Where we cycled in 2016

Our last ride of 2016, 6th December and 12 of the group met for a circular ride around the Lorton valley. A good downhill stretch took us to Southwaite Mill. This time last year storm Desmond had wreaked havoc and Souththwaite Mill and surrounding fields were under several feet of water making it impassable, thankfully the weather today was fairly decent and no such problems arose. We then continued through Brandlingill to Aikbank Mill. Then the adventure started. We followed a very rough fell road to Low Lorton, only 2.5 miles or so in length but progress was slow as we had to pick our way carefully through numerous potholes. Once at Lorton Mill it was easy going via the Thackthwaite road to the Kirkstile Inn. Here we enjoyed unbelievably huge scones, jam and cream with plenty to drink as well. We returned to the start on the other side of the valley taking in diversions via Hopebeck and Armaside. Just a short 17 mile ride but the lack of miles was made up by the adventure!

It was a grim wet day on Tuesday 22nd November 2016 but 13 of the group gamely turned out to cycle. It was just a short ride of 14 miles or so around the beautiful Newlands Valley. This route is always one of our favourites and despite the incessant rain we all thoroughly enjoyed the ride. We picked up a new member en-route, so now have 51 in our group. We called in at Lingholm Kitchens for our refreshments and as is usual at this time of year had a bit of a meeting to reflect on the past months and to forge a plan for 2017. After hot drinks it was time to tog up and just travel the mile or so back to town.

After a last minute change of route due to the frosty weather and worries about ice on the roads, Lorna led 14 intrepid and well wrapped up cyclists on a fairly flat route. Starting at Beckses just off the A66 on the way to Penrith, we visited Greystoke, Johnby, Lamonby, Skelton and Upfront Gallery for a welcome warm up and refreshments. The return was by Blencowe, Motherby and Greystoke. A total of 20 miles, although cold there was no wind and none of the snow that fell the following day.

What a perfect autumn day we had for our cycle ride on Tuesday 25th October 2016. Clear blue skies,....just great cycling weather.
A large group of us left Uldale and first cycled to Ireby before heading east and along to Dale Side. It was a long slog ascent but once at the junction we enjoyed a good downhill stretch. We then had 5 miles on quiet undulating country lanes until we reached Hesket Newmarket for our coffee break. It was a 12 seater cafe but bar a couple we all crammed in and enjoyed mugs of coffee and home baked goodies. From here we cycled to Caldbeck then the mettle of many was tested when we turned off at Whelpo Bridge and climbed the 300 ft in less than a mile. What great views we had though, a panoramic view of the Northern fells. Just a few miles lay ahead of us now and it wasn't long until we were back in Uldale.....and some of us finishing off with lunch at Mae's ........well, we do have to uphold the "social" part of Social Cycling! 17 miles today and only lost one cyclist.

On Tuesday 10th October 2016 David led the Social Cycling group from Wray Castle and along a wonderful designated cycle route through to Hawkshead. The track went by way of Blelham Tarn, had many twists and turns, undulations and gates to contend with, but what a great route it was. The weather was superb and we had far reaching views to the Langdales and the Coniston Fells. Just a short section past Esthwaite Water then we had our 1st climb of 300' which took us through dense woodland plantations. A descent of 450' quickly took us to Crosslands, our half way banana stop. From this tiny hamlet we had our 2nd climb, an ascent of 470' brought us to Green Hows Tarn. The next 4 miles took us steadily down to lake level and just past the ferry we stopped for a well earned coffee break. The last 5 miles along the lake shore were a delight as we soaked up the autumnal colours. The group out today which included 2 new members and 2 guests and all thoroughly enjoyed the challenging bike ride.

