A trip to ride the fast L1015 10 mile course at Levens in South Cumbria provided an opportunity to collect the British Cycle Quest checkpoint at Leighton Moss RSPB reserve.
Parking in the layby close to Sizergh Castle which was to serve as the race headquarters for the evening time trial, we were ready to set off on the tandem just before 3.30 pm. There had been a few heavy showers on the drive down the M6 and clouds threatened further rain, but fortune was on our side and we stayed dry for our ride. After an initial false start (returning to the car to check if I had locked it!), we were riding generally south along mostly quiet lanes.
The route instructions on the Garmin didn't include all of the junctions, but we found our way to Ackenthwaite where we entered a narrow lane with a sign at the entrance stating it was Paradise Lane. After a few hundred yards there was a strip of grass down the middle which continued for the next mile, leaving a very narrow strip of tarmac to ride along, sometimes with potholes to avoid and overhanging foliage! Entertaining at first it was a relief to reach the A6 without meeting an oncoming vehicle as there had been no passing places.
The A6 was fairly quiet for the 2.5 miles we were on it before entering the lanes again to reach Leighton Moss RSPB reserve at 4.30 pm. We were just in time for tea at the cafe where Charlotte was delighted to find a choice of vegan cakes.
Having made use of their facilities and recorded the answer to the BCQ checkpoint we continued through Silverdale and along the coast to Arnside, where we were rewarded with a nice view across the Kent estuary towards the South Lakeland fells. We had hoped for continued views across the estuary as we pedalled northwards but only a section of the road is adjacent to the water.
At Milnthorpe we turned North on the A6 for a mile before turning right at Heversham past a sign warning of a narrow road with bad bends and steep gradient (most of which failed to materialise!), which returned us to retrace our outbound route for the last 4 miles of our ride.
Once again the Cycle Quest has lead me to explore a little corner of the country I'm sure I would otherwise not have done, and the lanes in this area are certainly worth a visit.