Sunshine, blue skies and some of the best scenery in the country! ... well that was the idea anyway as Clive, Ivan, Ray, Dave P, Dave Heath, Brian Mac and Andy met at the ferry car park in Bowness. Actually Brian and Clive were still in Booths supermarket cafe having seen some signs that the ferry was out of action. A quick check found that not to be the case and that it had been running for the last 500 years (believe that if you will)!
The forecast for the day was less than promising, with light rain to 12:00 hrs followed by heavy in the afternoon … and we all know what that means in Cumbria!
Photographs by Brian MacDonald
At this point Andy thoughtlessly offered the incentive of a free beer to any rider who managed the two big hills with no foot down ... a pretty stupid offer as it turned out!
With typical Easy Riders optimism we buried our heads in the sand crossed the lake then followed a nice well surfaced track for a couple of miles along the west shore ... good riding and a few gentle hills leading past High Wray and on towards Ambleside. The Under Loughrigg Road allowed us to bypass the town on a pretty car free route then a short fast main road to Grassmere village.
Replenishing caffeine levels in Grassmere was tempting but the day’s plan was to separate the two major climbs of the day by a break in Chapel Style in Langdale. So ... up the 25% Red Bank it was ... tough but not too long with Dave P, Ivan and Ray unsurprisingly leading the pack. A fast mile across the fells above Elterwater brought us to our deserved break at Brambles Cafe in the Cooperative shop. So far so good and not too wet.
Heading west along Langdale the heavy rain came just as forecast obscuring the outstanding views of the Pikes. Up the 25% hairpins to Blea Tarn along a road now turned to river ... and guess which three arrived first with a pale Andy trailing behind at the thought of that promise of free beer!
A lovely fast decent to Little Langdale had us recalling Ivan as he was drawn to the Three Shires. Our route was a track through Tilberthwaite Woods then on to Coniston and the Black Bull that brews the famous Bluebird Bitter out back. Good food, warm fire and Andy with a lighter wallet (even Ray forced a beer down at my expense) and we mounted up for the final stretch with resolve quickly diminishing in the wet gloom. A quick conference agreed a revised route over Hawkshead Hill, then straight to the ferry via Far Sawrey.
A companionable and memorable day ... not all for the right reasons of course. Only 38 miles but a couple of challenging ascents.
Perhaps we will try again next summer?