From Campbeltown it was off to the Lake District in the north of England. Instead of the road up Argyll, east & then down to Glasgow we opted for a little less driving & two short ferry hops across to just west of Glasgow. From there it was A-roads down until we turned off in to the Lake District. Unbeknown to us, the last part of the journey took us on some ridiculously narrow roads & then what turned out to be the steepest road in England – a mountain (in some sense of the word). Lucky for me, I had my done my driving in the morning & I sat at the back and enjoyed the view as the clouds got closer & closer. Completing the first pass (Wrynose) , we saw an impossibly windy & skinny road snaking up a 30% incline in to the clouds & immediately dismissed this as not the way we were meant to go. Of course the roads signs had other ideas & it was up & around & down many corners where the road in front simply disappeared from view as it was so steep (this was Hardknot pass). Eventually we made it & were off for dinner down the road to the Woolpack Inn – perhaps the worst meal we had our whole trip. Being a hostel dormitory that I ended up staying in, naturally there were at least two snorers, grrrr.
Of course the cloud hadn’t lifted by the next morning, but being encouraged by all the mountain bike I had seen on the drive in yesterday I hauled the much travelled & little ridden GT out of the boot, put it together & set off for a ride in the rain down a riverside bridle path towards the coast. As the weather was utterly miserable, I was pretty sure that I would be the only insane one out & about down this path. Crossing stone bridges, opening & closing countless gates (I think I perfected the MTB magazine technique there, John) I would see that that was not the case as I came across all number of people kitted out for the rain strolling/rambling/hiking/tramping along. The weather improved slightly as I got down to the coast (with one very big hill to climb along the way – quite a shock after the last few weeks). A spot of lunch at the small Ravenglass station (where my burger actually had salad inside it, not sitting on the plate beside burger consisting of nothing but bread & meat) & I caught one of the few narrow gauge railways left in Britain back to near where I started.
It was half way back up the pass (the not-so-steep part) that we returned to look at the remains of one of Hadrian’s forts. The sheep seemed to like grazing around the area & dodging their presents & the myriad streams running down the grass we could get a good look at the remains. Why anyone would have built a fort all the way up here close on two thousand years ago eludes me…
The following day we took the easier coastal route to Arnside where we stayed for Dad’s final night in the UK. From Arnside we drove down, dropped Dad off at the coach stop in Birmingham (coach to Heathrow) & continued on to visit second cousins of Mum, drop Mum off at another second cousin’s place & then made my way to Taunton to stay with English friends that I had met randomly mountain-biking in Rotorua about a year ago. That was some three hundred miles & unfortunately we lost the second driver when Dad left us.