Day 19 – Fraddon to Land’s End (and back to Penzance)

Distance today 64.9 miles, 4553ft; Final total 1179.2 miles, 56453ft

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
09:09:42 05:50:37 64.90 11.11 39.82 4,552.49
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

Watch a video of our route
So this it it – our final days ride.

We awoke to rain and heavy mist – not what was forecast. Into the Brewers Fayre, next door, for breakfast. We were the first customers of the day. We all had cooked breakfast.

After retrieving our bikes from the hotel laundry room and a little bit of tweaking to gears and some oil, we set off. The rain had eased off, so it was now just a very heavy mist.

This is Cornwall, so we are in for a few hills today, but the first few miles are downhill, lulling us into a false sense of security. The first hill, soon brought us back from our reverie! On the way up, Derek suffered a problem with his gears locking up. Back-pedalling cleared it. On the next hill, he suffered the same problem, so we stopped to see what was wrong. Nothing obvious, but we made some tweaks and carried on.

The hills continued, but they were mostly short and sharp. We crossed the A30 and onto another hill, and this time Derek’s chain came off. Terry and Rowland waited and then we set off up the hill. Derek missed the turning, halfway up the hill, and continued to the village at the top, where he waited. A few phone calls later, and we thought our paths would quickly converge – they didn’t.

We agreed to meet in the village of Scorrier, a few miles further on. The route took Derek to a ‘cycle path’ but one look convinced him not to use it. On returning to the main route, he met everybody else looking for the same path. A quick detour took us down the old A30.

We came across a very busy ‘truckers’ cafe called Smokey Joe’s. There were no trucks, but lots of people having breakfast. Of course, we had cakes!

Next came Redruth, with a slow climb and a rapid descent into the town. A few twists and turns through the town centre eventually took us onto the NCN 3 route, via a short steep climb. Still in Redruth, this took us through housing estates right next to abandoned mining pump houses, and sights of (working) wheel towers – a curious sight (for us, anyway!).

Route 3 continued, up and down, southwest, passing the outskirts of Camborne and eventually to Hayle, and a beautiful sandy bay and large viaduct. We then headed inland, towards Marazion. Here, we saw St Michael’s Mount, and cycled along the promenade to the Marazion cafe for lunch. During lunch, the same was hot, and we all removed several layers. Then the cloud came, cooled down and it started raining, so we put the layers straight back on again!

We dropped our panniers at our respective accommodations in Penzance, for the final few miles to Land’s End.

The sun was now shining, as we headed up the hill out of Penzance – a long slow climb to about 450ft. With about 2 miles to go, the fog descended as we headed towards the finish.

On reaching Land’s End, a welcoming committee, of Juliet, Diane and Derek’s sister June and her husband Dave, was waiting and cheering us over the line. A large banner, champagne and cake awaited us! Lots of photos were taken and congratulations all round. On checking our sponsorship status, we found we had just passed £10,000.

We then headed back to Penzance for a wash and brush up, before heading out to The Turk’s Head for a celebration meal.

Camjoglers would like to thank everybody for their generous sponsorship and thanks for following our blog

Arrived!
Arrival at Land’s End
Celebrating at the finish
By the famous sign at Land’s End
Camrollers on the Land’s End sign
The welcoming committee

Day 18 – Hatherleigh to Fraddon

Today’s distance 69.4 miles, 4748ft; total  1114.2 miles, 51902ft

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
09:17:21 06:33:56 69.47 10.58 32.88 4,748.36
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

Watch a video of our route

Our rooms in the Tally Ho Inn were above the bar and entrance to the pub, so some of us had a disturbed nights sleep, as the last customers did not leave until gone 1am.

But, it was an early start, as we face a long and hilly day. Breakfast was basic continental  in the room – muesli, toast, yoghurt.

Overnight rain had left the roads damp and there were heavy grey clouds overhead. The forecast was for a strong southerly wind, so our luck with headwinds has well and truly run out!

We headed west, and were quickly out into the countryside, and following a tarmaced disused railway line, and then onto lanes. We joined a quiet A road for about 8 miles, that took us into Holsworthy, where we found a Waitrose to make up for the small breakfast, where we had coffee and cake – and soup plus Croque Monsieur for Joe!

