Majestic egrets dart in and out of the rocky coastline, their silhouette reflected onto the wet, sandy shore. Boats bob peacefully in the harbours of historic fishing villages, long forgotten in time. Mighty rivers wind through evergreen valleys completing their journey towards the sea. Life slows down as you follow the Bay Cycle Way around the edges of Morecambe Bay – relax and enjoy the ride.
This Collection presents the spectacular 95 mile (153 km) route from Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria to Glasson Dock in Lancashire. Each stage varies in length from 8.7 miles (14.1 km) to 19.7 miles (31.7 km) with no more than 885 feet (270 m) elevation gain in one day, making it the perfect choice for your first bike tour or a trip with the whole family.
As this route is ideal for novice riders, I’ve broken it down into seven easy stages. However, if you are a more seasoned tourer, you could easily complete the route in one weekend. Just don’t forget to leave enough time to visit the sights.
You will ride mostly on quiet lanes, minor roads, and cycle paths. However, traffic can sometimes be busier than you would expect for a National Cycle route so you should be fairly confident on roads. Don't worry though, as you can usually hop onto the pavement and push for short, busier stretches.
The nature around Morecambe Bay is spectacular and varied as you alternate from maritime scenes to leafy countryside. Narrow lanes twist through ancient farmland and marshy nature reserves, along gushing rivers, and to the edges of the Lake District National Park. You are bound to lose yourself in the incredible nature around every corner.
The route has a good road surface and little mud, so any bike is a suitable steed for this adventure, even your city bike. It is also e-bike friendly, with charging points located around the bay.
As you ride, a coffee and slice of cake are never far away. Foodies will be in heaven here – ice cream shops, artisan bakeries, oysters and the locally caught fish of the day will all tempt you on the way. If that isn’t enough, you also visit Cartmel village, the birthplace of Sticky Toffee Pudding!
En route, you will discover fascinating history in Cumbria and Lancashire as you visit medieval manor houses, crumbling castle walls, historic train lines, the cobbled streets of historic fishing villages, beautiful Georgian architecture and the impressive city of Lancaster.
There is a train station in Barrow-in-Furness, making it easy to reach the start of your adventure by rail. Just don’t forget to book a (free) ticket for your bike. You can also return home by train from Lancaster at the end of your adventure.
For train tickets and timetables, visit: thetrainline.com/stations/barrow-in-furness
For more information on the Bay Cycleway, visit: sustrans.org.uk/find-a-route-on-the-national-cycle-network/bay-cycle-way
Crashing waves hugging rugged cliffs, fishing boats bobbing in the harbour, wild coastal islands and crumbling castles rising above the sea – stage 1 is a salty adventure from Piel Castle to Sales. Today is a relatively flat 19.7 miles (31.7 km).From Piel Island, take the causeway to Walney Island, the largest of the Furness Islands. Here a gentle ride along the island awaits as you skirt around Biggar village and ride into Barrow-in-Furness. Take care riding as this area can be very windy! If you want to shorten the route, you can skip the first section and begin your ride from this historical town. Once at the centre of the world’s steel and iron industries and a leader in ship building, Barrow-in-Furness has a wealth of history to discover. There’s also plenty of shops, restaurants and cafes to refuel. From the town, follow the coast eastwards, taking a small detour to visit the picturesque Roa Island. Look out for Rampside Lighthouse as you ride, turning inland just before Newbiggin. Next, pedal along peaceful lanes through hedge-lined farmland and through Leece village. The farm runs a B&B if you want to finish early. Pass through Gleaston, a pretty village of greystone cottages, and head further into the countryside. Gleaston Castle and Mere Tarn are great places to take a break before reaching Scales village, the end of stage 1. Located on the edge of the Lake District, this small village is well setup for tourists with a few accommodation options.
Stage 2 is a wonderful ride through Furness Peninsula, leading from Scales to Greenodd. With 853 feet (260 m) of elevation gain, today is fairly easy riding. The day begins through tranquil countryside: dry-stone walls, patchwork fields and grazing sheep line the way. At Birkrigg Common, veer off the official route slightly to visit Urswick Tarn. There’s a pub on the western side of the shore where you could stop for a bite to eat or coffee. Rejoin the official route and pass through the historic Birkrigg Common where you can visit an ancient stone circle and enjoy the quiet countryside. Just after Bardsea village, you meet the coast once again, before turning inland towards Ulverston. Set amongst rolling countryside, Ulverston is a lovely town with plenty of things to see and do. It’s well worth spending a few hours exploring its quaint cobbled streets and varied history. The scenery from Ulverston to Greenodd is absolutely stunning. The road twists through historic pastures and bright hills, revealing the very best of the Cumbrian countryside. There are a few good pubs, bakery and chip shop in Greenodd where you can tuck into a hearty dinner, as well as various holiday rentals to stay the night.
