The Forest of Bowland

Not too far from the Lake district is a lesser known area called the Forest of Bowland.  It's a somewhat similar rugged, craggy windswept landscape however without the lakes.   We decided to take our tandem in a loop around it's fells and valleys.

I was prepared for some hills as I knew there would be some 10-12% climbs in the area, we came well prepared with our new 26t granny gear fitted the week before for those sharp ascents.  Pictured above is Jubilee Tower which is sited at the top of the climb from Quernmore.

Much of the landscape is mossy groundcover, penetrated by craggy volcanic rocks.  As is normal in north-west England, it tends to rain quite a lot and despite it being a relatively sunny day we still managed to catch some precipitation.

We then went down the Trough of Bowland which is a small valley which lead to our lunch spot in Whitewell at a great country pub, Inn at Whitewell.  After this we had to ascend up the biggest climb of the day, up Lythe Fell Rd near White hill.  This seemed to go on forever and by the time we reached the summit the sun was setting.   Even on our lowest gear of 26 x 32t we just made it up the top of the 12% climb.  This climb was a bit of a surprise, as even though I had studied the route on Google street view, I was fooled by the elevation profile provided by the navigation software I was using.  The profile simply was wrong and we had a lot more climbing than I realised.

After this it was mostly downhill all the way to Lancaster where we navigated through back country lanes with only our dynamo light to brighten the path.  There were quite a few fast descents which have always been somewhat interesting to do on a tandem with old Mafac cantilever brakes and a somewhat undersized drum brake.  Nonetheless the Mafacs proved their worth despite being an old school low mechanical advantage design, the drum brake on the rear wheel is quite out of round so the brake tends to engage unevenly causing shuddering, still it was better than nothing and we made it down in one piece.

Despite all this, it still descends beautifully and is very responsive to subtle inputs, its brisk handling somewhat defying its tandem bike size and weight.  At the end of the day my bike computer said we had ascended 1300m and covered 90km.  This was a tough ride, particularly when the sun was dying and we were too, heaving up that last ascent in the bottom gear and then descending through dark unknown laneways in the middle of nowhere.  Nonetheless it was certainly a great ride, thanks for reading.


  1. That looks like such a nice route! Although it seems like it really was challenging. Not much of a forest there though? He he.

    Recreation Space

    1. Hi yes it's quite bare isn't it! apparently the forest name is from medieval times when it referred to a place reserved for hunting.