Leaving Holsworthy, we climbed onto a disused viaduct over the River Deer, giving great views over the countryside. We continued heading west, towards Widemouth Bay, on undulating country roads, with a few sharp climbs. Just as we got a view of the sea, we turned south, and started following NCN 3. This is where we began to feel the effects of the headwind. There was a long slow, and occasionally steep, climb to Week St Mary, with further great views. The inevitable descent was then followed by further climbs as we headed onto the high moors.

Near Davidstow, we reached our highest point of the day at over 900ft. On the moor, is a large airfield that is used for microlights, but, due to the winds, there were none flying today. It was a large military airfield and there were 3 runways, which are now broken up and full of sheep grazing! There is a road cutting across the moor/airfield and this runs northeast, so gave us our only tailwind of the day.

Heading south again, we continued across the high moors with many ascents and descents, passing a couple of groups of teenagers who looked like they were doing their Duke of Edinburgh awards. 

By now, it was gone 1:30 and we were getting tired and hungry and we eventually came to the village of St Breward, hoping we might find somewhere for lunch. We spoke to a local, and in a thick Cornish accent, told us to go to The Old Inn, just by the church. This turned out be perfect, with an extensive menu, served all day. 4 of us had huge burgers and chips. Rowland was restrained and had a panini.

We were now only 25 miles from our destination, and thought the major climbs of the day were over. After a couple of wrong turns, we found our way into the Camel Trail, an excellent cycling/walking route alongside the River Camel, using an old railway line. We followed this for about 8 miles. We emerged into a lane and immediately began climbing. Although not as long as the morning hills, due to fatigue and headwind, we found each of the 5 ascents, tough going. We even found our steepest climb so far, a short section of 22.5%.

The final couple of miles to our Premier Inn, took us through the town of Indian Queens, apparently named after a coaching inn from the 18th century.

The Premier Inn is right by the A30, so there is a constant drone from the traffic, but the rooms are comfortable and the staff are friendly. Our evening meal was at the Brewers Fayre pub/restaurant next door – not our first choice, but very convenient! We commented that they must use extra strong chairs due to the high number a ‘large’ customers…

Off to bed early tonight as we have another long day tomorrow, when we finally reach Land’s End. 

Leaving the Tally Ho in Hatherleigh
View of the Deer valley from the viaduct in Holsworthy
Main runway at Davidstow airfield
Relaxing in the deckchair at The Old Inn, St Breward
Beware of horses!

Day 17 – Taunton to Hatherleigh

Distance today 54.1 miles 3658 ft; total distance 1044.8 miles 47153 ft

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
07:52:51 05:00:10 54.10 10.82 42.95 3,658.14
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

Watch a video of our route

During our early breakfast, our landlady, Jan, generously gave us £20 donation. We have now raised about £9700.

After a great breakfast at Wick House B&B, we set off into a chilly morning, but with glorious sunshine and clear blue skies. We were quickly into nice country lanes, but did not get to see much of the scenery due to the high hedges and sunken lanes. 

About 10 miles after starting, we passed the 1000 mile mark of our journey, which we celebrated with photographs and a drink of water!

We were mostly following NCN 3 which eventually took us onto the Grand Western Canal. This is an 11 mile section of canal with excellent paths and fantastic scenery, the canal being higher than some of the surrounding countryside. We did not see any boats using the canal, but there was lots of wildlife.

We left the towpath shortly before Tiverton and immediately joined a disused railway line that took us into Tiverton.

At the Flying Pickle cafe and deli, we met two friends of Joe, Richard and Linda, who live quite locally, and were waiting for us. After coffee, and the inevitable cake, we asked the deli to make us some sandwiches, as we were unlikely to find a place for lunch on the afternoons route. Richard very generously paid for our coffees and lunch. Joe also found time to buy a new phone charger, having left one in Bristol. 

Immediately after leaving Tiverton, we encountered the appropriately named Longdrag Hill. This was a 1.2 mile road, climbing over 400ft, to the equally well named Tombstone Lane, at the summit! This was the beginning of an afternoon of rolling hills, including our steepest hill yet, with a max gradient of 21%.