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
Stage 3 bids goodbye to the Furness Peninsula as you ride an easy 7.9 miles (12.8 km) from Greenodd to Cartmel allowing you plenty of time to explore the area. From Greenodd, a bridge takes you over the River Leven and into Roudsea National Nature Reserve. Extending around the Leven Estuary, Roudsea is one of Britain’s most important woodlands thanks to its unique mossy and boggy landscape. This area is particularly prone to high wind, so check the weather forecast before setting off and take care when riding. Continue to follow the River Leven as it winds through the reserve and into Low Wood. This small village has plenty of fun attractions. You can take a boat trip to visit Berry Island in the river or jump on a steam train from Haverthwaite station. There’s also plenty of places to stop for lunch.Stock up on snacks before leaving Low Wood as the next section enters remote woodlands. The route now climbs into Bigland Woods, reaching its highest point at Bigland Tarn. The scenery here is spectacular with wide open views over the countryside and forested hillsides. You can enjoy the landscape all the way to Cartmel village, the end of stage 3. Located on the edge of the Lake District National Park, Cartmel is a lovely village with lots to offer. Here, you can find everything from fine dining restaurants to tea rooms, as well as plenty of accommodation. As the birthplace of Sticky Toffee Pudding, this is a great place to reward your effort thus far.
Forgotten forests, wildlife-rich nature reserves and the rocky crags of the stunning Lake District National Park – stage 4 is a beautiful day on your bike. From Carmel, the route heads slightly uphill before dropping down into Grange-over-Sands. Located between the mountains and the sea on the southern tip of the Cartmel Peninsula, this pretty town is a wonderful place to take a break from riding. You’ll find a huge range of shops, historical sites and places to get a bite to eat. Follow the coast and ride into Eggerslack Wood, a great place for a picnic and enjoy quiet nature. Next, continue along the coast before heading inland and into Meathop, a small village with a hotel. Take secluded lanes that wind through the countryside and skirt around Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve. With barely a car in sight, you can enjoy the marvelous countryside to yourself. Cross the A590 and continue along quiet tree-lined roads through farmland. The route is almost completely flat here, with one small hill to visit the impressive Whitbarrow Scar. Your final stop today is Levens village. Situated in the south of the Lake District National Park, Levens is a popular stop-off for cyclists and hikers alike. There’s a few B&Bs here where you rest your legs for the night.
Magnificent castles, stunning shoreline and beautiful views – today you will discover more of Cumbria’s delights as you ride 14.4 miles (23.2 km) from Levens to Silverdale. From Levens, take a 1.8 mile (3 km) detour to visit the spectacular Sizergh Castle. The mirage of the medieval house reflected onto a calm lake is something not to be missed. Next, cross the River Kent and ride southwards, passing Levens Hall Elizabethan house along the way. The route then joins the River Kent Estuary, passing through Sandside and into Arnside. A former fishing port, Arnside enjoys gorgeous views over the estuary. There’s also plenty of places to stop for coffee or lunch, as well as a village shop. Take a quiet lane around the edge of Arnside Knott, passing the crumbling walls of Arnside Tower before riding through Far Arnside and into Silverdale Woods. This unique woodland enchants with its rare plants and grassy landscapes. It’s a wonderful end to stage 5, which finishes in Silverdale village nearby. Here, you will find plenty of places to eat and accommodation to ensure you have a restful stay.
From tranquil canals to stunning 13th-century manor houses, stage 6 showcases the very best of Lancashire. Today you will ride 14.4 miles (23.3 km) from Silverdale to Morecambe. From Silverdale, the route twists and turns towards Leighton Moss Nature Reserve, a beautiful stretch of saltmarsh landscape which is especially beautiful at dawn and dusk, when the light reflects off the water. Next, the route climbs up to 328 feet (100 m) through grassy parkland on its way to Leighton Hall. A glorious descent brings you down into Warton, a tranquil village with an interesting past. In the 13th century, members of the Washington family lived here. It is thought that their Coat of Arms inspired the US flag. After exploring the historic streets and quaint cafes of the village, skirt around Carnforth as you edge closer to Morecambe Bay.Here, you meet the Lancaster Canal and ride along its traffic-free tow path through Bolton le Sand. On the outskirts of Hest Bank, the route switches to a cycle path along the edge of Morecambe Bay. This beautiful stretch has wonderful views over the bay, afterwhich the route was named. Take your time to enjoy every minute. Your final stop is Morecambe, a thriving seaside town perfect for building sandcastles and eating ice cream on the beach. The town is popular with holidaymakers, especially in summer, so you will find everything you need for a pleasant stay.
The final stage of the Bay Cycleway takes you on a magical journey from Morecambe Bay to the wonderful city of Lancaster and along the River Lune. With almost no climbing, today you ride an easy 10.8 miles (17.5 km).From Morecambe, follow a cycle path through the urban surroundings all the way to Lancaster. With countless museums, parks, quirky boutiques and galleries, Lancaster spoils its visitors. There’s also many great places to stop for food and drink of course. If you need to stock up on snacks, do this before leaving Lancaster as you won’t find any places to stop until the end of the stage.After enjoying the city, follow the River Lune Millennium Track for the next 4.6 miles (7.5 km). This wonderful traffic-free section allows you to fully enjoy the calm riverside surroundings. Watch out for muddy sections, especially after rain. Glasson Dock village marks the end of the Bay Cycleway and this lovely adventure. This pretty village is steeped in history and charms visitors to this day. You’ll find a handful of shops and restaurants in the village.The easiest way to return home is to backtrack to Lancaster. From here, you can easily take the train as the city has direct links to Manchester, London and Glasgow.For train tickets and timetables, visit: thetrainline.com/stations/lancaster