Arran…looking back over the hills we climbed yesterday
Leaving the wonderful Arran port of Lochranza in the sunshine. Crossing the Sound of Bute to Claonaig and then rising North to Oban. 65 miles with 5,200′ of ascent in increasingly ‘humid’ conditions.
We had a lie in this morning as the first ferry from Lochranza to Claonaig is not until 09:30 on a Sunday. We used the remaining time to explore the Castle and shore at Lochranza and to enjoy the morning sunshine.
The Bat and Lochranza Castle
The Kintyre Peninsular was shrouded in mist as the ferry took us across. We were immediately struck by how much more remote this part of the Kintyre peninsula felt after Arran. The ride up and over to Kennacraig and the A83 gave us our first hill of the day. The road was empty with just an occasional isolated cottage and lots of sheep. Continue reading
The Scottish scenery that we have been looking forward to.
A fabulous start to the day riding deserted, moorland lanes to the headwaters of the Nith then down through Aryshire to the ferry terminal at Ardrossan. 65 miles before lunch. Excitement at being back on the coast after not smelling the sea for a whole week. Then our first Island. We are loving being on Arran.
We left Moniaive at 0745 after Tim the owner of the Craindarroch Hotel obligingly got up to cook us an early breakfast.
The rain from yesterday had cleared leaving a bright sunny morning.
Moniaive nestles in a scenic valley on the River Nith surrounded by low rounded hills. We began a gentle climb straight away and enjoyed the quietness of the morning. In the first hour we saw 1 curlew, 2 cars, we crossed 3 cattle grids, saw 4 deer, 5 hares and 600 sheep.
Today we left England behind and crossed to border into Scotland. We also got rained on for the first time since we left Lands End. We cycled a gentle 73 miles with only 2,800 feet of ascent to Moniaive. It was a day of many changes of scenery, land use and culture. The ride was full of interest and even the rain didn’t spoil our fun.
The weather forecast promised rain from 13:00 so we had an early start and left Penrith at 07:15. We left Penrith behind and headed North on a minor road alongside the M6. We were in Northern Lakeland and still in the foothills with dry stone walls and open pasture grazed by sheep and lambs. This changed over a few miles to a smoother landscape where the soil is more fertile. The walls changed from grey to red sandstone. The enclosed fields become smaller, with more frequent farms and as the fertility of the soil improved sheep gave way to arable and dairy.
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. Continue reading
Jackets off ready to ride at Delamere Forest Park
This was our urban day. It is necessary to ride through a conurbation of some 50 miles leaving rural Cheshire behind to cross the River Mersey and continue north to Preston after which it is business as usual, the wonderful, diverse, rural landscapes that we have been enjoying every day so far.
The weather was the same again – cool, sunny, sparkly, blue sky and a brisk headwind from the North.
Yesterday we made inroads into today’s mileage leaving only 48 miles of rippling roads to do.
We had been well looked after at our overnight stop with Jennie and her family. We had a leisurely start to the day and returned to the rural idyll that is Delamere Forest and started riding at 10:30. No jackets required again.
Welsh roadsigns…don’t get me started!
Today we did 91 miles with 5,000 feet of ascent. We left the hills of the Welsh border and arrived in Cheshire. Once again we had the Northerly headwind and bright, chilly, dry weather.
We left Kington Youth Hostel at 07:45 after extra porridge and crumpets to prepare us for the hills ahead. Continue reading
The Severn Bridge
Today we did 70 miles with 6,000 feet of ascent. It was a day of bright sunshine, blue skies with a brisk chilly wind on the nose from the North. It was a day of constantly changing scenery with dramatic views.
We left Bristol at 0800 and made our way up the A38 and out of the city. We were going against the flow of the traffic and moving quicker than the motorised vehicles. We made good progress and were soon passing under the M5 and out into the more rural area before reaching the original Severn Bridge.
Another day – another county.
There was much less wind today and it was bit warmer. It was quite overcast but no rain. 70 miles and about 3,400′ of ascent. It felt like a rest day after the headwinds and hills of the first two days.
Our overnight accommodation at Tiverton Parkway Travel Lodge worked very well and we were both well rested and ready to leave at 0700. We had arranged to meet my daughter Kathryn and her boyfriend, also called Steve, off the train from Bristol, at Taunton at 0820.
Steve…a man who likes to eat…a lot!
We knew today was going to be one of the toughest because of the distance and the hills.
77 miles with 6,500 feet of climbing with a strong headwind…hmmmm!
We left the magnificently situated Tintagel Youth Hostel at 07:45 and pushed the bikes up the rough track to the church on the cliff top. After a pleasant ride through the village we began the 3 mile ascent towards Davidstow. The view behind us as we left the coastal landscape was beautiful. As we gained height the vegetation changed to moorland as we were now on the north side of Bodmin moor. Continue reading
At a blustery Lands End, ready to go
Our LeJog plan gradually came together over several months, but the day of departure came upon us with a bit of a rush, as suddenly it was the 26th April. At 05:30 we picked up Steve and all his kit and set off for Lands End. With little traffic on the road we made good time and arrived at 08:15. It was blowing hard and very cold but this had not deterred Phil, Maggie and Richard turning out to see us off. We got the bikes loaded up with the panniers, pumped up the tyres and posed for photographs at the famous finger post. The Dorset flag was produced for the first time and it acted as a sail in the strong wind, almost lifting us up.