65 miles (& not too hilly, until Cumbria)
Day seven marked the mid-point of our journey from Lands End to John O Groats and was as action-packed as they come. Whilst not quite as good as in Tewkesbury, our second morning at a Spoons with rooms still started pretty well. Breakfast was on the table by quarter past 7. Clive (Fiona’s Dad) was eager to get started and Lisa (Clive’s wife) was ready for her supporting role. There was just one thing missing. ‘Has anyone seen Kev?’ we tentatively asked. Kev is Clive’s good friend and the second addition to our team for the day. ‘I’m sure he’ll be down any second’ Clive nervously replied. ‘What room was he in again, Lisa?’. ‘Room 101’ said Lisa. Kev had disappeared overnight. You couldn’t write it. With a little detective experience on his side, Clive tracked down Kev, but without a bit of a delay to proceedings it wasn’t going to be worth waiting for him. We cracked on with Clive, confident Kev would shortly catch us up.
This belief was strengthened when Clive got LEJOG puncture #4 (which was, of course, largely swiftly and ably dealt with by Abbie). Still no sign of Kev. Back on cycle paths, the next thing we knew we were forming the middle lane between a parkrun loop, irritating parkrunners but loving the bells and general cameraderie of some fellow dedicated sportsmen and women. Sally enjoyed being in the throng of parkrun so much that she forgot about LEJOG and followed the 5km loop for a good 1km before realising they might not be headed north. Regardless – still no sign of Kev.
The day seven cycling had started much like other recent LEJOG days with – you guessed it – canal towpaths. Initially they were pretty good, but as large loose stones became more frequent, patience wore thin. Finally, 20 or so miles into canals, Sally developed an allergy to them that no amount of the industrial supplies of antihistamine Abbie carries on her could ease. With the single-minded determination of someone who never wants to see a canal boat again for as long as they live unless it’s lounging on one with a glass of rosé, Sally announced that we would be ignoring the day’s route and taking the A6 all the way to Kendal.
We began to fly up the A6 (which is actually pretty safe as far as A roads go), loving the change in pace but without much thought to taking on energy. Before we knew it the dreaded “bonk” was starting (google it) and we almost collapsed on the side of the road, scrambling though our packs for food. Then, like our guardian angel, Lisa appeared in the car out of nowhere with a bag of M&S goodies for us to inhale. Bananas have never, ever tasted so good (and Clive doesn’t even like them). Clive decided at this point to wait for Kev but, not knowing how long he’d be, was happy for us to keep going, assuming they’d catch us up. Thankfully, they soon found each other. It turned out that we’d kept just missing poor Kev at various points along the A6 – sorry Kev!
Unfortunately, as we continued to fly up the A6, Clive had an incident in Lancaster which saw him come off his bike and sustain a puncture and minor mechanical, requiring a quick trip to a bike shop. He was absolutely fine, but the chances of catching us up slipped away. Little did they know that we were wasting quite a lot of time taking photos at the “Welcome to Cumbria” sign, enjoying the sun, the stunning views and the knowledge that we had passed the halfway point of our epic journey.
High on a potent cocktail of haribo tangfastics, liquorice allsorts and salt and vinegar crisps we accelerated towards Kendal as we’d never accelerated before. We couldn’t have asked for a more glorious end to a ride. As well as the leg being our shortest yet (something to do with the A6, we hazard a guess…) it was the most picturesque stretch we’d had in a while too. Equally, it was far too hilly for canals – we were finally safe. Clive and Kev weren’t too far behind.
After a quick turnaround at our accomodation at the Killington Lake Services (perks of which include being able to buy breakfast pre 6am at the 24 hour retailers) we headed out to the Masons Arms – an excellent recommendation from local, Tom Laidler – to meet Tom and Alice for a drink and the Haggans, Clive, Lisa and Kev for dinner. It was a really lovely end to a brilliant leg of LEJOG. It’s been great to see so many friends and family along the way so far and we can’t wait to see more of you in week two!
More from us tomorrow.
Abs and Sal xxx