Perhaps I should stay in places that are actually near themselves… Anyway, moving on, which, after three nights at a Rydal Hall is what I did today. Yesterday finished like this:
Today started with this…
…and finished with a rather nice surprise. More of that in a few moments.
You may remember from previous mentions that a guy called Jeff Trueman had contacted me suggesting today’s route (rather than a more direct one via ‘The Struggle’ and Ullswater). Well, today I put his suggestion into practice, or nearly…
Jeff proposed that I take the cycle path from Rydal to Grasmere rather than the main road. But after my experiences of the Lake District paths last Friday with Tim – they were good, but often unpaved – and I suspected they would not have been easy with four panniers and a tent so I decided to stick to the main road. It was Sunday morning for goodness sake, how busy could a road be? Well, still quite busy as it turned out. Anyway, Grasmere was a delight. The St. Tropez of the Lakes no less! I sat down for a very un-St. Tropez breakfast of sausage, scrambled egg and beans at Heidi’s Café. Délicieux! (More French in a second.)
Jeff also suggested taking minor roads out of Grasmere but again, my dubious logic came to the fore reasoning that Grasmere was such a lovely place that everyone would be driving to there, not from there, especially at 10am. So I stayed on the main road… Again, the traffic was heavy and fast. At least the northbound carriageway of the A591 was very wide. Mercifully, where the dual carriageway started so did cycling route 6 which I followed all the way around Thirlmere. Peace at last!
Approaching from its southern end, could be easily duped into thinking that Thirlmere was just as natural and ancient as all the other lakes. But it isn’t. It is, of course, a reservoir but one at the stunning end of the spectrum:
I had a lengthy chat in French (reassuring to prove to myself that I still can) with a couple from Normandy at a viewing point half way along the length of the reservoir. They were the first foreigners I had come across on this trip, for fairly obvious reasons. They seemed to have few concerns about travelling abroad although did say that people (like me) were very curious as to how they had got along, the answer to which was basically ‘fine’.
The hulk that is Blencathra was now in view. Perhaps me staring at the mountain rather than the signs lead me to miss the turning for the Castlerigg Stone Circle so I doubled back to find it. It was worth the slight inconvenience, not so much for the stones themselves which were being used by hoards of children as a climbing frame but by the views of the surrounding landscape from their imposing position:
I was now on the ‘Sea to Sea’ route or C2C. (Can you see what they did there?) which, in the main, stays clear of the busy A66. Occasionally the cycle route is beside the road but for most of the time not and, hanging as it does above the valley floor, more impressive views are on offer:
It has been reported today that the C2C route is one of those that as from tomorrow will no longer be part of the Sustrans-administered National Cycle Network as it uses a Short stretch of A road east of Penrith. The plan is for Sustrans to concentrate on off-road cycle paths. Not sure how I feel about this. I see their logic but what I cycled today should be part of the National Cycle Network. Can’t they rename the Keswick to Penrith section so that it exists independently?
Post Penrith – a beautiful town centre that suffers from the British disease of lack of investment, a preponderance to stick signs everywhere and a lack of courage in banning cars… – the mountains of the Lakes become more distant as the Eden Valley starts to impose its width:
At times, it felt more like Dorset than Cumbria (although the signs were a bit of a giveaway…):
It wasn’t too long before I had arrived at the campsite in Little Salkeld, had erected the tent, had rustled up my evening meal (the predictable spaghetti and pesto, again…) and was settling back to a post-food snooze when… “Andrew, it’s Jeff.” Jeff! Of course, he had said he would try and pay me a visit as he only lives down the road and it was a delight to meet him and chat with him. His experience of cycle touring is extensive and he had some interesting stories to tell. What a wonderful way to end a long day – nearly 80km – of cycling! He even brought some beer with him. Cheers Jeff!