In search of the ruins of Whalley Abbey. When Henry VII ordered the dissolution of the Monasteries and kicked out the Cistercian Brothers, he could hardly have imagined cyclists visiting the cafe there.
You reach Whalley from Saddleworth by riding through Milnrow and Todmorden. The way to Padiham then follows the Cliviger Gorge which has the rare distinction of having the River Calder appear to flow up one side and down the other. In fact, there are two entirely different rivers with the same name; the Lancashire Calder flowing out through Todmorden to the Humber Estuary on the east coast, while the Lancashire Calder flows through Whalley to the Ribble estuary on the west coast.
The return is through York, but not that one; there's another one in Lancashire. On a clear day you can catch a glimpse of Blackpool Tower. From Rishworth you use the towpath of the Leeds and Liverpool which lets you avoid an awkward motorway junction. Then you avoid Accrington by using the former railway track to Haslingden.
The local cyclists refer to this climb as Meat Pie Mountain, but vegetarians can think of it as Cheese and Onion Pie Mountain if they wish.
The ride then climbs past Owd Betts on the way through Rochdale and Shaw.
The start is in Uppermill, Saddleworth. If you drive here, it's handy for M62 junction 22 and there is free all-day parking at the car park by the leisure centre. If arriving by train, Greenfield Station has connections to Manchester and Leeds. TransPennine Trains allow a limited number of bikes on trains which they insist must be pre-booked, a policy strictly observed.
Gateway into Whalley Abbey
Some Useful Café Suggestions:
53km: Whalley, Cafe at the Abbey 108km: Uppermill, Many cafes, including Abaco and Cellar Pot