Day 13 31/7/2011 Penrith – Garstang

Dist: 94.23 km
Time: 5:13:48
Avg speed: 18.0 km/h
Max speed: 52.1
Total dist: 1415.4 km
Total time: 73:50

Route map

Well. Another day on the A6.

Slow start in the morning. After the breakfast, start to cycling was at 8.50. For the first time during this trip my legs felt really heavy and it took good 45 min to get them going.

After km 20 the climb to Shap Summit started. It has been building up since yesterday but the real uphill lasted for about 6-7 km. Shap (1400 ft or 460m a.s.l.). Reading the inscription on the stone up on the hill – it was the popular route linking north and south before M6. Many people lost their lives on this route. All this in contrast with quite a few stupid people that were racing up and down the hill.

All the little piddly cars had double exhaust pipe!? And why none of the bikers respects speed limit? Mystery to me.

Downhill was quite slow and mostly with head or cross-head wind. Like it would follow all day till the end in the camping.

I think the combination of tiredness and weird weather conditions just worn me out today so I thought I will stop in Lancaster. But as I was passing through the town I didn’t like the feeling of the town (sorry if anybody reading is from the place) so decided to push a bit forward and stop before Preston. I found very nice camping by Garstang.

Tomorrow the difficult navigation day through the hell of towns and crossroads – the plan is to take A6 and then A49 towards Shrewsbury. Will see where I end up:-D

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Day 12 30/7/2011 Thornhill – Penrith

Dist: 111.54 km
Time: 5:30:52
Avg speed: 20.2 km/h
Max speed: 52.1
Total dist: 1321.2 km
Total time: 68.36

Route map

It was time to say goodbye to Scotland. Enjoyed thoroughly my experience around there. Even the couple of days up north with head-winds that put me very quickly into a cycling shape.

This morning I was treated really nicely during the breakfast and then by the route. First 20km great (downhill and beautiful scenery) then navigation through Dumfries – managed to get out and find tourist route to Gretna Green. Some hills but really enjoyable ride to Gretna. Then the more complicated bit started towards Carlisle. All with iGo – right through the town and onto A6. Couldn’t find the access to smaller roads. Just after Carlisle uphills started and the ride became somehow more difficult.  Some uphills I managed to go up with the speed from downhill but some were pure power of my legs and loads of patience.

I was prepared to take camping place today but after Carlisle there was none. Got to Penrith and a very nice man in tourist information center found a guest house for the night.

Now writing from the pub after a delicious plate of roast beef and nice, refreshing pint.

Looking forward to England and Wales – knowing that the next couple of days will be really difficult for navigation.

Day 11 29/7/2011 Lochranza – Brodick Ardrossan – Thornhill

Dist: 121.09 km
Time: 6:04:40
Avg speed: 19.9 km/h
Max speed: 49.3
Total dist: 1209.6 km
Total time: 63:05

Route map

What a day! Again!

Breakfast was served from 8.30 so I managed to get on the road around 9.40. I was trying if possible to get to the ferry 11.05.

I knew that the first stretch of the trip was going to be a steep uphill – and it was. About 6 km of slow workout for my legs and newly found pair of lungs. After the up came nice downhill – unfortunately today’s route was just very difficult to ride due to the surface of the road. Even on the mainland. My arms are still shacking and right elbow is really painful.

Anyhow – even with the paved road covered with potholes managed to arrive 20 min before the departure of the boat. No problems with the ferry this time.

Once we were in Ardrossan I had to make decisions which way to go. Not having Nokia is really a big problem. Managed to set of with iGo on HTC.

The area around is just so difficult to get through and although I tried hard to move onto secondary roads there were just no signs or clear navigation therefore I took a plunge and went onto A71 to Kilmarnock. From there it was straight forward A76 all I could do today.

First 30 km were really bad uphills in the middle of busy traffic. I was getting really tired and decided to maybe get as far as Sanquhar. Or stop whenever. Landscape slowly started taking shape and by Cumnock I was looking at and riding up the dales – I think what it might be called. Reminded me of the scenery I used to see when watching ‘All creatures great and small’ on Sunday morning as much younger boy. From New Cumnock it started to get easier and I had couple of nice downhills. (The road horrible most of the time). At least on the A76 I had hard shoulder to cycle on. I asked for hotels in New Cumnock’s petrol station and found that I should be able to get room in Sanquhar. Nothing – even the not so nice camping were full. I had by that time 102km done.

