We have had a brilliant memorable day. 75 miles with 4,500 feet of ascent from the centre of Preston to the Lakeland market town of Penrith. The sun has shone all day and the light wind has been behind us. After an urban start the scenery unfolding as we headed north was constantly varied and interesting, encouraging us on our way North.
We left Preston Travel Lodge at 0700. It was bright and sunny but very cold with a frost on the cars. We headed out of the town on the A6 and made good progress through the light early morning traffic and we soon left Preston behind. It remained urban for a further 10 miles until we passed Garstang and then we left the A6 and headed east onto minor roads. After a short climb we could see why we had been hearing Oyster Catchers. We were only a few miles from Morcambe Bay. The distant view gave us our first glimpse of the mountains ahead. We both found this exciting – especially after the last 70 miles which had been largely urban. We were now getting close to some really good countryside.
There are lots of new born lambs in the fields up here, and spring is just beginning to unfold with the hedgerows bursting. As we head north the hedgerows are increasingly replaced by dry stone walls.
We followed the lanes through the Forest of Bowland (not many trees it must be said) until about 5 miles east of Lancaster. Our first stop was at the Crook O’ Lune. This is a well established beauty spot popular with fishermen and artists. Notably Turner painted here. We were really wowed by this beautiful place, at it best in the morning sunshine. The river was calm and peaceful with beautiful scenery all around.
We were drawn north through increasingly undulating and dynamic countryside.
At Over Kellet we came over the brow of a hill and we both gasped ‘Wow!’ at the view ahead of us. It was such a beautiful sunny clear day and the views were clear in all directions – but we were particularly drawn to the Lakeland mountains ahead.
As we progressed north on the quiet lanes we were often very close to the busy M6.
We saw hares, geese, curlew, buzzards, chaffinch and even the first swallows of the summer. We crossed the M6 on even tinier lanes with grass up the middle, following Sustrans Route 6 into Kendal. We headed to the town centre and found some food for lunch. It was very pleasant sitting in the sun in this lovely Lakeland town.
Rested and replenished we were ready for Shap! The M6 goes over Shap summit at 1100 feet. We were going over at 1400′. It was a long climb up but not really steep at all and the 9 miles to the summit took just over an hour. There is not much traffic on this part of the A6. We did get quite hot on the ascent to the Shap summit and were pleased to stop and take in the view.
It was beautiful in the sun but it didn’t take much imagination to see how desolate it could be in different weather. We could see the remains of the snow on Cross Fell on the Pennines. We enjoyed a swift descent and were soon in the lovely village of Shap. It is surprisingly large and the Abbey Tearooms were conveniently placed to top up our energy levels.
While we were there we met Steve and Tim who are on the way south to Lands End from John O’ Groats.
The 11 remaining miles flashed by with more lovely scenery and rivers as we approached Penrith. Penrith is a proper town and we are staying at the newly opened Wayfarers Hostel. We are really impressed with the standard of the hostel and the facilities available. It is a great place to stay especially for cyclists as it has a secure bike store with some tools and a track pump. The owners are cycling enthusiasts and very helpful.
We have done 75 miles today with 4,500 feet of ascent. We were quite fit when we started having tried to ride at least 100 miles a week over the winter and also we rode a few Audax events. After 7 days of this adventure we now feel really fit. Our bodies seem to have adjusted to the demands being placed on them every day and are not complaining.
Scotland tomorrow! It would be wonderful if this weather would continue………….
The GPX track for today’s ride is here.