So, to day two, or possibly day one, given that yesterday was all on the train. The plan was to follow the C2C route to Penrith, across the lakes, taking in a few hills along the way. This we did, but the hills that we saw on the map didn’t quite do justice to the reality – these are proper steep ones up and down, with very little flat bits between. Given that we come from Norfolk, where the accepted wisdom is that hills just get in the way of the view, this was a bit of a shock to the system, and by the time we’d done the first 10 miles, I was quite glad that the original plan of doing this trip on the single speed had been dismissed fairly early on.
We started off at the Whitehaven harbour, ceremoniously dipping our front wheels into the Irish Sea, and nearly dipping ourselves as well, given how slippery the slipway was. We met a few other riders who all appeared to have been brought by minibus, a booming market whereby someone drops you off, then carries your luggage to your next stop. They seemed to think that carrying your own gear was quite extreme, given some of the climbs ahead, and proved their point by overtaking us for most of the day.
So, from Whitehaven, hard work for about 9 hours, with an occasional stop to look at what must be the most amazing views that this country has to offer. I could quite get into the majesty of the countryside hereabouts, although I fear that in order to do so, you might have to read up on Wordsworth and Coleridge, two individuals who, as far as I can make out, were the Pam Ayres of their time. But, that aside, the views across the lakes and up to the fells and pikes were stunning. And slightly daunting, once you realised that you were heading in that direction by bike. My fave bit was a turn around Mungrisdale, which came after the only down point of the day, when Mrs E needed a puncture fixing. This was combined with lunch, which consisted of bread and some cheese which we’d bought the previous night and which had been in the panniers for five hours. No need for a knife to spread it.
We left the guest house in Whitehaven giggling unfairly at our host, who was made to run a guest house, in the same way that Glen Roeder was made to be a football manager. He was very, very keen to point out the key points of the macerator attached to the toilet, and had gone to the trouble of laminating a number of signs to make it clear what could and couldn’t be disposed of. We made the mistake of getting to breakfast 10 minutes after our allotted time, which threw him into something of a blind panic, but things soon settled down, and we were pleased to see delights such as ‘home made toast’ on the menu. We were so worried that it might be shop bought toast, after all. Anyway, an interesting contrast with the hotel in Penrith, which appears to have been genteel in it’s day and is trying desperately to hang on to the past. I don’t think that their normal clientele bustles in wearing lycra and asks to borrow a tin of swarfega, but they seemed to take it all in their stride.
Tomorrow beckons with, according to the map, four unpleasant climbs to Allenhead. If only we’d had the presence of mind to book that bus….