A Breath of Fresh Air

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

Archive for the tag “tandem bike rack”

Wet Weather Cycling

The beautiful autumn came to an abrupt end precisely as we headed off to Castleton in the Derbyshire Peak District for our annual ex-student walking club gathering. And this year I wouldn’t be able to spend my day in teashops whilst the others got wet on the hills. No: we had brought the tandem with us. There would be no escape!

Fortunately, we had brought lots of waterproofs too.

Winnatts Pass, Castleton

Winnatts Pass, Castleton

We listened as our friends and companions planned walking routes before they set off along various paths. Meanwhile, we got into our car and drove up Winnats Pass out of Castleton. We parked near Mam Tor and removed the tandem from its lovely roof rack. It was wonderful to be able to bring the bike with us and to have our own adventure at the same time as everyone else – in the same weather!

The advantage of our starting spot was that we began by going downhill. The disadvantage was that the weather was wilder at this height. At least I knew I was outdoors!

We stopped just before the road descended steeply into Edale, and looked out over damp hills. They were very pale but at least they hadn’t disappeared behind clouds.

road into Edale valley

road into Edale valley

As we arrived in the tiny village of Edale (which nevertheless has its own railway station) we were pleased to find that the rain was so far keeping to a minimum, even if the wind was sharp. Even so, it was impossible to pass through without stopping in the village cafe.

It was a good move. No sooner were we safely inside with a warm mug of tea than the rain started to lash against the window. A second mug of tea seemed appropriate.

clouds clinging to Kinder Ridge, Edale

clouds clinging to Kinder Ridge, Edale

Our timing proved excellent. The rain stopped as we left, and the next section of our journey, along the valley bottom below Lose Hill then looping back into Hope, was dry. This was highly unexpected after what the weather forecast had predicted.

We cycled along this flat five-mile section at a good speed. It is so much faster cycling along a road rather than on bumpy footpaths as we usually do. However, I was quite happy to avoid any (no doubt) muddy and puddle-strewn footpaths.

We passed wet fields, wet cows and wet sheep – one sheep stared hard at us. (I don’t think it knew what a tandem was.) The roadside trees looked a little bedraggled – their leaves were half gone, so that they were no longer dressed in their full golden colours, but they were not yet sharp black winter silhouettes.

wet valley views

wet valley views

The village of Hope provided another teashop stop. This is a very important part of the day (not just for the cups of tea!). Besides providing sustenance, it also enables me to pace myself.

Then it was a short hop back to Castleton and (you guessed!) another teashop. Mind you, these small chunks of cycling all added up to 10 miles (including cycling up and down Castleton in search of a teashop – I can report that it has several pubs, not many cafes).

In Castleton we bumped into some of the walkers. It turned out that we’d done better than them in that they’d been out on the hills when the weather had done its worst, not safely inside a cafe like us. I’m getting to like this cycling lark more and more … the hills are distinctly lacking in shelter and cafes, whereas cycle routes tend to pass through civilisation much more regularly!

In fact, I made a startling discovery about myself that evening, sitting amongst so many walkers, as we compared our days’ experiences – I am no longer a walker; I am a cyclist!

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Exploring Welsh Lanes

And so the tandem joined us in Wales. It was great to have this option of freedom with us, thanks to the new tandem bike rack – details of which Pete has now had chance to add to the About the Tandem page. The trouble was that we also had our offspring with us – only joking! – of course it was lovely to have them with us. However, they certainly didn’t want to be seen cycling with us – especially on a tandem!

The problem was easily solved with straightforward bribery, and so we abandoned them for the day and escaped!

Criccieth, North Wales

Criccieth, North Wales

We were staying in North Wales, by the sea in Porthmadog, and discovered a cycle route that took us to Criccieth, a little further along the coast. It seemed to hug the edge of the line of hills behind the coast.

We set off enthusiastically and were soon on a lovely country lane, away from the main road. Unfortunately, it then started taking us uphill. And every time we turned round a bend, there was more uphill! Of course, it was fine for me, I just sat on the back looking over the hedges at the sea, trying not to weigh very much! It wasn’t quite so much fun for Pete!

Eventually, the lane flattened out and we knew that the rest of the way had to be downhill – much more acceptable! Before that though, we sat in a field, looking towards the mountains. It was more like the start of the moors than a field and was very peaceful.

peaceful Welsh scenery whilst picnicing

peaceful Welsh scenery whilst picnicing

The way to Criccieth after that was lovely, with lots of downhill and we were now both able to admire the views!

We had travelled more than expected when we got there (over eight miles) and we hatched a plan in the teashop for me to get a taxi back. However, once we eventually tracked down a taxi number, we were put through to an answerphone! Plan B entailed me cycling back with Pete – but this time along the more direct main road.

looking out to sea, Criccieth

looking out to sea, Criccieth

Despite initial misgivings, it worked out fine – we could use a cycle path for part of the way, the route was shorter and the views were still lovely. And I survived! I did an amazing 15 miles that day … and took it quietly the next day!

PS – I can’t resist telling this non-tandem tale of a contrasting day on holiday.

On one day, the rest of the family climbed the fearsome ridge of Crib Goch, to get to Mount Snowdon …

Crib Goch, Snowdon

Crib Goch, Snowdon

… whilst I spent a beautifully peaceful day reading by the shores of the lake at Llanberis.

Lllanberis

Lllanberis

How to keep everyone happy on holiday!

Cycling Along the Pennine Way

Well, it was just four miles each way along the Pennine Way, but still! There I was, on – well, amongst – the Pennine moors, with the wind really blowing on my face. It felt really good!

Pennine moorland

Pennine moorland

This new, exciting route was made possible by our new purchase: a tandem bike rack! We’ve been talking about getting one for ages and finally got round to it. It’s great! More details will follow when Pete is able to update the About the Tandem page, but in the meantime this is a peek of what it looks like.

the new bike rack

the new bike rack

It is going to open up so many more possibilities, not least taking it to Wales on holiday. I’m being distracted: back to the moors!

We had driven to the White House pub at the edge of Blackstone Edge, towards the end of the third day of the Pennine Way if you are walking the whole route. We were able to get on to a wide gravelly path that headed north, winding round to give us a different view of our familiar Calder valley in the distance.

looking across the Calder Valley

looking across the Calder Valley

It never ceases to amaze me how many views there are in this part of the world. The hills and valleys twist and turn so much that there is a new angle and a new view every few minutes. It’s extremely good value!

The path was flat and kind to us except for the several gates which we managed to open and close without either of us dismounting – quite an art! But worth doing as I find it tiring getting on and off, fitting my feet in and out of the pedal covers. We shuffle backwards and forwards with me holding on to the gate and giving it a firm shove once we are safely through – a bit tricky but quite satisfying!

gritstone outcrop

gritstone outcrop

I was very pleased to find a poem engraved on to one of the giant gritstone boulders that are scattered across the landscape. There are several poems dotted across the moors from Marsden to Ilkley as part of the ‘Stanza Poems’ written by local poet, Simon Armitage. I certainly hadn’t expect to be able to get anywhere near any of them! This was ‘Rain’ – apparently inspired by the weather. I’m saying nothing, except, well, it wasn’t raining when I visited!

'Rain' boulder

‘Rain’ boulder

The path follows by the side of two or three small reservoirs cut into the moors. They seem very ‘relaxed’ reservoirs somehow – there is a shoreline rather than a wall at the far side of them and they seem very much part of the landscape.

We were unable to travel further than four miles as the path became a walker’s footpath at that point. However, we were able to see across to Stoodley Pike before turning back – well worth it!

Stoodley Pike

Stoodley Pike

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