Next bigger town – Thornhill. One lady in a farm where I was asking for accommodation told me that I should get something. But it’s 20km to ride.

As soon as I decided to go ahead – couple of km from Sanquhar a paradise has opened in front of me. I was transported from hard farming lands (really beautiful) to a green lush fresh downhill low traffic experience. The trajectory was just great, so glad I did it. It picked me up emotionally and I found room in a beautiful B&B Kelton run by Margaret and her husband John.

Supper at Thotnhill Inn – very nice lentil soup and chicken korma.

You just never know what to expect round the next corner.

Day 10 28/7/2011 Oban – Lochranza

Dist: 103.6 km
Time: 5.09.35
Avg speed: 20 km/h
Max speed: 53.6
Total dist: 1088.5 km
Total time: 57 hrs

Route map

After all night’s rain it was nice to wake up to a clouded but dry morning. After a quick breakfast I was off at 8.15. I knew that I was for a hard day as most of the route was marked as scenic.

And there were couple of moments when I had to put all the effort to get up those hills.

One very long and steep was before Kilmartin. 6 or 7 km of really steep and constant up. Then I hit another one between Kennacraig and Claonaig. Just towards the end of the day.

The whole route today was just brilliant. Well balanced. Bigger hills at the beginning and then few km of flat before it turned hell just at the end.

Staying at Hotel Lochranza. Using the whole room to dry and clean my tent and all washed gear. Charging all devices.

On the sad note – just before boarding the ferry my Nokia fell down and has got broken screen. Will have to try to repair it back on mainland or cycle with the iGo on my HTC.

Day 9 27/7/2011 Gairlochry – Oban

Dist: 94.3 km
Time: 5.02.06
Avg speed: 18.7 km/h
Max speed: 42.1
Total dist: 984.9 km
Total time: 51.51 hrs

Route map

This trip doesn’t stop surprising me every day.

No alarm clock this morning so was up late. 7.15.

After a late evening midges attack, I thought it will be easier in the morning. Ha! Let me tell you! my tent although wet from dew was down in no time. Shower and I had an attempt at breakfast but it was a no go area. So I took off and had my morning meal on the top of the hill looking at Ben Nevis and listening to a little stream flowing down. All this with sun high up.

Then I decided to go for Oban and then ferries through Arran.

The scenery all the way was like entering totally different dimension.

So I cycled with my mouth open all day. Ate some flies so no need for lunch. 😉

Great landscapes all the way to Oban. What I saw in documentaries about New Zealand – this was better – because I saw it today.

Not much more to say. Camping close to Oban.  Easier stage because I decided to do less km. Some nasty hills but all was so much easier through the landscape.

Day 8 26/7/2011 Dingwall – Gairlochry

Dist: 109.22 km
Time: 5:32:30
Avg speed: 19.7 km/h
Max speed: 47.2
Total dist: 890.6 km
Total time: 46:49

Route map

Start 8.40 am

The day started cold-ish. There was no sun till 11.30 and then it got really hot.

First part of the route from Dingwall to Drumnadrochit took me through hills that were quite challenging. It turned out to be the most fun during the day.

Afterwards it was all on a busy main road. Beautiful scenery around Loch Ness and then Loch Lochy. The surface of the road was horrible for moments and the traffic was pretty busy too.

The maintenance guys were working on the road so traffic was fairly predictable as they were letting through convoys. Even though it was tricky – as the truck drivers don’t have a break pedal. 😀

I think the most scenic bit came around Loch Lochy. There was a moment of rest from cars as for couple of km I had hard shoulder to cycle on.

Stopped at Gairlochy camping. The weather was beautiful I had loads of stuff to dry and wash so I stopped after nearly 110km and set up the camp. All the washing from yesterday was dry in 30 min. Great new washing is nearly there as well.

Had yo cycle to the nearest shop for about 4km. Had a burger and couple of beers. Got breakfast for tomorrow.

Tomorrow decisions: go through Arran or Glasgow area?