Penrith to Hamilton
I set off from a wet campsite in Hutton in the Forest. The red sun exploded over the hills and took the chill off the damp air, although only for a while. The English roads all around Carlisle were very smooth and straight with an excellent surface criss-crossing the motorway. I waved to the fly-fisherman standing waist deep in the River Esk and reached the border at Gretna within 90 minutes.
There is, I can report, an important difference between England and Scotland. It is the state of the minor roads. Welcome to Scotland where the same road becomes instantly bumpy.
Having being alerted to this I was prepared, however, having put on two cycle bib shorts for added cushioning.
At each pit stop there is a welcoming quote (see photo). Afterwards it was a methodical metronome climb up through the wooded hills that turned into barren mountains. Each turn of the pedal was accompanied by a bump from the uneven road surface together with the incessant hum of the traffic travelling on the adjacent motorway, and the occasional Virgin train speeding by. The sun finally shone, vastly improving the colour of the landscape and lifting my spirits.
I was in no rush because I had a meeting time arranged with Vicki who is giving me huge support and encouragement en route. At 1:45 pm we met at pit stop 2 near Abington. It was a very pleasant lunch hour discussing fundraising, a strategy for further promotion and publication, and chatting with the RAB team. An hour later I looked around to find I was the only one left to leave for the final 33 miles to base camp. No matter, it was a fast 2 hour ride downhill all the way to Hamilton Racecourse.
Another 100 miles and 4,120 ft climbed. I’m getting used to this!
Excellent camp facilities including the must-have hot shower.