Cycling Routes: The Road to Recovery

All of the cycling routes featured here start and finish at Elisha House in Colne. They all feature sections of Canal Bank riding but vary in difficulty and types of terrain. These routes were developed as part of our Road to Recovery project with The Canal and River Trust.

Barrowford Locks & The Mile tunnel

Distance & Time: 7 miles, allow 1 – 2 hours for beginner riders

Difficulty: Easy, suitable for beginners & families

Bike Type: Any

This simple out and back is a great introduction.

Riding on the roads is kept to a minimum, making maximum use of the Canal towpath and cycle infrastructure in the local area.

Joining the canal towpath part way through the Barrowford locks and leaving at the entrance to the mile tunnel, this route provides plenty to see without being too challenging!

We part with the canal towpath at the entrance to the mile tunnel and pick up the traffic free cycleway through to foulridge where a short section of road brings us back to the canal and Cafe Cargo, which is a great place to stop for refreshments.

Kelbrook Loop

Distance & Time: 10 miles, allow 1 – 2 hours for beginner riders

Difficulty: Easy, suitable for beginners & families

Bike Type: Any

Although the start of this ride is uphill, once you’ve climbed out of Colne, the undulating road through Foulridge down towards Kelbrook provides a great opportunity to pick up some speed and enjoy passing quickly through the countryside.

Joining the canal at Salterforth, this route then returns to Elisha House via Foulridge and Barrowford locks.

The Mile tunnel & Alkincoates Park Bridleway

Distance & Time: 4 miles, allow 1 hours for beginner riders

Difficulty: Moderate, suitable for beginners & families interested in progressing their skills and fitness

Bike Type: Mountain bike

This route is a great introduction to hillier rides and getting off road and also perfect for a quick blast when time is of the essence (or you just want to spend more time in the Cafe!)

Beginning with a ride through Barrowford locks towards the mile tunnel, this ride gives plenty of opportunity to get your legs warmed up before going up-hill.

Turning right onto the road near foulridge, you will have the choice of bridge or ford before climbing towards Alkincoates park. It’s steep at the top, but well worth it for the bridleway descent through the park.

There is a busy road to cross on the way back into town, but there’s a crossing that can be used if you’d rather stay away from the traffic.

Barnoldswick MTB Loop

Distance & Time: 20 miles, allow 3 hours for beginner riders

Difficulty: Moderate, a challenging start with flatter terrain towards the end of the ride. Includes off road sections.

Bike Type: Mountain Bike

Starting off with some moderately challenging terrain, including sections of the Pennine Bridleway, this route heads out towards Barnoldswick.

Once you’ve re-fuelled and rested, the return leg along the Canal bank is a great opportunitiy to cool down, chat and enjoy the views.

Lister Well Road MTB

Distance & Time: 10 miles, allow 2 hours for beginner riders

Difficulty: Moderate, suitable for adventurous beginners & families

Bike Type: Mountain Bike

An almost figure of 8 loop, making use of trails alongside the Leeds Liverpool Canal either side of the Mile Tunnel.

This route starts off through Alkincoates park and takes the canal from Foulridge to Salterforth before riding Lister Well road (part of the Pennine Bridleway) and returning via Barrowford locks.

This is an ideal introduction to Mountain Biking on the Pennine Bridleway

Weets Hill MTB

Distance & Time: 20 miles, allow 4 – 5 hours for beginner riders

Difficulty: Challenging, suitable for those looking for a next step from the Barnoldswick loop and Lister Well road routes

Bike Type: Mountain Bike

A challenging Pennine Bridleway MTB route, returning on the canal bank.

This route involves a significant climb, known locally as ‘Gisburn Track’ that links to Weets Hill. Expect a long climb on country roads which eventually give way to Bridleway at the top. If you need to find an excuse to stop for a rest on the way up, there is no shortage of views to be admired as you gain altitude and venture further away from the urban landscape of Colne.

The descent of Weets hill does require a mountain bike and some prior experience due to it being quite long and featuring varying types of terrain. There are no technical trail features that require advanced skills but the sense of a big adventure is definitely there!

Once we reach Gisburn, there is a short section of riding on a busy main road before taking the right turn towards Kelbrook and joining the canal bank to return to Elisha House via Barnoldswick, Salterforth and Foulridge.

Bingley & Back

Distance & Time: 50 miles, allow 6 – 8 hours for beginner riders

Difficulty: Moderate, suitable for those looking for a big day out!

Bike Type: Any

This is the longest and most physically challenging of the Recovery Rides. Although thirty-five miles of the 50-mile route follows flat trails along the banks of the Leeds Liverpool canal, the first section features some of the rolling Pennine hills that the Canal Navigates through!

Once you have climbed out of Colne, the road towards Laneshaw bridge is relatively flat, allowing an opportunity to warm up before tackling a challenging climb past Wycoller. Once at the top, the road undulates as it loosely follows the river worth, passing Watersheddles and Ponden reservoirs.

A series of short punchy climbs take the route through Stanbury and Haworth before descending towards Bingley, from which point, most of the remaining climbing takes place next to lock systems such as the Bingley 5 rise locks.

This section of the canal, which follows the course of the River Aire, meanders through the Yorkshire towns of Keighley and Skipton. There are plenty of examples of swing bridges and aqueducts to look at on this part of the ride.

Leaving Skipton, the landscape becomes significantly more rural until the route crosses back into Lancashire, passing through Barnoldswick on the way to the mile tunnel at Foulridge, where a road detour past Lake Burwain brings us back to the familiar home stretch down Barrowford locks to the reservoir.

The route returns to Elisha House, where the kettle is hopefully on, via the Greenfield rd. cycle path.