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1 August, 2004

Cycling: Lancaster-Dent-Lancaster

As mentioned 'yesterday' (I'm posting this retrospectively, a few days late, as it took a while to process the accompanying images), Jonnie's extended birthday celebration included a camping trip, to Dent, in the Yorkshire Dales.

The camping itself was wonderful. That's not entirely an overstatement, as I enjoyed myself to a disproportionate extent. It's been a while since I last camped, and I'd almost forgotten how much I enjoy spending time with friends, not really doing anything. I rarely make time to just sit, and relished the novelty.

However, this posting is primarily a link to photos of the trip to and back from Dent. When it was first mentioned at the Water Witch, alcohol and the plans of others prompted my decision to cycle to Dent. I routinely cycle ~30 miles (50 km) each weekend, so the distance (guessed to be 30 miles) was no problem, Alizon and Kerry were kind enough to take my tent, sleeping bag and big rucksack by car, and there was no rush.

Ten miles out of Lancaster, I was having second thoughts - it was a hot, humid day and the road surface was unexpectedly rough, holding me below 20 mph 'flat out'. Then it suddenly became much easier, and the rest of the ride, even the steep ascents, wasn't particularly tiring. Even if it hadn't been a beautiful route, this would at least have reassured me that I could readily complete much longer cycle rides. Then again, if it hadn't been a beautiful route, the distance might have been just a mindless slog, and no fun. I've mentioned that before, and had a hint of it this time, too. My mental image of the Lune Valley had somehow omitted the 10-12 km between Melling and Kirkby Lonsdale, so that section seemed endless and a little boring. The trip proved that I'm capable of cycling to the Lake District, for example, but I'm still more likely to take a train at least as far as Windermere - I could cycle it, but why?

I reached the Barbon Inn (incidentally, I designed that website in 2000 - I've improved since then!) at 18:15, precisely 1½ hours after leaving home, but Barbon is at 80 m above sea level (asl) and the road over the Barbondale pass reaches 310 m asl, so it took almost a further hour to reach the camp site at Dent. In total, I took 2 hours 23 minutes (2 hours and 2 seconds in motion) to travel 27.75 miles (44.6 km), according to my bike computer.

Not bad, but the return trip was much faster. I'm very grateful to Harriet & Diggory for a lift back up the extreme hill from Dent (~140 m asl) to the head of Barbondale (310 m asl), which removed the bulk of the effort and cut ~3 miles off the trip. From there, I cycled almost non-stop for the 24.58 miles back to Lancaster, taking 1 hour 28 mins, of which only 18 seconds were spent stationary, according to the bike computer's spurious accuracy. Somehow it was easy to maintain speeds of over 20 mph (~30 km/h) for most of the ride. I suppose that discounting minor undulations, the Lune Valley is downhill all the way!

See the images for further comments. Apologies for the slightly lower image quality than usual. Anticipating that I might want to fit numerous images onto the camera's memory card, I dropped the resolution of each.

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