HEART OF ENGLAND TOUR March 27th -29th
Dinner at our hotel near Stratford upon Avon
We drive through Stratford and loop through the village of Ilmington to take the view from Lark Stoke Hill and then double back to the typical Cotswold villages of Chipping Campden and Moreton in Marsh. A cross country run then takes us through more attractive villages at Little Compton and Long Compton on our way to a coffee stop at the fascinating Hook Norton Brewery. The navigators may like to sample the beer.
From the brewery more quiet lanes take us through the rolling countryside skirting Banbury and into Oxfordshire. We then take a big loop north on minor roads through classic English countryside to our lunch stop at the famous Silverstone Circuit museum.
After lunch we pass through Stoke Bruerne where there is the National Canal museum, as we head north to cross the M1 and pass through Salcey Forest. Avoiding the complex of Milton Keynes we zig-zag north east through open countryside to Grafham Water for a stop for tea on the lakeside.
The final leg of the day takes us north of Cambridge and into the flat lands of the Fens and our riverside hotel near Newmarket.
DAY 2 Tuesday
Today we start by crossing the ‘Bedford Level’ on some long straight roads before we pass through Ely with its impressive Cathedral. We then head north on more absolutely straight roads alongside the ‘100ft washes’, an area of land isolated between two straight rivers. Turning west we cross the ‘Middle Level’ on slightly less straight roads as we enter the heart of the Fens, passing ‘The Holme Fen Posts’, the lowest point in England, before a stop for coffee at a near by pub.
After coffee we meander through slightly more interesting countryside, still on minor roads. After passing through the ancient town of Oundle we make our way through pleasant parkland following the ‘Willow Brook’. This leads us to Harringworth and the spectacular Welland Viaduct, the longest railway viaduct in Britain. Another little detour takes us around the picturesque Eyebrook Reservoir before we make our way to lunch at the impressive Rockingham Castle, where on a good day you can see six counties.
From Rockingham we make our way north to actually climb a steep hill, the first of the tour! This takes us past Neville Holt School before we loop south of Market Harborough and into generally more hilly country. A run across ‘the heart of England brings us to our final hotel north of Leamington Spa.
3 nights £899
SCOTLAND E-W 500
Thursday 12th Dinner at The Villa Levens
For 2022 we will once again try to show you the best bits of Scotland without using too many of the ‘honeypots’ such as the much vaunted North Coast 500. Although the theme of this tour is to travel across Scotland from East to West, we will start from near our base in Kendal as usual. We have been organising tours to Scotland from here for over 20 years, and have used a variety of routes north through beautiful scenery in Cumbria and the Borders, but always come to the same bottleneck between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and never really found a ‘pretty’ way around this. Therefore this time we will take a completely different route north with its own attractions.
DAY ONE FRIDAY 13th
We leave Kendal and head over the fells to Sedbergh and on up the scenic Cautley Valley under the flanks of the Howgill Fells, on a quiet ‘A’ road to Brough. We continue over wilder moorlands, past several reservoirs on our way to a stop for coffee at Eggleston Hall, and then even more remote hills and moors through Weardale to the picturesque Derwent Reservoir.
After passing through the market town of Hexham we take the main A68 road north and stop for lunch at Otterburn Mill. The route then goes through the edge of Kielder Forest and on to the official Border Crossing at Carter Bar, where we get superb views of the Cheviot Hills and Border countryside. A short run through some quiet country roads on the edge of the Cheviots brings us to our hotel for the night near Kelso.
O/N Dryburgh Abbey Hotel
From our hotel it is only a short run cross country to Scott’s View and on to Duns and the atmospheric Jim Clark museum. After a stop here to take in the history of this legendary driver we head out into open countryside over the Lammermuir Hills to the Whiteadder Reservoir and then drop down to the outskirts of Edinburgh. We take the ring road around to Leith and our major stop of the day when we visit the Royal Yacht Britannia. To round off the day we cross the newest Forth Bridge (or the ‘Third Crossing’) via Loch Leven to our hotel overlooking the Firth of Forth. There should be time for a brief visit to the original Forth Railway Bridge.
O/N The Old Manor
This morning we press on further north and cross the hills (via Falkland) to the shores of the Firth of Tay. We follow the shore eastward and cross the Tay Bridge into Dundee where we stop for coffee at RRS Discovery.
After coffee we follow the Firth inland for a way, passing the site of the old Tay railway bridge before turning north again across the Sidlaw Hills and Strathmore.
