I’ve always been a little competitive on the bike. My last few group rides up to a couple of years ago were in the company of 20 odd year old Elite and 1st category riders, and however composed I’d appear during the ride, unwilling to let go of wheels and still engage in banter sans breathlessness, the rest of the day would require my 46 year old carcass play catch up. It takes something significant to switch off that side of my brain.
On Tuesday that ‘something’ was the realisation that I’m on holiday! My chaperones for the morning leaving Lancashire were lovely but I found myself following the wheels again. This wasn’t necessarily an effort but it detracted totally from looking at the scenery, and pausing to take photos. Eventually I said to myself, “stop”. Within moments I’d snapped a couple of wonderful scenes and discovered Lancashire’s foremost jazz café. Great music, conversation, croissants and coffee courtesy of my generous hosts.
The rest of the ride was relaxed, allowing me to appreciate scenery I’d seen only fleetingly three decades prior when I’d been booted out of a van mid-morning to do a coast to coast before the sun went down.
The Arnside and Silverdale AONB is a stunning part of the world. Gentle undulations seem to take you high above the water and salt flats in minutes. The presence of the sea is always felt, like Brittany in fact. Sandy roads and warm salty breezes characterise the rides around here. The villages, slow-moving traffic, and properties hint towards the general demographic: white, grey, affluent, and conservative, with a small ‘c’ at least. In spite of an apparent lack of heterogeneity, it is a very pretty, chocolate-box landscape.
There is also the total absence of the tourist mania that pervades the Lake District further north. To be honest, this is only really detectable once you hit any A roads that link the major honeypot destination towns; the rest of the routes that link villages and hamlets are way too circuitous and narrow for any day visitor to the region. As a result, they’re perfect for cyclists. However, unlike me towards the end of that day, venturing into Bowness (for nostalgic reasons, obv), just hit ‘STOP’ and take in this instead…