Indeed for a cycle route that must inevitably cross both the Pennines and the Yorkshire wolds, it's extraordinary how much carefree and, indeed, car-free riding there is to be had. Throw in the fact that the prevailing westerly wind often gives a helping hand over the hills, and you've got yourself a gauntlet that even fair-weather cyclists can pick up. I have to say though, that I didn't expect leaving Morecambe to be such a wrench. If you should read a "top 10 hotels with great sea views" that doesn't include the town's Midland Hotel — an art-deco swirl of stone all alone on the front — it's not much of a list.
In the morning I drew the curtains to gaze on what looked like a thousand islands dissolving into a blazing Irish Sea, but turned out to be a huge sweep of Cumbrian coastline and some cleverly placed sea mist. All too soon I was joining my fellow debutants on the promenade and listening to a pep talk from Rupert, an impressive Lycra-clad man who helped devise the route and who would ensure we didn't stray from it. We said our farewells to the sea and were soon bowling along a wide cycle path next to the river Lune.
The game was afoot. In my view, and I don't think it's a particularly controversial one, there are two things that make for a really good bike ride: cracking views and plentiful refreshment stops. The Pennines, we were fairly sure, would not disappoint us with regard to the former. With four blazing hot days of cycling ahead of us, we would just have to ride in hope of the latter. As it happened, almost every time we crossed a bridge — and there was always another river to cross — a teashop or pub tempted us. There was an ancient cottage smothered in yellow roses where homemade lemonade and scones magically appeared at our table; tearooms at the back of farm shops piled high with local delicacies; cafes in the quiet back streets of somnolent towns; a National Trust teashop at a lovely red-brick Georgian mansion and the largest monastic ruins in Britain take a bow, Beningbrough Hall and Fountains Abbey ; and no end of rustic pubs.
Coasting across England
The crunching hill out of Settle lifted us from the Forest of Bowland into a high region of the Pennines, home only to sheep, curlews, dry-stone walls and the occasional wind-blown tree. From there we enjoyed the roller-coaster ride that took us plunging into one Yorkshire dale and soaring up to the next. But the Way of the Roses is not just about bucolic charm. In the commendably compact city of Ripon we witnessed a ceremony that, rather astonishingly, has been enacted every day at 9pm without fail for 1, years.
An elderly gentleman decked out in impressive regalia blew an archaic horn at four corners of an obelisk in the main square.
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In his spiel-cum-disarming-stand-up-routine afterwards he explained how, in days of yore, Ripon householders would pay a small amount to the hornblower as the city's gates were closed. If they were burgled in the night, he would compensate them. And thus was born the concept of home contents insurance. Ride along Morecambe's seaside cycle way Take the Bay Cycle Way at your own pace, stopping off for awesome views and to sample delicious local food.
Location: Morecambe Bay, Lancashire. Cycle along the new China Trail Grab your bike and explore the new cycle trail linking Stoke-on-Trent's 'China' attractions to celebrate the 'China' anniversary of the National Cycle Network. Location: Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. Go cycling in the Yorkshire Wolds Swap four wheels for two to enjoy some of the best big skies and back roads cycling in England. Location: Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire.
Journey from coast to coast across England A journey from coast to coast across Northern England takes you through stunning scenery and is an adventure you can make on foot or by bike.
Location: Various, North Yorkshire. Follow themed cycle trails through Haldon Forest Park Get active under 3, acres of forest canopy, with purpose-built cycling trails for all abilities at Haldon Forest Park Location: Exeter, Devon.
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Location: Bentley near Farnham to Portsmouth, Hampshire. Join a mass cycle ride in Central London with RideLondon Get on your bike and enjoy two days of special cycling events as part of the RideLondon festival — including a public FreeCycle through London. Location: Central London, Greater London.
Location: Rutland. Location: Gloucestershire, Cotswolds. Cycle cities and moors like a Tour de France pro From the Grand Depart start line in Leeds cyclists can roll through the quiet winding roads of the spectacular Yorkshire Dales. Location: Leeds, West Yorkshire.
Explore the Lake District on two wheels The Lake District was made for cycling, with everything from challenging off-road mountain biking routes to gentle country lanes on offer. Location: Lake District, Cumbria. Location: Canterbury, Kent.outer-edge-design.com/components/mspy/4360-cell-phone.php
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Conquer the Bristol to Bath Cycle Path This former railway line links Bristol and Bath by one off road path allowing you to cycle the 13 miles between the two cities. Location: Bristol. Location: Durham Dales. Location: Tyne Valley, Northumberland. Experience the Wiltshire countryside at different speeds With three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and over 8, footpaths within its borders, Wiltshire provides a breath-taking backdrop for outdoor adventure.
Location: Wiltshire. Enjoy a right royal bike ride in Norfolk Grab your bike and head to Norfolk for the perfect cycling break with a royal twist. Location: Norfolk. Location: Padstow to Bodmin, Cornwall. Cycle ride around Millington Dale and Warter Enjoy a day cycling this Location: Millington, East Riding of Yorkshire.
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