Another day of hot sunshine forecast and as we left The Horse and Farrier at Threlkeld we started to climb under big blue skies with mere wisps of cloud.
We were soon away from the road on good tracks, enjoying a nice sequence of undulations. Each of the climbs came with a nicely rewarding descent and we made good progress to our first snack stop at the pretty village of Greystoke.
Taking advantage of the services of a guided tour run by Newcastle based Saddle Skedaddle and doing the C2C route over 4 days was a good decision based on our cycling ability and leaving all the organisation to someone else.
Each day we get a briefing of each section of the route and our lead guide Brad rides with us. He is often at the back so he can check everyone is okay, but sometimes takes the lead through sections where we may take a wrong turn.
Les, the other guide on this trip, provides back up, excellent route and local knowledge and very welcome food and drinks from the van. That means there’s the option to take a ride in the van if cycling becomes too challenging.
Brad and Les were fantastic dealing with the very mixed abilities and demands of the group. I couldn’t fault them.
The landscape started to change as we left the Lakes behind. It became more open and rolling with cultivated fields. A group of five with regular, rather than electric bikes found we were maintaining a nice pace and stuck together.
Despite clear instructions from Les, we missed a turning and ended up on the slightly busier road route into Penrith. But after a bit of navigating we made it through the town centre and up a deceptively steep climb back on the route again.
We stopped at Langwathby for lunch – another amazing spread with salmon, Spanish omelette, tomato and mozzarella salad, chicken and all sorts of goodies laid on.
It was a long lunch. Maybe a bit too long to be still, having the hardest climb to tackle in the afternoon – up the hill to Hartside.
Gary and I both struggled to get going after lunch and the rest of the group moved ahead as we started to climb. The day before, Gary got cramp, so I kept an eye on him, stopping at the top of each set of rises, but I needed a break to get my breath back too.
Seeing Hartside cafe in the distance on the hill, never getting closer was taunting – especially when Gary had convinced himself that the total distance for the day was 35 miles, when that was the distance to Hartside. He started cursing the descents for undoing all the hard work on the climbs and got annoyed at the wind.
He kept telling me to go on, but I know how demoralising that can be, so I continued to move forwards and then wait so we could re-group.
Behind us another rider had given up and called the van, so when he passed us on his way back for her, we decided we’d struggle to make it to the top and down again in time for dinner, so we took advantage of the ride. It was 5pm when we stopped, just below the final tarmac section and sharp climb to the top.
So we did reach the summit, but under motor power. We congratulated those who made it and who were posing for photos at the sign, then joined them for the long descent and ride on to Alston.
The wind was sharply in our faces at the top and down the descent. It was so strong we had to pedal downhill at times, although I enjoyed a lovely long freewheel.
Our stop for the night was Alston House where we received a warm welcome to a lovely big room and many laughs over a good dinner.