We now have a couple of little loops into remote and less known valleys of Glen Prosen and Glen Clova where we stop for lunch. After lunch we pass through Edzell and Fetercairn before climbing into the hills to reach the viewpoint at Cairn ‘O Mount, where on a clear day you can look back down over the coast to the North Sea.
We then drop down through the forest at Bridge of Dye and on into Deeside and our hotel near Aboyne.
O/N Lockinor Hotel
This morning we start with a loop around Loch Kinnord before cutting across country via some spectacular views of the valley below, on our way to the fascinating Grampian Transport Museum at Alford, where we stop for coffee. From here we head north through the forests briefly joining the main roads to Huntly and Crieff before a straight run on the B9016 brings us directly into Cullen, the home of Cullen Skink, the famous Scottish fish soup/stew. Of course it would be rude not to stop to sample this delicacy for lunch.
After lunch we follow the coast of the Moray Firth and North Sea westward. At Fochabers, home of Baxsters Soup, we turn south through some minor roads which bring us to Dufftown and another Scottish ‘delicacy’ as we visit the Glenfiddich Distillery. We won’t be able to indulge too much as there is still some driving to do, although it is largely on main A roads, but through some rugged countryside on our way back to Aboyne.
Today we head west past Balmoral Castle and onto a coffee stop in an out of the way golf club. After coffee we retrace our steps towards Balmoral but turn off into the mountains and the infamous climb to the Lecht Ski resort where you are literally on top of the world overlooking the Cairngorm mountains. Descending from the mountains we cut across flatter ground to a lunch halt at Nethy Bridge.
After lunch we head north again through Grantown on Spey and then via some quiet back roads towards Nairn. We cut through the forests and over open moors before passing under the spectacular Culloden Viaduct and a stop for tea at the Battle of Culloden visitor centre. It is then a main road run through Inverness to our hotel for the next three nights – Coul House.
O/N Coul House
A rest day with the option to do a short route and have a pic-nic at the end of a beautiful 15 mile cul de sac by a picturesque isolated loch.
O/N Coul House
Out into the wilds today! First we head to the east coast but avoid the busy NC500 on some lesser known minor roads, before a stop for coffee at Brora.
After refreshment we really get into the wilds as we head north west through the remote ‘Flow Country’ and stop at Britain’s most remote hotel for lunch.
After this delightful experience we continue over vast open spaces before turning south again to Loch Shin and Bonar Bridge before returning to the coast and a stop for tea in Invergordon where you might like a stroll through the ‘Mural Trail’ in the town centre. A final coastal run takes us past the mooring points for oil rigs and cruise ships on our way to Contin for our last night at Coul House.
O/N Coul House
‘Homeward bound’ we set off south today. We pass through Inverness again and then follow the quieter east side of Loch Ness to a coffee stop at Fort Augustus.
We then follow ‘the Great Glen’ to Spean Bridge before turning inland through Glen Spean and past Loch Laggan to briefly join the main A9 trunk road. We soon turn off onto minor roads which again take us over what seems like ‘the top of the world’ before descending to Loch Tummel and lunch at Queen’s View.
The afternoon run takes us along Loch Tummel and over the flanks of Schiehallion to Loch Tay and then the familiar run through Glen Quaich to our penultimate hotel near Perth.
O/N Balathie House
This is technically our last night but a route will be provided for tomorrow as below and an extra night’s accommodation can be arranged in Kendal if you wish to break your journey home. This will NOT be included in the tour fee.
We start by meandering our way through some scenic little backwaters as we head south to Dunblane. Here we pick up the M9 as the best way to get through the Glasgow/Edinburgh conurbation and stop for a coffee at the magnificent ‘Kelpies’ (huge steel horse sculptures).
We then have to thread our way through some built up areas before reaching the open countryside below the Pentland Hills. Our route then consists of some lovely ‘driving roads’ through the un-spoilt Borders countryside on our way to a lunch stop at Moffet.
Those wishing to get straight home can join the M74 here and head south. Those preferring to break their journey with another night stop can follow our route which runs parallel to the motorway on an almost forgotten B-road all the way to Gretna Green. The only practical way to get around Carlisle is to join the motorway for a while but we can then take the relatively quiet A6 through Penrith and over Shap Fells to Kendal and our final hotel.
