“Oh this is great! I’ve not felt so liberated since I was a teenager and used to cycle for miles round here. Just look at that view.” Good friend Liz Mcgillivary, retired PR specialist, and I were standing at the top of Birkrigg Common looking out over a misty Morecambe Bay. Each of us had an electric bike which had taken us up hill and down dale around Cumbria lanes with relative ease.
We were on The Bay Cycle Way, doing a circular route from Gleaston Water Mill in the heart of the Furness Peninsula. The Bay Cycle Way is part of SUSTRANS national network of cycle routes Route NCN 700, It starts on Walney Island near Barrow and takes in the inspiring scenery right round to Glasson Dock south of Lancaster. This relatively flat route of 145km, hugs the spectacular coastline of Morecambe Bay along quiet roads, greenways, canal towpaths and promenades.
Liz and I had met up earlier that morning at Gleaston Water Mill, a charming tourist attraction and one of the many places in Cumbria and Lancashire that you can hire an electric bike for the day. Mill owner Mike Brereton showed us how the ebikes worked. Liz had never been on one before and I had only had a very brief go, so we paid close attention. He went through all the VOLT bike specifications; very impressive.
It has a 250 Watt maintenance-free SpinTech™ hub motor which ensures the electric bicycle will take you up any hill and make easy riding against strong winds. However, if you choose to ride without power assistance, then it’s a great ride with pedal power alone. Powering this system is a SpinTech™ Panasonic battery capable of over 1,000 full-charge cycles – up to 60 miles. The whole system is controlled from the sleek, waterproof LCD display allowing you to easily move between the 4 different pedal assist modes. Now you know.
There’s a dinky little screen showing the pedal-assist modes, speed and battery life. The bike is quite heavy but fairly easy to manoeuvre. Mike adjusted the seats for us and gave us each a brightly coloured helmet. We had a brief test run on the road to make sure we knew what we were doing, posed for photo in front of the Mill’s quaint holiday cottage, Lile Piglet, and then we were off.
Vicky Brereton gave us a map of the area and showed us how far we could go. We heeded off towards Birkrigg Common. There was a bit of wobbling, zooming too quickly when we got into 4th mode or Auto and cutting out when we flicked through the modes to OFF, but very soon we’d go the hang of it. Liz said, “At first I was a bit wary of the techy stuff, but within a quarter of mile I’d got the hang of it and was thoroughly enjoying it.”
The lanes around Gleaston are very quiet, so perfect for newbie electric bikers like us. I found that Mode 2 and 3 were best for most of the route, with 4 making the steepish climb up to the top of the Common an absolute breeze. Stopping every so often to enjoy the view, a couple of hours passed very quickly. I’d sort of expected it to be a bit like riding a moped, but actually it’s much more like riding a bike with added oomph. Once I got used to the modes (as opposed to the manual gears) it became easy to find the right one to get some exercise as well as ease.
All too soon it was time to go back. En route we passed a herd of curious cows who all gazed at us with big eyes aswe whizzed by. We stopped to get a photo at the ruins of Gleaston Castle, before returning to the Mill, exhilarated and totally converted to the electric bike.
After we’d given back the bikes, we had time for a quick look round the Mill, shop and cafe next door, very popular with tourists as well as cyclists. As it’s name indicates, the Pig’s Whisper Country Store, sell all things piggy-related plus a great selection of other quirky gifts.
The water mill dates back to 1774 and has an 18ft (5.5m) water wheel. You can see much of the machinery and other agriculatural related-artefacts. The Lile Piglet is a delightful Grade II listed pig sty beautifully converted to a holiday cottage with a traditional slate roof, having its own private garden which fronts onto the trout beck. (See photo above). Read more about Gleaston Water Mill here.
Morecambe Bay Electric Bike Network
I can highly recommend giving it a go; as Liz says, it’s liberating and great fun. And Quirky Penguin enjoyed it too …
Love it? Pin it!