Monthly Archives: August 2003

LEJOG – Day 10 over the sea to Arran

Day 10 – Kendoon SYH (Glenhoul) to Lochranza SYH – 70 miles

(Backwards to Day 9 or Forwards to Day 11)

Lochranza Sunset

Lochranza Sunset

The day’s events

We were on a mission this morning as we needed to find a bike shop to get Mark’s rear wheel sorted and a spare tyre for me. We set off at 7am and roller-coastered the 35 miles into Ayr in Tom’s slipstream – who was on a roll – in well under 2 hours. We found a bike shop buying a spare tyre for me and doing a deal on a replacement wheel for Mark.

On the Arran ferry

On the Arran ferry

Originally we had been aiming for the 3:15pm ferry at Ardrossen to Arran, but felt we had enough time to get the 12:30. Unfortunately my tyre patch started to give way and a puncture slowed us down so the hammer had to go down for the final 15 miles. Riding flat out (well for us anyway!) at about 20 + mph we started to believe we could make it again until we found ourselves riding over a bridge with no obvious way to join our intended dual carriageway to the ferry port. No time to carry on to the next road junction, we decided to try Cyclecross, dismounted, clambered down the embankment, carried bikes across the busy dual-carriageway, over the armco barrier, across the other carriageway, and back on the saddles again. As we got closer to Ardrossen the time got tighter and tighter. By now we were within the towns built-up area and overtaking most of the traffic. Luckily most of the traffic lights were in our favour and we reached the ferry with 5 minutes to spare – phew!

To Arran from Ardrossen-

To Arran from Ardrossen

As we rode off the ferry at Broddick on the Isle of Arran, I immediately discovered another puncture so the new tyre was fitted and a picnic lunch from the supermarket devoured on the beach. From here we had a fantastic 15 mile ride along the coastline, over the mountains and down in to Lochranza. The Isle of Arran is frequently referred to as “Little Scotland” and it is certainly an island blessed with beautiful scenery. The last climb from Sannox over to Lochranza is well worth the effort with stunning mountain views before the freewheel down the other side to the hostel.

Food

Keith summiting the pass to Lochranza

Keith summiting the pass to Lochranza

We had breakfast in Ayr whilst we waited for Mark’s wheel to be sorted out, and lunch on the beach at Broddick just after we got off the ferry, following a shop at the well stocked supermarket. We also brought provisions here for tonight’s meal and tomorrows breakfast as we had no idea what the hostel and Lochranza had to offer in the food department. As it happened a small general store was open in Lochranza and the hostel had a reasonably stocked shop that we could have raided if needed.

The Route

The official carrot points the way

The official carrot points the way

A good route today although we would have chosen a route through a less built up area around Ayr and Irvine if we hadn’t needed to get to Ayr and we hadn’t cut ourselves short for catching the ferry. NCR7 does follow the coast to Ardrossen which we would have followed but the signposts didn’t really help us as to if it went in the direction we wished to go so rather than follow it and miss the ferry, we kept to the main roads. We hadn’t pre-booked the ferry and it was no problem to just turn up with the bikes and jump on. We chose this route to avoid Glasgow as we had heard bad things about broken glass, needles and flashers on the route through the city – (these turned out to be true speaking to somebody in Glen Coe a few days later who had cycled that route!). Looking back on the trip the route from Carlisle to Aran and up the West Coast of Scotland to Glen Coe was a good choice for both the cycling and scenery.

The bike shop we stopped in at Ayr was a very helpful and friendly place. I can’t remember what it was called but as you head North on the A road just after the bridge where NCR7 crosses it is on the left side of the road here.

Broddick (Arran) Ferry times from Ardrossen were as follows for summer 2003: – 0945, 1230, 1515, 1800. Fare was £4.70 plus £1 per bike. You must have a ticket and be onboard at least 10 mins before departure. (Caladonian MacBraine) Journey time is 55 mins.

