Friday, 25 July 2014

Sunset from the fells

Looking west from Fairfield as the sun sets over the Derwent Fells...
...Gable the prominent summit in the far left of the frame.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Up and over

This was one of those routes I'd been meaning to ride for some time. I'd been up and over Skiddaw on the bike before but a different descent looked appealing though it would mean a second climb and a longer route to complete following the main affair.
From the summit I dropped quickly out of the cloud down steep shale, the front wheel shearing repeatedly as I tried to keep my weight back. A few near offs were followed by a fast run down to the col before following the ridge high above Bassenthwaite. One of the better descents to date, followed by some thirsty work regaining height to make the return journey to Threlkeld via Whitewater Dash and Skiddaw House. Not bad for an evening ride after work.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Back on track - a perfect run

With the forks fixed - under warranty - I was quite literally, back on track. Riding into the fells, I worked slowly up towards a summit I have visited only twice, both occasions being some years ago
But I remembered well enough the grandstand view of the western fells.
On the way up, looking across the valley towards two para-gliders making the most of the evening's thermals.
The obligatory carry for those intent on lakeland summits...
...justified by the views - looking across the Solway...
...and the riding. Which was a mix of steep, rocky, technical drops and fast grassy slopes.
Beautiful evening light from a minor summit on the descent...
...there being a few short climbs on the ridge I descended to the valley floor, my route the obvious ridge in the left of the frame above, after which it all got a bit too much like hard work. I'd dallied on the summit, only starting my descent at around 8.30pm. With the light failing I found my optimistic glance at the map earlier had failed to note the gradient of the next stage. What had looked like a nice traverse was in fact a not insignificant climb, on the narrowest of trails, choked by bracken.
Looking back on the climb from the coll - reached with blood and sweat if not tears. But what followed repaid the effort tenfold. A sliver of the most-single-of-singletrack, clinging tenuously to the steep sided valley - flowing. winding and fast it went on and on and just kept on coming until, just as my arms were giving out, it spat me out onto the narrow road just a few km's from my starting point to the north. A perfect run beneath a full moon, neither of which I was willing to stop to photograph though it would have made a beautiful image. 
Still, I suspect I will remember that descent - a perfect run - for many years to come.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Birched, bracken and broken

From open moorland sinuous tracks wind between silver birch, peppered with gritstone, rough blocks obscured by bracken lurking beneath tight corners dropping rapidly toward the valley floor. No more than a few minutes ride from the house, these are local runs that have become increasingly familiar over the last few summers offering a mix of fast and technical riding that is a delight in the late evening light after work.
Taking a favoured combination of trails across the steep wooded flank of the valley, I raced the rain blowing in from the north. Too fast. A boulder misjudged, the front wheel shearing to leave me rolling in the bracken, the sting of birch branches the only injury. The bike fared less well, the forks now being attended to by the professionals.
Still, a slow finish gave time to appreciate a beautiful, if momentary sunset, before the rain too began to fall.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Kayaks, kings and castles

Heading for the southern tip of Walney in the hope of a surf on the wave that forms early on in the ebb over the groyne at Haws Point, we passed the familiar bulk of the ruined castle on Piel Island. It is a place with an interesting history and more than a few strange traditions, overseen by the King of Piel himself. 
Whether it is upheld still I don't know, but certainly it was once the case that anyone who sat in a particular oak chair within the Ship Inn - the landlord and King being one and the same - was from that time on, considered a Knight of Piel. 
And with the title came responsibilities. Namely and rather predictably, to buy everyone a drink. But a Knight of Piel must also smoke only in moderation, be an ardent lover and be of good character. In return, a Knight's status accords the individual the right to free lodging in the event of being shipwrecked. Of the latter there seemed little likelihood and unsure that any of the group could faithfully fulfill all of the criteria, we paddled on. Piel Island was also gifted to the people of Barrow as a memorial to those lost in WW1. 
Reminders of the area's naval connections are never far away here, though today they came closer than normal as we approached the point. In the event the breeze dropped away and being more from the east than the west anyway, even a reasonable spring tide failed to produce any noteworthy waves.
Instead, we spent much of the afternoon on the beach, making tea, eating cake. There are worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon I guess. At least there could be no fear of recrimination for failing in our duties.