Woke up to the strongest howling wind we've experienced in the entire 8 months we've been away. Remarkably it was sunny, but still very cold, and we put almost all of our clothes on when we finally rode away from our free campsite and the curious cows that had gathered to see us leave.
In the UK, and so far other cyclists we've met here agree, the roads are generally narrow and poorly surfaced, and don't usually provide much room for cyclists. Additionally there are lots of cars, far more than you would see over a weekend in the Mt Dandenongs and often challenging or inadeqaute signage, causing me to decide that if I were asked about riding in the UK I wouldn't recommend it, particularly when France, the perfect cycling country (and holiday destination) is so close.
We started the day with a detour to the Aira Force waterfalls in Ullswater, a popular part of the Lake District in the county of Cumbria. We read on a sign in the carpark (packed with cars) that the stream that forms the falls is called the Aira Beck, but could find no other real information, like were we had to go to find the falls, other than something about taking a turn through a glade, or something...
So, we followed some other people, who were following some other people, who were probably following some other people, and ended up hiking to a point well above the falls. From here we found our way down. Now that we could see where they were it was quite easy actually. From here we could see the water cascading down from under the bridge at the top and making a spectacular twenty meter drop into the stream below.
Around mid day we got to the Kirkstone Pass, the highest pass in the Lakes District with a gradient in sections of 20%, but were, according to wikipedia the gradient apparently becomes as steep as one in four, or 25% at one section. Setting off for the final two kilometers through the roaring wind we wished each other luck, deciding to meet at the top of the pass.
Much to our (my) amazement, we both rode the entire way up without stopping. When I got to the top, legs pumped with blood, wobbling like jelly, sweaty and exhausted, I jumped the old stone wall to fill my bottle in the mountain stream (with what turned out to be the cleanest water I've seen in weeks), jumped back over and there she was, smiling breathlessly with satisfaction at the accomplishment.
Gulping down the freezing pure water we looked down around us at the lakes and beautiful countryside, and pausing I thought to myself, 'maybe England has some good roads after all.'
Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia