CYCLING enthusiasts from all over Furness gathered yesterday at Roose Conservative Working Mens Club for the 24th Tour de Furness.

Organised by the Rotary Club of Furness, the event was an opportunity for amateurs and the more accomplished pedlars to test themselves physically and mentally all in the name of charity.

Since its inception in 1995 the event has raised half a million pounds for Ulverston's St Mary’s Hospice, with last year alone raising £30,000.

Brian Boyd, president of the Rotary Club’s Tour de Furness, said: “For the Rotary Club of Furness, this is one of our biggest events of the year.

"It's a charity cycle ride, and a chance for us to raise as much money for St Mary's Hospice in Ulverston.

"To date, we have raised around £500,000 and this time round we aim to beat last year's incredible amount of £30,000.

"I'd like to thank our volunteers because without them there wouldn't be an event."

The four rides included the five-mile Family Fun Ride, which followed the coastal cycle path to Rampside.

The 13-mile Tour de Furness route appealed to leisure cyclists and visited Vale of Nightshade, while the most newly-introduced 23-mile route followed Morecambe Bay's Coast Road to Bardsea, and then Great Urswick and Urswick Tarn, followed by visits to Scales, Gleaston Castle, and the Watermill then back towards Leece.

And for the most daring riders, there was the option of the 50-mile route, which followed the coastal road to Ulverston, then onto Coniston Water and then back again.

"It's a good cause where riders get exercise and travel through beautiful areas," said Mr Boyd.

"We cater for all and an example of that is we've members of the blind society, who ride on tandem bikes."

Next year will be the Tour de Furness' 25th anniversary.