Last weekend was a three day one, thanks to the wonder that is the British bank holiday. My Mr was away for the weekend, so I decided to take trip too, with some girl friends. It was my first biking break with my friends and we all took the Tuesday off work, to make a proper holiday of it.
The trip started after work on Friday night, when three girls, three bikes and three lots of kit were crammed into one car for a long ol’ trip from Bristol to Keswick, in the Lake District. To say it was a squeeze would be an understatement! But we all got in and nothing was broken when we got out at the other end five and a half hours later.
Our accommodation for the weekend was a very handy bunk barn just outside Keswick, which is run by the same people as the excellent pub on the same site – the White Horse Inn. The bunks were comfy and the whole site was clean and tidy, with great showers and a little kitchen area. I’d recommend it.
As we’d arrived in the middle of the night, we decided to go for the easy option on Saturday: a day of playing on the Whinlatter bike park trails. I’ve been to Whinlatter before, a couple of years ago, and I remember it being really hard and feeling extremely challenged by it. What a difference two years make! I rode all three trails happily – both my fitness and my skills have improved so much. My favourite trail at Whinlatter was the red North Loop, which had some gorgeous through-Forest riding (my favourite sort). It was just the right amount of whooshing and technical riding and made me grin.
On the second day, we decided to try out some of the natural riding in the area. With the help of a route guide torn out of a back issue of MBR, we drew up a route on the map that started in the cute little town of Hawkshead and took us through parts of Grizedale Forest. This was my first try at reading a map whilst riding and I really enjoyed it. We did get in a bit of a muddle with some of the forest paths in Grizedale so ended up taking a little detour. This was no bad thing though, as what we came across on the detour was some absolutely amazing singletrack, which we’d never have ridden otherwise! It was beautiful and really made the ride for me.
On the return back to Hawkshead the heavens opened, the thunder rolled and we got absolutely drenched! It was the sort of rain that makes your face sting as you ride into it. But I didn’t care – that singletrack had made it all worth while.
On day three, we decided to go for another natural ride. We’d been tipped off by a friend about a fantastic route around Derwent Water that started in Keswick, so we gave that one a go. And boy was it the right thing to do; the route was stunning! It started with an almighty climb up out of Keswick (and there were a few more epic climbs to add in later). We rode for 19 miles with 3041 feet of climbing in total. But the bits that weren’t climbing were spectacular! There were beautiful views and magical descents to keep my mind off my legs. One of the descents may well have been my favourite ever – loose and rocky and all kinds of awesome! There was even a cute cafe part way round, where I got an ice cream and a camelbak refill. All in all, it was a fabulous day.
This was an all-round brilliant trip. I love the Lake District – the people are friendly, the riding is ace and I learnt to read a map. Top banana!