Climbing Profile 

Kendoon SYHA to Ardrossen Ferry Terminal (55 Miles)

Lejog day 10 part 1 climbing profile

Lejog day 10 part 1

Isle of Arran, Broddick to Lochranza (15 Miles)

Lejog day 10 part 2 climbing profile

Lejog day 10 part 2

Statistics

From To

Day Distance (Miles)

Running Total (Miles)

Height climbed (Metres)

Height descended (Metres)

Kendoon SYH Lochranza SYH

70

724

1040

1203

Directions

The approximate route we followed for Day 10 is listed below (1:50 000).

I used the Memory Map 1:50 000 Ordnance Survey electronic maps for route planning. Note: – Don’t however buy their Adventurer GPS units as they are rubbish in my opinion.

Out of the SYH and turn L following B7000 until it meets the B729 where L. Follow B729 to A713 where R and follow to Ayr.

Pick up the NCR7 from Ayr that goes all the way to Troon, and onwards to Irvine and Ardrossen. (We didn’t as the signing on the ground gave us no clues as to where it went!!) so we took the A road route to Ardrossen and the ferry port.

On the Isle of Arran follow the NCR73 which follows the A841 around the coast to Sannox and over the pass to Lochranza.

LEJOG – Day 9 Dumfries and Galloway

Day 9 – Carlisle YH to Kendoon SYH (Glenhoul) – 72 miles

NOTE – Kendoon YH has now closed. However thanks to Dave Barker, who has found bunkhouse accommodation here

Also note that Carlisle YH during University term time is student accommodation so check for availability in advance.

(Backwards to Day 8 or Forwards to Day 10)

The day’s events

Gretna Blacksmith

Gretna Blacksmith

Over the border and a brief visit to Gretna at the famous Blacksmith’s Shop. Mark proposed to Keith but he resisted the temptation as he said that he’d continue sleeping with me! Posing for some wedding photos of our official carrot dressed in a tissue paper wedding dress and bouquet with the official piper – (who seems to be looking very jealous of the happy couple in the photo below!), before heading on towards Dumfries. We stopped for a brunch at Annan before cycling on to Dumfries in to a very strong headwind. Although we found a Halfords open on the Sunday afternoon, they didn’t really have a suitable wheel or tyre for our repairs so we continued with crossed fingers.

Now I haven’t talked a lot about the Youth Hostels so far but for those of you who haven’t used them before they are an unusual mix of buildings. Often old schools or country mansions that have been donated or inherited and one we were to stay at later in Scotland is actually a Castle! Kendoon YHA at Glenhoul however is described as “simple” – basically it’s a wooden hut that’s a cross between STALAG 13 and a cow shed! However it was clean and presentable, and after 7 hours in the saddle, and 2 hours in the excellent pub at St John’s Town of Dalry for beer and food, we were glad to see it

Food

The Piper at Gretna spies the carrot

The Piper at Gretna spies the carrot

We had a problem with sending our food parcel to Kendoon YHA. The YHA warden seemed to be particularly unhelpful and inflexible as he never appeared to be in when the postman arrived with our box of goodies. Despite phonecalls to him, our food parcel remained in the post office at St Johns Town of Dalry. This meant that we ended up changing our route so we could pick up the parcel, a route that took us along 9 miles of the busy A75. There was a silver lining to our cloud however as the excellent pub in St John very helpfully looked after our parcel so that we could collect it when we came through on a Sunday afternoon. The pub does very good bar food and the beer isn’t bad either! There is also very little in the way of food at the hostel – even down to essentials like milk for a cup of tea etc. Fortunately somebody who had left that morning left 4 pints of milk which the warden very generously said we could use!

Stalag luft Kendoon YH

Stalag luft Kendoon YH

There was also another silver lining as we found a superb combined tea and antiques shop with excellent friendly hosts just off the A75 near Lochfoot. The OS 1:50 000 map on Streetmap is out of date as The A75 is a dual carriageway at that point and marked on the 2004 1:50 000 OS map as a Green Trunk road. To find the tea shop (well worth the effort!) Coming from Dumfries on the A75 you come to a new roundabout at the end of the 1.4 Mile stretch of dual carriageway at Cargenbank. At the roundabout take the first exit (Left) on to a minor road (signposted to Lochfoot) and then almost immediately left again so that you are cycling alongside the A75 in the Dumfries direction. You should be able to see the tea shop about 200Metres away on the right of the road. For our mid morning stop we found a café in Annan with a small patio area out the back, that served baked potatoes that was OK and open on a Sunday morning.

