On to Day 3, and the weather forecast had constantly changed over the weekend, with supposedly bad weather on Day 1 and sunny on the other days. By the Saturday night the forecast was cold and wet for the Sunday, and our last day. It’s only 50 miles from Penrith to Lancaster, so we should be fine.
When we woke up the weather looked great as we skipped downstairs to breakfast. A Spanish girl was having problems with the toaster, and had filled the kitchen with smoke, while a couple and their three young children hunted for eggs in the garden. Back in the kitchen and another man spent 20 minutes making one ham and mayo sandwich. Hostels are a great way of meeting interesting people and I cannot recommend them highly enough, especially the Wayfarers Hostel in Penrith (link).
As with the previous day we didn’t set off until 9am, and it still wasn’t raining, although it was a bit chilly. Because of my navigation skills (or lack of) from the previous day we opted for the A6 all the way to Kendal. It would be a bit less fun, but not too much traffic uses that section of the A6.
We soon reached the village of Shap, where we stopped for a banana before tackling Shap hill. Just before the climb begins there is a 96 room hotel, literally in the middle of nowhere. Passing the hotel from ‘The Shining’ also coincided with it starting to hammer it down. As we slowly climbed we passed a couple of roadside ‘shrines’, which is never nice to see. By the time we reached the top, both my hands and feet were numb from the cold and wet, making the descent very unpleasant, and there might not have been much traffic, but what little there was would invariably pass too close and too fast.
By the time we reached Kendal both of us were desperate to stop. Helen was worried that nowhere would let us in, but a small cafe called Finkles, located down an alley were more than happy to welcome two bedraggled cyclists. I then suggested to Helen that she phone Dan her son, who had been staying at our house, to see if he could pick us up. “Not a problem, see you in 40 minutes,” he said. While we waited we consumed hot chocolate and warm scones.
I don’t like giving in to the weather, but my waterproof jacket wasn’t, and my gloves were not designed for 5 degrees and rain. If Dan hadn’t been able to pick us up we would have made it home, but it wouldn’t have been much fun. It was a slightly sad end to a great weekend, but we can take loads of positives, even from the final day. Helen now knows that cycle touring (with me) is brilliant. I know that I need to be better at route planning and we both need to be better prepared for inclement weather. In fact, we both loved the weekend so much that we’ve started to plan mini, and not so mini adventures for years to come. I would whole hearted recommend cycle touring to everyone, just go for it.
The Strava route for the final day of our adventure can be found here.
Finally, the next day I bought myself a new saddle, a Brooks Cambium C17, and first impression are very favourable (Strave ride here).