OPTIONAL O/N Crooklands
9 Nights. Dinner, bed and breakfast for two people sharing £3,199
Lunch and/or coffee seven days.
Entry to Royal Yacht Brittannia, and Grampian Transport Museum.
OPTIONAL EXTRA 1 night B+B @ £110
THE WOLDS TO WINDERMERE TOUR July 3-7th
SUNDAY 3rd Dinner at Cave Castle Hotel nr Hull
DAY ONE Monday
From our hotel north of the Humber we drive straight into the rolling countryside of the Yorkshire Wolds. We go around Goodmanwold and through Market Weighton and then north into more hilly country. After passing through Warterwold we head down the steep sided valley to Millington and then north again on fairly straight roads before looping round the high ground to Kilnwick Percy for a coffee stop.
After coffee we pass through Pocklington and head north again through Bishop Wilton Wold and climb over the hill into the steep sided picturesque Water Dale. We then criss cross the rolling countryside on our way to lunch at Scampton Hall.
From lunch we take the main A64 road briefly before following some un-fenced roads across the open farmland before looping south to Weaverthorpe and then some straighter roads which take us back across the centre of the Wolds. We skirt Driffield and then take some even straighter minor roads towards Beverley before we return to Cave Castle for the night.
O/N Cave Castle
DAY TWO Tuesday
Today we leave South Cave and head immediately for North Cave. From here we meander north on quiet country roads towards Pocklington again but take a different route across relatively flat land until we briefly run along the edge of the Wolds through Leavening and then on to Malton. Here we stop for lunch at the fascinating Eden camp Museum.
From here we continue northward and soon leave the Wolds and pass through the Vale of Pickering and head for a change of scenery in on the edge of Dalby Forest. As we climb out onto the moors we pass the impressive Hole of Horcum, a large depression in the surrounding moorland before we cross Fylingdales Moor. Descending from the moors we pass through Goathland which featured as Aidensfield in the TV programme ‘Heartbeat’. This also gives us our first view of the Yorkshire Moors Steam Railway. We don’t stop here however (unless you want to visit the ‘Aidensfiels Arms’ and ‘Script’s garage’) as we continue into the picturesque Esk Valley and stop for tea at Grosmont, the headquarters of the railway. Steam ‘buffs’ may like to visit the engine sheds and workshops. We then climb out of the valley with views of the North Sea ahead before by-passing the town of Whitby on our way to our hotel.
DAY THREE Wednesday Moors and Dales
Today is a real driving day as we explore the Yorkshire Moors more thoroughly. From the hotel we head south and soon drop into the deep valleys on the edge of the moors. We pass through Glaisdale and continue to Rosedale where we climb the infamous 1 in 3 Rosedale Chimney. Once over the summit we descend again towards Hutton Le Hole before climbing again to the highest point of the moors, Blakey Ridge, and a coffee stop at the Lion Inn.
Heading north again we cross the Cleveland Hills and drop down into the valley with views ahead of the fascinating Roseberry Topping, a strange hill feature created by mining subsidence. We then meander westward through the Esk valley and the village of Ingleby Greenhow before climbing to the viewpoint at Clay Hill.
After taking in the view over the forest to the surrounding hills and the Captain Cook monument, we head back briefly to the moors and then make our final descent with panoramic views over the flat countryside to the north of the Vale of York. We cross the flat land and the A1 near Scotch Corner before stopping for lunch in the market town of Richmond.
We are now in the Dales and follow the beautiful countryside of Swaledale and into Wensleydale via Bolton Castle. We travel the length of Wensleydale and on into Garsdale to Sedbergh, where we pass Wainwright’s ‘Sleeping Elephants’. It is only a short run now on familiar roads to The Villa Hotel south of Kendal for our last two nights.
O/N The Villa
Day Four Thursday Windermere (and other Lakes).
A fantastically scenic way to finish the tour – although from The Villa we first have to drive into Kendal. However on the approach, the Lake District hills soon begin to look inviting beyond the town and we take to minor roads very quickly. The first stunning surprise is the view from Scout’s Scar where we turn a corner and suddenly see the Lyth Valley below and the whole of the Kent Estuary as it meets Morecambe Bay. We drop steeply down into the valley and then follow it to the shores of Windermere. We pass the busy ‘honeypot’ of Bowness Bay and carry on to Troutbeck and Kirkstone Pass.