A dreary drizzly day didn't deter the Social cyclists going for a ride on Tuesday 27th September 2016. The group, which included 2 new members set off from Keswick and cycled the Storms, Naddle, Burns route to Threlkeld. Just a couple of miles into the ride though we ground to a halt whilst a puncture was repaired. 5 stayed behind and the rest carried on to Threlkeld. With the group split by a good distance it was an ideal opportunity to test out our new Walkie Talkie system provided by the Skiddaw U3A Support Fund. The route to Mungrisdale via Guardhouse and Hutton Moor End was uneventful and still lots of happy faces despite the weather. Quite a few stops were made by one member who's keen eyes could spot a blackberry way ahead. From Mungrisdale we picked up Route 71 and had a lovely run along the fell road back to Threlkeld where we stopped for refreshments at the coffee shop. By now the weather had improved and the last 5 miles or so passed by without incident. The route was 20 miles and was fairly undulating with 2350 feet of ascent!

The cycling group met in Ennerdale Bridge on Tuesday 20th September 2016 for what would be our toughest bike ride yet. It may only have been 25 miles but the accumulative ascent and descent of 2500 feet made it a challenge from start to finish. Phil (now known as Phil the Hill!) led us out of the village and up onto the Cold Fell road. At this elevated height we had magnificent views over the Irish Sea and inland over the undulating fell terrain. We had a good run down towards Haile and almost everyone was caught out by the sharp right-angled turn followed by a steep climb. We carried on along very quiet country lanes and by the time we got to Kirkland we were again admiring the Ennerdale Fells in front of us. Just a couple of miles via Croasdale brought us back to the start where we headed off to "The Gather" a new community cafe, for VERY welcome refreshments. Just one puncture today but we lost count of how many chains came off! Frank excelled on his new bike too.

On Tuesday 13th September 2016 the group met on the A591 at Grasmere. We cycled through the village then headed round the back of the lake then joined the sustrans route 6 which took us down to the the lake. The lake was very calm and the weather was great for cycling. Progress was slowish because we were having to watch out for cobbles and tree roots, gates and bridges had to be negotiated too! It was a bit of a challenge cycling through the woods at Baneriggs to White Moss then up and under Loughrigg. The views made it all worth while though. Once at Rydal Bridge we made good progress into Ambleside and headed to the Youth Hostel where we stopped for coffee. It was idyllic sitting by the shores of Windermere having coffee and freshly made carrot cake and after the obligatory photo taken it was time to re-trace our route back. Once back at Grasmere we decided to extend our ride and cycled up the Easedale road, then under Helm Crag and back to the start just after the Travellers Rest. Just a 16.50 mile ride out but the lack of miles was made up by the scenery around us.

Starting from near the Sportsmans Inn just off the A66 on Tuesday 30th August 2016, we set off, in what most would say, was perfect cycling weather, not too sunny, cold or windy. We set off for Greystoke, which was the start of the shorter route option, but we had no extras join us. We cycled through Greystoke Forest and after 12 miles, several villages and a detour (Lorna managed to leave her marked route plan on the kitchen table) we reached our coffee destination of Upfront Gallery at Unthank, who served us very speedily despite being quite busy. We sat in the courtyard in the sun for almost an hour enjoying the crack. The journey back through Blencowe, Greystoke and Motherby, gave us good views of Blencathra. The best comment of the ride was 'I feel like I've been going downhill all the time' but that was rectified by the last couple of miles that were very undulating. Turned out to be 23 miles of mostly easy riding.

On Tuesday 16th August 2016 the group turned out for an afternoon saunter around Derwentwater, stopping off in Grange for cakes and ice cream, it was a hot day so the ice creams were very welcome! It was great to see Derwentwater being well used for so many watersports. Once round the back of the lake we were able to enjoy the views with the heather on Skiddaw looking particularly lovely. Just one malfunction today with Alan's brakes (or the lack of them) but it didn't deter him from zipping down from Gutherscale at such a speed he almost got to Swinside before he started peddling again!
Just a 10 mile ride but thoroughly enjoyed by all.

