A Breath of Fresh Air

How I'm getting back out into the countryside whilst living with MS

Archive for the tag “fatigue”

Black Sail or Bust

It was very nearly bust!

I thought it was worth coming out of hibernation to tell you about our recent expedition to Black Sail youth hostel in the Lake District. The hostel is a former shepherd’s hut and sits at the top of Ennnerdale valley, surrounded by some of the finest fells in the Lakes. It is the sole building for miles around, accessible only on foot or by bike. We were about to test whether that included by tandem …

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Ennerdale lake

Pete in particular has wanted to stay in the hostel ever since he first did the Coast to Coast walk, many years ago. The route passes right by the hut. Now, he thought it would make a properly worthwhile destination on the tandem.  And at last, we had booked the hostel (essential!) and some time off. We were ready.

Or so we thought.

We unloaded the tandem from the car at the bottom of Ennerdale valley and hooked the panniers loaded with overnight essentials on to the bike. Pete pressed the button to check the electric wheel. Nothing happened. He rode it about a little, hoping it would burst into life. It didn’t. He opened up the battery terminal and checked the wires. He couldn’t see any problem.

What to do? We could only stay in the hut that one night and had nowhere else to stay. We had planned this for so long.

We went.

We were glad we had food, water and the emergency bothy bag with us. It gave us extra confidence to give it a go. A night under the stars was definitely a possibility.

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lunch by the lake

The inclines were suddenly very noticeable without the reassuring whirr of the electric wheel. And so were the downhills followed by uphills. I felt very helpless and heavy. I tried to feel as light as a feather and not to breathe – this would obviously work!

Pete pedalled and pedalled. It was such hard going. The stops were particularly welcome – and particularly worthwhile, as the views were beautiful. We followed the river Liza as we climbed. It was fast-flowing, swirling white over the stones. The valley slopes are planted with pines and we spent some time cycling with the tall fresh-scented trees on either side of us.

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heading up the valley

Then the chain came off. Again and again. Every time it came off I had to get off the bike, then back on again. That is not an easy manoeuvre for me, especially repeated so often. I have to ease my right foot into the stirrup with my hand, then push myself up on to the seat.

As we rose higher, the ground became stonier. You could hear the stones being squeezed by the bike tyres then breaking loose with a ‘ping’. This increased the chances of the chain being dislodged and I found myself holding my breath, hoping it wouldn’t be loosened free.

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Pillar rock

We emerged from the pine forest and the high fells started to become visible. We were particularly thrilled to see Pillar and Pillar Rock come into view; such jagged, uncompromising peaks. I was amongst the fells again and could feel my excitement grow.

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Pillar ridge

The hostel only became visible shortly before we arrived. Then it disappeared again as the path took a cruel last dip down and up. It was a mass of brick-sized sharp stones with a stream running through. We were both forced to dismount and I staggered along, holding on to the bike as Pete guided us to the end of our journey. We were accompanied by thunder and some rain for the last 10 minutes – the journey really had it all!

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Black Sail hostel with Great Gable

I had made it under my own steam, after a fashion! I’m certainly counting it! Looking around the plateau, the hut was a tiny dot compared with the fells rising up in every direction. There was nothing but green slopes and dark screes, footpaths tempting you up on to the tops and the odd sheep, braving the inhospitable upper slopes. Right in front of me were Great Gable, Kirk Fell and Green Gable. It felt slightly unreal.

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Black Sail Youth Hostel

You couldn’t get there by car. It required effort. And we had certainly put in the effort. As I sat on the bike, with my increasingly aching back and arms, I thought how that was entirely appropriate. Pete had certainly put in a huge effort, and anyone who arrived at the hut would have exerted themselves substantially to get there. It would have been wrong if I wasn’t exhausted.

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the communal room

In fact, the hut was that much more welcome for the exertion required. It was perfect – a port in the gathering storm. It was dry, it had snug beds in two dorms and provided a filling evening meal for the hungry walkers (and cyclists!). Tales of walks were swapped and experiences shared. A brother and sister were catching up through a few days’ walks together. A father was walking with his 16-year old daughter – a complete change of scene after her exams. Two Frenchmen were walking the English fells. And there was us!