At Morchard Bishop, we stumbled across a small shop and cafe. We bought coffee (and cake!) and they allowed us to eat the excellent sandwiches we had bought in Tiverton. Although small, the shop seemed to have most provisions, as well as a couple of tables to eat at, a proper coffe machine and home made cakes. The owner said she had a lone female LEJOG rider come through earlier, and having just started in Land’s End, was finding it tough! She mentioned that they get a few cyclists, but mostly walkers on the Two Moors walk.

Gradually, through the day, the blue skies were replaced with grey clouds, and the wind increased, but fortunately we were mostly protected by the high hedges. As we neared Hatherleigh, the rain started, but we got to our Inn before getting wet.

At the Tally Ho Inn, when we arrived at about 4.30, the pub was very busy – I guess because it was POETS day. After a wash and brush-up, Mal, one of our Camroller friends, had very generously paid for early evening drinks and nibbles for us. We stayed in the bar and had our excellent evening meals and more beer.

We had a discussion with the staff about breakfast in the morning. Continental breakfast is provided in the room, but a full English would not be available until 9am. As tomorrow is a long and hilly day, we are trying to leave around 8am, so will have to forgo the big breakfast, and find something enroute.

Only 2 days now, until we reach Land’s End.

View from our breakfast table this morning

Celebrating 1000 miles!

A family of swans with cygnets along the Grand Western Canal
Joe, with friends Linda and Richard
Outside the Flying Pickle
Shop and cafe in Morchard Bishop
Enjoying Mal’s beer and nibbles at the Tally Ho



Day 16 – Bristol to Taunton

Distance today 57.2 miles, 2253ft; total distance 990.7 miles, 43496ft.

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
08:04:04 05:22:36 57.25 10.65 31.32 2,252.62
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

Watch a video of our route

Last night, we decided to replan our route for today, as the weather forecast was pretty bad. The new route is about 10 miles shorter and avoids the Mendip hills.

All five of us are now back together to finish the ride. We set off from Bristol, heading towards Nailsea with threatening clouds, but not actually raining. We caught a glimpse of the Clifton Suspension bridge shortly after leaving.

A few stiff hills soon warmed us up as we cycled through the Ashton Court estate, where they hold the annual Balloon Festival. We continued to Nailsea with rain in the air, via the village of Cambridge Batch! As we were leaving Nailsea, it started raining and gradually got heavier and heavier, so we all eventually donned full wet weather gear.

We reached the town of Yatton and took shelter from the rain, in a bus shelter. We chatted with a local, and asked him where we could get a coffe and he suggested a couple of places, one of which was in the village ‘centre’. We found the Cottage Tea Room, which was a welcome refuge, providing coffee and lovely home made cakes – the fruit cake was served properly with cheddar cheese and an apple picked from the garden! We remained in the cafe for 45 minutes, or so, while the rain got heavier and then slowly subsided.

Setting off again, we headed for the Strawberry Line (NCN 26), a cycle path along an old railway track. This started as an excellent path but gradually deteriorated. Around Winscombe, the path was closed and we were sent on a very rough, muddy and steep off road section.

In one village we passed an orchard, full of apples, and, a few yards further on we got the strong smell of fermenting apples for making cider. Mmmmm.

A short section along the A31 and we then headed onto country lanes across the Somerset Levels. These were very reminiscent of the Cambridgeshire Fens, with lots of drains (rhynes) and several pumping stations. The farms were mainly animal rather than arable farms, as in the fens. Some of the roads were very wet and muddy, compounding the sorry state of our bikes.

The Levels are sparsely populated and we struggled to find somewhere for lunch. Eventually, we had a break and ate whatever food we were carrying. 

A few miles further on, we reached Bridgwater, where Terry knew of a food van outside the railway station. Dave’s Snack van provided freshly made bacon baps and sausage and chips for Joe. While sitting there, David Dimbleby arrived on a train and got into a taxi van with some of his crew. Question Time is being made locally tonight,

For the final 12 miles to our B&B, we took a more southerly route than planned, to avoid going over the Quantock Hills. Even so, this had a couple of challenging hills. As we neared Taunton, we found a path along the Parret river and then some great paths through brand new housing estates. Our accommodation was about 4 miles outside Taunton. 

