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3 May, 2008

Cycle ride: Windermere-Wrynose Pass-Langdale-Windermere

When planning our camping trip to Seathwaite last week, I considered travelling by bike: either by train to somewhere on the Cumbrian south coast then up the Duddon Valley or by train to Windermere then across to the head of the Duddon via the Wrynose Pass.  On that occasion I was pleased to accept a lift by car instead, but today I attempted 'Plan B' of the original idea.

As always, I was glad to get the first stage, the narrow but busy main road from Windermere to Ambleside, out of the way as quickly as possible – setting that pace was a problem later. However, once on the more pleasant road towards Elterwater, I stopped to look at a new footbridge over the River Brathay; new to me, anyway, though it opened 18 months ago, apparently.

The start of the Wrynose Pass wasn't too bad, but I think I'd cycled to Little Langdale a little too quickly, so abruptly – and totally – ran out of energy. That's not an excuse: I'm not suggesting I'd have found it easy under other circumstances, but it was disproportionately difficult. Normally I'd just drop into a low gear and plod along slowly, but a rest at Wrynose Beck Bridge (halfway) didn't refresh me and at a couple of points on the (steeper) second half, I literally couldn't turn the pedals. Reaching the top was extremely welcome, but slightly disappointing.
Firstly, the weather was awkward for photography: thick but broken cloud meant a bright sky contrasted harshly with deep shadows cast on the ground. Sounds dramatic. It wasn't: I took several photos, but only a couple were worthwhile.
Secondly, I knew I couldn't go on: I don't think I'd have been able to descend the other side of the Wrynose Pass then climb back up on the return journey, considering that I'd still have a further 45-60 -min ride back to Windermere station. The alternative, going on as far as the coast and a train home from there (if one existed – I hadn't checked the schedule), seemed similarly impractical.

Hence, I turned back early. I'll have to try again some other time, pacing myself better and in better weather. Instead, I returned to Windermere via Blea Tarn and Great Langdale, taking a few more photos.


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