A fabulous sight to wake up to for Day 2 of my Cumbrian cycle tour! It was a frosty morning, so I took advantage of the 10am check-out time and had a leisurely breakfast at the Windermere Youth Hostel. Spun down into Windermere for a (free!) cup of coffee from Booths and to take a stab at the crossword.
My goal for the day was to ride down to ‘the sea’ at Grange-over-Sands (I guess technically a bay, not the ocean/sea…), then back up to the Lakes to the Hawkshead Youth Hostel. I decided to take the most direct route through the rest of the Lake District – meaning from Windermere, head south alongside the lake on the A592 until Staveley-in-Cartmel, and then turn onto smaller roads.
This photo was taken in Staveley-in-Cartmel – me trying to collect my wits after riding on that horrible road. It’s definitely not the worst road I’ve ever ridden with my bicycle, but it wasn’t pleasant. It was really busy with either tourists or morning commuters, and definitely not the gentle undulation in terms of terrain that I had been imagining. I picked this route since it was more direct (shorter) than the alternatives, which also looked hillier… from now on I am taking the a) longer and b) hillier route over busier roads. Bah. So, I collected my wits, had a bun and some hummus, dried mango, chocolate (I guess it’s lunch time?!) and then set off on a lovely quiet road towards Grange-over-Sands. Heading towards Cartmel, I encountered some very British sights indeed. Just off the main road, a massive school bus full of kids came down the singletrack road I was on. The several cars stuck behind the bus came to a halt when another massive lorry came trundling around the corner from the opposite direction. Much faff and disgruntled faces ensued when the massive school bus, and all the cars behind had to back up, winding down this hedge-rowed tiny road for ages to get this huge lorry past. Smug as you like, I passed the entire queue on my wee bicycle, yippie! 🙂 Then, another very British sight to see – a field of lambs and their mums! I stopped to take some snaps of this particularly good field of lambs, and noticed that there was a mum without a little lamb by her side. I snapped the photo above and took a closer look – there was her little lamb, stuck between the pointy hedgerow and the wire fence. How it managed to squeeze itself between the two I will never know. I hopped off me bike and slowly approached the little lamb and it’s mum, who was watching over the whole scenario nervously. Didn’t take much to get the little lamb free – had to reach down between the two fences, negotiating a pointy bit of barbed wire, and grab the wee thing and bring him up over the fences. It was so wonderful though, to be able to hold a little lamb and do a nice thing for both the lamb and it’s mum. I’m sure the farmer would have freed the lamb soon enough, but any day I can help save a little lamb is a very good day indeed. 🙂
By this time it really was getting towards lunchtime, so I pedalled off towards Cartmel to see if I could get mobile phone reception, so I could finally connect with my two mates from Rattlegill Cafe for a wee ride. No phone reception there (at least for my ancient and well-loved phone), so I had a wander around Cartmel Priory before heading off again. I had heard that the Priory was an attraction to be seen in South Cumbria, but I definitely hadn’t been expecting such a stunning structure in the middle of this little rural village. I walked around inside and around the Priory with mouth agape – it really is stunningly beautiful.
No reception, and no contact from me mates (that I could receive, anyways), so I set off towards Grange-over-Sands! I stopped almost EVERYWHERE in this little town, as I kind of got muddled up going up and down the maze of Grange’s three streets :P. I ended up going past the same Co-op about six times…. sometimes my sense of direction is a bit wonky. Did finally make it down to the promenade with my Surly and ate my eggy sandwich and (more) chocolate, just for good measure.
After heading up the MASSIVE hill that descends into Grange (on the main road it’s a steep-ass, long slog – I would suggest descending it … but skirting around it to the gentler, small roads for the ascent!), I could get phone reception! After an afternoon of ridiculous wild-goose-chasing with my two mates, I found out that they a) were out on their bikes in the sunshine, and b) sitting at a pub in Cartmel. Ace! So off I went, back to Cartmel, to join my mates Alec and Claire, at the picnic tables in front of a wonderfully sun-lit pub :). The photo above is our attempt at a group shot … also I was attempting to cover the ever-so-sexy mark on my forehead that my helmet had left …. hehehe I like the resulting photo. After a brief spell at the pub, we all set off into the waning afternoon light. We rode a total of about 3km together, hooting and hollering like small children. It was brilliant :). They had to diverge back to their start-point, and I headed off towards the Hawkshead Youth Hostel on the ‘right’ side of Windermere lake (aka the much quieter, West side of the lake!).
It wasn’t long before the miles started to add up and my legs started to grow weary and my motivation wear thin. I really just wanted to roll easily into the hostel, have a quiet and relaxing evening and go to sleeeeeep. Instead I rolled ungracefully up and down the many undulating hills on the Western side of the Lake – not steep or difficult by any stretch of the imagination, but more effort than I wanted to exert after being on my bike all day! I was treated to a spectacular view and evening light over Esthwaite Water. Beautiful. Eventually did get into Hawkshead Youth Hostel, just before sunset. Was treated to a room (with no room-mates!) in the quiet courtyard, as methinks the hostel staff could see just how knackered I looked! Thanks, guys! 🙂 Ate a load of lentil dahl – and yes, more chocolate – read some of the new CTC magazine they had there, and fell into a deep and wonderful sleep.