This morning, The landlord at Twa Dogs sent us off with a cheery “You’ll have a nice cooling breeze today,” otherwise known to cyclists as a strong headwind. What with bridges on the nice flat former rail line washed out in the floods, we had a long steep climb to Castlerigg stone circle above Keswick. The circle itself was pretty wonderful. If I’d been around 4500 years ago, l’d have wanted a place of worship just like it, especially if it were always blessed with a glorious day like we had. We had some fun taking photos in the circle before moving on.
We had a lovely fast descent in return for the slog of a climb. This section of our route reminded me very much of Vermont–the trees and greenery, the hillsides from eroded mountains and even the re-purposed railroad bridges. The quiet roads that form the C2C route are exceptionally good. They link well, signage is pretty reliable and while some of the surfaces are a little rough they are remarkably car free. If only they didn’t keep going up!
Our road wove on to Threlkeld, where we found a cafe with cakes and ginger beer, much enjoyed. On to Scales, where we paused to consult the map and have a beer (me) and soda. Our route continued to Greystoke, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ imagined estate for (the very un-PC) Tarzan. If he’d stayed out of Africa, this is what he’d have inherited. It looked pretty good to me.
We stopped at a cyclist’s cafe in what had been the laundry house of the manor, where we had flapjacks and coffee. This cafe operated at a level of customer trust that I hadn’t seen before: self-service and pay in a trust box. I know this sounds like a foody trip,but it’s hard to convey climbing a 10% hill into a headwind. It has also been remarkably hot. Bringing along the layers and jackets that we have now seems bonkers–we diverted this morning to pick up some short sleeve cycling tops in Keswick to cope with the temperatures. Despite lathering on high factor sun cream (and complaining about being sticky / greasy), Kyla is catching the sun.
From Greystoke, on to Penrith and the Blur Swallow bed and breakfast without too much struggle, sort of downhill but into that blasted headwind, a gracious host and then some adventuring in Penrith before dinner at the Lounge (which we’d definitely recommend).
Tomorrow promises to be our most challenging day with 27 miles of riding and a lot of climbing, including the ride to the summit of Hartside.