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the boot-drying beam

The warden was extremely friendly – he was interested in everyone and had interesting information to tell. That included the fact that he fed the mice who lived in the wall at the back of the hut and that he didn’t sleep in the hut himself but in a tent at the top of Haystacks, the fell behind us. At 9 o’clock he said goodnight and headed up to his lofty bed. He next morning he said he’d slept well and had enjoyed hearing the rain on his tent. A true outdoor lover.

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heading back down Ennerdale valley

The next morning he said goodbye to everyone individually and made sure we were all on the right paths for the next part of our journeys. We were particularly pleased when he suggested to us that we take a different route back, on the far side of the river, which was far less stony. It took us past felled trees covered with bright green spongy moss. The air was damp but fresh after the rain and the hills peeked tantalisingly in and out of the scurrying clouds. I don’t think the chain came off the bike once.

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last view of the hostel

(By the way, the electrical fault turned out to be a loose wire inside the control box.)

Hibernation

I’ve decided to place my blog into hibernation. I started it as I wanted to share the difference in outlook that our tandem had brought to my life, now that MS is part of it. I hope that I’ve been able to get across how it’s helped me, not only to get outside again, but to actively try to be out in as many different ways as possible. And not just to be outside but to be immersed in the countryside once more, to get muddy and rained on and to smell the grass in sheep-nibbled fields again.

enjoying a summer evening

enjoying a summer evening

I don’t want to become repetitive so I thought I’d take a break. I shall only be taking a break from writing the blog though – definitely not from having adventures! We shall continue to cycle, bumping along uneven paths, to track down more bird-watching haunts and to splash about in the canoe. I might even try something new again if something catches my eye. I know it would be worth my while.

by Hebden Water

by Hebden Water

In the meantime, I’ve loved hearing from other people who have tried out new ways of adventuring, be it by adapted cycle, tramper or horse riding.

a little damp on the Camel Trail!

a little damp on the Camel Trail!

We have a weekend away coming up with EMpowered people which I’m looking forward to. It will be good to mix with others who have similar tales to tell again, and to swap our experiences. There are many more Lakeland tarns to glide across and the wheelchair is getting used to being pushed along unlikely paths.

muddy Pennine paths

muddy Pennine paths

Then there’s the Paralympics coming up soon, and when I start to feel a little bit inadequate in the face of their superhuman efforts, I can remind myself of just what I am achieving. Just as the Olympics inspire people to try something out, the Paralympics remind me that I have adapted my life to get out there and do something – there will be no hibernating for me!

tandem happy amongst the sheep

tandem happy amongst the sheep

Water Above and Below!

It had seemed like good idea – a trip to the Lake District, taking our inflatable canoe. We had not expected a weekend of rain, not in July!

We decided to abandon the idea of going on the water on the Saturday – pumping up the canoe, putting the seats and oars together, and then spending time on the water, all in the rain, wasn’t appealing, even to us two hardly souls!

We took out the chair, and had a little pootle along the lane in the Langdale valley, glad of our top-to-toe waterproofs, even for that trip. It was nice to see people coming down off the fells, dripping wet but well waterpoofed and looking happy to have successfully managed a hike. I can’t say we were envious though!

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Ullswater, Lake District

The next day brought a chink of dry weather, with the impending threat of more rain at any moment, as assessed either by the grey clouds above or the dispiriting analysis on the weather app. Should we be brave (or foolhardy) and risk a canoe trip on Ullswater? Would the rain hold off long enough even to enable us to get the canoe ready for launching?

We decided to be brave (no, not foolhardy!). I kept glancing nervously at the sky as Pete pumped up the canoe – it took effort and I didn’t want it to be wasted, especially as I wasn’t much help. I managed to clip the oars together (!)  and Pete did everything else.

