I used the abandoned railways of Lancaster for several cycle rides last year, and today I wanted to include the Lancaster Canal in a more varied circuit. Down the Lancaster Canal towpath, along the Glasson Link, take the old railway along the Lune Estuary, old railway to Morecambe, sea front to Hest Bank and complete back on the Lancaster Canal to the aqueduct over the Lune. Almost a figure of eight. Perhaps the map will explain what I intended.
I park up, as usual, at old Halton station. The area is busy with university oarpersons. I have to ride a couple of miles to join the canal at the Lune Aqueduct. I notice for the first time some exclusive looking riverside houses on the far bank, foliage normally obstructs the view. The air is still, allowing various strong aromas to float across from the adjacent industrial units; a hoppy smell, acetone and rubber. These are the only clues as to what transpires behind closed doors. I wonder what finds its way into the river.
You may remember me writing last October about ‘a good Samaritan’ who came to my aid, or more correctly my bike’s. Well, there he is again, I don’t need assistance today but stop for a chat, like old friends, and a photo.
There is a ramp leading up to the elevated canal right next to the Aqueduct. A well surfaced towpath leads me quickly through the centre of the city, passing the cathedral and warehouses on the way. I use a couple of crossover bridges which used to take the barge horses over without the need for uncoupling.
Soon I’m out into the countryside and the first people I meet are from my home village, walking the canal in stages, From here on I’m struggling. The towpath is very muddy and narrow. My tyres don’t grip and I slip and slide about, feeling in danger of a headlong dive into the canal. I walk the worst stretches.
Turning off onto the side canal to Glasson brings the same problems with the mud. There are six flights of locks on this stretch. I’m relieved and weary, arriving at Glasson Dock. I head straight over the bridge to my favourite café shop for a welcome rest, coffee and homemade pie, late breakfast/early lunch. I haven’t come far, but my average speed is well below 10mph.
Refreshed, I join the rail track alongside the estuary, the tide is out, for a much quicker ride back into the city. I pass right in front of the old warehouses, Harbour Master’s office and waterfront pubs of the renovated St. George’s Quay I need to explore this area of Lancaster more, the celebrated Maritime Museum is housed here. Ahead is the Millennium Bridge, which takes me across the Lune and onto the familiar rail track to Morecambe. St. George’s Quay is better viewed from this side.
The front at Morecambe is quiet, I have a quick ride down the stone pier before following the Bay around to Hest Bank. Side-streets take me back onto the Lancaster Canal and a much better towpath all the way to the balustraded Lune Aqueduct.
I’m pleased overall with this 28 mile circuit, level all the way with plenty of interest and of course those incomparable views across the bay. The second half of the ride has thankfully been far easier than those muddy canal paths to Glasson, for which I need to find an alternative before next time.