Here we turn around and head back down – but not down the pass, but the alarmingly named ‘The Struggle’. Fortunately it is not so much of a struggle going down as it is up! We get some brief views of Windermere as we negotiate the sharp bends on the way into Ambleside, but then skirt the northern end of the Lake on our way to the picture postcard scenery of Tarn Hows. Coffee on the shores of Coniston Water is an appropriate conclusion to the morning’s epic scenery.
The afternoon does not disappoint however as we continue down the shore of Coniston and then double back through the edge of the mighty Grizedale forest on our way to lunch, back on the shores of Windermere at Lake Side.
The final run keeps up the standard of the day as we climb Gummers How with more views down the length of Windermere and then descend into the Winster Valley via the hairpin bends of Strawberry Bank. The very last section is along the Kendal by-pass back to Crooklands, but even here you get views over the Kent valley to Farleton Knott.
All that remains after this scenic feast, is the farewell dinner.
O/N The Villa
5 nights Dinner, Bed & Breakfast £1399
DUBLIN TO DONEGAL via Galway, Clifden, and the Wild Atlantic Way
We arrive in Dublin in late afternoon on the ferry from Holyhead. The tunnel and ring road help us avoid the worst of the city traffic as we make our way to our hotel for the night near NAAS some 20 miles west of Dublin.
A leisurely start to the day as we visit the Irish National Stud in nearby Kildare. After a tour of this fascinating and beautiful place we can have a coffee before setting off across country through the ‘Bog of Allen’. This is a rather flat and featureless peat producing area but it leads us to Edenderry and the historic Blundell Aqueduct. This is more just a bridge than a spectacular viaduct but it carries the canal over the road which passes below through a deep stone cutting. We then head further west, past Tullamore and on to the ancient St Brendan’s Cathedral and onto Galway town for our second night.
We leave Galway town and follow the shores of the famous Galway Bay, passing the sandy beaches at Silverstrands, as we follow part of the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’. We follow this tourist route for some miles along the beautiful coastline and turn north with views of the many scattered islands until we reach the remote boggy area near Clifden, where Alcock and Brown finished there first trans Atlantic air flight. We can make a little detour to their monument before having lunch at a ‘castle’ just the other side of town.
After lunch we take the breathtaking ‘Sky Road’ which runs along the cliff tops above the rugged Atlantic coast line. Next we turn inland into the Connemara National Park heading towards the picturesque mountains and lakes of ‘Joyce Country’. The road north then takes a particularly scenic route between the Partry Mountains and Lough Mask as we make our way to the seaside town of Westport for the night.
The morning starts with a pleasant run through the quiet Glen Nephin to the shores of Lough Conn. Passing between Lough Conn and Lough Cullin we head north to Ballina and then turn inland again for a spectacular run through the Ox Mountains to the viewpoint at ‘Ladies Brae’ where you can see right across Sligo Bay to the Donegal Mountains. We skirt Sligo however, and Lough Gill, and cross the Dartry Mountains and pass the pretty Glenade Lough returning to the coast at another seaside town, Bundaron. It is then just a short main road run to our hotel near Donegal city.
We head north to Ardara and then follow the coast to a coffee stop at Dunglow. A short main road run leads us to more quiet countryside around Loch Nacung and Dunlevy Lough before climbing to the viewpoint above them as we enter the Glenvegh National Park where we can have lunch on Lough Veagh.
After lunch we return to the coast and follow it round through Ballymore to the beautiful Downings peninsula and our hotel overlooking the spectacular white sands of Rosappenna Bay. There is the option to complete the day with a circuit of the stunning Atlantic Drive, or, depending on the weather, you could do that before starting tomorrows run. OR, if the weather is good both days you could do it once in each direction as it forms a complete loop from the hotel.
o/n Rosapenna Beach Hotel (NOT the Rosapenna Bay Hotel)
A day in the famous Donegal Rally territory. We make are way across country on some interesting little roads to the shores of Loch Swilly. Following the shore northward we come to the breathtaking cliff top road which plunges down to the sandy beach at Knockalla. This is a very famous rally stage and hillclimb course (run in the opposite direction) and on those days the hills are packed with enthusiastic spectators. It should be very quiet when we arrive – except for the inevitable camper vans. Don’t worry though it is a good main road.
Another rally stage takes us round Fanad head, one of the most northerly points of Southern Ireland before we loop back inland. This takes us into some remote countryside where we surprisingly find the Fintown Narrow Gauge Railway running alongside picturesque Loch Fynne. Facilities are limited but we can stop for lunch.
