Our coast to coast ride was planned as a maximum three day trip because of work commitments and given a full days travelling to and from the Lake District it gave us a 48 hr window for the riding.
After on overnight stay in Lincoln it was an 8am start for Whitehaven and a drive up country in low cloud, thick fog and heavy drizzle. The weather was not encouraging but as in all the best fairy tales as we crossed the Penines the rain stopped, cloud broke and the sun came out. The pattern was set for the ride, while the rest of the country had rain we enjoyed dry conditions throughout with any showers appearing each day once we had finished. This was always bound to happen as I had purchased a Gore Wear waterproof top and over trousers for the ride.
Whitehaven is a busy little town with a history of ship building and coal mining and the distinction of being the place where the American Naval Forces tried to attack our nation and sink our fleet in 1778.
By contrast in 2013 tourism and the Coast to Coast Ride helps to keep the economy afloat. The Tesco supermarket was busy repelling an attack by invading cyclists stocking up before embarking on the Coast to Coast ride. I have never seem so many lycra clad aficionados casually walking around and not attracting a second glance.
After readying my Cannondale the obligatory dipping of the wheel in the sea and the accompanying photos before we weaved our way out of town on the well signed tracks and side roads. An unusual site was a row of shanty town like pigeon lofts that attracted individual groups of men following the flight of the circling birds, pigeon racing is still alive in Whitehaven.
Once clear of the town we were into the Lake district National Park and some stunning views over Loweswater. The run to Low Lorton saw us following a tractor and trailer through bumpy undulating lanes and like all naughty boys we could not resist drafting the tractor which was fine until the tractor hit a bump and shed part of its cargo off sheep nuts which had the effect of marbles on the road and demonstrated some deft bike ballet with extra marks for staying upright.
The first climb of the trip saw Winlatter arrive without warning and first day adrenaline and a low gear took us to the visitor centre, a brief stop for the photo record and then a fast decent to Braithwaite past a steady stream of fellow pilgrims. Keswick was on the radar as we passed Derwent Water and on entering the town we could hear a band playing and it seemed every person donned walking boots, stick and back pack. The vibrant tourist industry is in full swing.
Keswick is deep in Wainwright country and the scenery to Threlkeld and past Blencathra is breath taking, the mileage just melts away, it would be easy to stop for a day to look around but we only had 48 hrs for the trip so we had to push on.
Our first nights destination was the pretty village of Greystoke and The Boot And Shoe Inn was chosen for our first celebratory pint, the Black Sheep ale chosen specifically for the dietry requirement of carbohydrate loading, well thats my story and I’m sticking to it. Day one complete and the local Travelodge at Penrith providing a double room for £28 for a good nights sleep before the long climb of Hartside.