Day 2 is kick started through the affect of staying in the Uk’s coldest room. So once I’m out of the warm bed I’m wide awake. The cooked breakfast will be a source of regret on the first hill of the day, but it’s very enjoyable. Once we’ve paid the hefty dinner bill, we’re on the road again by about 830.
Dan off course is well on the road by now having set off a few hours earlier. We will now spend the rest of the day wondering where we will meet him.
The expected early morning downpours have not materialised, but despite a chill wind and lingering dampness in the air, it’s a reasonable day for a ride.
The mileage might be lower today, but the climbs are significantly more challenging. And that will mean some pushing. Simon has a nice new Ribble carbon bike; Nigel has a new, and very shiny, titanium one. Both make me want a new bike, but I just have my trust steel workhorse that will see me to the top of the 16% hills.
First one of the day, after gliding along some rolling lanes from Little Salkeld, is the haul up to Hartside. Partly on a quiet lane, then rejoining the main road up to the cafe. By the time we reach the top we’re in whiteout conditions and decide they lights are sensible for the descent. I persuade Simon and Nigel that stopping at the cafe is a bad plan because we’ll get colder before the big descent. They reluctantly agree, and we speed off down the main road. It’s a fast one, and only a few cars pass us. We’re quickly below the cloud again and even the sun makes a ten second appearance.
Part of my sales pitch for skipping the cafe was the prospect of sustenance in Garrigill. But another rapid descent into the village is met by a boarded up public house. There’s always someone doing something more foolish than you, and this is where we meet 6 John Lewis staff donning wetsuits for a morning of freezing cold gorge walking.
Another steep climb and rapid descent takes us to Nenthead. One this I reach a speed in excess of 60kph, and a number of times got over 50kph with some furious pedalling. (But I’ll find out later that I have no evidence if this). We also reach Black Hill – apparently the highest point in England on the National Cycle Network.
The prospect of lunch awaits at Rookdale, but that’s another climb and descent away. We get there to discover another boarded up pub, and a group who have finished for the day – but still no sign of Dan.
So, we do another steep ascent off towards Stanhope. At the top, a familiar voice greats me and it is Dan – almost 100 miles from the start and having endured all the wet weather we were forecast to have had. But, despite some navigational challenges (!!) he’s in good shape and heads off for the final 40 miles which he’ll finish about three hours later. We head for a late lunch, and a rest – knowing that we only have one big hill to do tomorrow and the it’s all downhill to the sea.
At our accommodation there’s a three legged 14 year old goat. And everyone like cute animal pics – better than a picture if us at the end if the day.