When we arrived, we hosed down our bikes, then ourselves, and got back on our bikes to find a pub for dinner. The Orchard Inn was just over 2 miles away and provided excellent beer and food! We cycled back in convoy, in the dark, with all of our bike lights ablaze!

All back together, leaving Bristol
A view of the Clifton suspension bridge , as we leave Bristol
Cycling along the Somerset Levels
A typical view across the Levels
Arrived in our B&B, just outside Taunton
Mike, hosing down his bike…
And Rowland too!

Day 15 – Upton-upon-Severn to Bristol

Distance today 67.8 miles, 2368ft; Total distance 933.5 miles, 42242ft

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
08:38:51 05:55:59 67.87 11.44 34.45 2,367.78
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

Watch a video of our route
It looks like the weather gods are beginning to become less kind to us. Although warm, a headwind would be with us all day.

We set off from the hotel, with small detour to go and see the river Severn, and then headed out of Upton. We were quickly on a quiet B road, and heading towards Gloucester. We crossed the M50 and then soon picked up the NCN 45 cycle route.

NCN 45 is a great route on mainly quiet country lanes, and is relatively flat. This took us close se to the Severn, and on into Gloucester and the Gloucester and Sharpness canal. 

The canal through Gloucester, is obviously the site of the old docks, which are now industrial units on one side or new housing on the other. We were looking for a coffee stop, so asked some locals. They recommended the local Car Boot/market, just a few yards further on. This turned out to be like a flea market, with the constant sales pitch of a butcher selling bargain chickens! However, we found a stall selling coffee and freshly made donuts (and a hot dog for Joe!).

Continuing along the canal, the track began to get tougher, so we left the towpath and on to route 45 again. This followed country lanes again and eventually took us back to the canal. We waited for a swing Bridge to open, while a barge passed through, and then continued on the lanes until we rejoined the towpath a little further on. This turned out to be very rough, so we left the towpath and headed for Cambridge (the Gloucestershire version!), which is near Slimbridge. After that we rejoined route 45 and passed through lots of villages that, to me, had the feel of the North Norfolk coast. 

Just outside Sharpness, we came across a pub, for lunch, called the Salmon Inn. We had a nice lunch outside while all the other customers were inside!

We crossed the M48 and M4 in rapid succession and kept getting just a glimpse of the two Severn crossings. As we neared Bristol, we started encountering a few steep hills, with one very steep one just before crossing the M5. It was then into Bristol and several hills, culminating in our steepest hill so far, at 19.5% gradient. Hats off to Mike for being the only one of us to cycle all of the way up, it was hard enough walking!

By this time, we had lost Joe, so Derek, Mike and Terry continued, before Terry left us to spend the night with his son. Derek and Mike fought their way through the rush hour traffic and got to the B&B. Joe arrived about 45 mins later having got lost through Bristol city centre.

For our evening meal, we found a nice, very local, Italian restaurant – a surprise as the area is pretty run down. The food was excellent, although they forgot to provide the starter we had ordered. They made amends by providing coffee on the house st the end of the meal.

Rowland has rejoined us this evening, and managed to join us at the end of our meal.

The Severn at Upton
Car boot sale
Coffee and donuts (and hot dog)
After 900 miles, we reach Cambridge (the other one)
Lunch st the Salmon Inn
In Bristol
A damp Rowland rejoins us

Day 14 – Stafford to Upton-upon-Severn

Today’s distance 65.1 miles, 2673ft; total 865.7 miles, 38874ft

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
08:48:11 05:44:47 65.16 11.34 33.33 2,671.59
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

Watch a video of our route

After a replan of our route last night, we decided to take a more direct route toward Worcester to reduce the mileage by 5-10 miles.

We left Stafford in a thick, chilly mist, into the Stafford rush hour. The next 10 miles were along the busy A449, only the last mile or so was along a cycle path. We then headed into quieter country lanes, in search of the Stafford and Worcester canal, which we found near Bilbrook. Unfortunately, the ‘path’ amounted to a muddy track not much wider than a tyre… So, after about a mile, we returned to the road.

At Tettenhall, we picked up the South Staffordshire Railway walk, which follows an old railway line.  This proved to be a wide, but very muddy track, so our bikes got caked in it. We left the track near Wombourn and headed into the village for a deserved coffee and cake.

