Ride to Staveley via Levens, Thursday 29th June 2018

It was very warm at a quarter past nine and it was going to get hotter. But the clear blue sky and bright sunshine is such a pleasure for bike riding that in three groups we set off on the first hill of the day, up over Foundry Lane. As we swooshed down Ancliffe Lane three sheep, dozing in the shade under the bushes were spooked. Some of us got by quickly but others had to ride at a sheep’s pace behind them. A consensus, initiated by the Secretary, took us along the A6 instead of the canal… but the third group got seriously delayed with an HGV learner. Across Shore Lane and then up through Warton and past Hyning Monastry (Ken whispered that they were Cistercians…) the leader began to remember about the hills on his planned route. The first two groups stopped a couple of times on the Yealands hoping to keep contact with the third… we thought they must have taken a less bumpy route (they hadn’t). After a couple of good descents (Slack Head and Dalham Park) we went across the marsh and enjoyed the expansive view of South Lakeland across the estuary and the fragrance of the meadow sweet (late summer has come early this year and most of the wayside flowers have gone – but cranesbill and meadowsweet are still a break in the rich greens). From coffee at Levens there was another bump to get to Sizergh and over to Sedgewick before heading north to Natland. Yet another uphill over the Helm (at least we didn’t do the east side…) and on to Paddy Lane, a pretty, if bumpy, ride with great views across Kendal to the west. The bumps added up to a glorious descent down to the A685 along the dappled lane.

The road down to Garnet Bridge was ‘closed’ because of works on the bridge in Burneside. Unfortunately the second group (we’d lost quite a few at Levens) took this seriously and went up to Garth Fell and along the Potter Fell road – quite a detour! It was the leader’s bad; we should have waited at the junction… Sorry John, Phil and Mike. Anyway, everyone got to Staveley and some of us had a long lunch break before setting off for Crook, Underbarrow and Brigsteer. The full heat of the day was building to an inferno but tree shade and a good pace kept us from boiling over. Nonetheless on the approach to Levens, there was revolt! The leader, having dawdled to make sure no one went off the back, wasn’t there to turn the ride up the hill and over to Sizergh. The main group had got to the end of Brigsteer Rad and were reluctant to return… just Neil and Ken came back to take the gentler climb with the leader over to Sedgewick once again, to pick up a familiar route southwards. The heat was telling and the energy was flagging so the remaining three cooled with iced drinks in the shade of Greenlands. Where were the others? What happened to the refuseniks of Dant’s inferno? (Thanks Ken…)

Tim Dant