Monday, 19 July 2010

Day 8 - Sedbergh -> Warrington

Knitwits Yarns

As I stood stark naked in a converted farmer's barn (very nice barn, very clean but no getting away from it, it was a barn), waiting for my 20p to convert freezing cold water into a lukewarm shower I couldn't help but contemplate my life. Was this how it was meant to be for me? As my parents are currently holidaying in Venice and returning on the Orient Express, is this what my destiny had planned for me or had I taken a wrong turning somewhere along the way? Was I supposed to be an Orient Express kind of girl or am I a hard-sleeper-through-China kind of girl? How did I end up showering in a converted barn (smelling very strongly of farmers' antiseptic) on the side of the Yorkshire Dales?

In the rain. Do I need to mention the rain or can we just have it as a foregone conclusion? You don't believe me? OK, is this proof enough?:

That is G & T cycling over/through the Forest of Bowland. Now - let's just think about that name "The Forest of Bowland" - what does it conjure up? Lots of lovely trees and walks (much like the New Forest), certainly trees (obviously) or has anyone else read the wonderful "Forest of Bowland Light Railway" by BB - now, sadly, out of print? So, what do you get the this wonderful "Forest of Bowland". What you get, my friends, is the worst hill climb of the journey so far in the absolutely worst weather. The only navigational mistake FB has made so far was the decision to go over this pass. I think it nearly killed them. G was genuinely concerned that the hills were so steep his front wheel was going to come off the ground and he'd end up doing a wheely and toppling backwards. Here are the pics they could manage to take:

This is G at the top:

and this is T:

I'm not sure they've overly impressed by their father's route.

Fortunately, inevitably there was a descent but it was so steep and so wet and slippery and so cold that they didn't dare to go too fast. FB did offer up a prayer of thanks at this sign though:

and the boys look pretty chuffed too:

I had my own nightmares to contend with. Having finally persuaded my sat nav that, yes, I really did want to go up that well dodgy B road I got to the critical village with the critical left turn and, guess what, they were digging it up. After a 25 mile diversion (I kid you not) and, whilst I'm on the subject if the road men working in High Bentham read this blog, your Diversion signs are s**t - there aren't enough of them and then they just stop, leaving you high and dry. In fact, let's just go the whole hog - all the road signs are pretty appalling up here - apart from the A49 running through Warrington, which is excellent! So, after my 25 mile diversion, I'm finally on the right road and about to meet the boys but first I meet a Peugeot going the other way. This is a pretty narrow road with passing places. So - which is easier to reverse - a 20' camper van or a 6' Peugeot? Yes, you've guessed it, clearly the man driving the poxy little baked bean tin considered reversing a 20' camper van to be the best option. Luckily, one of us could reverse - and it wasn't the man!

Finally, I met the boys and then, horror of horrors - more hills:

At some point, they crossed into Lancashire:

After Clitheroe a major decision had to be made. Somehow we had to get through or round Warrington. FB had worked out a cunning route round Warrington but it added an extra 15 miles to the route. As we're still exactly 1 day behind schedule (with days where we can catch up in Devon but no leeway for disasters) and it was Sunday so the roads would be quiet, it was agreed to go like fury and cycle through the centre of Warrington. It would make a very long day but the decision was made. There were times when I really thought they weren't going to make it. They were wet and exhausted and were looking at cycling a 90+ miles day. But they battled on and I stopped every 10 miles or so ahead so we could keep together. I took this sneaky picture going through Wigan - it's all right - the light's on red:

At about 7pm, I had got to Stockton Heath (v posh) and found a huge Morrisons car park where I was sitting. T had got a puncture (glass) [the more complicated back wheel, of course):

so the unanimous decision was made to cycle to Morrisons and then put the bikes in the back of the van and drive to the camp site (another 15 miles down the road) and return to Morrisons in the morning and re-start from there. And that's what happened and I'm currently writing this in the car park at Morrisons (I think I am now acquainted with every Morrisons and Tesco from Wick to Warrington) having shopped for more supplies, which were running perilously low. The amount of food these guys eat is unbelievable!

We stayed at Daleford Manor Caravan park, just off the A49 and the wonderful owner, Penny, wouldn't take a penny (sorry, dreadful pun) in payment as they're cycling for H4H. A very, very kind and helpful lady. We didn't get in to the site until 9pm so everyone is pretty damned exhausted this morning:

My nephew, Rowan, is made keen on campervans and has requested more photos of the van and less of the cycling! I will do some more for you, Rowan and a video for when we meet in a couple of weeks but, in the meantime, this is what a teenage boys' bedroom looks like in a campervan when they've been cycling for over a week and don't believe in putting thing in cupboards and their mother doesn't believe in tidying up for them as they're old enough to do it themselves. Count yourselves lucky that I can't teleport the smell to you - today it's a mixture of wet, smelly socks and deep heat - yummy.

Daily miles - 92 (including the biggest climb of the trip so pretty damned impressive)
Total milegae - 574.

Today - ever southward!

PS: As some of you may have noticed from the comments and the very kind donations, we have a friend - Peggy - who is doing this in about 10 days time and who we've now terrified I think! Peggy - FB's mantra every morning is: "I bet the bloody sun shines when Peggy's doing it"!!!!

PPS: Just went to the loo in Morrisons. Looked in the mirror. Realised I hadn't brushed my hair today (and possibly not yesterday either). Dear Lord, I'm falling apart.


  1. Well done all! 92 miles under those conditions is a fantastic achievement. Surely the worst bits are over now? Julia: You would find the Orient Express so boring. At least on this trip you know you are ALIVE!

  2. Keep going guys!

    Ye're doing great. We're proud of ya!

    See you when you get back.

    Jerry, Mel and Maeve.

  3. I sincerely hope FB is right, the weather is bad here and sounds a thousand times worse up the line, my scare rating has shot over the top of the scale. I went out for an hour last night in Cornish drizzle and got soaked so all day in stair rod rain is not a pleasant thought.
    But bike is packed and off by carrier today and I must follow on Saturday spurred on by your determination.
    May the sun shine on you soon.
    Upwards and onwards, Morrisons car parks here I come
    Peggy x