The original Lost Lanes, Lost Lanes West, Wales and now North; author and host of ‘The Bike Show’ Jack Thurston is on a roll. The series offers a range of cycling routes across these regions of the UK that yield so much more; art and culture, history, geography and cuisine are all combined with meticulously researched routes and the quality of photography that makes you think ‘take me there, now’!
We were lucky enough to be sent a copy of Jack’s latest book, Lost Lanes North, to enjoy. Not sure if it’s a monumental tease or delightful respite from current travel limitations, it’s certainly sowing a few seeds for post-covid adventures up North.
This edition covers the regions of the North East, the Lake District, the North York Moors, Yorkshire Wolds and Dales, West and South Yorkshire and Lancashire. Routes stretch from as far south as Sheffield to the coastline near Berwick-upon-Tweed, spread well across these territories that boast such an incredible playground for people on bikes.
So much more than tarmac
If you thought that Lost Lanes is just for road riding routes, you’d be wrong. Of course the very first thing I did was to hunt down any route featuring the magnificent gravel Hornby Road, one of the real highlights of Second City Divide, which has led me to pine for more exploration of the North and more specifically Lancashire and Yorkshire this year. There it was at number 29; ‘take the high road’, the unmistakable chunky white gravel road that stretches out across the moorland just a short ride from Lancaster. Somehow, this area has remained relatively undiscovered by off-road cyclists, perhaps for its proximity to the popular Yorkshire Dales and the Lakes. I read on to learn the ancient back-story to this path that I’d somehow taken for granted.
In fact, it’s easy to locate the more adventurous routes in the guide thanks to a table at the front. A little summary of the terrain on each of the 30 routes is given. Just over a third feature some sort of unsurfaced section, from cycleways to rocky ‘rough stuff’. When you look over each of these routes, the marvellous photography paints a thousand words too. So you can make sure you’ve got the right bike, or even the right tyres for the occasion!
More than just a paper book
You don’t have to pack the kitchen sink (and all 640g of matte paperback) to enjoy these routes on the bike. These are modern times; find a website link to each route in the index which reveals maps from both Ordnance Survey and OpenStreet Maps with an altitude graph, plus download links for GPX, TCX and FIT files. It couldn’t be easier to tap to download and import straight into your GPS companion app. Ready to ride away in seconds.
Of course to appreciate the full wealth of research from history to wildlife and local places to grab a refreshing brew or lunch, it’s best to read all about it before you depart the old school way; aka in the book.
More than just routes
Near the back of the book, you’ll find some local events that might take your fancy. If deep-diving into the best local roads and tracks solo isn’t your bag. From long audaxes to local rallies, gravel races and bikepacking weekenders; these organised rides could be the perfect way to get to know a new part of the country in great company.
More than just Lost Lanes
If you love Jack’s writing, there’s certainly a lot more to be enjoyed. Tune into The Bike Show, started in 2004 on London radio station Resonance 104.4fm. The show is also available as a free podcast on most major podcast platforms. From the history of the WW1 battlefields to accounts from the world’s most revered ultra-cycling events. There’s a huge wealth of shows not only to entertain, but to learn from.
Hungry for even more? A little bird tells me a more central-UK focussed guide might be in the works next…
With current world events casting a grey shadow over prospects of international travel, or even extensive domestic travel for the time being, there’s been no better time for the British ‘staycation’. I am of the same mind as Jack; we have such incredibly diverse landscapes and trails here in the UK that are all too often overlooked. Guide books like Lost Lanes are wonderful tools to help us not only to get inspired by what’s on our doorstep, but also practically help to get out there and do it. When the right time comes.
To check out the range and order your copy, head to https://lostlanes.co.uk/shop/
Last modified: 3rd July 2020