The afternoon run takes us back into the rugged scenery between the Derryveagh and Glendowan Mountains before we suddenly drop down to yet another lake, the secluded Gartan Lough. A cross country run returns us to Rosappenna.
We head back to Letterkenny and then meander through the little lanes following a complete rally stage around the edge of the Blue Stack Mountains and then make a loop through Killeter Forest. We return to Donegal town via Lower Lough Erne, crossing the causeway to Boa Island and then back onto the ‘mainland’ passing many smaller lochs on the way back to the hotel.
O/N Mill Park Hotel
Today we follow Donegal Bay to the fishing village of Killybegs and then take the spectacular coastal route further west to ‘Father McDyers Folk Village’. From here we turn inland to the stunning views above Glengesh valley and continue along the northern edge of the Blue Stack Mountains to join the main road at Ballybofey. Heading south again we cross the imposing sounding Barnesmore Gap, which is actually a main road. We almost reach Donegal but make a little detour for lunch on the shores of Lough Eske. The afternoon is free to explore Donegal Town.
O/N Mill Park Hotel
The rolling Glens of Leitrim provide our route back to Dublin. We haven’t done with spectacular scenery just yet as we pass several more loughs and cross the Iron Mountains before joining the main road near Cavan. Our last leg follows the Boyne Valley before we reach our hotel on the coast at Malahide just north of Dublin.
O/N The Grand Hotel – TBC
The ferry home doesn’t leave until mid afternoon so there is time to just nip up the road (20 miles) to visit the excellent Battle of the Boyne Visitor centre. Alternatively you may like to go into Dublin to do a little shopping, or sample a pint at the Guinness factory.
9 NIGHTS D.B+B +FERRY £3349 (Subject to exchange rates)
WELSH HIGH ROADS TOUR 22
Y Rali Gogledd Cymru (The North Wales Rally) was a famous road rally run by the Rhyll and District club in the heyday of road rallying in the 1970’s, and still continues to this day as a very tough navigational event in the complex maize of lanes in North Wales. (It was one of the first rallies I did ‘off my own patch’ in a Mk1 1300GT Escort). Our tour will hopefully not be quite so complex but will use some of the traditional rally roads where they provide the best views of the area.
Sunday September 18th – Dinner at the Lion Quays nr Wrexham
DAY ONE – Monday 19th
We start the driving with a run up the A5 to Wrexham and then take the ‘B’ road to Minerva where we turn off onto the fabulous ‘World’s End’ road where from the summit on a clear day you can see as far as Merseyside. We descend past spectacular rock formations on the way down towards Llangollen. We don’t go into the town though as we make a detour via the un-pronounceable Pontcysylite Aqueduct. We then return to Llangollen by the main road and continue up the wonderful Horse Shoe Pass with views into the deep valleys below.
Once over the pass we continue on the main road to Ruthin and then make a big loop around Clocaenog Forest to stop for lunch at beautiful and tranquil Llyn Brenig.
From here we zig-zag north west on a mixture of A and B roads with some severe ascents and descents as we pass from valley to valley. We then head north, still on ‘B’ roads but on more level ground as we follow the Conwy Valley to our hotel situated on the estuary just outside Lladudno where we stay for the next two nights.
O/N The Quay Hotel (Conwy – not to be confused with Lion Quays where we were last night!)
DAY TWO – Tuesday 20th
We start with another main road run, the A55 which runs along the coast to Bangor. We go through the town and cross the Menai Straights onto Anglesey via the Menai Suspension Bridge. After a stop for coffee we return to the mainland by the Brittannia Bridge.
We then head south, following the coastal road onto the Lleyn Penninsula. After a little detour around the surprising little mountain of Ghyrn Dhu, we continue along the shores of Caernarfon Bay, almost to the end of the Penninsula. We then cross over to the other side and follow the shores of Cardigan Bay to the holiday resort of Pwllheli where we can have lunch, before heading inland on minor roads.
We now head into the heart of Snowdonia and its majestic mountains. A little B road short cut brings us out just above Beddgelert where we skirt round the south side of Snowdon before descending the impressive Llanberis Pass.
Another B road takes us across country to Bethesda where we climb back into the mountains on the A5 trunk road. We skirt the ‘honeypot’ of Betws Y Coed going through the forest back to the Conwy valley. A different B road follows the other side of the valley to yeasterday as we make our way back to the hotel.
