First thing I would like to say is: Happy Birthday to me! It's been a great day, although it actually started (celebrations wise) yesterday night, roughly a day before I actually turn 15 at 8 o'clock tonight. We were staying at Janet and Satish's, who are good friends of Grandad's and kindly offered to put us up (or put up with us!) for the night. There we had some birthday cake and opened most of my presents! Then we had a lovely breakfast and opened some more prezzies before setting off to our start point.
The second thing I'd like to say is sorry about yesterday's update - the wifi was weak at Janet and Satishes, with no signal either to be able to use 3G.
Today's ride was only 48 miles, and was relatively flat. This should mean we could get to Keswick quite early, but we set off late and then got lost getting to Gressingham, so we only started cycling at about 12. This eventually meant we got to Keswick at about 5, meaning were not going to 'do' anything special, but we are going to go out for a nice meal...
Now - enough of my birthday! How was the cycling today? Well, we started off at a good pace, averaging about 15 mph until Kendal, where we had a nice drink in a cafe. The towns in Cumbria, I've noticed, are noticeably nicer than the slightly southern Lancashire towns - we went through Warrington, Leigh and Blackburn, and although they do have nice bits, they were mostly a bit grotty, and meant a period of 'badness' in the general scheme of things. However, today we've been through Kendal, Windermere and Keswick and they are really lovely places! We then navigated out of Kendal (it's a one way system!) and set off to Windermere. We stopped off to buy some lunch at a service station-Spar, then cycled a little to Ambleside to have a pleasant picnic by the side of (surprisingly not Amble) the Windermere lake.
Then we promptly got stuck in traffic... Funny that we've been through many big towns and cities throughout the week's course, but not really had problems with congestion, then through a peaceful national park we do! However, fortunately there was a good cycle path by the side so we managed to avoid a bit of it! The section from the Windermere area to Keswick then proceeded to be some of the nicest cycling so far. There was a long but fairly easy climb up to a lake of some description (maybe Derwent?) on a very well surfaced and wide road. In fact, I think it was a dual carriageway, but there were no markings to determine lanes, and not many cars, so we got no agro whatsoever. We then turned off the A road onto the other side of the lake on another well surfaced, and even quieter road with both spectacular views of the lake and mountains, but also peaceful woody areas of gently curving road. This was also mostly downhill, before turning back onto the A road after the end of the lake and a very fast descent into Keswick. The YHA is absolutely lovely as well, overlooking a small river with nice decor on its front side.
We've had very nice weather, adding to my stupid tan lines, although we did have a 30 minute period of light rain near Lunchtime. So overall...
A great birthday!
Today we crossed both the halfway mark and the 500 mile mark! Tomorrow marks the start of the Scottish stages, going through Carlisle and finishing in Moffat. Today is also the last day the girls are following us, with Grandad and Otti (his helper, family friend and generally awesome gal) taking over for the rest of the trip! It also marks the first day I'll be cycling at the age of 15 (I was born at 8pm) and a return to the 'real' routes - we used that extra distance today! So lots of landmarks!
Until then, goodbye