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2013 Land's End to John O'Groats

Day 8: Condor Green to Keswick

7th July 2013

This will be a short daily diary, even though, in the opinion of a number of the Group, this may be rated number one. The Lake District is simply stunning, but if you add a blue sky & a viewpoint from a saddle, via quiet country lanes then it becomes doubly impressive

We were joined on today’s leg by Peter Adams & his son in law Dennis. Peter is a friend of Rodney & Brian & a long term resident of the Lakes. He & Dennis had breakfast with us at the Swan & we were ready & onto the road at around 08.30. We were immediately into quiet back lanes which wound & undulated as they took us to Lancaster and whilst our notes tell us navigation is tricky, we had no problems, not least of all as there was not a lot of traffic & of course it was Sunday. The traffic that we didn’t mind at all & indeed found very interesting were the dozens of classic & vintage cars, all heading to a rally in one of the villages we passed through. These villages all had a common theme of wonderful stone houses, dry stone walls & beautifully manicured gardens. Real picture book stuff & wonderful cycling country although there was no rest for the legs with incessant ups & downs   

Lancaster is the capital City of Lancashire & has an incredibly interesting history & a most impressive castle, perched high & looking down over the City & which until recently was also the local prison. However, we didn’t play tourist & seemed to be through & out the other side in no time at all.

We did however cycle over the Millennium Bridge, which spans the River Lune. The high mud banks & low water lines of the Lune are evidence of the huge tidal range in this part of the world & this is also a magnet for bird life & there were an impressive number of species to be seen, as we cycled over the bridge. This impressive structure links the City, for pedestrians & cyclists & its dramatic design is intended to convey the City’s maritime history.

We then had a long climb towards Nether Kellet, with impressive, distant views of Morecambe Bay, on our left. The long uphill was well rewarded & we had a great downhill on the other side as we made our way to Kendal & the start of the Lake District National Park.

The approach to Peter & Beryl’s home, which is close to Kendal, is simply stunning & we were all in great spirits as we swept around the curves, sprinted up the short inclines & enjoyed the stunning countryside & beautiful stone walls. We were within a 1/4 mile of Peter’s home when there was a loud bang, like a shotgun, which was in fact Peter’s back tyre blowing out. We agreed Dennis would take us all to Peter’s & Peter would walk home which he did, just in time to meet Tony our driver, who promptly got out the bike stand & fixed the tyre (the tube was blown apart). Rodney has taken to calling Tony ‘Mother Duck’

We had a great lunch, Rodney was reunited with Pam, we met Beryl & Dennis’s daughter Tilly, ate inside because it was too hot & took in the most amazing countryside house view you have ever seen. There’s no wonder the Lakes poets got so excited & could write such happy stuff. Dennis quit riding with us at this point & I’d call him a wimp but he’s a really big bloke so I’d better not. In fact he had the most perfect excuse; he had to take the kids to a duck race (little yellow plastic ones, on the river). They also had to go to the sheep race (they have teddy bears on their back – sweet, but note to check European Rules on sheep rights). Village life is alive & well in rural England. Shortly before we left, we also met Dennis’s wife Jane & their second daughter (whose name escapes me but hopefully I can remember before we go to press)

Peter & Beryl’s lane, which we rode on for quite a way, as we left, is simply the prettiest road I have ever been on – beautiful lichen covered walls, rolling countryside all around & as green as you can get, outside Ireland (they both of course get bucket loads of rain). Beautifully shaded by huge, mature trees, it even has a ford which fortunately was going off at a tangent so we didn’t have to ride through it.

About this time, Paul D said, ‘we’ve been in the Lakes for ages now. Where are the lakes’? He was right of course but was very soon rewarded with a glimpse of Lake Windermere as we entered the town.  We then got the big screen item which seemed to stretch forever (over 11 miles, in fact) & which was full of activity from graceful sailing boats, elegant ferries, rowing boats & ever other type of vessel know to man. The town has grand homes, hotels & restaurants, beautiful lakeside parks & lawns, gardens & trees. Also, loads & loads of people, cars & busses. It was all too much for the senses of us simple cycling folk & all that water had Ken rushing off to find a toilet. The ride along the lake towards Ambleside, whilst wonderful in a scenic way was somewhat marred by the constant flow of traffic. Life however became quite serene when we got to the town & lake of Grasmere, home of William Wordsworth (‘wonder if his mates called him ‘Bill’) who penned the words ‘the loveliest spot that man hath ever found’ I couldn’t have said it better myself so I wont bother trying. It was so lovely, so peaceful, that Tone & I had a kip, under a tree, in the car park. Paul D pointed out a nearby mountain that rose at a steady pace, to a height I’d judge of about 500 feet  & at an angle that looked about 70 degrees. He told us that the local fell runners run up & back in about 12 minutes. I think that was the point at which I felt the need for a sleep!

That sleep was a good idea however as we had a mountain to climb ourselves when we left Grasmere & by now it was seriously hot, so it left us all pretty exhausted by the time we arrived at the top. However, the run along Thirlmere reservoir was a real tonic & by contrast to Windermere had a single, small dinghy on its whole calm & beautiful length. Rebs was quite upset to know it was man-made & that there was a whole settlement at the bottom. It was in fact developed in the 19th Century to supply water (via a 96 mile aqueduct, still in use) to the thirsty lot  in the Manchester area, who were beavering away, having babies & making an industrial revolution happen.

There was a fair amount of upping & downing, as we covered the last ten miles or so into Keswick, where we were to stay for the night. There was utter confusion for a while when Rodney’s Tom Tom GPS gave him two choices of direction to our B&B. You don’t give hot, tired Rodney choices; you tell him what to do & where to go. However common sense prevailed, we used the tried & tested ‘ask a local’ method & were soon safely established at The Lyndhurst where we watched Andy Murray make tennis history. What a weekend it has been!

Awards of the Day

Andy Murray                      For making history & for putting Britain on the sporting world map

                                                for the second time this weekend

Beryl Adams                       For hosting us at her wonderful Lake District home, for a great & welcome lunch & for a view to die for.

Philosophical thought of the day

The Lakes are simply stunning & on a par with anything in Europe, so if you have a bucket list then

you might like to consider adding this destination to it

Vital stats for the day;

Distance                               60.03

Cumulative                       549.43

Average Speed                 12.4 mph

Time riding **                   4 hours 51 minutes

Climbing                               3,139 feet

** I should make a point this is time actually riding, not time out on the road                       

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