What a brilliant ride we had on Tuesday 9th August 2016. Starting from Orton we followed the Sustrans route 68 through Raisbeck and onto the Crosby Garrett fells. At such an elevated position we had superb panoramic views of the Howgills and the Lake District fells. At this time of year the heather is starting to look magnificent especially with the sun shining on it. Bill explained about the karst topography before we headed off over more moorland to Newbiggin-on-Lune where we stopped off for coffee, and not many places are you invited to cut off your own piece of chocolate cake! After coffee we headed west along quiet roads to Tebay. We stopped at Lune's Bridge and looked down into a very impressive gorge where after rainfall the water will fairly thunder through. We crossed the M6 then followed a mile or so of calf-cramping, thigh-burning, lung-busting, never-seemingly-ending uphill which our leader Helen had maybe glossed over, although she did say there were lots of raspberries to pick at the top of the hill as compensation! After this there was just a short section back to the start where some of the group of just had to go into the Orton Chocolate Factory to sample the wares.

Members met at the Naddle end of the Goosewell road for their ride on Tuesday 2nd August 2016. We cycled past Shundraw and into St John's in the Vale where we picked up another of our group. One more joined in at Bridge End so now we had 15 of the Social Cycling group. We had a great ride round the back of Thirlmere, the roads were quiet and we made good progress and were soon at West Head.Cycling on the newly tarmaced route up to the top of Dunmail Raise was a pleasure. Here 4 of the group returned to Keswick and the remaining 11 fairly sped dowen the raise topping speeds of 35 mph! Just a short stretch into Grasmere and we were soon enmjoying delicious scones and chocolate brownies etc at the Garden Centre. Cathy led us out of the village and took us along very scenic narrow lanes bringing us out half way up the raise thus cutting out a lot of the A591. Ahead of us lay approx. 300' of ascent so heads down we plodded away now barely managing 5 mph.....what a difference! Safely at the top the return along the lake was thoroughly enjoyable and quickly past. We had just one more hill to tackle as we cycled up past Shundraw and before long we were back at out start point. We cycled approx. 27 miles, although those who had cycled from and to Keswick can of course add a few extra miles to that total.

On what was the hottest day of the year when the social cycling group met at Staveley on Tuesday 19th July 2016 in the hope of finding some cool breezes and shade along the route. From the village, David led the group firstly to Crook then through the delightful hamlets of Underbarrow and Brigsteer to Sizergh Castle where we stopped for a welcome break. The 11 miles we had ridden had been on undulating roads but the route was so pretty and had far reaching views across the Lyth Valley. Once refreshed we made our way over the river Kent and picked up the sustrans route 6 through Sedgewick and Natland to Kendal. Our leader showed off an amazing acrobatic flair whilst crossing the road, narrowly missing a lamp post and railings going over the handlebars but skilfully landing upright on 2 feet.!
With just a few miles to go now the toasted group were soon back at the start and had another well earned refreshment stop at Wilfs.

The route today, Tuesday 12th July 2016 was 21 miles long but the Social Cycling group were never more than 4.75 miles from the start! It was an unusual route, not exactly circular but zig-zagging around a few valleys. Starting at the Pheasant Inn, Bassenthwaite we cycled through Embleton to the outskirts of Cockermouth then followed the road to Higham Hall. After a short steep descent the group stopped to look at St. Barnabas church before heading off into the Derwent Valley. It was a chance to see this beautiful quiet valley before reaching the bustling market town of Cockermouth. Refreshment stop was at Norham House where the group enjoyed their coffee in the sunny courtyard. Now suitably refreshed we left the town via the Greenway and once again on quiet country roads headed for Wythop Mill. Just a short stretch now under the flanks of Sale Fell and then a great 1 mile free-wheeling descent soon brought the cyclists back to the Pheasant Inn.

The cyclists met at the Melbreak Hotel Clifton on 5th July 2016 and had a great ride around the West Cumbria area. Bill led the 26 mile route and took us out to the coast for coffee at The Beacon at Whitehaven. We returned via some of the coastal villages before heading inland and returning to our cars via Seaton and Camerton.

It was a perfect day for cycling on Tuesday 21st June 2016 and our route today round Blencathra and Skiddaw is now an annual fixture on the calendar. This is the 3rd year we've cycled the long 34 miles in an anti-clockwise direction taking in the villages of Threlkeld, Mungrisdale, Mosedale, Hesket-New-Market, Caldbeck and Bassenthwaite. As expected, it's quite a hilly route and we always seem to face strong head winds climbing out of Caldbeck but stops for delicious scones and coffee at the Mill Inn, lunch before we dropped down to Orthwaite and ice creams at the Old Sawmill helped to break up the day and for us to have a rest.

