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The Brompton takes a ride, almost gets incarcerated at Carlisle, but with one leap is free and going wild in the Lake District and all across Cumbria ... with, of course, Mark Jacobson.

Brompton on train

My weekend had been pleasantly spent with Fell Club members at Bellingham. From there it is just about 20 miles to Hexham, probably the nearest railway station. With a train due soon, I was quite quickly on my way to Maryport, on the Cumbrian coast, with but one change, at Carlisle.


I nearly did not make the connection, as, waiting until the other passengers disembarked before freeing my Brompton , the lights went out and the door closed! The driver had assumed the train clear of passengers and was leaving! Only banging on the door as he passed the carriage enabled me to win free.


I had a few minutes to spare with my connection, but insufficient for the purchase of any refreshments. Hey, ho! However, my arrival in Maryport at 11:33 am allowed me to remedy that, before taking to the roads, pedalling to Cockermouth. Why go there? Well, I had to visit the town centre for another of my British Cycle Quests.

It seemed sensible to cycle then to Workington to pick up rail again, rather than to cycle all the way to Ravenglass, into the stiff breeze, for my camping stop-over. The only drawback to this choice was to reach Workington two minutes after the train had departed, leaving a wait of almost two hours for the next one! Consequently I rode on to Whitehaven, for lunch and plenty of time to catch the same train. This part of my ride was less pleasant as the traffic along the main road a bit more than could be enjoyed but it was interesting to explore part of the dock area which is under considerable redevelopment.


For Ravenglass the train was much older, having a real van for goods and bikes. So far I had not needed to fold the Brompton. The main line station where I alighted is adjacent the Ravenglass and Eskdale narrow gauge preserved line, a good place to spend time when you have it.


Next morning I packed up my camping kit and returned to the station to board the 09:10 service towards Barrow, purchasing an on-board ticket from the conductor. This was my fourth use of a Northern Railway train and the fourth type of train, too. In this case, the bike space was commodious, unlike the first train in which the bike space was shorter than the Brompton!

I alighted at Foxfield, a request stop. Quite a number of the Cumbrian line station are such, and these are marked in the time table by an 'x' in the time listed.


I was headed for Ambleside. It would have been a shorter distance to cycle directly from Ravenglass, only that would be over both Hardknot and Wrynose Passes, not exactly easy with a laden Brompton! I had a pleasant run alongside Coniston Water, stopping for expensive but welcome refreshments at Brantwood, not being aware that a short distance further on I would pass the entrance drive to the 'Swallows and Amazon' tea room!


Ambleside was teeming with tourists! Having visited the quest I found a new, quiet cafe called Freshers, just outside the centre, for a very good lunch, before taking the main road through Windermere, and the subsequent cycle route, to Kendal, for a final two nights of camping.

My final day was pure cycling: lanes eastward through Beck Foot then northwards to Tebay where I found early refreshments at J38, on the B6260 just beyond the roundabout, or 'turn-around' as it was described to me. My final quest of this trip came at Crosby Ravensworth, the church there having such a lovely little arched stone footbridge over the stream, and nearby an unusual slice of wind-sculpted stone installed as a point of interest.


Riding due west then soon brought me to Shap and an early lunch at the Abbey Coffee Shop, from where I decided to tackle the A6 Shap pass to return to Kendal. Actually, the traffic was fairly light and I was not the only cyclist using this road. The gradient is kind, steady progress being made by paced pedalling. The summit bears a memorial to those who enabled the connection between north and south, especially during inclement weather as it tops 1400 feet over Shap Fell.

Back in Kendal I took a late walk, remarking on the slenderness of the many Cumbrian stiles I had encountered, clearly only for the slender!

Next day rain endorsed my departure.

Rail fares, using a railcard:

Hexham – Maryport:         £11.95

Whitehaven – Ravenglass:     £3.30

Ravenglass – Foxfield:     £2.70


Bicycle miles 117


Useful websites:

British Cycle Quest


The Fell Club



More Cumbrian Cycling ...

...... in the Lakes

...... in the Vale of Eden

....... Going C2C 


....... Round Morecambe Bay

........ and a guide to Cycling in the Lake District, from Cicerone.



Ryton On Dunsmore

Coventry  CV8 3FH


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