1991 - Lake District Tour
I'd been wanting to plan and do this tour for years since the first read of the Cycling Touring Club magazines as a young teenager.
Finally, I was able to go, and a week was spent cycle touring in the English Lake District.
This took place long before the invention of the internet using proper paper maps of the area. Trying to work out distances and terrain was fun with a compass and piece of string! Having never been to the Lake District before, I was making wild guesses as to how much distance could be covered in a day. I'd only ever done 20-30 miles when out on day trips other than the one imperial century which was part of an organised event. I had no idea of the gradients of the roads in the Lakes, but knew enough to realise the terrain was going to be steep in lots of places, very rural and a lot tougher than home in South Warwickshire.
I planned on 25 miles a day. Basically the morning cycling and the afternoon being a tourist, wondering round the lakes and villages on foot.
The plan started by buying new bikes - Specialised Hardrock Mountain bikes, equipped with rear racks and panniers! We were going to the mountains after all!!
We planned to travel up and back by train, so I planned the start from getting the train from Coventry to Penrith, a circular tour of the Lakes and then returning from Kendal station.
We stayed in B&B or Guest houses along the way as I didn't fancy camping, nor carying camping kit when I was so uncertain as to what to expect on my first bike tour.
The route mapped below is roughly the area we covered. We did go off the main route to wonder round some of the smaller lakes and through forests. I seem to remember we stayed in Keswick for a couple of nights so we could cycle round Bassenthwaite and Derwent water. Of course, we did the tourist trip to the Derwent Pencil museum in Keswick, which was surprisingly interesting.
The much talked about Hardknott and Wrynose pass was one of the highlights. For me this was because of the remoteness and feeling of exhilaration having reached the top of Hardknott before the long and winding sprint down the valley to the Wrynose pass. It was a bit hairy seeing a few cars struggle, wondering how on earth they managed to pass each other on a single track road with a steep drop one side and high grass verge the other. The only way we got up on bicycles was to zig zag up, which meant we probably cycled it twice in mileage terms!
I can only remember where a few of the these photographs were taken. If you know the lake, please feel free to email to remind me!!
Of course the photographs were taken on an Instamatic camera with 35mm film. And the only way to take a panoramic shot was to take multiple photos and hope you'd aligned them about right! There's one in the gallery below just to demonstrate the point. Those were the days when you didn't know what you'd shot until you'd fetched it from the local film processing company! I'm surprised these photographs have lasted 30 years, although they have been mounted in an album all these years!
Helmets were now a thing! Cycle shoes were hiking boots, a bit of lycra, but no chamois yet! Shades of course!