Bleasdale and the four café ride
Cycling UK's Head of Campaigns, Duncan Dollimore, gives the history to a route from local campaigner Matt Hodges, who has ensured this part of North Lancs can be enjoyed by thousands of cyclists.
As a teenager growing up in north Lancashire and cycling with both Bury CTC and Rossendale Road Club, my favourite roads for club runs and riding with mates were always around Bleasdale, the heart of the Forest of Bowland. It’s many decades since I left the North West, but I still regularly chat about the Lancashire lanes with one of Cycling UK’s longest serving Right to Ride (RtR) volunteer campaigners, Matt Hodges, fondly referred to in our offices as “Matt from Scorton”.
It’s not hard to understand Matt’s motivation for campaigning when you consider the stunning scenery on his doorstep, and no surprise that the history of Cycling UK’s campaigning is so often linked to iconic routes. And so it was in 2003 when Matt, the RtR rep for Lancaster CTC, and Les Cross, RtR rep for CTC’s North West Lancashire District Association, successfully campaigned to prevent more lorries on the winding and picturesque lanes around Bleasdale.
A bottling company had applied for planning permission for a new plant, with plans to create 46 passing places along the six miles of lanes between the site and the A6. The application was initially refused, but was appealed and went to a public inquiry, with Matt and Les raising their concerns about increased lorry traffic, referring to the 5000 cyclists who were either CTC members or attached to local clubs in north Lancashire who frequently cycled in the area. The Inspector agreed with their concerns, dismissed the appeal, and the tranquility of the area was preserved for the next generation to enjoy what I so cherished as a teenager.
So, I asked Matt to let me have a favourite route around Bleasdale and Scorton, with café stops of course. His 34 mile loop from Garstang takes you via the Cobbled Corner Café and through the lanes around Bleasdale to Puddleducks Tea Room in Dunsop Bridge, then back to Garstang through Scorton and The Barn, the tea rooms I frequented two or three times a week as a youth discovering the gift of cycling.
This route is stunningly beautiful, but it’s lumpy, so why wouldn't you make it a four café ride?