Kastraki

Our second rest day is nestled under huge sandstone conglomerate remnants of a lake long gone (as in 4million years). Early mountaineers doubled up as monks, eventually building monasteries on top of the pinnacles in the 14C. Now they are a tourist attraction. The central chapels are stunning.

Most of the monks have left for quieter retreats in the north.

A bit of bike grooming for tomorrow’s high passes.

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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.