Saturday, August 20, 2016

Backroads Cycling Trip August 14-20

Backroads - Biking England's Lake District to Yorkshire Dales
We began with bike fittings and snacks at Lowther Castle. Completed in 1806, this is the third home the Lowther family constructed over 800 years on the property. It was requisitioned by the army in WWII, and by 1957, the seventh Earl removed the roof to let it fall into ruin to avoid death taxes. Finally, in 1999, it became a Heritage site and donated funds are preserving it as a ruin, and restoring the 130 acre gardens.

Jack, Scott, Josh and Becky took the hard way up. I took the van up and down, since it hardly seemed fair to get the downhill without the uphill!

Day 1 - I rode from Lowther Castle to The Gilpin Hotel (skipping the Kirkstone Pass) for 23 miles and 1,500 feet of elevation. Jack rode the pass for an extra 8 miles and 1,000 feet of climb!

Our room at the Gilpin was lovely!

Day 2 - we rode the Lakeland Loop for 35 miles and 2,700 feet of climb. Lunch at White Hart Pub and dinner was in Ambleside at Lucy's.

This is what Brits do when it's sunny. We were really lucky to have blue skies for six days of cycling.

Exploring Ambleside

Day 3:
We had a lovely and much needed morning tea at the Swan Hotel. We also were very lucky to have gorgeous sunny weather. All of northern England seemed to be outside today!

Team Lamplighter!!
Our lunch stop was at a biodynamic farm/steam engine museum.  This was Day 3 and I rode 27 miles, 2,500 feet of climb.

Drew fixed a fabulous picnic and I discovered a "shandy" - beer mixed with carbonated lemonade.

Day 4 - we left our hotel to relocate from the Lake District to the Yorkshire Dales. We rode from the heart of Lancastershire (Red Rose) to Yorkshire (White Rose), crossing 30+ miles and 30+ years of civil war. Drew explained it well with fighting beer bottles during our morning Route Rap.

This photo sums up the entire week: Stone, sheep and steep. It was all beautiful, and challenging.

Day 4 ended at Bolton Castle, completed in 1399 and one of England's best preserved medieval castles. It is still owned by the Le Scope family, descendants of the builder who served as the Chancellor of England during the reign of Richard II. I finished Day 4 here with 39 miles and 2,700 feet of climb.

Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned here for six months, after her defeat in Scotland in 1568. She was initially held at Carlisle Castle under the watch of Henry, 9th Baron Scrope, but Carlisle proved unsuitable so she was moved to Bolton where tapestries, rugs and furniture were borrow from local houses to make it suitable for a Queen. Mary was given Henry Scrope's own apartments in the South-West tower, attended by 30 of her men and six ladies-in-waiting. Her household included cooks, grooms, hairdresser, embroiderer, apothecary, physician and surgeon.

Ah, Swinton Park! This lovely estate was our own Downton Abby, complete with drawing rooms and suites. My favorite ride all week left from here.

Day 5 began with Drew's Route Rap (seen here with Holly) and include a long climb to the top of the heather covered moors.We shared the road with sheep and they shared the soft springy heather with us. Josh and Becky Marvil at the top of the moor.
Texas contingent: Richard, Kacy, Scott, Jack and me

Becky and Josh Marvil

We sped downhill into Pateley Bridge. My brother had suggested we visit a candy shop there, and wouldn't you know it, Backroads made sure we had our morning tea nearby.

Our last lunch stop and picnic was at Studley Royal and Fountains Abbey. Sophia produced our fabulous picnic lunch after a great day 5 of riding - 30 miles and 2,459 feet of climb.

The Studley Royal Gardens were created in the 1700's and are still stunning today. These gardens are not all about the flower, but instead, they are about vistas and views, whimsy and windows, layers of plantings and history on a grand scale.

"Anne Boleyn" statue

The Abbey in the distance
The temple is a classic "folly"

The Abbey was founded in 1132 and became one of the richest in Europe, and was one of the last to close under Henry VIII in 1539. Kids clamber over the ruins and there are no signs warning people to keep away.

Our last dinner together was in the library at Swinton Park. Cocktail hour gave us a chance to experience the Birds of Prey demonstration AND wear Barbour jackets. They are very warm and felt great in the cool evening air.

Becky and I used our last morning at Swinton Park to explore the gardens and grounds. This 200 acre property features follies, lakes, trails, heritage trees, and ancient coffins of Saxon nuns discovered when the lakes were created the 1760's. Swinton Park's grounds are a classic example of the English Landscape Garden. The colorful, biodynamic kitchen garden furnishes flower, berries, greens and vegetables for the restaurant. 

Parade wave goodbye through the rain splatter bus window. We lucked out entirely on this trip with the rain holding out until the very last minute! Thank you, Drew Smith and Sophia Gottlieb and Holly.

On to York for one day so we could see the York Minster, located at the site of the first recorded church in the area, a wooden structure dating to 627. It's been remodeled a few times since then and now looks like this:

Great trip!! Thanks, Backroads!!