Four Season’s in One Weekend – A Lakeland Break
A few weeks ago the wife advised she was going on a Hen Party Weekend and immediately my mind moved to thoughts of a cheeky weekend away biking. Had a chat around and (Wheelie) Stu advised he was available. A plan was formulated and we decided to hit the Lake District to get some real riding in instead of the usual trail centres.
The weekend arrived and we set off late on Friday to get up there ready for Saturday morning. My in-laws live up there so they are always handy for an offer of a bed or two. Friday night was gales and rain. Saturday morning was pretty much the same. Our faces did not portray the excited looks we hoped for, this was not going to be a pleasnt ride in these conditions. The weather said it would clear up later so we packed the car and headed for Keswick.
On route we stopped off at Ambleside and popped in Bike Treks. A very nice bike shop with really chatty and helpful staff. Stu crumbled and bought some North Wave Celcius Winter Boots as he only had his summer shoes and the weather promised soaking feet.
By the time we arrived at Keswick the rain had stopped, we quickly unloaded the bikes, got ready and set off from Applethwaite heading up towards Skiddaw. A couple of guys were heading directly up Skiddaw to take on the long decent. Looking at the walkers we decided against this as the wind was just mental on the path up ahead. I think they got about fifty feet before they started pushing there bikes. We picked up the back o’ Skiddaw route which afforded us some shelter and nice singletrack riding. Stu flipped off the back of the bike on a nice rocky section and I went over the bars on the next technical section. As we approached Skiddaw House the snow started to come down. It was midday and we had already had wind, rain and snow.
The decent down the back end of Skiddaw was fast and flowy and we lost a lot of height quickly, getting out of the snow and back to the relative warmth of lower altitude. A quick look at the map and we realised we were not far from Mirehouse Tearooms. A cup of Java and a toasted Teacake later and warmth was returning. We picked up a nice trail heading to Keswick were we picked up the old railway line and peeled off to Castlerigg stone circle. Such an impressive and strange location. A flat field containing a stone circle with amazing views out to the mountain ranges. When no one else is around it is quite stunning. The sun was starting to go down and was poking through the clouds and made a spectacular end to the day. I got the camera out and fired off a couple of pics before we hot footed our way back to the car before dark.
As we walked through the door at the in-laws we were greated by the smell of curry, they had knocked up a sizeable batch with accompanying naan bread for us. Cheesecake followed and a couple of cheeky Hoegaarden. Bed shortly followed.
I awoke on Sunday to glorious weather, not a cloud in the sky and very dry. We got up, consumed a vat of porridge and headed out to Coniston, a short drive from the in-laws and a lovely place. The lake was still and calm so we decided to have a coffee at the Bluebird cafe at the lake edge. We noticed the 8 Oz Cumberland on a barm cake on the menu and decided it would be rude not too. We even sat outside, the weather was that nice.
We planned to ride the forests on the East side of the lake but with the weather so nice we decided to do something a bit more exposed and headed for Walna Scar.
The climb out of Coniston on the tarmac track up to the start of Walna Scar road is ridiculous, as you round the corner it just vanishes up. A van had got stuck half way up due to ice on the road. I saw Stu stomp down on the pedals and got into Powerhouse mode and off he flew. I dropped into granny ring and tried to keep up, but not for long. Stu made it past the ice and nearly to the top before stopping. A heroic effort. We climbed on up covering 500ft of climbing in the first mile.
We stopped at various points on the way up to take pictures and session parts of the trail that looked fun and challenging. Finally we got to the top, went straight over and decended rapidly into Seathwaite. What a rush. I got a puncture half way down and then we carried on. There is a certain buzz you get from natural trails and decents that you dont get at trail centres. You generally know that a trail centre has been sanitised and tidied up and not much is there to catch you unawares. On natural trails your senses are heightened as you dont know what is coming up. Is that dip up ahead six inches deep or three foot deep. Can I get between those two rocks and what is on the other side…. oh, its a massive wheel stopping boulder.
From Seathwaite we pieced together some other bridleway heading back towards Coniston. We stopped and watched some trials riders sessioning a stream and waterfall on there bikes – mentalists! We then had a lovely section of hike a bike surrounded by sheep as we madae a slight detour off map and followed that by some nice boggy areas and stream crossing. All this adds to the adventure in my opinion. As we got back to the car I was relieved (my legs were shot) but felt great.
2 days of riding in some amazing scenery: 43 miles and 2,500 metres of climbing.
I took my Nikon D5100 to get some pictures and invested in a LowePro AW Photosport 200 the other week to lug it around in. The backpack is a great bit of kit. It easily fits my Nikon with 10-20mm lens and has space in the carmera compartment for my 55 – 300m lens. It has a seperate back pocket for a 2 litre bladder which is seperate to the camera compartment. It has various pockets for keys and kit and the main pocket can still fit a small tripod, jacket and my lunch. The weight was a bit of an issue at some times, especially at the beginning with the full bladder of water but once on it is very comfortable. I was concerned that it would bounce around on the rough sections but felt no different to my Camelbak or Osprey smaller packs. I was very pleased with it.
Traversing around Skiddaw
Stop off on Skiddaw…
Snow at Skiddaw House
Decending off Skiddaw
Heading back to Keswick
Castlerigg Stone Circle
Stu enjoys his 8 Oz Cumberland Sausage
Walna Scar Bridge
Coming Down Walna Scar
Gorgeous winters day in the Lakes
All those rocks had to result in a puncture!
Hopefully from the pictures you can tell why I called this blog the title I gave it.
All in an awesome weekend of riding!