We then changed our route again and decide to head toward Kidderminster to pick up another canal path. This took us across some rolling hills, with sharp gradient, the worst of which was just outside Kinver and had a max gradient of over 18% – our steepest yet.

We picked up the Staffordshire and Worcester canal again, near Wolverley, and this proved to be much more cyclist friendly, with decent cinder or tarmac surface. We continued along the canal through Kidderminster, until stopping for lunch at the Bird in Hand near Stourport. Here we met a guy, Nick, taking his young son, Beau, for a walk in a buggy. After chatting for a while, he asked for our website so he could sponsor us.

Again, we changed our plans and decided on a more direct route south, however after a few miles of country roads with steep hills, we decided to take the more direct A443 into Worcester. This was a wide route with more gentle gradients and not too much traffic. A quick photo stop in Worcester and then along the river and out on NCN45 towards Upton. By now, we were tiring, so the last 12 miles were a bit of a struggle, with a roadside stop for food and drink, but we got there ok.

Arriving at the hotel, we found a hosepipe to clean the worst of the mud from our bikes, which should help tomorrow.

Derek had another visitor tonight, an old University friend, Neil, who lives near Warwick and drove the 60 miles to come and cheer us on. After a catch-up Neil joined us for some drinks and a curry.

This is being written from the White Lion Hotel in Upton, which has very poor WiFi and Internet. Pictures will be posted soon!

Christmas is coming as we leave Stafford!

From the canal in Kidderminster
Viaduct bear Kidderminster
Joe, on the cycle path outside our lunch stop

Day 13 – Manchester to Stafford

Today’s distance 61.5 miles, 1980ft; total 800.6 miles, 36201ft

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
07:59:54 05:42:19 61.58 10.79 32.66 1,979.66
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

Watch a video of our route

We awoke to the noise of ducks and geese alongside the canal, here in the centre of Manchester at the YHA. We were first in to breakfast, which was fortunate as there were a lot of people and, for a change, they were all young!

There was a light shower just as we were leaving, which had the unfortunate effect of making the cobbles slippery – and there are lots of them along the canal, making some of it a bit dicey!

We headed out of Manchester, the way we came in last night, along the Bridgewater canal. We then started to head south and east out of the city, all along towpaths. Eventually, we crossed the Mersey and then the M60 near Northendon, where we finally had to cycle along roads – 9 miles out of the city, all along cycleways, with no traffic in sight.

It now got busy as we headed past Manchester airport and on towards Wilmslow. Mike helped a damsel in distress by reprogramming her SatNav, nearby to a road closure. We had a few more miles on a busy A road until we stopped for coffee and cake at The Corner Shoppe. We the headed towards Jodrell Bank and some nice quiet B roads through the Cheshire countryside.

At Congleton, we picked up the Biddulph Valley Way (NCN 55), a long dedicated cycleway on a disused railway track, that took us on a very gentle climb to 650ft. However, we had the recurring problem of gates that were not suitable for bikes – this affected Mike more than the rest of us as had to upend his bike to get through most of the gates. 

On reaching the outskirts of Stoke we had a short, very sharp, climb to reach our 2nd peak of the day, which Joe did not like! A local filling station with a Greggs bakery provided a welcome lunch. A quick downhill, followed by a ‘tour’ of some deprived areas brought us to the Trent & Mersey canal. 

We followed the towpath along this canal for the next 13, or so miles, passing a lot of industrial heritage and many locks. Most of the locks are exactly the width and length of a narrowboat and we saw a few holidaymakers struggling to get through. Several of the locks abutted bridges, so the boats are at the same height as the road and pass under the bridge immediately after exiting the lock. 

We left the canal just after Stone and the remaining 7 miles into Stafford were mainly on quiet country roads.

We reached our hotel, the Vine Hotel, with a little trepidation, as in Arran we had met some people from Stafford who made some disparaging comments about it. But it has clean, comfortable rooms and excellent showers – all you could ask for!

A surprise awaited Derek, as Diane was waiting for him, with her friend Sally, who lives about 30 miles from Stafford. A much welcome boost!

Our evening meal was at Pizza Express.

