Wednesday 13th, we left Pilsley as planned for what we thought would be a relatively short day, but the ride across the Peak District to New Mills near Manchester, was much tougher than expected. We spent the night in New Mills with friends and then on Thursday we knew we had a tough day, from New Mills to Gargrave in Yorkshire, following the Pennine Cycleway. The first climb out of New Mills was tough, but there were plenty more tough ones to come, with descents into and climbs out of towns such as Holmfirth, Sowerby Bridge, Hebden Bridge and Colne. We tried to find canal towpaths as often as possible, but these were made awkward with various gates and blockages designed to keep motorised traffic out because the same gates were very effective at stopping loaded tandems getting past as well!
The day to Gargrave had us pedalling for nearly 9 hours and we were out for nearly 13 hours but it was literally a day of highs & lows with top-speed on one descent of 76kph (nearly 50mph) and regular low speeds of 5 & 6kph (between 3 & 4mph). We were in Gargrave because that’s where we bought the bike, and Ruth & John in JD Tandems had suggested we call in to get the bike serviced after the shake-down of the first 600kms (400 miles approx). So Friday morning, John gave the bike a good check over which was much appreciated & Ruth fuelled hungry cyclists with crumpets for breakfast (which were equally appreciated).
Friday afternoon, we found the flattest route possible over to friends just north of Preston, Lancashire. We then stayed with them through till Sunday morning – they suggested we get our bike out on Saturday and join them on their cycling club’s club-run … but we politely declined and decided to rest our weary bodies instead – by now both of us were getting sore ankles and knees.
Sunday 17th, we packed up and headed off to more friends in the south end of the Lake District, a short way south of Windermere. The Lancashire canal towpath gave us a gentle number of miles from a short way north of Garstang, through Lancaster city and onto Carnforth, then it was onto the roads. The last few miles to our friends house were really tough, but we got there and then enjoyed a lovely dinner in the local pub.