A small group met at Morland for our ride today, Tuesday 14th June 2016 Frank had devised this route and he led us out of Morland to Maulds Meaburn, Crosby Ravensworth and then off and away down, reaching speeds of over 30 mph (!) for 1 mile to the village of Orton where we stopped for our coffee and very delicious cakes....lime & pistachio, orange drizzle, lemon drizzle....hmmmm! It was a superb day for cycling and we lingered long enjoying sitting outside. Time to move on though and we made a visit to the chocolate factory before, guess what, yes, that 1 mile free wheel down had to be ascended. Only 2 of the group managed to cycle all the way up, the rest walked (almost as quick as the slowest cyclist)but soon we were at the top and enjoying far reaching views to the Howgills, the Peninnes and the Lake District Fells. After a short spell on the B6260 we turned off and headed for Maulds Meaburn again and then back to Morland. It was a great hilly ride of 21 miles but not without incident. On separate occasions 2 of the group parted company from their trusty bikes and ended up in the middle of the road. Battered, bruised and bloodied, no broken bones though and perhaps only slighted dented egos.

We set off from the A6, south of Eamont Bridge for our ride today Tuesday 7th June 2016 to do a circular ride which included the Lowther Estate and the lovely village of Askham. A hot day, but with welcome shade under the roadside trees and some long downhill stretches helped to cool us down. The route took us through Gt. Strickland, Hackthorpe, Lowther Newton, past Lowther Castle and down to Askham. We then took the high level route to Pooley Bridge via Celleron, with lovely views over Penrith and the Pennines. The tearoom garden by the river in Pooley Bridge was a perfect stop for refreshments where we lingered enjoying the sunshine. The route back to our cars went through Tirril, Yanwath and Eamont Bridge. We did have one mishap! We thought somebody had fired a gun or bird scarer, but it turned out to be David's tyre blowing out, fortunately only the inner tube was damaged with a surprisingly long repairing THAT tube! An excellent ride of about 17.5 miles and led by Lorna.

Frank led a group, which included a guest for the bike ride today, Tuesday 20th May 2016. The group met at the Portinscale Bridge and had a very pleasant short ride around the Newlands Valley, always a favourite. A discussion was had about cycling on around the back of the lake but in the end the group decided not to extend their ride.

members met just south of Lorton at Whitbeck Bridge on Tuesday 17th May 2016 and cycled through Rogerscale, Brandlingill, Pardshaw, Mockerkin, Lamplugh and Loweswater stopping off at the Kirkstile Inn for coffee and scones. Returned to our cars via High Park and Thackthwaite.

Apart from a bit of a headwind the weather could not have been more perfect for our bike ride on Tuesday 10th May 2016. We met at the Wave centre at Maryport. We had a lovely ride along the promenade and then continued north along the cycle path to Allonby. We just had a short section on the main road before heading inland, having to quickly alter our route because of closed roads! Following these quiet country lanes was a delight and it wasn't long before we were cycling into Silloth. After a brief stop of eating ice creams and riding on the tourist train on the green we were soon on our way again. Following a different return route via Beckfoot it wasn't long until we were parked up at the Gin Case for our coffee/cake/sandwhich stop. By now we had clear blue skies and high temperatures and the return by the coast was delightful.
This annual ride never seems to be without incident, in the past we have had punctures and whole back wheels collapsing and yesterday was no exception with one member coming off worse with a bridge resulting with a buckled wheel and another member had a puncture.
All agreed though that it had been a brilliant day. Approx. 30 mile.