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pumping up the canoe

Finally, we were ready and it still wasn’t raining! Then we were on the lake, floating near to Glenridding Pier. The wind was blowing towards us – strongly. That wasn’t helpful. It was pretty hard work making headway in the direction we wanted. I paddled a bit but really Pete was the engine. And we couldn’t stop to admire the view as we started going back the way we’d come dishearteningly quickly.

Eventually, we made it to a sheltered spot near the reeds. From there we could enjoy watching a few swans diving about, as well as a large group of Canada geese that were sitting so still on the bank that they were effectively camouflaged, and we almost missed them.

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rain bouncing off the water

Eventually our luck ran out and the rain began. Fortunately we’d had a good stint on the lake by then and were happy to head back (with the wind now helping!). It was even fun to watch the water bouncing off the lake surface just a few centimetres away. It was quite dramatic.

It had been worth the effort after all. Wet air is still fresh air and we felt pretty invigorated by our efforts!

On Top of the World

The North York Moors always feel like a slightly forgotten area of the country. It really shouldn’t be! It’s an area of beautiful open moorland where your eye can wander for miles, getting lost in the heather or soaring high with the curlews into wide open skies.

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North York Moors

Pete has had a plan for some time to get us back there with the tandem and, now that we had our invaluable bike rack, we had finally made it! There’s an old railway track that cuts high across the moors, above Rosedale and skirting round Farndale. That was our cycle route for the day.

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old railway track, above Farndale

We parked close to the Lion Inn at Blakey, which sits high and lonely, looking across Rosedale, a lone building in a sometimes unforgiving landscape (it’s often cut off by snow in winter). We had tried to stay overnight there but were told that it was booked up until September, weekdays and weekends alike! – it’s right on the Coast to Coast footpath and is a popular stop for tired walkers (we can vouch for its charms after a long day’s walk!).

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looking across Farndale

Enjoying memories of aching feet, limbs, hips … everything (!), we set the bike upright, with panniers slightly fuller than usual, and headed off on a new adventure amongst the moors. Since we were travelling a little further than usual (17 miles there and back) and were in a more isolated landscape than usual, we had packed a very small lightweight tent for emergencies – in case Pete had to leave me and go for assistance. I’m pleased to say there were no emergencies!

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sheep on the track

As we cycled along, the odd grouse bustled out of the heather, looked at us in a startled way, then scuttled off across the path and back into the heather. Above us a group of skylarks swooped and twirled in high spirits. There were layers of moors as far as the eye could see; and the cry of a curlew and the distinctive silhouette of lapwings overhead confirmed that we were definitely out in the wilds.

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western edge of the North York Moors

Our destination was the Ingleby Incline at the western edge of the North York Moors, where the Moors drop away down to the Cleveland Plain. We stopped at Ingleby Top, where the railway line took a steep drop down to the valley below. The line was used from the 1860s to the 1920s to carry locally mined iron ore to the furnaces of Middlesbrough. As wagons containing the iron ore descended the Incline, they pulled up empty wagons, using a wire cable wound round a large drum.

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Ingleby Top

Now nothing of this huge operation remains, save for a few foundations, hidden by nettles, and, of course, the track which is now a bridleway and open to cyclists to use!

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nettles taking over!

We did meet a few cyclists – including one who had just cycled up the Incline! However, the overwhelming feeling was of having these wonderful moors to ourselves. And it was the tandem that got me there, so far from the built-up world; I could nestle amongst the heather and watch the scraggy sheep with their wool coats hanging half on, half off, who stared back at me in a slightly disinterested way. This is living!

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towards Westerdale

Up, Up on to the Moors!

The weather promised dry and clear, so we simply abandoned the house and all those tedious jobs to escape to the hills. It felt long overdue. Mind you, it wasn’t quite so simple for Pete who had to pedal the heavy tandem up steep paths to get there, even with the help of the electric wheel. Respect!

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steep start over tricky terrain

Our journey up through Crimsworth Dean took us through woods flecked with bluebells, and trees stretching skywards out of the steep valley. We climbed steadily until suddenly we could spy the hills up ahead. They were still above us but gradually the path’s gradient eased a little.

