Schoolchildren from Walney Island led the start of a four-day bicycle ride around Morecambe Bay today to launch the Bay Cycle Way.
The event, which is part of celebrations for the National Cycle Network's 20th anniversary year, includes an inaugural group ride around the 81-mile route, which anyone can join, and a finale mini festival in Lancaster on 14 June.
Sustrans' latest long distance route was developed with Morecambe Bay Partnership, and goes through the Furness Peninsula and South Lakeland, crossing into Lancashire for the final leg of the journey on Sunday. Around 40 people will cycle the first ride around Morecambe Bay, spread over four days, and many more will join for local led rides and activities along the trip.
The new path includes many traffic-free sections and is aimed at families and leisure cyclists who want to go at their own pace to explore the distinctive culture, wildlife and food of the area. As well as traversing along serene open views of Morecambe Bay, the path winds its way past tourist attractions such as Conishead Priory, Morecambe’s art deco hotel The Midland, sticky toffee pudding capital Cartmel, Birkrigg stone circle, Gleaston Water Mill and the RSPB’s wildlife haven at Leighton Moss.
Anyone can join the ride as it progresses around the Bay – more information about the events and Bay Cycle Way.
Sustrans’ Cumbria Area Manager Nikki Wingfield said:
“Morecambe Bay is a unique landscape famous for its fascinating history, unique food, and rare wildlife and we want to celebrate this with a four-day series of events to launch our new cycle path. This is a great chance to explore the hidden secret assets of the Bay slowly, at your own pace, and join in with one of the many activities and rides along the 81-mile route. Please book now if you want to go on one of the free led rides as they are likely to be popular, and if you’d like to volunteer to get involved we would love to hear from you!”
Janet Barton of Morecambe Bay Partnership said:
“The launch of the Bay Cycle Way is a really exciting development for the Morecambe Bay area. Visitors to the area will be able to experience the many wonders of this special place at a relaxed pace, taking in stunning views and sampling local produce and hospitality. Bringing cycling tourists to the Bay area will help to support and strengthen our visitor economy, creating and safeguarding jobs.”
In the spirit of slow tourism the path is designed to encourage cyclists to take their time and stop to drink in the awesome views, sample mouthwatering food and see the Bay’s history and heritage come alive. Visitors will travel past stunning views and headlands across the Bay, with a chance to detour to see the stunning ruins of Furness Abbey, pause to watch wildlife such as the seals at Walney, or get a glimpse of rare birds like ospreys or avocet. A series of loops and spurs off the route, which take in even more of this special area, are also in early stages of development.
The Bay Cycle Way has been made possible with funding from the Coastal Communities Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund. It is developed by Morecambe Bay Partnership and is the latest addition to Sustrans’ National Cycle Network.