1997 John O’Groats to Lands End – Day 5 Galashiels to Penrith

A real hot summers day today.   I left Galashiels just after 9:00am and had a good ride for the first couple of hours.  I turned off the A7 at Hawick onto the B6399 to avoid the traffic and headed cross country.   The scenery was really pleasant but the sun was a scorcher.   It was pleasant enough going downhill with the breeze blowing into my face but the uphill bits were a real slog.

After a particularly hard climb I reached the top of Windburgh hill and as I passed over the summit I saw the road descend in front of me for several miles.   I got a good turn of speed going and imagined myself descending a mountain stage of the Tour De France, sprinting out of the hairpin corners and only slowing for the sheep that occasionally decided to do a suicidal walk into my path.   Mum and Dad passed me just before Newcastleton and waited in the village for me to catch up.   I decided to stop here for lunch and found the local shop.   We sat on a seat on the village green and chatted to the local postman for 20 minutes who was interested in my adventure.   I knew that the afternoon ride was going to be difficult with the heat, but the thought of crossing the border and back into England meant I was back on home soil.

I crossed the border a few miles north of Carlisle after rejoining the A7 and unlike the tourist stop on the A74 at Gretna Green there was only a simple sign announcing the border.   The temperature was now well into the 80’s and begining to take its’ toll.   I stopped at Longtown for refreshments and sat in the cool shade for about half an hour before pressing onwards into Carlisle and through the town, heading south for Penrith on the A6.   Halfway to Penrith I could see the sky begin to darken and after a few miles the clouds opened and a terrific thunderstorm developed.   Luckily I found shelter in a telephone box and decided at this stage that I was probably not going to make it to Kendal which was my planned destination for the day.   I phoned Mum and Dad and agreed to meet them in Penrith.

The rain eventually stopped and I cycled the last few miles into Penrith where Mum and Dad were waiting for me.   The rain had stopped but the skies were dark so decided to plod on for a further few miles but knew that with the climb at Shap ahead, Kendal was definitely out of the question.  I eventually called it a day 5 miles short of the village of Shap and loaded the bike onto the car and was transported the 20 miles or so to our camp-site on the other side of Shap.   This was probably the most depressing part of the entire journey as we ascended Shap in the car knowing that I would have to retrace my steps tomorrow morning.

After a quick shower we went into Kendal for a bite to eat only to find that Kendal shuts at about 6:00 in the evening.   We had to make do with a pint and a couple of bags of peanuts followed by a cheese sandwich back at the camp-site and after a long hard day, I slept like a log.

Daily Mileage: 88.40 miles

Average Speed: 9.60 mph

Cycling Time: 11h 00m

Cumulative Mileage: 413.73 miles

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