As the weather turns warmer and we begin to remember what the sun looks like, many of us are looking to get outside and away from urbanity – what better way than a bike ride around an area of outstanding natural beauty?

Located just an hour from Bolton by train, Clitheroe is perfectly placed next to the Forest of Bowland – offering stunning panoramic views, rivers, quaint shops and cafes, and even a stunning railway viaduct.

Those who don’t want to continue their trip by bike can find bus connections to reach the heart of the forest in less than half an hour, with services such as the 628 and 510 passing through many of the forest’s villages.

Those who are up for a challenge can start a 71 km (44 miles) loop journey by heading north from Clitheroe – or choose a shorter alternative route by heading back earlier along the route.

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You’ll be off the main roads after about 15 minutes, where you’ll be rewarded with the remains of the 10th-century Sawley Abbey, set in front of beautiful rolling hills.

Cycling over Sawley Bridge to cross the River Ribble, you will find yourself on low-traffic tarmac roads surrounded by hedgerow as you pass between Holden and Bolton by Bowland.

Leaving Holden, you’ll climb up Tinklers Lane – luckily, things remain fairly gentle in terms of incline, and the road is lined by trees on both sides, offering welcomed shade on sunnier days.

The Bolton News: Hills background the landscape throughout the Forest of BowlandHills background the landscape throughout the Forest of Bowland (Image: Jack Fifield, Newsquest)

For your efforts, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views, foregrounded by trees and sheep-filled fields.

About an hour into the ride, you’ll reach the village of Slaidburn where you can pay your respects at the village’s striking war memorial, consisting of a bronze statue of a soldier standing high atop an octagonal pillar.

You can also refuel at the village’s shops and pub, while taking in the stunning sandstone architecture.

The Bolton News: Pay your respects at Slaidburn's war memorialPay your respects at Slaidburn's war memorial (Image: Jack Fifield, Newsquest)

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Around 20 minutes later, you’ll pass through Newton-in-Bowland, offering more rest opportunities to those feeling the effects of 24 km (15 miles) of cycling.

Those looking for a shorter route can head back to Clitheroe here, either taking the B6478 for 11 km (7 miles) directly to Clitheroe via Waddington, or cycling 16.5 km (10.3 miles) via Cow Ark for a slightly longer jaunt.

Those still taking our longer route will pass the award-winning Puddleducks Tearoom (or stop off, if you’re feeling peckish), and you’ll cross the River Dunsop on Dunsop Bridge to be greeted with yet more open roads, flanked by verdant fields and rolling hills.

Just 2 km (1.2 miles) later, you’ll find yourself surrounded by trees as you cross the River Hodder using Burholme Bridge, where you’ll be greeted by friendly local cattle as you travel towards Whitewell and pass the appropriately named ‘Cow Ark’.

The Bolton News: You can meet the local cattle along the routeYou can meet the local cattle along the route (Image: Jack Fifield, Newsquest)

Cross two bridges in quick succession as you smash through the route’s halfway mark on your way to Chipping, where you’ll find Brabins Shop & Cafe – advertised as ‘Britain’s Oldest Continually Trading Shop’, it’s a perfect place for a pitstop,  as you celebrate your achievement for making it so far.

You’ll pass through the town of Longridge as you loop back around to pass through Ribchester, Dinckley, Old Langho, and Billington on your way back to Clitheroe.

Seeing the gorgeous Whalley Viaduct, the largest in Lancashire, at ground level serves as a treat for anyway railway or architecture fan as your trip comes to a close.

Those wishing to return to Bolton earlier can also hop on a train at Whalley to skip the final 10km (6 miles) of the route.

Finally, continue north on Whalley Road to reach your start point, Clitheroe – where you can enjoy a well-deserved pint (or soft drink) at Maxwell’s Cafe Wine Bar, located directly opposite the railway station.

The Bolton News: Enjoy a drink at Maxwell's, opposite the station, at the end of your journeyEnjoy a drink at Maxwell's, opposite the station, at the end of your journey (Image: Jack Fifield, Newsquest)

Trains currently run once per hour to the Clitheroe from Bolton.

Those looking to travel off-peak, which includes all day on the weekends, can purchase an Off-peak Day Return for £11 without any Railcard discount. Anytime Day Returns cost £13.20.

Cheaper Advance tickets, which require travellers to board a specific service, are also available for around £5.10 per journey leg, or £10.20 overall.

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