Sunday 20th March no wind very sunny AM, clouded over for PM, cool 2 to 8C
A glorious morning greets me from my farmhouse cottage bedroom window and after breakfast I am off on the physical challenge of the year. My planned route is across the Pennines via the Pennine Way. I have no idea on the surface of the pathway yet know that no matter what it may be I can either cycle or push and still enjoy it on such a beautiful day.
Naive? I'll see later.
With many thanks to Michael and Emma at this wonderful b and B, at £30 a night it has been superb value, I set off.
The road has frosty imprints from a few passing vehicles and there are a few lapwings skydancing. The road takes me to a large reservoir and I take a route that gets me to The Pennine Way just south of a large dam. A pair of red grouse are on a small island beneath a powerful water shoot.
The tarmac has gone and the track is cyclable, just. After a farmhouse it changes again though as the way is made of a new covering of stones. I push.
A small tortoiseshell butterfly flutters by as I cross a stream. Birds are few and far between out here, just the occasional red grouse and curlew. A single meadow pipit lands on a wall quite close. There may be few birds but the scenery is so beautiful and so empty of people. No one is walking the way today.
Mile after mile of pushing, I reach a turn in the path where the stony way changes to boggy grass and small boulders. This is going to be fun!
Downhill to a river, more tough pushing and then over a bridge. More stones and a bouncy push uphill, I meet a walker, the first of the day.
Half a mile later two cyclists stop for a chat, Antony and Dan. Their bikes are built for this terrain with huge tyres. Photographs swopped and respect.
There are no birds singing here and I decide to listen to some of my favourite songs and sing along to them. Meat loaf and Status Quo songs head across the moorland and suddenly there are crowds of people. So far today I have seen three people. Here there are dozens and they are all at this spot because of the incredible, magnificent view. I am reached the top of High Cup Nick and a group of people tell me that it is nicknamed 'The Grand Canyon of the North.' The valley is u-shaped and surrounded by steep cliffs with views over the plain far below over to the Lake District.
People want to know why a happy singing man is pushing a heavily laden bike across the moor and a couple kindly give a donation into the robin collection box. Thanks Patricia.
BAE systems - WPS Fell Walker group
I start to head towards the way down. The path goes along a cliff edge and bumping the bike over the rocks is fun and difficult. A purple-haired girl helps push over one particularly hard part. My hands are getting battered by all of this and once the steep path down is reached I find that with care I can white knuckle ride.
Reaching the village of Dufton after 15 miles of mostly pushing I can at last relax and cycle. The small country lanes takes me through valley after valley, village after village in the direction of Haweswater.
A cyclist named Lee questions my reasons and tries to lift the bike. He makes complimentary comments about my legs as his wife, Ribby, puts a large donation into the collection box. Brilliant.
Over the A6, over the M6, and with the sun now having set, I find a bridleway that cuts a corner and find a secluded area to set up the tent for the night. I am a bit tired.
So the year list is 189, which is twenty six ahead of this time last year.
27.98 Miles 2329 feet elevation up 2997 feet elevation down