A Circuit Of Skiddaw.

Once again Enid and I found ourselves at Keswick. We had stayed there in June with some friends we meet in Spain during the winter. We all tend to do a bit of walking and Keswick is the ideal centre for it. We use a camp site near the centre of the town and the bus station so that we can do without the cars whilst we are there. The first week of our visit this September was absolutely fabulous, cloudless blue skies and little wind, in fact for most of the time it was a bit too warm.

In addition to walking, this time I had also taken my bike, in an attempt to break a habit I seem to have developed over the last few years, of starting to get a bit fitter, and then packing it all up for a few weeks to go of doing something else, thereby losing whatever little bit of fitness I had gained.
So it was that I set off one morning, in glorious sunshine to get a few miles in. Excuse me for going on about it, but you don't get weather like this in Cumbria very often, needless to say it didn't last, but that's another story.

My route took me through the town centre and along to the site of the once railway station, which now holds the local swimming pool, and was where I picked up the C2C cycle route heading along the old railway track in the direction of Penrith. The track is fairly well maintained with a well compacted surface, and of course a very gentle incline. On the early part of this track it is fairly well use by walkers as well as cycles, but its not too long before they thin out a bit. So it then becomes a bit quieter. A gate or two have been removed over recent years which have made for easier riding. It's not very long before one enters the tree lined valley of the river Greta which is a lovely place to be on a nice day, the entrance to the valley is along a wooden boardwalk which was installed when the path was renovated in 2000. After about another mile or so I stopped to consult the map, as I was also looking for a link path for a walk I had in mind for another day, and thereby fell into conversation with a woman who was also going in the same direction as me. She told me that she knew the path and we rode along together for a short way until she pointed it out for me, which was very kind of her, and we then continued along together until she took a side route which would take her to her friend's house in the St. Johns in the Vale, which could be another route for me one day.

My route continued in the direction of Penrith, and onto a cycle path alongside the A66 for a short way before bearing of left and through the village of Threlkeld which .: these days is virtually traffic free. At the end of the village the road loops back onto the A66, but my route was to the left which appeared to lead into a housing estate ,but that was the way the signs pointed, so that's the way I went. After a short climb the road was gated, before once again dropping down to A66. Luckily again there is a cycle path beside the busy road. As I approached this part of the ride I was preceded by another chap on a bike who had ridden up the main road, much to my amazement I caught him up and discovered he was heading the same way as me, so I had company for the rest of the ride.

We continued along the main road for about another mile before taking the lane off to the left at Scales, this is another gated road, and an alternative C2C route, and very pleasant it is too, as it goes across the comer of the hill heading towards Mungrisdale. Our road now headed in a northerly direction following a line with the mass of the Skiddaw range on our left and relatively flat plain on our right, with the road remaining reasonably flat for about three miles through the hamlet of Mosedale. A short distance further on we had a quick look at the map, and chose the lower of our possible routes, before circling round to Hesket Newmarket where I knew there was a coffee stop, which of course we made use . It was whilst we were here that I decided that it would be a bit more sociable if I introduced myself and thereby found out that my travelling companion was called Robin, and that he had lived in Keswick for a number of years, and had only recently returned to cycling, on his retirement, when he had conned his wife into allowing him to purchase his Cannondale bike. Using the excuse that, at 25% off because the colour (yellow) was being deleted, it was too good an offer to miss. Because of this it turned out that, despite living in Keswick for so many years, he hadn't done this ride before either.
On leaving Hesket Newmarket we followed a narrow lane heading towards Uldale, from here on the route proved to be quite lumpy, which definitely tested our legs. We took a left turn on Auhertree Fell before reaching Uldale and passed through Longlands and Orthwaite whilst skirting two of Englands most famous hills, the location of which are known to few:- Little Cockup & Great Cockup.

So far I don't think we had encountered more than six cars, but that was about to change as we joined theA591 back to Keswick, where Robin headed for his house and I back to the camp site.

A very enjoyable ride and one I will endeavour to do again soon.

Bob Palmer.