O/N The Quay Hotel
DAY THREE – Wednesday 21st
Once again we start with a main road run. This time it is south through the Conwy Valley again for a while before we take to minor roads past Penmachno Forest. We then drop down to Bala taking the minor road along the south side of Llyn Celyn and through the town itself and along the shores of its eponymous lake. Then we tackle the breathtaking ‘Hell Fire Pass’, (or Bwlch y Groes – the highest pass in Wales) passing over the summit and making the spectacular descent to Dinas Mawdwy.
A short main road section gives time to get your breath back before we turn off through the forests to a lunch stop at the fabulous Lake Vyrny Hotel.
The afternoon run is mainly on A and B roads through rolling hills as we head to Ludlow via Welshpool and Bishops Castle.
O/N Fishmore Hall Hotel, Ludlow
Day Four Thursday 22nd
A day of ‘Kirk Roads’, Flowing B-roads and spectacular scenery.
First we head back to the Welsh Border and immediately into more mountainous country. The first section is on good B-roads before some minor roads through woods and over hills as we head towards Llandrindod Wells for coffee. After coffee we turn off into some really remote moorland roads to the north. We zig-zag our way across the moors and hills on open but narrow roads before re-joining another good B road, which takes us further north via some hairpin bends and interesting ascents and descents, before we cross the Kerry Ridgeway with views in all directions. This brings us to Newtown where we stop for lunch.
After lunch we make our way further north on good cross country roads before turning off on to more minor roads which lead us to the ‘piece de resistance’ of today’s route; The Long Mynd. We climb upto the ‘long mountain’ from the northern edge, then travel south along the ridge with views in all directions of the Shropshire Hills and Welsh Borders, before the stunning descent into the valley below.
Some more nice flowing B roads return us to Ludlow and our farewell dinner.
O/N Fishmore Hall Hotel, Ludlow
5 nights Dinner, Bed & Breakfast £1599
The Autumn Circuit of Cumbria
Sunday 23rd Welcome dinner at The Villa
DAY ONE Monday 24th The Autumn Railways Tour
A similar theme to last years tour but not just concentrating on the Settle-Carlisle. Whilst we will repeat the sections that we had to miss last year due to road closure, we will also take in other railways around Cumbria. We cross or follow the railways a surprising number of times even though we keep to quiet scenic routes.
We leave the Villa and follow the old A6 main road for a while before branching off (pardon the pun) to cross the disused Sandside line and then run alongside the main West Coast line. After passing through the village of Holme we pass the site of the old Burton and Holme Station which was several miles from both villages but served the old Holme Mills complex. We then turn away from the railway and pass the outskirts of Burton before climbing towards Hutton Roof where we get glimpses of the mass of Ingleborough ahead. However we turn off this road and descend into the secluded little valley at Wash Dub Wood before running parallel to another railway, the Carnforth – Skipton line. Another short climb up ‘Sunny Bank’ brings us to Gressingham with its narrow bridge over the River Lune before we join the railway again on its way into Bentham.
We loose sight of the railway as we cross the open moors although Ingleborough looks ever nearer, and larger. We pick up the line again near Clapham Junction! No not that one! It is the old junction between the Carnforth-Skipton line and the now long gone ‘Little North Western Railway’ which ran through Ingleton and the Lune Valley. We follow the former line for most of the way to Settle where we stop for a coffee.
After coffee we re-trace last years run following the Carlisle-Settle line to the magnificent Ribblehead Viaduct and then hopefully complete the sections we were forced to miss last year. This time we should get to see the major constructions on the route, i.e. Dent Head and Airton Gill viaducts, Dent Station, the highest in Britain, and Dandry Mire viaduct, not to mention the picturesque Dentdale and the impressive climb up the ‘Corkscrew Road’ onto the Coal Road, which offers fantastic views down Garsdale and Dentdale. Then as last year we follow the S+C through Mallerstang before taking lunch at the impressive Appleby Manor Hotel overlooking the railway.
After lunch we continue up the Eden Valley but we haven’t time this year to make the detour up Hartside Pass. Instead we continue to Armathwaite and Drybeck viaduct before leaving the line just after the level crossing at Low House. We then turn west through the forest at High Stand and cross the A6, M6 and the West Coast mainline just north of Penrith. We avoid Penrith by doing a short run down the motorway before joining the A6 south which runs parallel to the railway into Shap village. We don’take the main road over the infamous Shap Fells as we follow the railway down the equally infamous Shap bank, by-passing Tebay and on into the Lune Gorge. As we descend to Low Gill we go under the main line and arrive at the foot of the magnificent Low Gill viaduct which used to carry the ‘Little North Western line to its junction with the West Coast line at Lowgill station, of which there is now no trace.
