Cycle Day 4 – Keswick to Alston:
Waking up to torrential rain and it forecast for the whole day I decided to throw in the towel. I am not normally a defeatist but the thought of several hours exposed to the elements didn’t appeal.
We got the bus to Carlisle, picked up the car and put the bikes in the back. With the initial part of the route logged yesterday we followed the Coast to Coast cycle route from Thelkeld. After leaving the A66 the roads were quiet, straight undulating and formerly Roman. I wished I were cycling (said from dry car).
Passing through several delightful villages and hamlets the Pennines, shrouded in cloud were ahead. Once through busy Penrith we crossed the River Eden to the village of Langwathby which heralded the start of the big climb of the day.
We drove up and up and kept climbing until reaching Hartside Summit, where we found the famous tea room in cloud and closed for a private function! I was assured that on a good day the views are breathtaking. We stopped a while on Hartside Moor to watch lapwing showing off to potential partners before the final downhill into Alston. This would have been a 42 mile cycle today. Second objective, to cycle up Hartside, not achieved.
Cycle Day 5 – Alston to Hexham:
Today was a day of highs; two 1800+ footers and three 1500+ footers to be precise. The day started cold, clear and sunny. I was keen to make the most of the sunshine as heavy showers were forecast for later. If I could cycle over the tops before the showers I would be happy. The quiet undulating road to Garrigill was brilliant. From there it was up and over the first climb onto bleak moorland and beside the last of the winter snow. Curlew, lapwing, skylark and noisy grouse were company today.
Clouds were gathering as I cycled through Northumberland and Co Durham passing mining relics on the way. A sudden squall nearly blew me over and hail blasted my face. I had just a mile or two before the last descent into Blanchland and the sanctuary of lower ground. My husband met me for lunch at Derwent Reservoir just in time to escape another heavy shower. It had been a fabulous days cycling reaching Hexham moments before the thunder and lightening. 41 miles cycled today.
Cycle Day 6 – Hexham to Carlisle:
It was a showery start to my last days cycling. Hexham was getting ready for its Saturday markets but I was soon clear of the town and out on my own again. It was a day of pleasant cycle tracks, quiet lanes, villages, Roman forts, milestones and Hadrian’s Wall. If I wasn’t actually cycling next to the Wall it was never far away. At Banks I propped my bike against the Wall and stopped for lunch in the warm sunshine. From here I could see the Pennines and the Cumbrian Fells. I had almost completed a full circle.
Cycling seemed effortless today after the steep climbs of yesterday. The wind was in my favour and I was savouring the last few miles. Carlisle seemed soon here. I had cycled 45 miles from Hexham. I passed under Eden Bridge to the Castle where we had started days earlier. What a cycle tour; one of such contrasting landscapes. If you have the legs and enjoy a challenge this is a ‘must do’. My final objective – I didn’t find a Roman coin. I wasn’t looking and anyway what I had in experience was far better.