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Lakes & Dales 1: Peaks & Dales

There’s no other way to describe the day than ‘wet’. I can’t recall another day’s riding when the rain was so incessant and heavy throughout; no let up from circa 09h00 on the M1, all the way north to Eden Valley at around 19h00.

PP and I travelled from the Home Counties to our rendezvous point with Andy and Stuart, just off the M6 Toll at 11h00. Suffering the boredom, wet and increasingly cool temperatures for this first stretch. From here, we had planned to avoid all motorways for the rest of the trip.

North past Sudbury Hall, we entered the Peak District, north of Ashbourne, heading up to Bakewell. The rain was heavy and we dived into a local hostel for a welcome coffee and sandwich before throwing on the saturated gear and continuing to the Hope Valley.

Whilst it’s great to have a long lunch and chat, we’d only really ridden for around an hour, 1/5th of the overall route. The gear was never going to dry out much and it may have psychologically made the wild weather outside even more of a challenge...all now finding it hard to squeeze on our saturated gloves. Personally I’d have preferred to make progress and have several shorter stops, not least as our original route still plotted 130 miles of tricky terrain, even had the conditions been dry.

It’s no fun, much more a personal challenge in this type of weather. After another 30 minutes, Stuart, who’s gear had failed and let the rain in, decided to call it a day and turn back. PP, Andy and I persevered, though it was slow going and increasingly damp and uncomfortable for us also.

We pulled over after Huddersfield for a coffee and checked the weather warnings. Severe gales were predicted on the Dales a little later and this meant our original route up through Skipton may not be so wise. We took the decsision to skirt back around Halifax and Leeds, opting for the A1 to Scotch Corner and down the 66 into Warcop.

Andy and I were now soaked insulated mid layer seemingly soaks up the rain from the waist, like a sponge, inside the gore-tex jacket - this is a clear and complete example of ‘gear-failure’. Far from ideal, fortunately it still added a little warmth, even when wet; welcome as the temperatures soon dropped to six Celsius.

The misssion after one final coffee stop was to get to my mother’s cottage and throw on some dry clothes, in the warm. Rocking up at 18h30, a pot of tea has rarely been more welcome; a short rest bite later we had some fun manoeuvring the three bikes into the small garage.

Thank heavens for tumble dryers and radiators!..setting about drying as much gear as possible ahead of tomorrow’s ride - in itself a mission, as absolutely everything was soaked through.

Only three of us, we’re all able to squeeze in the one house, without needing to use Yvonne’s cottage also. Finally catching a breath, Mum laid on a fantastic pasta bake, with crumble and cake, washed down with a few bottles of beer. Hitting the hay around 22h00 and listening to the rain on the windows throughout the night.

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