Orson’s Travel Blog


Posts Tagged ‘Cumbria

The Lake District

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September ’04

It was a dreary, drizzly morning as I set off from Nottingham in the British Midlands headed for the Lake District on the Scottish frontier. My route would take me through the Peak District & the Yorkshire Dales, both designated as National Parks. My English friend, Bill had supplied me with maps marking all the day rides he takes through the area. The weather forecast called for clearing skies later in the day so, with hope in my heart, I set out, keeping to the backroads. I spent the day meandering through the Peak District hoping the skies would eventually clear. Alas, it was not to be. I snorkeled my way through the day. The Peak District is where the infamous Cat & Fiddle pub is located. You may have read about it in BIKE magazine. I didn’t make it there & with the wet weather, it was just as well. I’ll have to get back & re-ride this section. Sorry, no pictures of the Peak District. I found a hotel in Huddersfield that was right next to an Italian restaurant. Looked like a good place to stop

I woke up the next day to bright blue skies. I guess someone felt sorry for me. After a full English breakfast (I’m finally getting used to the idea of baked beans & stewed tomatoes for breakfast. I’m being assimilated) I headed northwest towards the Yorkshire Dales. You know you’ve really left the busy industrialized southern England behind. The region has fewer roads and filled with buccolic countryside & storybook villages. Here is a shot just north of Skipton.

The Yorkshire Dales are very beautiful. At times it can seem sparse, stark & windswept. Other times, you’d think there can be no more prettier place on the planet. The roads that my friend had mapped out for me were all small backroads seldom more than a car wide. At some places there was a gate across the road where I’d dismount, open the gate, ride through, close the gate, & on to the next gate. It kept the average speed down. Not that I was too concerned. The roarty, torquey Triumph was perfectly suited to these roads. You’d think it was built here. Oh wait…it was.
Here’s a typical shot of the Yorkshire Dales. Note the stone walls. They take great pride in the construction of these walls and it shows.

One of the best features of these back roads were the motocross jumps they had engineered into them. every now & then you’d see a dip up ahead & you just *knew* you could catch some air with some judicious throttle control. Big fun…erm…not that I would condone such activity…it just looked like it would be fun. Yah, that’s my story. Another great feature was the stone walls lining the road provided a perfect echo chamber for listening to the glorious parallel twin exhaust note as you powered out of a corner. I’m sure there was another reason they built the walls, I just don’t know what it is.

It is said that Yorkshire lad David Jefferies honed his craft on these roads. After my brief visit, it’s easy for me to see that riding these roads would tend to make the Isle of Man TT course seem like a super highway! Here is a shot of the Buttertub Pass north of Hawes (Hawes is a big biker meeting place on Sundays).

A secluded waterfall I encountered as I neared the village of Dent, my stop for the night.

another look at the ubiquitous stone walls that line virtually every mile of the backroads. They take such great pride in their workmanship that there’s even books written on the stone walls of the Yorkshire Dales.

West Yorkshire village…

The tiny village of Dent, that my friend had recommended, would be my stop for the night. A quaint little village if ever there was one. The Sun Inn had its own micro brewery so, I fell right to sleep that night (you fill in the rest).

The next morning I was awoken by a loud ray of bright sunshine glaring right thru my window. Someone forgot to close the curtains. Ah well, I was to be blessed with 2 days of sunshine in a row! From the Yorkshire Dales to the Lake District is but a mere hop skip & a jump! After another full English breakfast ( I love black pudding. Don’t wanna know how it’s made) I set off heading northwest.

Main Street in Dent.

The road leaving the village of Dent. Coming from Arabia, I was dazzled by the greenery. Notice the moss on the wall. It was like, 1 inch thick! After staring at the moss for a few minutes, I regained my composure and continued on my merry way.

I arrived in the Lake District via the town of Windermere. As the forecast for the next day called for rain, I figured I’d better ride the famous Wrynose & Hardknott Passes today. The Lake District is arguably even more beautiful than the Yorkshire Dales & the four wheeled traffic attests to that! It kinda reminded me of western North Carolina (kinda sorta). However, the traffic thinned out as I moved west towards the passes.

Stopping to get my bearings in the village of Ulpha…

Stone bridge in the Lake District…

The approach to the Hardknott Pass from the west. The saddle in the upper right corner of the photo is the pass. Yah, that’s how wide the road is.

…over the top of the Hardknott and looking down the other side to the east. I’m glad I rode these roads while it was dry. The road was narrow & steep with lots of sharp off camber hairpin turns. Wouldn’t be prudent in the wet. Thankfully, traffic was light.

After negotiating the Hardknott & Whynot…erm…I mean Wrynose, I made my way back to Windermere via the ferry across Lake Windermere.

From Windermere I headed over the Kirkstone Pass…another fine road that the torquey Triumph took in stride.

to Lake Ullswater…

I must have counted a billion sheep. Unfortunately, time was running out & I had to slab it back to Nottingham in time to catch my plane. I hope to make it back soon! Over 5 days, I covered about 1050 miles with no police sightings. All in all, it was a great trip despite a couple days of rain.