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bluebell haze

As Pete toiled in front of me I took time to appreciate just how lucky I was to be able to be travelling like this through the heart of the woods and beyond. I felt like I was in a modern day sedan chair, gliding along above the path, able to take in the woodland flowers, the smells, the sounds; even more so, now that the crank shaft has been adjusted so that my legs move round minimally.

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looking up towards the hills

Then we were beyond the tree line and out on to open fields, empty except for the odd flock of hardy sheep. I heard a curlew and knew we were out in the wild. Magic.

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collecting spring water

We had travelled as lightly as possible – even excluding water – as there was a spring where we could fill our bottle to be able to make some tea using our portable stove (of course that was an essential item!).

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suitably rugged-looking tandem!

We sat sipping our brews and enjoying the views oh, for ages! There was an occasional plaintive cry from a sheep. The curlew circled above, and the sun lit up different parts of the hillside as the clouds came and went.

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enjoying the views

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and in this direction!

Eventually we got back on the tandem and took the now descending, stone-strewn path over what cyclists call a ‘technical’ section. Very hairy, more like! The tyres slipped and slid over the loose stones and we very nearly came a cropper at one point. A bit too exciting!

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escaping sheep!

We stopped at the bottom by Grain’s Bridge to enjoy a last tranquil stop and look back over the route we had travelled. A couple of lambs stared at us from a safe distance but hurried off behind their mother when we (Pete!) made a sudden movement. We had the place to ourselves again. The only sound was the water flowing below as we dangled our feet over the bridge. Contentment!

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at Grain’s Bridge

Camel Riding

start of Camel Tail, Padstow

start of Camel Tail, Padstow

… along the Camel Trail in Cornwall! We have just taken the tandem on its longest journey away from home yet. We were staying in Padstow, which is at the start of the cycle route along the Camel estuary.

low tide in the Camel estuary

low tide in the Camel estuary

We went on a ride from the beginning of the trail along to Wadebridge, following an ever-changing view as the tide gradually ebbed, revealing many levels of wet sand, and rivulets heading out to sea. We sat and watched oystercatchers foraging about in the shallow water, and even saw a little egret – we were very proud of that sighting!

little egret

little egret

The trail was popular, not only with cyclists of all ages, but walkers too, many of whom had their dogs scampering along beside them. And all along the route there were many primroses – more than I’ve ever seen before! I’m used to seeing the odd cluster half hiding under a larger bush, not banks of them splashing the grass bright yellow.

banks of primroses

banks of primroses

close-up!

close-up!

We supped a refreshing cuppa bought from ‘treats on trikes’, a portable bike kiosk by the side of the path. The weather was somewhat cooler than we had hoped that morning and the warming tea was most welcome!

It was five miles to Wadebridge and a good place for me to have a longer reviving stop. Unfortunately, the weather had deteriorated when we got back outside for the return journey.

'treats on trikes'

‘treats on trikes’

At this point, the electric wheel came into its own – Pete pushed the magic button and we whizzed back in double-quick time! The rain splashed sharply on my cheeks as we went along but it’s always a good way of knowing you are definitely outside!

The extra adjustment of the crank shaft was also noticeable, both in reducing the rotation of my legs so that I was using significantly less effort, and in the increase in comments that ‘hey, you’re not pedalling at the back!’. I used to think they were just jokes but now I’m beginning to think it’s a genuine cry when they see that my legs are moving so much less than Pete’s!

bridge at start of trail

bridge at start of trail

I should add that we had some lovely sunny days whilst we were in Cornwall too, and the views were glorious!

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high tide, in sunshine

From Back to Front

Potential frustration: the sun was actually shining but I’ve been struggling with a real lack of energy reserves lately. A tandem ride would knock me out too much. So, what to do?

The sun kept tantalising me by stretching its rays over the patio outside the back door. It was the first time this year the sun had been high enough in the sky to reach this far. I couldn’t ignore this moment!

So I stole outside with my little gardening bag containing all my tools and began digging about in the earth. I did a little planting and some leaf collecting and, as I did so, caught the smell of the soil as it was churned up fresh in my hands, and listened to the birds, twittering loudly but largely invisibly from the hedge.