Leaving Manchester YHA
Coffee and cake at the Corner Shoppe
Near Jodrell Bank
The main radio telescope at Jodrell Bank
Along the Biddulph Way
Terry raking a rest…
Along the Trent & Mersey canal near Stone
Narrowboat in a narrow lock

Day 12 – Lancaster to Manchester

Today’s distance 66.1miles, 2360ft; total 739.1 miles, 34221ft

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
08:34:01 06:10:55 66.17 10.70 31.76 2,359.91
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

Watch a video of the route

The sun is shining as we head down for breakfast, but it is a little chilly, so we wrap up warm to start. We were early for breakfast, and found a breakfast restaurant, so sat down waiting for it to open. We were in the wrong place… it was eventually a very good breakfast.

Leaving the campus, we headed west to pick up our route to the south. Being a Sunday, there were lots of cyclists out, and we chatted to a few of them. The consensus was that we were doing the right thing in taking 19 days, rather than trying to rush it in 9/10 days. At one stop, Derek stopped unexpectly, causing Mike to brake, fail to unclip, and fell off. This was watched, with much hilarity by a group of cyclists.

After a while, we picked up the A6, which, despite being a very busy road, is OK for cycling, with painted cycle lanes along a lot of the road. Maybe being a Sunday helped.

On reaching the outskirts of Preston, we met with a group doing the Guild Wheel circuit of Preston. Shortly afterwards, a shout from Joe – his gear cable had snapped. A quick look on Google showed that there was an Evans Cycles open, just 2.5 miles away. A route through some of the older parts of Preston with dilapidated back-to-backs took us to the shop.

They were very helpful and fixed Joe’s bike for free and gave him and Derek spare cables too. Thumbs up for #EvansCycles👍.

We then headed into central Preston in search of coffee and cake!

The route out of Preston took us on dedicated cycle path (with some evil gates, stiles and some other devices to make it difficult for bikes!), under and over some major motorways and along the towpath of the Liverpool to Leeds canal. Just outside Chorley, we met a group of Veterans raising money for Queens Lancashire Regiment. For a small donation we had bacon butties, mutton pies, beer and soft drinks, for lunch! Continuing along the towpath, it got narrower and rougher, until we decided to find a road to cycle along, near Wigan.

A quick shower got us wet and a few mis-steps later we were cycling through various Manchester suburbs until we joined the Bridgewater canal near Tyldesley. This was a much better towpath with mostly tarmaced surface. This took us through some lovely marinas, and villages, but gradually came to more industrialised areas until we joined the Manchester Ship Canal. This took us past Old Trafford (where Man U were beating Everton 4-0). We finally left the canal with a couple of miles to go to find our YHA for the night. This was a great way to get into central Manchester, traffic free.

Our evening meal was at a Chinese restaurant called Little Yang Sing, which Joe knew from his days here. We had pre-booked a whole Peking Duck, which came with the crispy skinned breastmeat and the usual pancakes, but also Salt and Pepper duck with some of the remains duck, and soup with the rest. Dim Sum and a couple of main dishes completed the meal.

Leaving Lancaster, with ducks

Coffee in Preston after repairs to Joe’s bike

Bacon butties, courtesy of QLR


Miles bike won’t fit! Had to lift it over
Crossing the canal in Manchester
Peking duck, soup and Salt N Pepper duck
Enjoying the meal at Little Ying Sang




Day 11 – Penrith to Lancaster

Distance today 59.6 miles, 3608ft; total 673 miles, 31861ft.

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
07:29:01 04:53:11 59.60 12.20 45.63 3,608.27
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

Watch a video of the route
We had two alternative routes planned for today, but after chatting with the host of our hostel, we planned another!

After breakfast, Derek was visited by a couple of friends who happened to be passing Penrith this morning. A welcome boost!

Today was our third day in a row of great cycling conditions, with sun in our faces and wind on our backs; no rain, but a definite chill in the air from the north wind. 

We headed out of town on NCN 71. We got about 4 miles along the route and found it closed, as a bridge had been washed away in last years floods. To get around this, without going back to the start, we had to backtrack about 1/2 mile, cross a low stile and some long grass and then cycle along the main A66 dual carriageway for a mile. Hairy…

Back on route, we continued through lovely rural Cumbria and the Westmorland/Yorkshire Dales. The first, and highest climb of the day started from Crosby Ravensworth and took us up to 1125ft over 3 miles, through moorland of sheep and stone walls. Near the top we (just) caught a guy and his 8 year old daughter riding up the hill – they do it regularly!

