Haydock to Penrith
I expected today would be enjoyable, scenic and a day to recharge the batteries in preparation for Scotland. I was in for a shock.
Another 7 am get away on the basis that I would have time to spare at the end of the ride. That did not happen!
Once I was out of the suburbs of Manchester the route hugged the M6, criss-crossing it and the railway line on a regular basis.
The farmland just rolled on. It seemed to me that we are a nation of sheep and cows! There was an opportunity (that I resisted) to stop to buy “fresh free range happy hen eggs”.
The whole area of Quernmore in the Conder valley was delightful. At midday I crossed the River Lune north east of Lancaster: the midway point between Land’s End and John O’Groats on my journey.
At 3 pm I found myself at the bottom of Shap Fell. The organisers had kindly arranged a message. “Shap Fell: 1,362 ft see you at the top”. I don’t mind short hills or up and down hills. Shap Fell is neither. It was 100 minutes (with many stops – not just for photos) of 8 tortuous relentless uphill head-down miles. Yes the scenery was majestic when I reached the top, but the cycling was just a hard grind. The promise of a coffee and cake in Shap Fell village after 6 miles downhill on the other side spurred me on. But I arrived too late and was disappointed. The coffee shop had already closed!
I finally arrived at base camp at 6:30 pm very tired after 109 miles and 6,250 ft of climbing. This was for me the most difficult day.
However, a hot shower, a massage of my aching legs and a large plate of spaghetti bolognese lifted my spirits somewhat. Day 5 and 534 miles completed.