It did me the world of good.

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a daffodil peeks out into the sun

Later, a friend popped by and we had a good old catch-up. It was great. However, afterwards, I could not stop thoughts from whizzing about my head (nothing untoward, just non-stop). They seemed to be ricocheting around like balls in a pinball machine. It was starting to undo my lovely day.

I looked outside and the sky was still uncharacteristically blue. I went and sat on the front step and breathed. I listened to more birds chatting and heard the distant sound of aeroplanes. The odd person walked by, enjoying the day.

Then, feeling slightly daring, I closed my eyes. I began to concentrate more thoroughly on my breath. I started doing some yogic breathing, filling my belly, then breathing up into my chest and lifting my shoulders. Slowly, I reversed the movement, and continued. Gradually, I could feel my mind clearing, fewer thoughts were circulating. When I opened my eyes again, I felt stilled.

The feeling stayed all evening:  a sense of calm and of my body and mind having been completely refreshed. And I’d only travelled from my back door to my front door all day!

Water, Water Everywhere

It wasn’t raining, it wasn’t snowing and even the wind had dropped.  We really were able to go for a tandem ride!

It was even good to be rooting around in the cupboards for warm woolly jumpers, waterproof trousers and gloves – it meant that we were actually going out!

All along our route there were signs of the months of rain, from the numerous full puddles to the water seeping out from under walls at the foot of sodden hillsides. Everywhere, extra streams criss-crossed the ground. It really has been a very watery winter.

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swirling water

Just in case we were missing the rain (and we weren’t!), we were treated to a sharp shower but it was swiftly followed by a splash of sun  … and some blue sky! We couldn’t believe it!

We weren’t the only ones enjoying the drier and brighter weather. The woods were thronged with people; families with their children, dogs and their owners and young couples. The cafe was heaving, and pots had to be quickly washed to keep up with demand!

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sun shining on the woods

The stream through the woods was more like a river. It swirled and ran at speed before us. There were clear signs that it had been even higher from the flattened grass along the sides. The stepping stones were submerged beneath the swollen water.

As we headed back I noticed daffodils growing amongst the trees – no flowers yet but the promise of them.

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submerged stepping stones

This had been a refreshing outing.

Also, on a bike-related note: Pete has shortened the crank shaft further since I was last aboard and now my legs make even smaller circles as we cycle along. So, although I now look even more like I’m not pulling my weight at the back (which might be true!), I have even more help.

Almost Snowbound

The rain stopped at long last and we made plans to go out on the tandem. However, we were thwarted once more … this time by snow!

It fell softly overnight and looked beautiful over the hills but it meant we could not cycle.

enjoying the winter colour

enjoying the winter colour

However, I was not be deterred! I donned my walking boots, held on tight to my walking poles and left the house. I’m lucky that there is a lane immediately by us and I was able to tentatively amble along it a little way.

The distance didn’t matter. There was much to enjoy.

snowy hedgerows

snowy hedgerows

The snow clung attractively to the hedgerows, the air was fresh (and not too cold) and I was able to say ‘hello’ to several people who were also pleased to be out.

I could hear people (children) shouting happily among the snowy slopes and, close by, caught the sound of melting snow dripping on to leaves.

... and walls

… and walls

I didn’t want to come back inside when I got back to the house so I persuaded Pete to bring me a cup of tea and sat on the bench enjoying the clear bright sky lifting my spirits.

Rain!

I walked to a puddle today. It has continued to rain or promise to rain ever since the Boxing Day floods. There has been no hope of a tandem ride – and anyway, the canal is not fit for cycling at the moment after the flooding. The skies have matched the mood round here at the moment – gloomy and despondent.

the puddle

the puddle

That’s not to say that people aren’t pulling together – they are in spades! But you just look at the amount of damage and the cost, and can’t help but wonder whether the Calder Valley will get itself back together any time soon, and when Hebden Bridge will be back to its bustling colourful self.