The Route

The A75 is very busy with lots of heavy commercial traffic and I would certainly not use it again. I think it would be worth the 9 mile round trip from the YHA to St John to follow our original plan from Dumfries to follow the B729, or take the hillier lane that shadows the A75 from Dumfries to Milton and then right to pick up the A712 at Crocketford. The A712 off the A75 towards St Johns was very pleasant though. Gentle incline and some nice downhill sections along reasonably traffic free good quality surfaced road.

Climbing Profile

lejog day 9 climbing profile

lejog day 9

The profile above is our A75 amended route not the original route via the B729

Statistics

From To

Day Distance (Miles)

Running Total (Miles)

Height climbed (Metres)

Height descended (Metres)

Carlisle YH Kendoon SYH

72

654

1092

938

Directions

The approximate route we followed for Day 9 is listed below (1:50 000).

I used the Memory Map 1:50 000 Ordnance Survey electronic maps for route planning. Note: – Don’t however buy their Adventurer GPS units as they are rubbish in my opinion.

From the YHA we followed the dual carriageway East back over the river and turned L (A7) on the big roundabout where the A7, A69 and A595 meet, crossed river and followed the A7 to Longtown where over the river and L on to A6071 towards Gretna. We turned off the A6071 on the lane past Springfields and Gretna Green to pay homage to the Old Smithy, we then picked up the NCR7 / B724 just West of Gretna and followed it towards Eastriggs and on to Annan.

Carry on the B724 until the junction with the B725 that you follow all the way to Dumfries. Our initial plan was to follow the B729 from Dumfries to Glenhoul, but thanks to the unhelpful SYHA warden we changed and followed the A75 to Crocketford before turning R and following the very pleasant A712 to St John’s Town of Dalry via the B7075 and A702, and the B7000 onwards to Glenhoul and Kendoon SYHA.

LEJOG – Day 8 the North of England

Day 8 – Slaidburn YH to Carlisle YH – 78 miles

(Backwards to Day 7 or Forwards to Day 9)

The day’s events

What a difference a day makes!

Tom and Keith approach Corss of Greet Pass

Tom and Keith approach Corss of Greet Pass

After “bonking” all yesterday afternoon, 10+ hours of sleep helped to get our energy levels back on track. After the rainy start to our LEJOG trip, the weather was definitely on the up with no rain at all yesterday and rumours of a heat wave on its way.

While having breakfast at the YHA we got chatting to a couple of guys on a tandem cycling John O’Groats to Lands End averaging about a 100 miles a day. They had a few problems the previous day and didn’t get to the YHA until 11:15pm. It was a sunny morning and as we had breakfast outside watching them getting ready to set-off one of them had a generous application of white cream to his nose. We figured that if he was riding “up front” it was probably sun-block but if was riding on the rear then it may have been Sudacrem when perhaps he lost concentration and got a bit low on his handlebars!!

Leaving Slaidburn the road continues relentlessly uphill for several miles, followed by a long fast decent into Kirby Lonsdale for a tea stop. Only to rise again over Shap before dropping into Penrith and onwards to Carlisle.

Mark rounding up sheep nr Burton in Lonsdale

Mark rounding up sheep nr Burton in Lonsdale

On paper this was one of the harder days but we all coped well. Plenty of big hills for the first35 miles and fantastic scenery as we came through the Cumbrian Mountains with views right across to the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. Steady climbs as we smugly passed cycle tourists loaded down with the kitchen sink, and thrilling rapid descents. The route proved also to be very quite, unlike the routes that pass through the Lake District National Park.

