Today it is car assist to Ambleside in Cumbria to ride over two iconic passes. We have an easy drive from Chester to Ambleside on a sunny morning and park up under Loughrigg Fells. Bikes removed from the car, John, Ray, Tom, Ken and I set off towards Clappersgate and up to Skelwith along Bog lane to Barngates crossroads passing the Drunken Duck Inn, a previous lunch stop for CER.
Heading on upwards, Hawkshead Hill is cleared, and then it is a down-hill ride into Coniston for a breakfast stop. At the chosen café, we have choices of egg and bacon and cake and enjoy our stop sitting outside in glorious sunshine. After waiting for Tom to clear his plate, we are now ready and ride through the town and follow Coniston lake along the A593 which today was very quiet with few cars. Passing Torver, we are chasing a big black cloud and can see the rain dropping from the darkened skies and are quietly thinking how our continuing trip is going to turn out! We join the A595 at Broughton in Furness and cross over the Esk river bridge at Bank End and start the climb up to Duddon Bridge. The roads are wet but no rain and, as we continue onwards and upwards, the sky is getting clearer with the start of blue sky appearing – hope yet!
|Eschewing mid-morning coffee at Ulpha|
We were stopping at the post office at Ulpha for a coffee, but decide to continue. After first photo shoot, we head off in now clear skies for our first significant double chevroned climb out of Ulpha and up Woodside Climb at 25%. No problems and we are now rolling along the fells towards Beckfoot and Boot. We have another stop to admire the fantastic views of the mountains of the lakes with Scafell Pike and Bow Fell dominating the horizon. Riding along the lane from Eskdale to Boot and Dalegarth, we chase the steam railway train. We have enjoyed riding car-free lanes throughout and now are heading towards Hardknott and the ascents of the two passes.
Passing over the cattlegrid at the start of Hardknott, the climb is 30%+. Ken, Ray and John continue pumping up the hill whilst Tom and I decide to walk the steepest bits! Arriving at the top is a great feeling, and the effort used in getting up here well worth the effort. Free-wheeling down Hardknott is not easy, but dry roads in sunshine is a reward and soon we are riding along Wrynose Bottom and start the final ascent up the pass. This one is shorter, and the three KOM riders of Ken, Ray and John have clean soles and are at the summit in no time and wait for Tom and I to arrive.
|A well-earned rest|
|Powering to the summit|
|The Captain himself|
A fantastic 30 miles ridden and ascents of 4774 feet of climb covered, we now enjoy the down-hill sprint to Little Langdale and the Three Shires Inn. Arriving at 14:30, we are too late for a hot lunch but enjoy sandwiches and soup and a well-earned pint watching England “thrash” Wales at 2-1. Fully recovered and happy, the final leg of our ride to Ambleside is covered at an average of 17mph. Back at under Loughrigg, we say farewell to John in his car, and put the bikes on the car-rack and head for home.
A total ride of 45 miles for the brisk riders is short of our usual mileage, but the climbs we have enjoyed with the whizz of the descents, more than made up the shortfall. A fantastic day out and a massive 10/10 and King of the Mountains go to Ken and Ray who achieved getting over both passes without a foot down. John only stopped once on Hardknott, and cleared Wrynose and well done too. Tom on a 28 cassette and feeling drained, showed how strong he is and, when he buys his new bike, we will try again! Thanks to my buddies today for a great day out.
Photos by Ivan Davenport and Ken Page