West, South and East
I woke fairly early although not as early as originally planned on account of needing to get the bike repaired. I tidied up my kit (some was still not quite dry), showered and went down for the joys of an Ibis hotel breakfast buffet. Collecting the bike from its storage place hiding behind a service lift at the rear of the hotel I wheeled it around to one of the two neighbouring bike shops (one did not open until 10am so they were ruled out by default). The shop were able to fix the chain and give me a replacement tyre – although the only one they had in stock was more for ‘city’ riding (its still on the bike quite happily several months and another thousand miles later). The work would take them about an hour so I wandered around a bit and then and back to the hotel to finish packing and to check out. Back at the bike shop my bike was made ready and, after also buying an extra couple of tubes and a bungee cord to keep the broken panier in place, I was back under way shortly after 10am.
Unfortunately I was not able to make up too much time straight away on account of my (apparently foolishly) choosing to follow the proper advertised cycle route out of Carlisle. Route 72 follows the River Eden out of the town and I was expecting and hoping for a nice riverside ride to start the day. Which to be fair I almost did. Unfortunately however having to lug the bike up and down several sets of steps and over a stile was not ideal. It took almost an hour to get out of the town and onto the cycle way proper.
The road to Bowness started off with some nice undulating terrain through some pretty villages before heading onto the very flat and low lying tidal plain from which I could look across to Scotland a short distance the other side of the Solway Firth. Bowness on Solway marked the end of Hadrians Wall and, just off a little side path, I found the shed that formally marks the western end of it. I wished a group of walkers well as they were starting to begin walking the route from west to east and then I set off again.
From Bowness I had reached the end of the wall and as I was not planning on completing the whole of the Hadrians Cycleway as it continues another 70 miles down the west Cumbria coast I allowed myself a couple of short cuts from the advertised route, cutting off detours around Cardurnock and Silloth. After stopping to get some supplies and to chat with another couple of cyclists out on day rides in the pretty village of Abbeytown, I pointed the bike in the direction of the coast.
There was an ever increasing headwind as I headed south westwards and the going was quite tough but eventually I met the west coast proper just north of the village of Allonby.
The coastline here is quite open and exposed and the going remained difficult as I followed the coast southwards through Maryport and into Workington and the end of the first leg of my ride. From the centre of the town I rode out to the lighthouse at the end of the harbour arm which marks the western end of the Workington leg of the Sea to Sea (C2C) route.
After stopping for some lunch here I wheeled the bike down to dip the rear wheel into the sea to formally start the ride back east.
The first few miles out of Workington were along a very welcome stretch of disused railway although that ran out sooner than hoped and it was back on to some quiet, but undulating, country lanes up the Derwent Valley towards Cockermouth. I don’t really recall much of this stretch of the route to be honest, or of Cockermouth itself. At this point I was just trying to prepare myself for the big climb a few miles outside of Cockermouth up to Wythop Woods.
One of the benefits of starting at Workington rather Whitehaven was that the routes did not join until the final ride into Keswick. The route from Workington has a big enough climb but considerably less than the ride over the Whinlatter pass that riders from Whitehaven have to endure. You can therefore imagine just how pleased I was to find a sign a couple of miles outside of Cockermouth informing me that the Wythop Woods route was closed and that I would have to divert across several hilly miles just so that I could swap over onto the Whinlatter Pass route instead. Avoiding the diversion signs that tried to push me further back the way that I had come I cut across along a busy B road adding to the pleasure before eventually dropping into the hamlet of Low Lorton from where the climb would start.
I took a rest before starting the climb but it was still a hard climb. I was already 66 miles into the day at this point and now had an 800 foot climb stretching out in front of me. The climb properly started upon leaving the neighbouring village of High Lorton. This was quite a struggle that took a lot out of me and I wasn’t able to complete the climb without having to stop a couple of times for a breather.
At the top of the first section of tough climb I had one of the oddest feelings I’ve ever had whilst cycling. The road levelled out and though it was still climbing it was such a change from the previous section of road that my head actually thought I was going downhill and couldn’t understand why it was still a struggle to keep the bike moving. It actually got to getting off the bike to check that the wheels were moving freely and that the brakes were not rubbing. After establishing that they were all fine it was only when I took a step back that I realised that I was indeed still climbing and not going down at all. Confused, but relieved that the bike was ok, I got back on my way and it was not long anyway before any confusion was again out of the window as the climb began again in earnest.
This time the climb was still tough but not as relentless as the first section and I was able to keep my head down and just keep pedalling. Eventually I saw the sign for the Forestry Commission site that marked the top of the pass and was soon very able to prove that the bike was free wheeling happily as I started the sharp descent back towards Keswick. Other than a stop to admire the view down over Bassenthwaite Lake I let the bike run freely down to the bottom of the hill at Braithwaite from where a couple of miles of fairly easy riding eventually brought me into the village of Portinscale and the Rickerby Grange Hotel that was my base for the night.
On arriving the owner met me and took my bike to lock it away safely and then showed me to my room. I had a single room with an ‘off suite’ private bathroom with a good sized bath tub that I was soon making good use of. The late start, slow going out of Carlisle and the diversion over Whinlatter had meant I had arrived later than planned and by the time I got there the local pub had stopped serving food; although I did persuade them to do me a bowl of chips and, coupled with two welcome pints of bitter I was soon relaxed and refreshed and ready for my bed.
Day Two Stats:
- Distance: 74.05 Miles
- Ride Time: 6 Hours, 13 minutes and 14 seconds
- Maximum Speed: 36.4 mph
- Average Speed: 11.8 mph
- Average RPM: 57
- Revolutions: 21,274
- Ascent: 3,215 feet
- Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/373575672