Friday, 12 June 2015

30 Days Wild: Day 12 - The Long Uphill Struggle

The theme for today is hills - both physical and metaphorical.  We knew we had physical hills ahead of us today, but our first uphill challenge became apparent when we tried to get three bikes onto a Northern Rail train.  To be fair, many of the conductors are flexible around the "2 bikes only policy" and ours let us on, but she really didn't seem happy about it.  You're not able to book ahead so it can be a bit of pot luck as to whether you can take your bike with you when you're planning a day out.

If Sustrans are to achieve their vision of everyone being able to choose to travel in ways that benefit their health and the environment (another uphill battle) then train companies are going to have to join in and make it easier for us to shift our bikes around.

Day 2 of the Morecambe Bay Cycleway kicked off at Ford Park in Ulverston with a fabulous send off.  I don't want you to think that I only describe it as a fabulous send off because they fed us lots of cake, but it certainly helped.  (Frankly I think the cake was an early apology for what lay ahead...)  The Coach House Bistro did us proud and with a full complement of calories we were on our way.

We started with a few very gently hills to "warm up our legs" (mine were still plenty warm from day 1 if I'm honest) - but the hills really were very gentle and there were lots of lovely downs to coast along too.

The route took us up and over to Greenodd then down and across the Leven.  As we were crossing the Leven I got chatting to Bill - 85 years old and usually ahead of me, he became my instant hero.

One of us is 85, the other just feels it...

There then followed my favourite section of the route so far, a lovely run along the old railway line and then a nice broad bridleway to Low Wood.

As we neared the end of this delightful stretch we couldn't help but notice the rather large hill looming ahead of us.  The cycleway only has one big hill and this is it - Biglands Hill - I was told that it was fine for users of the cycleway to push their bikes up this hill if need be, so I opted to do just that.  Purely in the interests of research you understand.

My phone was clearly too exhausted to focus....

Team 1 at the summit

Team 2 a the summit!
Even though it had been a long hard slog to the summit we didn't hang around long as we knew that awaiting us down in Cartmel was a lunch of artisan breads and cheeses swilled down with fantastic beer from one of my favourite microbreweries.  With the scent of hops firmly in our nostrils we plunged down the hill.

Unsworth's Yard is the most perfect spot in Cartmel - a village already awash with fine pubs and picnic locations.  Surrounding this tiny courtyard are a superb cheese shop (surprisingly called Cartmel Cheeses, and you can order online!), a divine bakers and the aforementioned thoroughly splendid Unsworths Yard Brewery.

Cheese Heaven
Beer Heaven

With the tough stuff now behind us it was onwards to gorgeous Grange-over-Sands.  Although the route was tougher today in terms of hills, there was a lot less traffic and therefore it was a lot more enjoyable and the route to Grange wound along via Flookburgh and Cartmel airfield with an optional diversion to Humphrey Head.


Cows cheering us on.

Just one short sharp hill.

Our destination in Grange was the Low Fell Gate campsite which is able to boast beautiful views across Morecambe Bay, but only because it's at the top of another hill...

Because I'm a) a camping wuss and b) we live in Grange, we left them to it and headed for home, taking a small detour along Grange prom - another metaphorical hill to climb as many of the locals are vehemently opposed to the route officially mentioning this as a possible loop along the way, an absolute crying shame as it offers some of the most spectacular views out across Morecambe Bay.  

I think they're under the impression that Tour de France style pelotons will start whizzing through when the reality is that it's more likely to be folks like us - 2 sweaty, smelly and slightly out of condition cyclists in desperate need of a chippy.  It might not be official, but we took the detour anyway.  Anarchy in Grange.  Watch for the letters in the local paper...

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