On Monday 25th April 18 members of the Social cycling group travelled to Seahouses in Northumberland for a few days of cycling, walking or just relaxing. On arrival, despite the windy conditions we set off for a short ride to Bamburgh Castle then returned via an inland route covering approx. 15 miles.
Day 2 did not start any better weather wise but we braved the elements of rain, hail, sleet, snow and fierce winds and cycled down the coast to Craster. A short stop here and we were soon on our way inland and back to Seahouses. Approx. 27 miles today.
Day 3 dawned and thankfully the weather had taken a turn for the better. Our route today started in Belford and we headed north to the coast then across the causeway to Holy Island. With 17 cyclists snaking our way across the causeway we must have looked quite an impressive sight! The sun was out and all were able to spend a couple of hours exploring the island visiting the Castle, Priory etc and sampling the local Mead. The return to Belford was again inland and took in some amazing scenery. Nearly 32 miles covered today. For our final night we all met at a local hostelry and declared a brilliant time was had by all,
On the final morning before returning home a small group again cycled to Bamburgh Castle and had a leisurely coffee stop before returning to Seahouses, (just 10 miles today), to load the bikes and travel home.
Many thanks to Phil and Cathy for devising the splendid routes and to Frank who, when not cycling was our back-up and provided lots of sweeties to keep us going!!

Tuesday 19th April saw intrepid cyclists try out the "Quercus Trail" (otherwise known as the Blue Run) in Whinlatter Forest Park. This off-road route has a mixture of gravel, rock and muddy tracks, with some boardwalk thrown in. Although in serious mountain biking circles "blue" means easy, a U3A group with an average age of mid-60's was forced to proceed with caution. The sunny weather helped to make the five mile route a pleasant experience and after some initial wariness the group began to enjoy themselves. After refreshments at Siskins cafe at the visitor centre, some of the group decided to take to the trail a second time before heading home!
Thanks to Chris Lilley for leading the ride today.

It was a bit of a trek to the start of our ride on Tuesday 12th April 2016 but well worth it for the route we were going on. Phil and Cathy M led the ride today and we left a slightly overcast Gosforth to head to WastWater. Temperatures were ideal for cycling and we certainly felt the warmth after ascending the hill out of the village. It was a pleasant ride along quiet country lanes and good progress was made to the head of the valley. How fortunate we are to have this spectacular scenery on our doorstep. After a brief stop at Wasdale Head we returned alongside the lake to Santon Bridge for a very welcome stop for tasty bacon rolls, cake and coffee etc. Suitable refreshed we headed west to the coast and the tiny village of Seascale, where we briefly stopped to inhale the salt sea air! It was just a couple of miles back to Gosforth. A brilliant ride.....just an odd spot of rain near the end and only one puncture to contend with!

It was an overcast day when the group met at The Cross Keys Inn at Carleton for their ride on Tuesday 29th March. Lorna was leading the ride today and she took us on a superb route through the Eden villages of Gt. Salkeld, Lazonby, Kirkoswald, Glassonby, Little Salkeld, Langwathby and Edenhall. Very pretty villages but there was still much evidence of how high the Eden had risen though. With just a couple of hills to conquer this was a fairly easy ride of approx 21 miles, we had great views towards the Pennines and back towards the Lake District fells. How lucky we were with the weather too. No sooner had we stopped off at the Mill at Little Salkeld for coffee when the skies darkened and the heavens opened! By the time we were ready to leave it had more or less faired up though, and the members out cycling today all declared what a great day it had been.

It was a gorgeous day for a cycle though a noticeable head wind on the first half reports Cathy C who was leading the the ride today Tuesday 15th March. We followed the railway line to Browfoot then carried onto Threlkeld via Storms, Naddle and Burns. Through the village, short stretch of the busy A66 then onto the very quiet gated fell road to Mungrisdale. It was lovely along there and interesting to see the flood damage at Mungrisdale. Then, not one but two of the group had punctures! Soon sorted with a bit of magic goo and a new inner tube though. The group then cycled back to Threlkeld via Hutton Moor End and stopped in the village at the coffee shop for a welcome cup of coffee. Just a few more miles back to Keswick, all in all it was a fairly gentle ride of around 20 miles and far too nice to rush. We welcomed a new member to the group today.

