Walney to Wear Cycle Ride Report - long-ish



Having had the map of the W2W route for a month or so, I finally got to have
a go this weekend. My occasional riding partner came with me and his pal
took us over to Walney Island Friday evening for a short 10 mile or so
'bite' at the journey before taking on the 140 mile remainder. We were late
setting off because I got to my pal's house a little late. We made for
village NW off the route nr Ulverston because there was a Camping and
Caravan Club camp site nearby - or so we thought. Enquiring about its
whereabouts in the village pub caused the landlord to kiss his teeth and
roll his eyes skywards before telling us the the site never got planning
permission and had never been open but he invited us to use his pphone to
see for ourselves. The 'campsite' owner told us that because of ill health
the sie wasn't open much to the amusement of the ocals in the bar. The
landlord offered us the use of his garden and a 'lock in' - result!

The landlady was pottering about when we woke and brought out a bucket of
hot water for ablutions. An impromptu bacon bolognese and pasta breakfast
set us up for the first full day's ride. Ulverston was quite nice andthe
Railway architecture of the Furness Railway was quite distinctive. The
bakers at Greenodd was very nice and offered traditional fare. The first
off road section at Greenood was along a disused railway track bed followed
by a climb near Haverthwaite and a descent into Cartmel where we bought some
of the village's famous 'sticky toffe pudding'. The village shop/deli
stocked an amazing range of goodies and I was tempted by some Fentiman's
traditional dandelion and Burdock...yum.. The day panned put into climb
after climb with the descents being poor rewards for the slogs up the hills
and I persuaded my less fit riding partner to camp just north of Kendal and
that despite the fact that he felt up to cycling to Orton to rendezvous with
his pal in the camper van, the certainty of a pitch in a campsite at hand
with a chip shop and a pub five minutes ride away was far more valuable than
a possible campsite that might not be reached because we'd run out of steam.
Greg his mate, texted us to let us know thatb the route got 'challenging' at
the 50 mile mark. We felt totally challenged when we got to the camp site

Day two

The decision to camp at Kendal was vindicted by the nature of the ride to
Orton. It was a relentless slog tempered by stunning scenery. The fifty
mile point was reached and after riding under a disused railway viaduct we
reached a couple of cottages and a humped back bridge that could have quite
easily been lifted from 'Postman Pat' in the guise of Greendale... A Daewoo
Matiz sqeezed over the bridge or so we thought until we found that Greg had
sqeezed his camper van over the bridge the previous evening leaving paint on
the walls at either side of the road. It was an idyllic spot and we spent a
while chilling and fish spotting in the river.We followed the route to mile
56 then took the A685 and B6260 to Orton (great hand made chocolate shop!).
The route parallelled the M6 and West Coast MAil line for some of the way
and once again a relentless clim challenged or mettle. Riding on to Kirby
Steven was a rolling ride with some climbing still going on. We stocked up
on fluids at the Co-op and stared enviously at a group of riders who were on
a supported ride from Whitehaven to Whitby. Although Greg was 'around' we
were still at this stage unsupported as we had not seen him since being
dropped off with our camping gear. Climbing as always - so it seemed - we
reached Barras where the signposts said 'Tan Hill' 6 miles. It was the
longest six miles that I had ever ridden, several false summits, several
apparitions of the pub and finally it hove into view tantalisingly close but
with a convouted ride and climb to get there. I rewarded myself with a pint
of Old peculier and packed of Bombay Mix. Dave my riding buddy plumped for
the Black Sheep as he can't copw with Old Pec. I was saddened to finde the
pub under new ownership, it was all to evident that changs had been made -
five staff milling behind the bar when previously there was one - two at the
most. I'll miss the previous owners under whose 20 year stewardship the
place had developed a unique laissez faire atmosphere. It was a struggle to
motivate ourselves to move on but we did and on over Slieghthome Moor. At
this point I must caution road bike owners who are contemplating the route
to takle care with Sleightholme - it is an unmade road and it's now pretty
rough - 20 years ago one could drive a car with confidence at normal road
speeds over the unmade road, the surface has deteriorated gradually - and
visibly since my last crossing four months ago. It proved to be the
undoing, literally, of my back wheel. I felt the handling deteriorate on
the moor and thought it was the rough surface but no, a third of the spokes
on the non drie side of the wheel had loosened and offered a large decree of
flex in the wheel. A quick rough and ready retension got me going again and
we aimed for a camp site near Boldron. Dave rode off into the distance and
I felt my wheel unwind itself again. I limped along and caught up with DAve
who then rode ahead to recce the campsite while I retensioned my spokes - I
was tired and made do with a rough job. As I pressed on to Boldron, Dave
came riding towards me trimphantly, no he hadn't found a camp site but a
woman in the village pub had offered us the use of her back garden near the
pub - another result! Mo was a retired teacher who remarkably used to live
half a mile from me in Leeds. She offered us the use of her kitchen
bathroom and toilet and left us with the keys to the house the next morning
when she took her dog for a walk but I get ahead of myself.....

Day three

Mo had a toilet to die for. I refer to my own toilet as the library becuse
I always enjoy a good read there from the handful of magazines I keep there.
Mo's toilet had a floor to ceiling set of bookshelves with an eclectic
collection of books that pressed every interest button that I have. Most of
the books were her late husbands. Pressing onto the ride - we set off for
Barnard Castle and on reaching the town , I did yet another retensioning of
the spokes and got the wheel to resemble its original condition. It had a
three millimetre run out, about the best I've managed with a field repair.
I saw a couple of riders on Roberts' Audax bikes and it was when i saw a
number attached to one of the bikes (no. 3) that I clicked that they might
be on the LEL ride as nearby Langdon Beck was one of the hostels used on the
route I think. Riding out of Barnard Castle we saw an oldish chap cranking
up a hill with a hugh headlight attached to his bike - I talking Bently ot
Lagonda sized headlight here! he had an assortment of slammer lamps
attached none of which were less than 6" diameter. Heaven knows how he
powered them if at all. Somewhere aong this part of the rote between
Barnard Castle and Bishop Aukland, Dave decided he was going to ride through
a ford, I chose to use the bridge - Dave fell in shouldn't have laughed but
couldn't offer sincere sympathy. Greg met us an relieved me of my rear
panniers to give the rear wheel a fighting chance of amking it to the end.
Dave unloaded his panniers too. Another rough bit of road/path satrts at 113
miles and lasts all the way into Bishop Aukland. The route into Bishop is
not a good advert for the town. It goes through some pretty rough areas, a
licensed travellers camp site, an industrial hinterland and some low quality
housing stock before anothe extended ride on cinder and gravel into Durham.
There were some nice bits along the Wear - and Gilesgat were ropey. The
signpost of the route let us down badly here, there were some diversion
signs which abandoned us near Pittington. An OS map bailed us out. Greg met
us at Hetton Lyons Country PArk for a final moral boosing cuppa. The ride
into Sunderland was a nightmare. No signage. We found the marina by
picking up som C2C signs. We got to the marina at 22:30. It was the
easiest of the three and a bit days but was by no means flat.

When I got the map of the route from Sustrans, I wondered about the lack of
gradient profiles which are a common feature of all the other Sustrans maps
that I have. I now know why they are missing! This is definitely the
harder of the two coast to coast rides that I have done (C2C and W2W).
Three and a bit days is challenging. No doubt someone has already done it
in a day. Five days would make for a really relaxing ride. The scenery is
far superior to that of the C2C with some exceptions in County Durham. I
recommend the route to all of decent-ish fitness. It's proved to be a good
final ride before my next attempt on LEJOG. No for the fianl fettling of my