Ride Reports

Sunday 14th April 2019

My impromptu “ Nowhere in general tour” - Phil Morgan
My impromptu “ Nowhere in general tour”....a brief overview....
Well , I set off on Sunday last week in the midst of the brilliant weather we were having , with full complement of bike luggage as per usual.
I was also in mid to late cold mode, and expert medical advice suggested I wouldn’t die , so it was coughing and splurging gunk for me most of the way round....No plan in mind other than seeing how the weather developed and what took my fancy.
In the end it was a repeat of a ride I did a few years ago- namely Sustrans route 72 - Hadrians Way. Then, I went from Carlisle down the West Coast to home- in a strong headwind
This time I thought I’d be clever and do the route South- North with the prevailing wind on my back. Result? Not exactly- it was a strong headwind all the way!
In brief I stayed with Chris Bon In Grange Sunday, and camped on Piel Island Monday- what a fabulous place- the landlord Steve holds the title of King of Piel and wife Sheila Queen - see my pic.
Piel is actually classed as a war memorial, and there are many restrictions that prevent the pub from doing things like having a wind farm or building extensions. Small ferry ( an open boat ) is almost the only way across,and over Bank Holiday the island was thronged with over 2000 visitors,meaning by the time I arrived they had almost run out of food- but I of course had my own...
I spent some time talking to Queen Sheila. Turns out she had been coming to the Island since she was a small child, and when they actually took the place over 14 years ago, they were chosen from over 350 applicants.
And for what? This may sound idyllic, but there is no proper electricity ( it’s a generator), no broadband or 3G, and no TV.
To heat the pub gets them through a big propane bottle in a day. Which they can’t get across etc etc
Everything on the island they have to bring in themselves ( by crossing the sand at low tide). This has seen them wreck 4 4x4’s in 14 years...
So... Small boat across, and almost stranded the following day as the wind was very strong- also the ferryman was inclined to lie ins, so nothing happened until 11 am . Walking down a long wet and narrow slipway pushing a laden bike only to man handle all 40 odd kilos into a tossing and piching small open boat - whilst wearing cycling shoes with cleats- now that was a real adventure...
. I camped right under Piel Castle ( officially illegal) that night, but didn’t eat the foot long sausage Steve gave me as consolation for the pub being closed- what I actually did with it is my own business .
On Piel there is no time , only high and low water- that is all that matters
For me, next day was aiming for Broughton in Furness then a decision on route
I settled for original plan and headed towards Ravenglass... over Corney Fell - that took some sweating and toiling lugging the Kona over there....and onward to Drigg and camping Tuesday.
Wednesday comprised a long day ( 70 odd miles)up to Port Carlisle - the camp site I stayed at 5 years ago has closed so it was a luxury B&B instead... that wind was a real killer, especially along the exposed flat lands of the Solway Coast
Then , what next? I decided to push on towards Newcastle and do the full route- so camped last night at Bardon Mill- and got soaked in the process as the weather had by now started to deteriorate. No drying facilities- bugger- so that meant putting on wet clothes this morning- not ideal , as cold is the big killer
I got as far as the outskirts of Newcastle, and looking at the forecast, binned the rest of the ride, catching a train from Wylam to Newcastle then home.
Not planning anything too much is for me a great way to tour- the Plan is there is no Plan.
But I do like the idea of broadly following a Sustrans route- there are loads to go at.
So much to do and so little time to do it!
Stats- 6 days and 275 miles, which doesn’t sound a lot but with a fully laden tourer the average can drop below 10 mph, especially when there are constant climbs and more importantly it’s blowing a gale in your face
Next trip- in hand..

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