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Distance: 33.19 miles (53.4km), Climb: 727m,  Ride: difficult – suitable for all bike types

Howgill Lane heads north out of Sedbergh, with several short steep climbs and descents as you cross a series of streams tumbling down off the hillside. East of Orton the ride runs parallel with the A685 offering stunning views of the northern slopes of the Howgills. Climb from Ravenstonedale to the A683 and enjoy a 9-mile descent back to Sedbergh with dramatic views of Cautley Spout along the way.

The ride starts in Sedbergh, a picturesque market town famed for its public school, which over the years has produced alumni including international rugby players such as John Spencer, Will Carling, Will Greenwood and Abbie Scott, polar explorer Robert Swan, former Lod Chief Justice Lord Bingham of Cornhill, former First Sea Lord Sir Jock Slater, Oscar winner Simon Beaufoy and Sir Christopher Bland Chairman of BT and former Chair of the BBC…

Route:

From St. Andrew’s Church, Sedbergh, cycle for approximately 25m before taking the right hand turn to the side of the Dalesman (Howgill Lane).

Climb steadily for 1.5 miles (2.4km), before descending steeply to a junction, follow the lane round to the right, continue along the side of the Howgill fells ignoring left and right turns along the way, after 1 mile (1.6km) cross Blandsgill and climb steadily continuing along Howgill Lane, following the course of an ancient Roman Road for 2 miles (3.2km) before descending to a stone bridge crossing Fairmile Beck. Here Howgill Lane becomes Fairmile Road, which gets its name from an ancient fair held on the open fellside at a certain time of year. People would flock to this remote location to trade horses and enjoy ribald revelry that went with it.

From here the Fairmile Road crosses open fell running along the flank of the Lune Gorge and the Howgills. To your left opens up a dramatic vista, with the River Lune on the valley floor and the West Coast Main Line, the M6 motorway and the Old Tebay road all squeezed in together on the other side of the valley.

After 1.5 miles (2.4km) you will pass Gibbett Hill where in 1684, local villain William Smurthwaite’s body was left to rot in an iron cage suspended from a gibbet by the roadside. Smurthwaite was seemingly quite respectable being High Constable for Lonsdale, and a juror at the Quarter Sessions, however this veneer of respectability hid a villainous side. In reality William with his brother George indulged in coin clipping, theft, burglary, and robbery. They were both arrested and tried at the Assizes at Appleby in 1683, but were acquitted, a year later they were arrested again, and this time tried at Lancaster Castle, where they were found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. After the sentence was carried out William’s body was hung in a metal cage beside the main Lancaster to Carlisle road at Fairmile as a warning to others.

Once past Gibbet Hill descend sharply crossing Carlingill Bridge over Carlin Gill then climb up past Low Carlingill Farm. After 1.2 miles you will cross the River Lune via Salterwath Bridge to Low Borrowbridge Farm, the site of a Roman auxiliary fort.

From here follow the road under both the West Coast Main Line and the M6 to the T-junction. Turn right and follow the main road A685 signed Tebay, Orton, Appleby joining National Cycle Network Routes 68 & 20.

From here climb gradually for ¾ mile (1.2km) and just before bridge over M6 turn left uphill sign posted Roundthwaite ½ mile (800m), passing the site of Roundthwaite Abbey, after which there is a long steep climb up Pikestone Lane to its summit, followed by a long descent to Dorothy Bridge. At the next junction turn sharp right, signposted for Orton, crossing the river at Bridge End. After 2 miles (3.2km) at another T-junction by a triangle of grass turn right, signposted Orton, joining the B6261.

Follow the road into Orton. At the T-junction by the George Hotel bear right onto National Cycle Network Route 68 (NCN 68) then after 300yds (270m) turn left onto the road sign posted for Raisbeck, Kirkby Stephen, Gaisgill, continuing on the B6261. At the next junction carry straight on, signposted Raisbeck & Ravenstonedale. Follow the road through Raisbeck then fork right, signposted Kirkby Stephen & Ravenstonedale. Pass through Kelleth. At the T-junction with A685 turn left and then immediately right, signposted Newbiggin on Lune (take extreme care here and use the traffic island as the road is busy).

Go through the village and at the T-junction with the A685 turn right signposted for Brough then  after almost ½ mile (800m) on the A685 turn right, signposted Ravenstonedale (cross with caution as this road is busy).

After ½ mile (800m) turn right by St Oswald’s church and the ruins of Ravenstonedale’s Gilbertine Priory. The Gilbertine Order of Canons Regular was founded around 1130 by Saint Gilbert in Sempringham, Lincolnshire. The Gilbertine order was the only completely English religious order and came to an end in the 16th century at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Go through the village and turn right past the Black Swan pub onto Brunswick Street to a T-Junction, turn left onto Townhead Lane and gently start climbing up towards Ravenstonedale Common. After 2 miles (3.2km) at the T-junction with the A683 adjacent to the by Fat Lamb Inn turn right onto the main road sign posted Sedbergh 9 miles (14.5km) (exercise caution when crossing).

Follow this road for 9 miles, mainly downhill. After 5.5 miles (8.85km) you will see the historic 16th century Cross Keys Temperance Inn on your right, with the beauty of Cautley Spout, England’s highest waterfall above ground at 198m, behind it at the head of the valley.

Follow the road for a further 4 miles (4.3km) alongside the River Rawthey back to Sedbergh crossing the river via Straight Bridge. Once in Sedbergh after a further 1.3 miles you will see the Sedbergh School Library at the end of Long Lane to your left, and a mini roundabout directly in front of you, turn right at the mini roundabout and you are back at your starting point.