A new signed Sustrans coast-to-coast route opens on Saturday, Bike Radar tells us. The Way of the Roses runs 170 miles from Morecambe to Bridlington across the Pennines, Dales and Wolds, taking in Lancaster, Settle, Ripon and York en route.
Right: Morecambe promenade bustling with walkers and cyclists
I rode the route earlier this year and took these pics, which give you an idea of what it's like. (The trip was for an article in the latest issue of Cycling Plus, October 2010, which has pictures of someone who looks like me but older in it.)
Bridge over the Crook o'Lune, and a cyclist waiting for spring to arrive
The most famous coast-to-coast route is the C2C (or 'Sea to Sea'). That 140-mile route, from Workington / Whitehaven to Sunderland / Newcastle, is said to be Britain's most popular leisure cycle route. In some ways it's been a victim of its own success, though: accommodation is hard to find as it gets booked out in advance by charity cycling throngs.
That's the road to Clapham, that is. The Yorkshire village, not the London one
So Sustrans devised a series of alternatives (Hadrian's Cycleway, Reivers Route etc) to take the pressure off. The Way of Roses is said to be the last in the set.
It's a sheep, or a cow, or something. How should I know? I'm a city boy
The endpoints are close to rail stations, and you can get between London and Morecambe/Lancaster or Bridlington for a tenner each way if you book in advance. (Lancaster is only 3-4 miles from Morecambe along a well-surfaced railtrail.) Bridlington's superb station bar has been authentically restored in Edwardian style, complete with (presumably genuine) old adverts with very rude words in them.
Typical Dales scenery, this, where your only fellow traffic is likely to be tractors, horse riders, walkers, and calendar photographers
I took a leisurely four days to do the trip, overnighting at Settle, Ripon and Pocklington, where there are camp sites. It was April, so most of my mornings were spent thawing out. There are plenty of B&Bs on the way too. And pubs. You may well need them.
Brimham Rocks. Hey, yes, it does!
The first half, to Ripon, is hilly. The second half is mostly flat. The wind is mostly west to east, except if you do it that way, when it'll be east to west.
Bikes are valuable things to have in cycle-friendly York. So valuable that a group of youths tried to steal my bike while I was taking this photo
There's nothing particularly new about the route apart from the signposts: the Way of Roses is mostly made up of existing routes. (Morecambe-Lancaster rail trail, Lune Valley trail, Lancashire Cycleway, Pennine Cycleway, White Rose Route, NCN1.)
This is yer actual Stamford Bridge, east of York - and yes, it's caught out several lazy GPS users trying to get to watch Chelsea
Still, it's a fine three- or four-day traverse of some thrilling scenery, between two lesser-frequented seaside resorts. If you've done the C2C and are looking for something similar-but-different, it's well worth doing.
Most of East Yorkshire is snooker-table flat, and about as interesting. But Millington Wold, east of Pocklington, is a gem
Journey's end, at Bridlington. With its handsome old town and gaudy candy-floss seafront, there's a 1960s feel about the place. Indeed, that's probably when the pub we celebrated in was last redecorated.