Day 12 – Norman

Wednesday we left Kirkby Lonsdale and climbed up with good views of both the Pennines and Lakeland to Orton, a small village in Westmoreland.  We had the morning break there before climbing from Lonsdale. The climb was long but easy, unlike the first which had some very cheeky ascents, where I had to dismount and walk.  My bike is very heavy, so pushing it up hill is difficult.  However the bike has a twist grip on the handlebar which will generate full power up to 6 mph.  This I use to pull me up the hill, and usually have to stop after 15 meters to get my breath back.

After the long fast descent from the pass the track was quite flat through Maulds Meaburn and Kings Meaburn (where there was a plaque explaining that the King had had executed the feudal baron who was one of the 4 knights who killed Beckett in 1170 and then rebelled in 1172.  Half the land was given to his widow by the King while the rest remained the king’s property.

I then went on, but shot past the turning we should have taken (through not studying my Satnav).  I was just turning round to get on track, about 2 miles off the route when Sam phoned me and I rejoined my three sons who were hunting me.

Down to the railway line where we stopped at a disused station at Culgarth for a very good lunch.  On through Langwathby where we climbed up to a ridge where we got marvellous views of the Lake District in the distance.  The shape of Blencathra (aka Saddleback) was particularly  noticeable.  On and up to see Long Meg and her daughters, a 12 foot high monolith outside a ring of about 70 stones.  Long Meg is to the South West, where the sun sets at mid-winter.  Of course there is a belief that she and her daughters were turned to stone for dancing on the Sabbath.

We now rode across the streams feeding the Eden, up and down a lot until we came to Hallbankgate near Brampton where we spent the night in a pub called Belted Will, who was an Earl Howard who lived locally.  Half the party stayed in another pub 5 miles away.

In the morning we set out, to meet the rest of the party at Lanercost Priory.  We looked at the church, which was open to the public.   The transept and chancel had been unroofed by Henry VIII and the East end of the Church had a huge window where one could see the ruin.

Reunited we rode across the grain of the country up and down to the Border at a stream where we stopped for our morning snack.  Photos were taken.  Still cross country, up and down with some quite cheeky hills (all blessedly rather short) to Langholm, where Tom and I stopped at a bakery to buy some cake.  We now climbed steadily up the glen to Eskdalemuir, and on a couple of miles to a Buddhist-Tibetan monastery for lunch.  We looked at the monastery, and saw a few bonzes and some clearly identifiable followers.  The monastery is about 20 years old and the temple is heavily gilt and red paint.

On and up the glen again (which is a steady climb, for which my bike is really suited, and on past Ettrick (James Hogg C18. Poet the “Ettrick Shepherd”) up another glen, to the pass and a 6mile run down to a pub where we stopped for tea.  One of my fellow riders had told a group of elderly ladies about our trip and about me.  They insisted on photographing me and gave a donation to the 5 causes.  One was 82, and talked about cycling again.

Another climb up to a pass and descent, like the others, green fields and trees at the bottom, with cows in the fields, giving way as we climb to sheep moorland and dry stone walls, together with Forestry Commission pine forests (and very heavy lorries which squeeze us off the road, they are so big.  Off the B road onto a by-road to bypass Innerliethen to Peebles where we spend two nights.

Blessed rest, but my tablet is wonky.  I took it in to a computer shop in Peebles, and he could not mend it.  The jack to the USB is damaged and he does not carry stock.  So this may well be my last blog.

The group are now well integrated and seem to understand each others’ foibles, and cycling ability.  They all seem to try and help me, which is nice, but possibly unnecessary.

One silly incident was outside our hotel in Peebles where we stopped to cross the road, but I took my foot off the pedal to put down on the ground.  But the road had a heavy camber, and so I started to fall.  It was slow, and I rolled off my bike, landing on my bottom with my legs going up in the air.  It looked very dramatic, but I was totally unhurt, surprised, but not shocked.  Passers-by rushed to assist but it was not necessary.