There are some very positive signs: the cinema is open again – upstairs only and you need to bring a blanket! A few shops have been able to open their doors and two of the flooded schools are hoping to open again this week. However, one school’s pupils are having to decamp elsewhere as their building won’t be fit for months, and there are rumours of some businesses saying they’ve had enough.

So, all you want to do is get outside in some cold bright winter sunshine. Except there hasn’t been any. Zilch!

sodden field

sodden field

Anyway, I really had to leave the house and feel some outdoor air on my face. I got my coat and my walking poles and walked to the nearby field. I got wet. I got blown on – and it felt pretty good. Even if I was looking at a puddle. But I wasn’t looking at raging flood water coming down the hillside and the sodden view summed up these holidays rather well!

September Sunshine

Well, I may still not be up to a tandem ride but I’m feasting my eyes on the beautiful moors when I can – and making the most of this September sun!

A visit to the Packhorse Inn above Widdop gave me the chance to enjoy the glorious scenery, lit by endless sunshine – is this really Yorkshire? In September?

moorland at Widdop

moorland at Widdop

I’m so pleased I’ve been able to get out into this lovely September weather – sometimes sitting in the garden, sometimes out on a drive like this. My fatigue will pass and I will get out cycling again … we have plans! In the meantime, the views are still great!

by the Packhorse Inn

by the Packhorse Inn

 

Heather Hills

Sometimes it’s fine to simply enjoy our local countryside by car. I wasn’t up to cycling but the weather was lovely. I couldn’t stay inside.

So we simply packed a picnic and set off in the car. It was beautiful! The sun was shining and the moors were carpeted in bright heather. How could I not be happy!

heather moorland

heather moorland

We stopped at a lay by right on the Lancashire/ Yorkshire border. That suited me fine – I feel like I have a foot firmly in each county, having been born in the first and live in the second.

border way marker

border way marker

Just above us was a stile, and, a few scrambling steps beyond, we could set out our picnic, right by a clear gurgling stream. We were immersed in the moors and felt we had them all to ourselves, yet were only yards from the road.

perfect picnc spot

perfect picnc spot

I closed my eyes and the stream was definitely louder!

A cyclist pedalled past, crying out ‘Yorkshire!’ as he crossed the border. Slightly unexpected, but it made us smile.

views in all directions

views in all directions

Taking the Air

I was feeling sorry for myself. I was exhausted and had gone straight back to bed after a very brief early morning appointment. My legs were refusing to take me anywhere. I was forced to lie down and rest, and rest, and rest. Sooo dull, with little sign of any positive effect. And the skies were grey – again.

There was something of an explanation for this. I had spent a good deal of time the previous day in the garden, weeding, cutting back branches and uncovering walls that had become clogged up with moss. It had been lovely and very rewarding – much more of the garden was now visible again.

I suppose this was the down after the high, but it was no fun.

Eventually, I had a brainwave: to force myself outside with a cup of tea and a book. If I could pull myself up some of the steps in the garden, I wouldn’t need to go anywhere else all afternoon. I didn’t even need to read, just have a change of scene.

reaching my garden perch!

reaching my garden perch!

The minute I got outside, I knew I had made the right decision. I made it up to a seat a little way up our unhelpfully steep garden, now knowing that it would definitely be worthwhile.

I sat down and breathed in the air. It was so much lighter and fresher than inside. I could feel it spreading through my head, clearing it, refreshing it. It was remarkable. So simple, so effective; literally, a breath of fresh air!

I sat drinking my mug of tea, watching the birds flitting about, never stopping, hopping from hedge, to branch, to feeder, then off into the next garden.

Later, when I looked up from my book, I caught a squirrel watching me from a fence post. He didn’t move. We stared at each other, motionless.

being outstared!

being outstared!

I haven’t decided if I like this squirrel – he is very cute and his agility is amazing. But he is quite partial to the bird food which we put out for … the birds! Not squirrels!

Back in the Saddle

It was one of those dull overcast days where you just wanted to stay in all day … preferably under the duvet! But we decided that the best way to counter this was by pushing through the heavy weather on the tandem. Looking up at the threatening sky, we did waiver a little!

