C2C - Westmorland Loop
Route Section: Westmorland Loop
From Start: 85km (53m) | From Finish: 150km (94m)
Penrith 8km (5m)
Appleby-in-Mestmorland 22km (14m)
Stanhope 83km (52m)
Out of Askham
In Askham head left, keeping the Punchbowl on your right, going towards Lowther.
Cross the river Lowther and keep left and you will see the castle. Either head to the hamlet of Lowther or keep left and you will very briefly find yourself on the A6, which you need to cross.
Go under the railway line. Shortly after is a right turn for Great Strickland where the pub boasts a yellow jersey worn by Bradley Wiggins during the 2012 Tour de France.
Continue for 5km and you are in Morland.
You can, if you wish, carry on here and hook up again with the C2C at Penrith. Just follow Pennine Cycleway signs (Route 67). From the Cross Keys either go into Penrith centre and pick up signs or, alternatively, very briefly go right on the A686 before taking a left up to Beacon Hill and back onto the route as it heads down towards Langwathby.
Askham is a perfect English village in the ancient county of Westmorland . There are pretty whitewashed cottages either side of two village greens through which the river Lowther cuts a graceful swathe.
The area has been inhabited since the late Stone Age with two embanked enclosures on nearby Skirsgill Hill, with other prehistoric sites at nearby Moor Divock. There is a bridleway to leading there from Askham.
The village's most remarkable feature, aside from being postcard pretty, is Askham Hall. This is a 14th century pele tower converted into an Elizabethan mansion in the mid-16th century by Thomas Standford, whose family lived in it until 1828, when it became a rectory. It has three irregular wings around an oblong courtyard. Askham Hall was the home of Lord Lonsdale since the dismantling of nearby Lowther Castle.
It is now an upmarket country house hotel where you might wish to stay (see below).
Where to Eat and Drink
Askham Hall, Askham, Cumbria, CA10 2PF. Historic and classy stop-off, handy for Clifton and Penrith. Café and gardens open to the public in the grounds of Askham Hall – a Grade I listed building which has been converted into a restaurant and hotel with private spa and outdoor pool. Coffees, cakes and light lunches available as is beer and wine.
During the spring summer months (peak times) you can enjoy pizzas from the outdoor wood-fired oven and homemade ice-creams. Askham Hall is also home to rare breed animals which can be seen as part of the garden tour. Same owner as the estimable George and Dragon in nearby Clifton .
Open every day during the Easter holidays, then every day except Saturdays until October half term, 10am – 5pm then Fridays – Sundays, 11am – 4pm for rest of the year except for a close period in January and early February.
Abbott Lodge tea room and ice cream makers, Clifton, Nr Penrith, Cumbria, CA10 2HD. 01931 712720. Steven and Claire Bland run a working dairy farm making more than 40 flavours of top quality homemade Jersey ice cream. Open 11am - 5pm daily. Children's area and meet-the-cows facility. abbottlodgejerseyicecream.co.uk.
Where To Sleep
Run by: Charles Lowther
Now open with a restaurant spread through three rooms, 15 bedrooms (15 from 2016) with a spa and outdoor heated pool, gardens and café open to the public and a converted party barn. Its style? A luxurious, intimate, unpretentious home from home which is up-to-date, full of charm and somewhere you can relax after a hard day's cycling. This is a foodlover's haven: chef Richard Swale worked for Michelin 3-star Marc Veyrat in Annecy, France and John Burton Race in London. He also did a stint at NOMA, the world's top-rated restaurant. Beef and pork are home raised and herbs and veg are grown in the gardens. Staying here is like being a house guest at a country home. Flawless. Now in the Good Hotel Guide and the Michelin guide.
B&B: from £75 per person (sharing).
Eve meal: 3-courses plus nibbles £50. Tasting menu £65. Exemplary wine list.
Secure lock-up and drying facilities.
Run by: Simon Brown
Splendid old coaching inn in one of the most scenic places along the route. This is a big place with lots of rooms and a great selection of beers plus a bustling business in upmarket but reasonably priced pub food. With six rooms, the Punchbowl is ideal for small groups, and has free wifi as well as a secure storage area for bikes.
B&B: from £45.
Eve meal: around £20 for 3-courses. Mains around £10.
Pk lunch: pse pre-order.
Secure lock-up . Freeview flatscreens, free wifi.