Carlisle YHA is actually in the University Halls and judging by the regular Police sirens probably not the most desirable part of the city. We had a bad feeling about the YHA bike store so decided to take our bikes to our bedrooms for safe keeping and the opportunity to check them over. This is when Mark discovered his rear wheel rim was cracking and I found a small hole in the wall of my tyre big enough for the inner tube to bubble through. Although we were in a city it was now 8:30pm on a Saturday night and all the bike shops were closed! Captain Bodge (Keith) to the rescue with some “liquid metal” for Mark and a tyre patch for me. This we hoped would get us through Sunday and the 100 miles to the next town likely to have a bike shop – Ayr.

Tom’s back tyre (fitted new at Exeter) had completely worn out and started to distort and bulge slightly so swapped-out with a spare he’d been carrying.

Mark, Keith and I re-lived our BT apprentice days treating ourselves to a Chinese takeaway in our student flat. Spirits were high as we were not only over half way in distance and time, but also tomorrow morning we’d cross the border into Scotland!

Food

We found very good tea shops and cafes in Kirby Lonsdale and Penrith without too many problems. You are spoilt for choice in both towns.

The Route

Carlisle YH is not that easy to find as the signposts are more or less non-existent. The YHA is actually the University Halls and presumably only a YHA during the University holidays and is on the West side of the Bridge right next to the river. The reception is on the ground floor of one of the hall blocks and is in the middle as opposed to being by the roadside. The best way to find it is to come over the Bridge and take the first R opposite the traffic lights on a minor road that follows alongside the halls and then take the first right into the complex and the reception will be roughly in front of you in the building in the middle of a small courtyard / garden.

We did have a backup plan using B roads to get us into Carlisle if the A6 was busy. But considering we were travelling along it on the 2nd Saturday of the Summer School holidays it wasn’t busy at all and we stayed on it all the way to Carlisle and would happily use it again. In fact all the A roads we used today we not that busy at all and we all enjoyed the route very much. Even the hills were enjoyable!

Climbing Profile

Lejog day 8 climbing profile

Lejog day 8 climbing profile

 

Statistics

From To

Day Distance (Miles)

Running Total (Miles)

Height climbed (Metres)

Height descended (Metres)

Slaidburn YH Carlisle YH

78

582

2027

2158

Directions

The approximate route we followed for Day 8 is listed below (1:50 000).

I used the Memory Map 1:50 000 Ordnance Survey electronic maps for route planning. Note: – Don’t however buy their Adventurer GPS units as they are rubbish in my opinion.

Turn R out of the YH past the pub and down a short hill where L onto lane and out of village and begin to climb on to the fells. Follow lane up over apex at 1400 feet and drop down into High Bentham. Take R and quick L across B6480 in the centre of High Bentham and carry on North to Burton-in-Lonsdale. Follow lane North and join A65 near Ireby where L along A65 to Kirby Lonsdale, nice small town with plenty of good tea shops.

Out of Kirby Lonsdale join A683 North and turn L onto B6256 just South of Sedbergh. Turn R onto A684 and L onto B6257 past Beckfoot where steep uphill under M6 and R on to A685.

Follow A685 until just before it crosses M6 where L on lane past Roundthwaite to Greenholme where R on lane over both carriageways of M6 and L on B626 until it joins the A6 where R towards Shap. Follow A6 North past Penrith all the way to Carlisle. See directions in Tips above.

LEJOG – Day 7 Lancashire

Day 7 – Chester YH to Slaidburn YH – 85 miles

Drop back to day 6. Jump forward to day 8

The day’s events

North of Blackburn

North of Blackburn

On paper, today’s route although not very scenic and very busy, seemed to be fairly straight forward. 85 miles and around 5700ft of ascent – easier than first day in Cornwall. However we all “bonked” towards the end which we initially blamed on the fact that all the hills were in the last 30 miles. Further analysis later in the pub however identified the problem. Food! Not the fact we didn’t eat enough and ran out of energy, but the opposite. Half a cooked chicken, naan bread, fruit and a smoothie at lunch meant the body said sod your legs, digesting this food will take me the rest of the afternoon! Lesson learnt, food little and often!. My knee although not giving the sharp pain of yesterday was still sore and concerning me that I might not make it to the end. A highlight just before Slaidburn however was peaking the highest speed of the tour so far, 49.1mph. Keith also hit a bump at around 45mph sending another of his rear lights into many pieces and oblivion. The day had been not our most picturesque, but as we left Blackburn, the beauty and peace of the countryside returned.

