The other side of Clitheroe lies one of the most fabulous sections of the whole End-to-End ride. The glorious Forest of Bowland, while pretty much denuded of trees, presents a glorious set of Alpine-style climbs.
The day had started as the previous one had ended – dodging 18-wheelers on the A6 in pouring rain and terrible visibility. Which made it all the sweeter (or was it the fabulous second breakfast in Clitheroe?) when the sun emerged just as we hit the first of three massive climbs through the Forest of Bowland.
This 312 square-mile Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Lancashire and North Yorkshire was one of the unexpected surprises of the trip. So much so that three of us voted it our favourite part of the whole ride. A single track road wound for 25 miles through high moorland with barely any traffic, visiting just a single village, Slaidburn, along the way. There, at the Hark to Bounty pub, we were told that this was the half-way point for the four of us who had set off from Land’s End.
Even a puncture (the only one of the whole End-to-End!) couldn’t sour my mood – if you have to spend 15 minutes changing tubes then do it at the top of the most glorious mountain I had found.
Leaving the Forest of Bowland, we touched the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, then turned Northwest to head for the Lakes. Mark suffered the first and most serious mechanical of the whole trip, when his rear derailleur hanger broke, leaving him forced to hitch rides to get to the next bike shop in Kendal, then Keswick.
For the rest of us came an obligatory shopping stop in Kendal to buy and eat Kendal mint cake, then lakeside riding along Windermere, Grasmere, Thirlmere. One mighty climb and we were entering Keswick for the night.
Day 5: Bolton to Keswick: 106 miles; 8086 ft ascent