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Day 8 - Clitheroe to Unthank              Weather icon, click for today's weather in this location Today's weather in Clitheroe

Saturday 6 May 2006

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Map of seventh day of route, click to go to interactive map

Route Description

Another beautiful but tough leg and my highest point so far as I go over the Yorkshire Dales. Leaving Clitheroe, I quickly pick up the famous Settle to Carlisle railway line and follow it all the way to Penrith. I pass Kirkby Stephen and Appleby on the way. I then go west to Greystoke - home of Tarzan - before following very familiar roads to my parent's home in Unthank. Dad and my cousin Victoria will be with me for the final miles, so that will be fun.

Over half way!


Route map.

Mileage: 98

Cycling time: 6 hours 15 mins

Average speed: 15.5 mph

Top speed: 38 mph

Start to finish time: 8 hours 0 minutes

Worst hill: out of Dentdale

High point: 1,750ft

Mileage to date: 595

The Settle to Carlisle line!

The usual porridge this morning was followed by copious quantities of white toast which my B&B host was convinced would be the ideal source of carbohydrates for the day ahead! I eventually set off at 9.30 and, once I had called in for a new battery for my speedo which started to play up yesterday, I was out of Clitheroe at ten.

The first 5 miles out of Clitheroe involved a 3 mile slog into the wind up a bit of dual carriageway on the A59 and I really struggled. Why is it that stretches like this always seem to suck the life out of your legs? However, once I had turned off the main road towards Settle, things improved and I was soon zipping along as normal.

It was along this stretch that I picked up the railway, which I would be following for the next 60 miles. Settle junction is where the line splits, one branch heading west and the other turning north up Ribblesdale - the famous Settle to Carlisle line. Ribblesdale starts fairly populated with quarries and the odd mill. However, once passed Horton in Ribblesdale, it gets steadily more and more wild as the road and railway rise up through the river valley. Pretty soon, it is open moorland and very beautiful.

At the head of the valley, the road turns a corner and the famous Ribblehead Viaduct (anyone seen Harry Potter?) is revealed. From here, I turned East towards Hawes and after a few miles I was presented with a choice on the map - continue towards Hawes and do two sides of a triangle, or shorten the route by taking a single track road with 8 arrows on the map along its 8 mile length. For anyone unfamiliar with these arrows, they mean STEEP ROAD! Well take a guess which route I chose...

As billed, the first arrows indicated a very steep, exhilarating descent into the lovely Dentdale. Following the river for a couple of miles, the road twists along the valley bottom until a junction means the start of the pain. 3 miles to climb about 1,000 feet with stretches of 1 in 5 gradient! A cyclist coming the other way grinned or gimaced, I couldn't tell, as he passed! Finally, I reached the top at 1,750 feet which will be my highest point on the whole trip - very satisfying.

The only slight problem with my 'short cut' was that it made me a little late for meeting my cousin Victoria and her family - Steve, Hannah and Megan - in Kirkby Stephen. However, once met and after a toasty in the market place cafe, Victoria and I were soon on the route to Penrith. Before setting off, Victoria seemed worried that she wasn't going to be able to keep up!!! However, we blasted the 24 miles to Penrith succeeding in upping the daily average by half a mile an hour - fantastic. What's more, we were cycling through beautiful rural Cumbria down the river Eden.

In Penrith, Dad, Mum and Chris, their next door neighbour were waiting with Dad revving up his mountain bike for the final 16.5 miles of the day. His mountain-fit legs soon matched our pace and we sped through very familiar country towards Unthank. Chris and his two friends Samuel and James were waiting to race us down the last mile.

My now well-established warm-down routine was pleasantly interrupted by the arrival of some friends and supporters for a glass of champagne to toast arrival in Cumbria and wish me well for the next few days. I also had the chance to meet Phil who I will be cycling with tomorrow.

As only a Mum can do, a huge spread of carb-rich food was produced effortlessly - including a chocolate cake, ripe for a 10 out of 10 rating! It wasn't just me fuelling up for tomorrow, Steve, Victoria's husband, is doing the Fred Whitton challenge...all the passes in the Lake District in 116 miles. Calum, my riding companion from Bristol to Redditch is also doing this madness so spare them some thoughts!

Today was a great day - beautiful scenery, my longest day to date and plenty of challange...I would recommend it to anyone. Crossing the border into Scotland tomorrow...only 400 mile to go.

Cake Review - Chocolate cake - Honley Granny's recipe. Rich, moist chocolate sponge with delicious icing, you just can't get better! - 10 out of 10.

Clitheroe Castle

'Old school' junction box at Settle

Ribbleshead viaduct

1,750 feet at last!

Arriving in Penrith with Victoria

Ready to leave Penrith with Dad

Hutton in the Forest

Racing the boys home

With Chris, James, Samuel, Dad and Victoria at the end of the day

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