Tuesday 1st March and the first day of Spring, but you wouldn't think so. 34mm of rain fell during the night and as the group met at the Castle Inn it was still raining, but thankfully it faired up shortly afterwards. But undeterred we set off up the Ireby road, it was a long steady climb and a few were out of their saddles with the effort! It was all easy going along by Overwater, just a bit of a climb by Orthwaite then downhill all the way to Bassenthwaite. We were soon back at Castle Inn having completed the first section of our ride and half an hour later we were tucking into bacon and egg rolls at Bothel Craggs, what a treat they were! Now sustained we were back on our bikes to complete the second section of our ride. Following very quiet country lanes we cycled through Sunderland to Isel then because of the closed bridge cut back across country to Bewaldeth. Just a short section of the A591 and we were soon back at Castle Inn. It was a fairly lengthy undulating ride of 19 miles and all credit to the 2 who cycled from Keswick and Cockermouth.

We met at Shoulthwaite on Tuesday 16th February. The day was dry but there was a bitterly cold wind to contend with. We set off along the A591 and cycled the dual carriageway which was virtually traffic free. At Bridge End we turned right and over the dam. Thirlmere didn't look inviting, the water was high and lots of white horses. There was no hope of any respite from the southerly winds and battling along the western side was tough. However, after a few stops we reached the bottom of Dunmail and took the opportunity of the cycling to the top of the raise via the newly constructed single track temporary road. Back onto the 591 we soon reached the summit. Our original plan was to cycle to Grasmere and although 2 members did so the remaining members decided that as it was so cold they would turn back. So, back down Dunmail we well and truly exceeded the 10 mph speed limit. We had a pleasant return journey with the wind behind us. We stopped off at the Lodge for a VERY welcome hot drink then made our way back to the start. All credit to the 2 members who cycled up the Nest and back!

With all the storms and almost gale force winds prior to our scheduled ride for Tuesday 2nd February 2016 it was debatable as to whether it would go ahead or not. However, apart from blustery head winds as we left Keswick conditions turned out to be ok. Once in the lee of the Thornthwaite fells we made good progress alongside Bassenthwaite Lake to Dubwath, over Ouse Bridge and stopped for a welcome cup of coffee at the Lakeland Wildlife Park. We decided that we were all ok to carry on so we cycled through Bassenthwaite, round by Scarness then just returned to Keswick via the A591 as it was so quiet. An easy ride of just over 20 miles, not without incident though as one of the group had a tyre blow out before we started, another suspected she had slow puncture (but that turned out to be ok)and one member retired before Portinscale with knee problems.

After all the snow and ice of the past few days there was uncertainty as to whether the bike ride would go ahead on Tuesday 19th January but thankfully the night before showed no minus temperatures and the cyclists were able to go ahead with the scheduled ride relieved that there were no icy roads to contend with. David led a group from the Leisure Pool and along the Borrowdale Valley to the head of Seathwaite. January is a good time of year for cycling this route as the roads are relatively free from traffic. With a backdrop of snow covered mountains and a lake as calm as calm could be where else could be better for a spin out on the bikes! From Seathwaite we came back down the valley and stopped at Longthwaite YH for coffee and cakes then returned to Keswick the same route. No hills to contend with and about 19 miles in length.

Tuesday 12th January 2016, we finally managed to have our Christmas Lunch! Re-arranged from after the December floods the wait was well worth it as 17 of the group tucked into a delicious Turkey and trimmings lunch at Littletown Farm. 5 hardy souls, Geoff, June, Helen, David and Barbara braved the weather and cycled there and back. Only 7.5 miles but hopefully helped to work off some of the Christmas pud and sticky toffee pud!
Thanks to Christine for co-ordinating the arrangements.

For our first ride in 2016, Tuesday 5th January the group were ceremoniously waved off from the Leisure Centre by Pam. After all the rain we were delighted to be out and about on our bikes on a lovely dry and relatively warm day. We soon left the town behind and headed west, cycling through Braithwaite and Thornthwaite then along the old road to Beck Wythop. From here we cycled along the dual carriage-way and arrived at the Pheasant Inn just at coffee time! In the comfortable lounge with warming log fire we enjoyed lovely hot coffee and freshly made shortbread. Once suitably refreshed we had a group photo outside the Inn then re-traced our route back as far as Braithwaite where we then detoured around by Ullock to Portinscale and back to Keswick. A thoroughly enjoyable social outing of about 18 miles.