The cycle touring summer of 2020 has been somewhat delayed by the outbreak of COVID-19 and the lockdown restrictions that were implemented in March. However, to a greater extent, limitations on travel have now been lifted and it seems an appropriate time to head off on the bike. If you read the post from a couple of days ago (which has since been updated several times), you will know that my plan is to head north from where I live in Pennine West Yorkshire (A on the Google Map at the foot of this post) in the direction of… Edinburgh (H).
One slight difference with this cycle tour is that a bit more pre-planning has been required. This summer it is simply not possible to arrive at a campsite and expect to be able to stay overnight with a bike and a small tent as COVID-19 regulations have put strict limits on the number of people on site so, for the first time in my cycle touring career, I have pre-booked accommodation in advance and this is where I will be staying and what I will be doing over the course of the next few days:
Tuesday 14th July: Catgill Farm Campsite (B) near Bolton Abbey
The cycle to Bolton Abbey is a familiar one and there are several possible routes. As I know the area well I will follow my nose. The key challenge will be keeping away from the busy A629 road along the Aire Valley north of Keighley.
I’m meeting the cycle writer Rob Ainsley at the campsite and my plan is to record the next episode of The Cycling Europe Podcast with his help. It’s going to be themed on interesting premises for cycle tours and having completed multiple interesting rides himself, I’m looking forward to recording the chat. The podcast will also feature two cyclists who each had a rather unique idea for a cycle tour. (Their contributions were recorded last week.) The podcast will be out as soon as possible after I return to Yorkshire but that could be several weeks away.
Wednesday 15th July: The Old Hall Cottage Campsite (C) near Hawes
Following the Yorkshire Dales Cycleway should help me get to Hawes. That said, I will probably follow Wensleydale upon arrival in Wensley itself thus avoiding some big hills.
Thursday 16th / Friday 17th / Saturday 18th July: Rydal Hall Campsite (D) near Ambleside
It proved very difficult to find any camping accommodation to continue my journey north on Saturday 18th so I contacted Rydal Hall and reserved a third consecutive night. This means that I can spend two days cycling in the Lake District, not just the one. With the panniers stored in the tent, it also means I don’t need to be wary of the hills.
On Thursday I need to head west from Hawes. National Cycle Routes 10, 68 and 70 will probably feature. I need to look into these a little bit more. Any advice?
On Friday morning I am meeting a chap called Tim Boden (who was mentioned in the earlier post) and he will hopefully join me for a cycle from Ambleside along the Langdale Valley. Later in the day I intend to cycle alongside Coniston Water and Windermere in a loop that will see me back in Ambleside by the end of the day.
As for Saturday – my extra day in the Lakes! – I have, as yet, no ideas whatsoever. Perhaps Tim will be able to advise me. Or perhaps you can?
Sunday 19th: Bank House Farm (E) near Penrith
Tim can probably also advise about a route in the direction of Penrith. A direct route beside Ullswater or a longer journey via Thirlmere?
UPDATE: Jeff – who lives in Cumbria – has been in touch with the following advice regarding the route from Rydal Hall to Penrith:
“I have a few suggestions about your route from Rydal to Bank House. You could go up Kirkstone Pass, but the road isn’t called ‘The Struggle’ for nothing! I would recommend looking for the small lanes that come out of the top side of Grasmere, eventually forcing you on to the main Ambleside -Keswick road. At the top of Dunmail Raise there’s a lovely cycle path on the left. This takes you on to the quiet side of Thirlmere. From there, cross the main road, go up St John’s in the Vale, to Threlkeld, where you can pick up the C2C and then follow this all the way to Little Salkeld and your campsite.”
Monday 20th July: Winshields Campsite (F) near Haltwhistle
Monday will see me climb Hartside Top. (Have they rebuilt the café yet since it burnt to the ground?) I climbed the hill from the other direction back in 2009 when I cycled along Route 68, the Pennine Cycleway so it will be interesting to do it in reverse. The campsite near Haltwhistle is very close to Hadrian’s Wall so that should offer some diversions when off the bike.
Tuesday 21st July: Ruberslaw Wild Woods Camping (G) near Hawick
I would have loved to stay overnight at the campsite at the northern end of Kielder Water but alas there is no availability for the night of July 21st. I will, however, do the next best thing and cycle beside the lake before pushing on in the direction of the Scottish border and the campsite near Hawick.
Wednesday 22nd July: Edinburgh (H). I haven’t arranged any accommodation in Edinburgh. Perhaps it might be a good time to revisit WarmShowers. It is a city that is not lacking in potential hosts and after over a week in the tent I may be grateful for a mattress… If you live in Edinburgh, are on WarmShowers and happen to be reading this, please get in touch.
For someone so accustomed to making things up on a day-to-day basis, I’m quite looking forward to having sorted out the accommodation for the first week of this trip in advance.
After Edinburgh? Who knows…? Any advice about the journey to the Scottish capital or where I should go afterwards is very welcome: