Lakes and Dales Day 4: Gosforth to Cartmel

A delightful end to our wee circuit. Shortest distance and highest ascent meant we had plenty of time to take in the views. Cold Fell and Eskdale were suitable places to practice assymetric cycling: very slow up and very fast decents.

The fine weather showed off Spring flowers at their best. Strangely the bluebells looked almost done: we hadn’t seen them North of here in bloom. The garlic was waiting to come out next.

The western Lakes are quieter than the honey spots, though no less prittier, with fewer tea shops. Still plenty of quiet hedgerows and stone walls to bring relief though to the thirsty cyclist who’s been drinking water.

Then back to the welcoming abode of Bill and Neil, 202 miles completed. Excellent

Lakes and Dales Day 3: Mungrisdale to Gosforth

A classic day. Blue skies with large white clouds, empty rolling roads, light breeze, spring flowers and hedgerows. The latter I examined at close quarters avoiding the only idiot can driver we’ve seen who was hurtling down hill and didn’t care. Made up for by the later artic driver who deliberately shielded us from traffic through road works. Shame we only tend to remember the idiots (and I thought I’d avoided bring Brexiteers into this).

The varying landscape kept our eyes busy and away from the oscillating hills we very cycling on. Our route follows around the outer rim of the National Park with volcanic rugged build on our left and flatter pastures on our right.

Cockermouth proved to be an interesting wee place: lived in and real, not quaint and conserved. It contrasts with the slightly run down feel of Penrith.

Lakes and Dales Day 2: Tebay to Mungrisdale

Great place names evidence the tussle between the Brythonic origins and later (Viking) conquests. Kirks have traveled South obviously, though I don’t know if they are stuffed full of the same calibre of people (interpret that as you will). Add a “by” and you have a village or settlement around a church. As in Kirkby Lonsdale, Kirkby Stephen etc. I spend the day thinking about where Kirby Grip fits in.

The morning is spent amongst the sandstone of the western side of the Yorkshire Dales. Undulating across moors and cattle grazed fields. Lovely to hear nothing but the sound of the countryside; happy birds, dopy sheep, and the sharp intake of a cyclist spotting the vertiginous slope ahead.

Village greens, complete with maypoles, start appearing. Then cross the M6 back into the Lakes. Penrith’s attractions remain hidden before we get into more rural pastures. Blen is the prefix now, meaning “hill or uplands”, from Cumbric/Welsh. No answer to my question as we pass through Blencow if there is a Blenbull.

Tonight is in Mungrisdale, which has a pub. And nothing else. It was apparently second choice for the set of the Lamb and Slaughter. Hope the mist keeps away.

Lakes and Dales Day 1: Cartmel to Tebay

Thankfully we rejigged our plans to do this 198mile loop over 4 days rather than 3. That gave us more time today to enjoy the views, sup tea and battle the headwinds. Spring flowers brighten the hedgerows, birds (particularly heron) soar into the winds.

The route takes a wonderful meander on quiet lanes. The downside is being hemmed in both sides so it is tactful to stop and allow tractors to pass. The upside is seeing the landscapes over the hedges. It’s also a reminder that many of the roads had previous uses, the clue being removed cat’s eyes and no traffic with larger roads nearby.

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Kirkby Lonsdale is a delight. Sedburgh was a mass of closed coffee and cake shops. Sizergh Castle to be returned to when house is open.

Tonight is at Tebay Services, actually very good. Surroundings not quite at quaint as last night’s pub in Cartmel nor as personable as Bill and Neil’s home where we stayed and will return to…. Hopefully with tailwinds.

Sark

So how do you spend a week on an island some 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, with as population of 400 or so? Is this a mindfulness paradise? Well, there is a clue in the 22 miles of coast, no cars, and splendid isolation.

We were in the good company of Andy and Madeline who had invited us to share their lighthouse idyll accomodation. Based onshore, the 150 or so steps to access the still working lighthouse (misty nights activating the fog horn were testament to that), offer a morning heart wake up call to reach the flat plateau above. This journey repeats itself as we explore the coastal inlets: getting to the shore involves a wind down and up.

Most of the land is now left uncultivated: food is brought in. This island has all the amenities: an incinerator which allows you to sample the emissions; a generator (no solar panels in evidence); a couple of shops and pubs (filled with locals who seem to be practiced drinkers); and hotels. 3 of these are mothballed. Half the locals and the Barclay brothers don’t get on. It is difficult to fathom who is right. Did one store close because the recluses upped the rent to force them out? Our was it because locals boycotted it? One local rag is vitriolic about lack of democracy by the ruling (elected) elite. Yet an editorial in the Guernsey paper decries the lack of Sarkees coming forward to stand for the council.

Whatever, most of that passed us by as we explored and adjusted to the pace of life. The Signeurie Gardens were great: a real buzz of insects enjoying the plethora of flowers. The whole island sagged under the weight of the sloe crop. Seaweed of mutivarious colours set off the mainly granite rock strata. Rusting iron edifices hinted at previous defences or trades.

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All too soon it is the time to leave our bags for Jimmy’s carter service and heave over the 7 mile crossing back to big brother Guernsey. Great.