Northern Bowland and the Wenning Valley
The market town of Bentham is at the heart of the local farming community, and it makes an ideal base for exploring the epic walks and rides this undiscovered corner of England has to offer.
Arrive at Bentham by train. Regular train connections from the East and West Coast mainlines, at Leeds and Lancaster.
Take in a livestock sale at Bentham Market – one of the most important agricultural auction markets in the north of England. Sheep, cattle, agricultural machinery and even sheepdogs are sold at this bustling auction, with sales happening regularly each week. Schedule a visit in late summer and you can enjoy the Bentham Agricultural Show, which takes place in the first week of September each year.
Have lunch at the homely Auction Market Cafe or the welcoming Black Pig Bistro on the High Street.
Follow the Bentham Heritage Trail – a choice of three self-guided walks that chart the town’s history from a rural farming hub through industrialisation. Bentham developed a speciality in weaving flax and silk at several mills that were initially powered by the flow of the River Wenning.
Total distance walked Day 1: 2 to 9 miles
Follow the Way of the Roses coast-to-coast cycle route to Morecambe. At 170 miles, the whole ride is usually spread across several days, but the 20-mile western section to Morecambe is easily achievable in a morning and more than half of the route is on purpose-built traffic-free cycleways.
Fish and Chips on the promenade is a seaside classic, while coffee and cake at family-owned Brucciani’s traditional ice cream parlour is another Morecambe staple. For a more indulgent experience, spoil yourself with lunch at the art deco icon that is the Midland Hotel, with stunning views across Morecambe Bay.
Ride back up the Lune and Wenning valleys to Bentham, or save your legs and catch the train. Then slow things down a bit with a trip to the Bentham Pottery at Low Bentham, where you can browse hand-crafted pottery and even have a go at throwing a pot yourself (booking essential).
The Bentham Line links Morecambe with Leeds, connecting Morecambe Bay and the Lancashire coastline with the beautiful scenery of the Lune and Wenning Valleys, the Northern boundary of the Forest of Bowland and the Yorkshire Lancashire border country. Stations like Wennington, Bentham and Clapham offer direct access to wonderful walking and cycling country. For timetables and tickets visit: www.northernrailway.co.uk
Explore more stations along the Lancashire/Yorkshire border. Visit the historic city of Lancaster or change at Carnforth, with its station Heritage Centre and the Brief Encounter Bistro and Bar, to explore the natural delights of Arnside and Silverdale AONB and the stunning seascapes of Morecambe Bay. Tackle the challenging cycle ascent to Bowland Knotts and make a short break of it at Dale House Barn and enjoy a gourmet countryside and cooking retreat.
The Morecambe Bay Partnership also has some excellent walking and cycling routes around the coast and inland – including the spectacular Bay Cycleway – an epic route stretching from Glasson Dock to Barrow in Furness. Take a look at the Partnership’s Website for further details.
Be sure to also pay a visit to The Courtyard Dairy at Austwick – a truly special shop specialising in super-local artisan farmhouse cheeses.
The Bentham Line website has a wealth of information on what to see and do at various locations along the length of the line. There are also some wonderful Railway Walks to follow on the Rail to Trail pages – all starting and finishing near stations such as Wennington, Clapham and, of course, Bentham itself.