosting the Sedbergh Cycle Festival with the Sedbergh Sportive, as features in Cycling Active Magazine, a Grass track race and lots of exciting stands selling bike kit. The sportive has 3 different distance options with the long route taking in the Tour De France Butter Tubs climb.
Happy Cycling xx