Slaidburn YH but no water

Slaidburn YH but no water

When we got to Slaidburn YH there had been a booking mix-up meaning they didn’t have us booked in. Luckily they had a spare room anyway but then they told us a main had burst therefore no water. I’m not sure if this was bad news for them or us as not being able to wash or shower would be very unfortunate for any poor individual who would have to share a room with us all. Fortunately we had a room to ourselves which has now been sealed in the interest of public safety and hygiene. Anyway, looking on the positive side the pub over the road was open serving rather good food and beer, and we had now notched-up a total of 500 miles so that was something to celebrate! Celebrations were short lived however as we were so knackered, that by 8:30pm we were all in bed asleep.

Food

Well as above we learnt to not stuff ourselves at lunchtime and to eat little and often. We ate breakfast at the YHA which was just about OK, and found a supermarket for our lunch. Our evening meal at the pub in Slaidburn was excellent.

The Route

The area was very built up and we followed the CTC YHA route today to pick our way through the traffic. The route was about as good as it could be in this area I imagine. Once you get past Blackburn however the scenery and peace of the countryside returns and the final route into the lovely village of Slaidburn is hilly but pleasant. The YHA at Slaidburn is one of the smaller hostels we’ve been to and probably one of the best so far. Very friendly, quiet, an undercover and locked cycle shed and opposite the pub with good beer and food. What more could you ask?

Climbing profile

Lejog day 7 part 1 climbing profile

Lejog day 7 part 1

Lejog day 7 part 2 climbing profile

Lejog day 7 part 2

Statistics

 

From To

Day Distance (Miles)

Running Total (Miles)

Height climbed (Metres)

Height descended (Metres)

Chester YH Slaidburn YH

85

504

1540

1415

Directions

The approximate route we followed for Day 7 is listed below (1:50 000).

I used the Memory Map 1:50 000 Ordnance Survey electronic maps for route planning. Note: – Don’t however buy their Adventurer GPS units as they are rubbish in my opinion.

Left Chester YHA and headed out along busy roads (A5115) towards ring road. Passed under A55 and turned L onto lane Christleton.(NCR45). L in Waverton along lane towards Brookdale Farm and Tarvin where R onto A54. L on B5393 through Ashton. Before railway station turn R towards Delamere Forest park. Straight across B5152 at Hatchmere joining the B5153 at Cooksongreen where R. Turn L on lane at Milton Farm towards Acton Bridge.

Join A49 where it crosses the River Weaver and follow to M56 J10. Cross Motorway and R on B5356. Cross M6 J20 and on to B5158 at roundabout. R on A6144 at Lymm before L at B5159 and follow toll road (no toll payable for cycles) to A57 where R. L on B5212 to Culcheth where R on A574 towards Leigh.

In Leigh L on to A578 and R on to B5215 and turn L onto B5235 towards Westhoughton. Cross the A6 and M61 to Chew Moor. Pass the railway station at Lostock Junction and join the A58 where L. Follow A58 north and turn L onto B6402. Cross the B6226 and carry on to the A675 where L to Belmont.

Take R off A675 just after Old Man’s Hill and follow lane to Ryal Fold and Tockholes. Cross the M65 and carry on into Blackburn. R at A6062 and L on to A666. Follow A666 through the Blackburn one way system and out to Wilpshire. At roundabout with A59 take the 3rd exit minor road (not A59) to Whalley. In Whalley take L on B6246. Pass Great Mitton and R on to B6243.

At R hairpin in B6243 take lane straight on towards Bashall Eaves. Take L fork in Bashall Eaves towards Cow Ark. In Cow Ark turn R on lane and then R again after 400 Metres following lane past Marl Hioll to Longstripes. Where lane joins B6478 turn L to Newton and Slaidburn.