In order for me to have a different experience and to get further afield, I drove up the valley to Todmorden, leaving the car at the railway station. Pete cycled there on the tandem (to the obligatory cry of ‘you’ve lost your passenger!’ from a passer-by).

Canada goose with goslings, Rochdale canal

Canada goose with goslings, Rochdale canal

We then found the canal towpath and headed forth. I soon felt better for being out, even if the weather was a little cool (in June!! Not allowed!). There were many Canada geese with fluffy goslings to enjoy, and a few other cyclists were also using the route.

Just on the edge of Todmorden is the highest canal wall I have ever seen. The train runs just beyond the top of it. It is an immense pile of bricks! More amazing Victorian engineering – I really am in awe of it all!

towering wall along the canal

towering wall along the canal

It’s a wonderfully rough and wild landscape, sometimes passing by the backs of people’s houses, their gardens stretching right down to the towpath. It’s unlandscaped, even scruffy in parts, but very restful.

We spent many happy minutes watching swifts (we think – they were very fast!) flying non-stop up and down the water, high and low, swerving, swooping, never still. It was quite mesmerising.

peace

peace

Our destination was Hollingworth lake, about eight miles away, on the outskirts of Rochdale – and after three miles that felt like a lot too far! However, we could only do half the distance along the canal as, from its highest point onwards (around the border with Lancashire), there are an evil set of narrow gates which make it practically impossible to take the tandem through, as we found out on an earlier trip that way.

It turned out all right in the end though as, although we had to cycle half the distance by road, it was a far quicker half and it left me much less time to worry about how I was feeling! I have to say that lunch at journey’s end was extremely welcome and it was a while before I felt like communicating!

Once I’d recovered, I watched the sailing boats jumping across the lake in the now brisk breeze, then went back inside the warm cafe to wait for the train.

sailing boats on Hollingworth lake

sailing boats on Hollingworth lake

The station at Littleborough is only a mile or so from the lake and I made it there without a problem, now fortified by food and a mug of tea. Pete waved me off on the train and had the task of cycling the whole way home by solo tandem. He used the electric motor more than usual due to the now very threatening clouds (or so he tells me!) and found out just how long the battery lasts … to the bottom of the very steep hill leading up to our house (ouch!).

A Sociable Ride

The weather was as wet as the forecast had predicted. It was no day for a bike ride. Unfortunately, we were committed to one!

We had agreed to join the EMpowered People group on a ride that was passing close to our home. So we could hardly back out! We found every piece of waterproof clothing we possessed and waited for the call to inform us that they were on their way so that we could join them.

signs of EMpowered riders!

signs of EMpowered riders!

Unfortunately, there was a slight breakdown in communication so that we could only catch up with the other riders at the cafe stop in our local woods. We tried our best to catch up before then but they were just too fast!

The rain was very sharp and cold against our cheeks. We were soon very much awake! Once in the woods, we were slightly sheltered by the trees and bounded along at a good pace. Before we knew it, we were descending to the stream as it flowed past the mill cafe.

Rachmi loving the hand cycle

Rachmi loving the hand cycle

We knew they were inside from the wide variety of bikes parked outside. It was good to see people again. There were about six EMpowered riders and a good number of support riders. Everyone seemed to be enjoying being out and no one complained about the weather – except to say they were looking forward to a warm shower when they got home!

ready for the return journey

ready for the return journey

It was great to cycle back with the others, being part of a group of riders. It made it all seem livelier and more sociable. In fact, it was all over far too quickly and we had to say goodbye as they continued on their way.

Their total ride was about 15 miles, and we cycled about 5 of them. I have to confess though that I realised that that was quite enough when I got home – I flopped for most of the rest of the day. But it was generally a happy flop (apart from the frustration to not being able to do anything else all day) and we certainly wouldn’t have had our adventure if we hadn’t agreed to go as part of the group. So the commitment definitely paid off!

our tandem is well guarded!

our tandem is well guarded!

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