A very rapid descent took us to the village of Orton and the Orton Scar Cafe. Terry managed to ‘offend’ the staff by saying Orton was in Yorkshire – it’s in Cumbria. They explained that many people make that mistake as the Yorkshire Dales had been recently extended to include Orton. Now wonder Terry was confused!

We left and headed towards Tebay, crossed the M6 and up the 2nd big climb of the day. 2 miles and 1000ft, with the M6 far below. Another rapid descent saw Mike, Terry and Derek achieve their fastest ever speeds – all around 46mph! A long gradual rolling descent took us to pleasant lunch in the garden of the Pheasant, in Casterton. After lunch we quickly passed just outside of Kirkby Lonsdale, with its very pretty old stone bridge, with lots of tourists and dozens of motorbikers, and over the river of kayakers.   

After lunch we had relatively gentle rolling hills towards Lancaster. A cycle path along the river took us into Lancaster and heavy Saturday afternoon traffic. Another path took us to the University for our overnight accommodation.

We quickly discovered that there is not much to do on the campus outside of term time! We found a small place selling curries which were tasty and good value at £4.90. A bit of further exploring found a large bar where we were the only customers. We showed our darts prowess by taking forever to finish two games. On the final game we gave up trying to finish on a double and instead finished with ‘nearest the bull’!

A view from near Penrith
Joe, on one of the epic climbs!
Disused viaduct south of Tebay
View from our lunch stop
At lunch! No, Mike is not reading the Telegraph…
Kayakers near Kikby Lonsdale

Day 10 – Locharbriggs to Penrith

Distance today 72.2, ascent 2509ft; total 613.4 miles, 28253ft

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
08:56:23 06:07:50 72.28 11.79 29.30 2,508.86
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

Watch a video of our route

An exciting day in prospect today – it is the midpoint of our journey in both time and distance. 

We awoke to a lovely morning, looking over the valley. Over breakfast, we decided to take a slightly more scenic route out of Dumfries and towards Carlisle, to take in some of the sights. Again, the weather was due to be kind to us with north westerly winds and little rain.

We took a great cycle path along an old railway track that took us into central Dumfries. This then took us onto NCN 7, alongside the River Nith, which we followed for several miles on quiet minor roads.

Arriving at Glencaple, we took a ‘cyclists stop’ and took in the scenery, while we watched a very hardy sole climb down a rope ladder to go for a swim in the river, despite the warnings of strong currents and quicksand!

We continued along the estuary into Caerlaverock nature reserve and then the castle, taking in the beautiful scenery and gorgeous warm sunshine.

We continued to Annan for a coffee in The Coffee Lounge, where the local (elderly) ladies were interested in our journey, and one took out details so she could make a donation.

After coffee, we continued on to Gretna, passing the Devils Porridge Museum along the way.

At Gretna Green we posed for photos at the first/last house in Scotland, which used to conduct weddings, but is now a cafe. We nominated here as our official halfway point of the journey – it was about midday and we had cycled 575 miles of our planned 1150. 

We the crossed the border back into England and continued towards Carlisle. At Rockcliffe, we stumbled across a nice pub for lunch. We sat outside in the hot sun and a light rain shower!

As we neared Carlisle the traffic got much busier even though we were on minor roads, still following route 7. On entering the city, the heavens opened. A couple of navigation errors later and were were heading out on another dedicated cycle route. 

We started the gradual climb towards Penrith, with a few steep hills along the way, passing through occasional villages but mostly open countryside. Lots of ups and downs later, we reached Penrith in another rain shower. 

On arriving st the hostel, Terry and Derek decided to clean their bikes as the mud and rain was taking its toll.

Our evening meal was at a lively Tapas Bar, where you didn’t want to argue with the landlady… all the staff were dressed in flamenco-style. At one stage Viva Espania was played over the PA, and we were each given a garland. Not what we expected in Penrith!

The view from our breakfast table
At Glencaple
Outside coffee shop in Annan – about halfway
Welcome to England!
Last house in Scotland
Lunch in Rockcliffe
Garlanded…
…in Tapas Bar