Today we followed loosely NCN68, avoiding the worst excesses of the Sustrans fixation with making it hard and gravelly for some puritanical pursuit of road free. We started on the line of the defunct Haltwhistle to Alston branch railway. Built for the transport of the mineral riches hereabouts: coal, limestone and lead. Lead (and silver) was first mined here by the Romans – or rather their slaves.

A lovely gradient and route was appreciated as we concentrated on keeping upright and opening the various gates. A common sight today was stunning Victorian viaducts. The rail may have gone, the wonder remains.

The gradient steepened a tad for 5 miles after Alston, heading towards Hartside Summit. A wonderful sweeping descent: the scenery changed from the bleak Alston Moor to a fertile plain then the Lakes. The temperature increased noticeably.

Barbara enjoyed a day of high quality milestones. B.B. 5 3/4 read one. Where is B.B.?

We end in Sedbergh. Granted a charter in 1251, and the school opened in 16c. A shame a lot of the shops don’t open before 10am.

Today’s tune was a medley from The Four and Only Seekers as it’s stuck in my head. Today’s route is here.

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