Another glorious day was saddened by the departure of Mrs Tootlepedal to visit her mother. I took her to Carlisle Station and took the opportunity to stow the slow bike in the back of the Kangoo as well. I left Mrs Tootlepedal at the station and went down Botchergate to replenish my supply of inner tubes at Palace Cycles. I needed some cash so I asked the bloke in the bike shop where the nearest cash machine was. “There’s one in the station,” he said. I walked up to the station and said goodbye to Mrs Tootlepedal again.
It was my plan to make use of the fine weather to cycle about to the south and west of Carlisle and take photographs of the great views that I was sure that I would encounter on my journey. On my way back down to the car, I loaded up with a vast cheese and tomato sandwich from Subway and a cut price pain au chocolate (of a sort) from Greggs. Then I drove to Dalston which got me out of the traffic round the city. There is a good place to park there and Mrs Tootlepedal have cycled routes from Dalston before.
This time I headed south onto the ridge that runs parallel with the M6 towards Penrith. The starting miles were generally gently uphill but I was pushed along by a nice wind and everything was just perfect for a bike ride. The ridge gives you views over the Eden valley to the East and towards the Lake district hills to the west.
Right from the start of the ride, it became apparent that good views were not available today. There was a haze in every direction. It has been like this for a few weeks now but I was hoping that the recent rain would have cleared the skies.
As you get onto the ridge top, you come to the Crown Inn. It is one of those pubs that must have been very badly hit by the change of drink driving habits because there is not even a tiny village nearby. How it survives when many others like it have closed, I don’t know.
You can see how clear the sky was which makes the low lying haze even more disappointing. I pedalled down the amazingly straight road that runs along the ridge until I came to a splendidly named crossroads.
This was, in fact, far from the end of the ride and I went on south towards the home of Tarzan. After 13 miles, I took a sharp turn back and headed north-west. Now I was pedalling into the wind and life was a little harder. I was quite close to the Lake District hills at this point but the haze was all pervasive.
Somewhere about the 18 mile mark, my bike computer stopped working which was annoying. I couldn’t see why it had failed because the battery was obviously still live. Then I realised that I was passing a forest of masts and that they must be radio masts which were interfering with my bike computer signal. Sure enough after I got a mile or so away from the installation, the computer sprung back to life. I shouldn’t have been surprised because I had noticed the same effect when pedalling round Anthorn radio station with Mrs Tootlepedal last year.
I was off the top of the ridge now and I found myself crossing numerous little streams. This was a roller coaster ride but because the streams were in very steep but very short dips, it was almost always possible to get up enough speed to shoot up the other side.
The views may not have been of the best but the verges had a lot going for them.
As well as the wild flowers, there were constant shows of daffodils along the way.
At the 22 mile mark, I turned sharply west and headed towards the valley of the Caldew. This meant crossing some quite steep hills and I was glad to roll into Hesket Newmarket in time for lunch.
I had passed the windmill in the background and come into the village up the road on the left. The windmill, if it is still the original, was one of the first to be put up here and has been operating for many years to give power to the farmer who had the enterprise to invest in it long before they were fashionable.
The village is very pretty and provided me with a fine bench to sit on to eat my sandwich and a banana which I had bought in Dalston.
I had completed over half my trip by now and, fortified by my lunch, I was keen to attack the last big obstacle on my way back to Dalston. This was the hill out of Caldbeck village up to the spot where the TV Mast which provides our signal is situated. Caldbeck village itself is another pretty place and the residents have created a fine duckpond by damming a little stream.
The hill out of the village is 12% or 1 in 8 old style. This is steep but not ridiculous and I put the old faithful in a very low gear and plodded up quite cheerfully. It looks quite impressive from the top.
The TV masts are just a stone’s throw from the road. They are so tall that it makes you wonder why we cant get a better signal from them in Langholm. (It’s the hills round the town.)
Coming over the top of the hill, there is a stunning panorama as you can see over the entire Solway Plain….or there would have been if it wasn’t for the dratted haze. This was the biggest disappointment of the whole ride because I had chosen the route specially to get this view.
My route took me down a splendid hill into Wigton and then along past the windmills you can just make out in the haze and thence back into Dalston. The last bit of the journey was made a bit irritating by the fact that I had to stop at the many little road junctions to peer at my map as I now find it hard to read while I am pedalling if there is any fine detail on it. As we were passing through dairy cattle country, I was also bombarded by hefty flies as I passed the farms. All in all, I was pleased to get back to Dalston and find the car still there.
I was very impressed by the religious nature of the young people of Dalston as there was a constant stream of them coming out of this church near the car park.
However, it turned out that a footpath from the local school into the town led right past the church door and they were simply coming home after the schoolday had finished.
The trip was 45 miles with 1300ft of gain and for those interested, a map can be found here.
I got home with no alarms or excursions and heard from Mrs Tootlepedal who had arrived safely down south. I made some bread (or rather, I made the bread machine make some bread, cooked eggs florentine for my tea and ate the first stewed rhubarb of the year for pudding so that rounded off what had been an excellent day with good cycling on quiet roads with good surfaces, many of which I hadn’t cycled on before. You can’t ask more than that. (Except for a lot less haze.)
I had my cup of tea in the garden when I got back from the ride because the day was so pleasant and my eye was caught by this daffodil looking delightfully cheery in the late afternoon sunshine.