That was a tough day. We’ve all had tough days in the saddle, but today was a real humdinger. It started off well, with a great nights sleep and large breakfast at the Grinton YHA. We then had a short lie down before heading off at 9am. The first mile was downhill and then flat into Reeth. From the village of Reeth to the top of Tan Hill took us two hours to cover under 12 miles, although that was with over 1600 feet of climbing. We were even smiling half way up.
I’ve ridden the road from Reeth to Tan Hill a couple of times before, and the road never seems to end. Eventually, when you think that there is no way the hill can go on any further, you come to a sign saying Tan Hill Inn 3 1/2 miles.
It totally knocks the stuffing out of you, especially with the strong head wind we were faced with. When we did eventually reach the top we stopped for a few minutes, but the wind was so cold that we soon set off again.
Another annoying thing about Tan Hill, is that when you reach the Inn at the top, there’s still loads more climbing to do. How is that even possible?
When we did eventually start to descend the wind was so strong that I was getting blown about, and I was riding a big heavy bike with fully loaded panniers. If my bike was a horse, it would be a shirehorse. Helen was having a much worse time on her lightweight Orro.
Once at the bottom we both decided that a brew was in order. A couple of miles later we were in Brough. The place was busy and we couldn’t find a decent cafe. There also seemed to be an antique bus fare (fair) going on, so we pushed onto Appleby-in-Westmorland.
A cautionary note to add, and something I deeply regret. When you’re tired and in need of food and a sit down, you don’t always make the most rational decisions. In Appleby I saw a sign pointing to a cafe, but it was down a one way street, the wrong way. I made it, but my wife was almost hit by a speeding Range Rover. It was stupid and reckless and could easily have ended badly, so be careful out there. The cafe was also rubbish, so we went somewhere else which turned out to be eccentric and therefore ideal for us.
Feeling refreshed we set off for Penrith. The wind was still howling, but with less than 15 miles to go it should have been easy, but I messed up the route on my Garmin. We passed a sign saying Appleby 5 miles, and then a couple of miles later another sign saying Appleby 4 3/4 miles. My route then tried to take us down an unpaved farm track, over some stupid hills and a very busy main road.
When we did reach Penrith we were both shattered, although the Wayfarers Hostel was clean and welcoming with safe bike parking in the cellar. There was also tools, a track pump if required and a sink for filling up your bottles. The bloke working at the hostel also complimented me on my bike, as he had the same one, albeit in a different colour. That’s two other people I’ve met in the UK with the same bike.
Our room in the hostel was on the top floor with a great view and our own private bathroom. A long shower, clean clothes, Wifi and we were ready for food. We found an inviting Mexican restaurant with an immediately friendly owner. The place was colourful and warm with a genuine earthiness, coupled with great food.
Back at the hostel and we both hoped that the next day would be less windy. I also realised that I needed to get a new saddle, as the one that came with the bike was not up to the challenge.
Finally, a short note about the added miles. It wasn’t too much of a problem today as we only ended up doing 55 miles, but in a couple of months we’re off to Scotland for eight days and if I make navigation errors there it could be a problem. We have one 80 mile day planned, with hills, and we do not want to be doing extra that day.
Edit: I had written most of this on the evening of day 2 in the hostel, and when my wife read it, she mentioned that it sounded like we had a really sh*t day. Lots of wind, lots of hills and I tried to kill my wife. We did actually have a great day and we’re both really looking forward to our next adventure, so in the future I must be a bit more careful what I write about at the end of a hard days riding.