Its been the least pretty day so far, and also the longest by distance. A little over 60 km has tipped our trip total above 300.
We’re in a wonderful fourth floor room that looks out over the North Sea. The sun set inland tonight, reminding us that we have ridden across England since watching it set into the Irish Sea.
A long and mountainous day has brought us within sight of the North Sea. The climb up Hartside yesterday might have been the longest ascent of the ride, but today was full of multiple climbs and fast zooms downhill.
We’ve managed the longest climb of the C2C, although the highest point comes tomorrow. Our muscles might be growing accustomed to pedalling, because the climb was not as bad as we feared.
Today has been entirely within the Lake District, and we’ve gone through some of the prettiest countryside we will get to see on this whole adventure. The low cloud that gave us occasional light rain added a lot to the mood of these landscape views.
We did safely arrive in England, although we have been literally too busy to post an update. It was even easier to fit the trikes into the hire car than it had been with our car, and we had a very pleasant drive up through The Midlands and The Lakes to Whitehaven.
Our first day of riding was from the Irish Sea at Whitehaven up into the Lake District and Keswick. The route passed through lots of small farming hamlets and fields with sheep. There was even a runaway chicken that had escaped onto our path.
The weather was very warm, even by our Australian standards. That could have been emphasised by the two stiff climbs that dominated the day. In particular, the ascent up to Whinlatter Pass was a “long pull” (in the words of a friendly local).
We didn’t even get to feel the wind in our faces on the descent, as it was down a steep and rough gravel forrestry trail. We took it steadily and the trikes managed fine.
We arrived a little late at our accommodation, and took advantage of the long evening light to walk down and see Derwent Water. It was beautiful in the soft evening light, and the sheep frolicking on the shore surprised us.
It really is pretty here.
We’re safely to Singapore, and will shortly be re-boarding our plane for the longer leg to London Heathrow. I’m using a free internet kiosk that is at standing height, which is a nice relief from all the sitting of the last 10 hours. The flight was without incident, except at one point it smelled as though someone nearby had been smoking (is that even possible on a plane these days?)
We’re sitting in the Qantas 747 “City of Hobart” at gate 10, waiting for everything to be finalised for takeoff. It all feels very real now, and the excitement should help keep me awake till Singapore.
The trikes didn’t end up giving any trouble. We didn’t even need to fold them; with pedals and chain and mudguards removed the baggage staff were happy to take them. Actually, the friendly Oversized Luggage staff were thoroughly intrigued with them, and thought they were some of the best-built trikes they’d ever seen. I suppose they get to see quite a few interesting objects!
Wheeling recumbent trikes around an airport is not a way to stay inconspicuous, and we got plenty of smiles from fellow travellers and staff.
Clansi and I are in the final stages of preparing for a grand cycle tour in the UK. It is now only 5 days till we depart Sydney for London. I am intending to keep this website updated with our progress, and so here’s an introduction to this adventure.
We are going to ride for 11 days from Whitehaven (on the west coast of the Lake District) to Newcastle Upon Tyne (on the east coast of England), and then up to Edinburgh. This will take us along two well established cycle routes that have been created by Sustrans, a British charity that promotes sustainable transport. Unlike most others on the route, however, we’ll be riding our Greenspeed recumbent tricycles.
The first part of our journey will be on the Sea to Sea (C2C) route:
The UK’s most popular ‘challenge’ cycle route passes through the northern Lake District before climbing the Pennines, ‘the roof of England’, and then descending to the railway paths of County Durham. It includes Black Hill, the highest point on the National Cycle Network (609m) and the Consett-Sunderland railway path and sculpture trail.
From Tynemouth, we will follow the Coast and Castles South route:
The route passes a plethora of historic sites including the world famous Lindisfarne and Bamburgh Castle, the ancient capital of Northumbria, as well as nature reserves until it crosses the border at Berwick-upon-Tweed and moves into the Tweed Valley. Quiet lanes take you through the border country until a gentle climb onto the Moorfoot Hills into Midlothian and a spectacular view of Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth.
There are quite a few challenges that will make this trip an adventure. Obviously, there will be significant distances to cover by pedal-power. Since we want time to be able to see the marvellous places that we pass through, we’ve broken the trip down into fairly short days. People typically do the C2C in 3 days and we’ll be taking 5, but even then we will be riding 40-60 km each day.
The weather will almost certainly turn against us for some of the trip. It would be a dramatic statistical anomaly if we had 11 days of sunshine. Hopefully we do at least get a few.
Even the transport of our trikes will be an interesting challenge. We have been assured that they will not be too difficult to take on the plane, and we’re prepared to break them down and box them if required. Once in England not even ordinary bikes are allowed on trains, let alone unusual 3-wheelers. We will hire a car one-way to drive from Heathrow up to Whitehaven, and our trikes fold to fit easily. Fascinatingly, the hire care turned out to be cheaper than two adult train tickets anyway.
There should be more than enough to compensate for these difficulties. I’m anticipating great views and old castles and friendly B&B hosts and fun accents and pleasant trails and rewarding baths and …
Since I couldn’t find much information about the United Petroleum in my recent research into the social responsibility of petrol providers, I sent them a direct inquiry. They responded quickly, which is good; but the response does not make it easy to slot them in my ranking of petrol suppliers.