Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Robert Thorpe
Cycling Correspondent
3:57 AM 31st October 2020

Around the Howgills

Where to ride in autumn and winter? It is a difficult choice, as the cold and damp can make riding simply not much fun. We need to find places that have amazing scenery to inspire us to get out and to explore.

A great place to start is the Howgills! This region sits just above the border between Yorkshire and Lancashire, and on the edge of Cumbria. This range of curved, grassy hills sitting between Sedbergh and Ravenstonedale was once described by the fellwalker and author, Alfred Wainwright to be akin to “a herd of sleeping elephants” and is a remarkable area to explore – so, let’s get the journey started.

Kendal, photo by Jonny Gios on Unsplash
Kendal, photo by Jonny Gios on Unsplash
The route begins from the small train station at Oxenholme, so that you make an adventure of the day. If necessary, you may need to book your bikes onto the train - check with the train company first. Whilst being close to the M6 motorway, the route is surprisingly quiet and provides a challenging but superb ride through the wild and rugged scenery. The good roads make the long climbs and great descents a joy to experience.

When riding in autumn and winter, you really do need to make sure that your bike is well serviced, that you have tools and inner tubes and good cold-weather clothing. It’s also wise to use a rear light during daytime riding as tree lined country roads with hidden sunlight can make it difficult for cars to pick you out early.

Oxenholme railway station is located near to Kendal, which will provide riders with plenty of options for a bite to eat after the route. It’s also relatively close to the Lake District, so could be done whilst enjoying a short, winter holiday there. Do make sure to check the weather reports prior to setting off: the Howgills are beautiful but remote and wild.

Set off from Oxenholme station on the B6254 signed towards Old Hutton. After a very short distance turn off left into Hayclose Lane prior to the Station Inn. At the junction with the famous A684 Dales road, turn right towards Sedbergh and continue on the A684 until you cross the M6 motorway. Once over the motorway bridge, turn off right into the narrow lane towards Killington. This beautiful narrow lane epitomises everything that is ‘true country cycling’ and the scenery is outstanding. However, take care along the winding lane for oncoming traffic; for whilst this is minimal, the narrowness of the road requires attention.

After 2 km, turn sharply left toward Killington village and continue through, leading to the B6256 road. It is uphill most of the way, with meadows and hedgerows beside you. Join the B6256 and turn left and continue towards the A684 and the famous Howgills literary town of Sedbergh.

Near Kirkby Stephen, photo by Annie Sprat on Unsplash
Near Kirkby Stephen, photo by Annie Sprat on Unsplash
After a brief stop in Sedbergh for any refreshments, the A684 is swapped for the A683 towards Kirkby Stephen. The climbing continues as you cross remote and exposed countryside and approach the town. At the junction with the A685 turn left towards Newbiggin-on-Lune and then ride into the village itself. Continue along the minor country road that runs parallel with the A685, through Kelleth, eventually crossing over the A685 and onto Tebay. Now take the old A6 road that follows the route of the M6 south. Turn off to Kendal and enjoy the descent after some tough climbs.

Kendal has ample places to choose from for food and drinks, before you ride the short distance back to Oxenholme, or simply take a train from Kendal itself.

You can download the gpx file and view the maps on the Pedalnorth website; simply click the link here -