Ride no. 20, woohoo! Day 3 of our mini mountain bike tour of the South Lake District began with the rain hammering down outside. So, we faffed about in the hostel until we could not faff any more, and by the time we threw a leg over the saddle, the rain had stopped. Good stuff!
We started the day by heading left out the hostel driveway, continuing to head up the steep hill we started the night before. The road levelled out a bit, so it wasn’t so savage, and went past some beautiful little stone barns and houses. And snowdrops! A load of em – so Spring is absolutely, definitely coming to these northern mountains sooner rather than later. After a few photo shoots of the landscape emerging from the mist, we turned onto the Bridleway that would lead us to Jenkin Crag, and then down into Ambleside.
The sun started to burn off the mist over Windermere lake, and all of a sudden we could feel sun on our faces. We immediately stopped where we were (conveniently at the top of the Jenkin Crag descent) and sat, soaking in the sunshine for the first time on this little trip. It was an absolutely beautiful view across Windermere lake, over the green fields filled with sheep and stone walls, the naked trees lending their craggy silhouettes to the landscape.
I know I talk about this a lot on this blog, but when you see the sunshine in Cumbria, it is a rare and hallowed event. An event which makes you stop and appreciate it, as it might be six weeks before you see it again :P.
After our soaking-in-the-sunshine-session, we hooted and hollered down the bridleway descent from Jenkin Crag. For myself, this is a fun downhill with a couple very challenging bits thrown in – one of which I (mostly) cleaned, and the other of which I completely didn’t clean.
The bit I didn’t ride is a bouldery mess of a stretch, one that doesn’t have any obvious lines for making it through unscathed. It also was resembling a river after the last few days (weeks? months?) of heavy rain, so I wasn’t at all disappointed when I got off the Yeti and walked down its length. Which is a feat in itself when you’re wearing ‘ballet shoes’ (aka slippy-sliddey clip in shoes). The bit I did manage to ride down though had an audience of a family of walkers watching me – nerve racking! The lady was really nice though and said ‘oh you’re so brave!’, which boosted my ego a bit :).
Down into Ambleside we rode, where we headed to the Rattle Gill Cafe to have a coffee and some lunch. Sadly they are closed on Tues/Wed, so we visited their next door neighbours at Giggling Goose cafe. I would highly recommend going to check out Rattle Gill Cafe if you’re in Ambleside though, the owners Alec and Claire are really lovely people who make fabulous food, coffee, and cake!
After a quick lunch and lots of coffee (seriously I think I’m addicted), we pedalled up to Rydal and to another bridleway that bypasses the busy stretch of road from Rydal to Grasmere. Being school holidays here in the UK, the trail was packed with folks – so it was mostly a – pedal, pedal, pedal, stop, push, start, pedal, stop, push, start, etc. – type of ride. It is definitely rideable though, and a really good option if you find yourself in need of heading to Grasmere from Ambleside on a mountain bike!
From Grasmere it was the inevitable road climb up THE RAISE, aka Dunmail Raise, which wasn’t as bad as I had been envisioning it. It’s still a long climb (for the UK), but it’s not steep and other than the traffic zooming around you, very doable. An increasingly chilly ride around Thirlmere gave us one more hill to climb until, finally, we were descending back into Keswick. Back home, cozy, fed, and warm, feeling very accomplished indeed. Maybe round two of mountain bike touring next week? 🙂 Well… maybe next month when it’s less cold/wet outside, but I will definitely be mountain bike touring again, it was loverly.