We climb out of the Lune Valley and rejoin the mainline for a while. Some little lanes bring us to Docker Viaduct and then we follow the line again for a while as we travel the length of ‘Paddy Lane’, so called because the Irish navvies used it during the construction of the line. Although we ‘loose’ the line for a little while we do pass the Station Inn at Oxenholme which was a favourite haunt of the local railway men in the days of steam. We cross the line again on the way to Natland with its attractive village green then follow the line to Sedgwick where we cross under the predecessor of the railway, the Lancaster-Kendal Canal. We then cross the River Kent at Force Bridge and arrive back at the Villa.
DAY TWO Tuesday 25th THE LAKES
A short main road run takes us to the picturesque Lyth Valley, famous for its Damson Blossom. We leave the valley and climb out of Bowland Bridge up Strawberry Bank and over Gummers How where we get superb views down the length of Windermere. We then take some minor roads around Newby Bridge and Bouth before cutting across to the Furness Penninsula where from one side we get views of Morecambe Bay, and then as we plunge down the other side we have the vista of the Duddon Estuary and Black Combe ahead.
After descending into Kirby in Furness we climb back up Grizebeck Hill to turn off onto the ‘Burma Road’. This brings us to the shores of Coniston Water where we get views of almost the full length of the lake. We don’t go into Coniston village however as we take to more out of the way lanes on the flanks of Coniston Old Man which give us more views of the Duddon Estuary. Skirting Broughton in Furness we take to the wide open spaces of Corney Fell which provides views of the west side of the Lakes Mountains, and on a clear day from the summit, views across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man. A stop for lunch will be welcome now.
The afternoon run returns us to the Duddon Valley via Birker Fell with more views of the ‘backside’ of the Lakes Mountains. We climb Grizebeck Hill once again, but this time head into the heart of the Lake District and the mighty Grizedale Forest before returning to Newby Bridge and tea on the lake shore.
Another short main road run brings us to the spectacular Tow Tops which drops us into the Winster Valley by a series of hairpin bends and then it is just a short cross country run via Levens Village back to the Villa.
DAY THREE Wednesday 26th BOWLAND AND BAY
A completely different direction today. First we go north to go south! We take the main road into Kendal and then the A road to Sedbergh which climbs up out of the town with views across to Morecambe Bay. We soon turn off onto minor roads to do a circuit of Killington Lake, firstly travelling above the lake with views across to the Howgill Fells before we double back to run along the shores of the lake. More quiet minor roads bring us down to the charming little town of Kirkby Lonsdale.
From ‘Kirkby’ a short main road run brings us to Ingleton and a brief resume of the ‘Railways Theme’ as we pass under the quite spectacular but largely forgotten Ingleton Viaduct. Another minor road up on the hillside takes us parallel to the main A65 and a stop for coffee at Goat Gap.
After coffee we head back to Clapham but on a different road and we cross Monday’s route at right angles on our way to Mewith Head. We then turn south passing ‘The Great Stone of Fourstones’ on our way over Lythe Fell with views of Pendle Hill ahead. We drop down into the picturesque village of Slaidburn and then climb over the hill into the Ribble Valley and pass through Grindleton and Waddington before taking the main road back over the hill with views of the Forest of Bowland ahead. A scenic little back road takes us to the intriguingly named ‘Cow Ark’ where the scenery starts to look very Scottish. Our zig zag route then takes us back up onto Longridge Fell where there are views over the Fylde Plain towards Blackpool on one side and the Forest of Bowland on the other. A steep descent from the fell with spectacular views brings us to our lunch halt at the fabulous Gibbon Bridge Hotel.
The afternoon run takes us on some quiet lanes past the ‘Wild Boar Centre’ and onto Dunsop Bridge and the infamous Trough of Bowland where from the summit you get panoramic views over Morecambe Bay to the Lake District – on a clear day. We then skirt the City of Lancaster and make our way west to the shores of the Bay and the Kent Estuary at Arnside. It is then just a short run to the Villa for our farewell dinner.
Four nights Dinner, Bed & Breakfast at The Villa, Levens £945