Well the title says it all, today I pretty much just rode north!
First of all though, I rode just three miles up to Blackburn Cathedral. This is an another church which is undergoing major development. Exciting for them, they are adding new building and cloisters/garden. For me though, it meant it was tricky to get photos of the outside of the building, including the modern spire which is at the East end.
Inside was great though; very light and airy with a real sense of space. I loved it. There is a striking sculpture on the West wall by John Hayward, and an amazing modern octagonal ‘lantern tower’ with 56 panes of stained glass. Parts of its vibe reminded me of Coventry cathedral.
I then headed up out of Blackburn (it’s hilly!) and out past Preston. I past through Garstang, whic was nice….
I then headed back on to the A6, which was my main track of the day. I was worried about that but I needn’t have been. It really wasn’t that busy at all and is so wide most of the time that passing vehicles can give you a wide berth.
It’s a good road which wound its way over and under the M6 taking me through Lancaster with its castle and then on to Kendal which had lovely views over the River Kent today….
After Kendal I headed up past the Lake District to my left. The weather was incredible and apart from a bit of distant haze, I can’t have imagined better views. I kept having to stop to take photos!
The only slightly dodgy moment I had was on a big climb over the fell before Shap. A long section of the road had the descending carriage way closed with a temporary traffic light system. Anyway, once it went green I was only half way up it before the traffic – headed by a juggernaut – started coming down. I just had to stop and get off to try and let them by!
I stopped at lovely little town called Shap for a well earned coffee, accompanied by a local meat and potato pasty at a friendly cafe called the ‘Abbey Coffee Shop‘. They were so nice and owner Rowan (pictured) took details to donate to my cause. Visit them if you’re passing!
Next I passed through Penrith which has a pleasant town centre and a fantastic ruined medieval castle. Unfortunately, local planners thought it ok to build a supermarket right opposite. What are these people thinking?!
After that it was just the push on to Carlisle. It was a lumpy ride but overall trend was downhill. I finally rolled into Carlisle at around 6.00pm. It took me 30 minutes to find the cathedral. Maybe just me but the roads were really confusing with lots of one-ways and central pedestrianised section which you have to navigate round.
The cathedral dates from 1133 and this is the second smallest of the ancient cathedrals. It looked lovely drenched in sunset.
A service had just finished and I was reluctantly allowed entry for five minutes. I really don’t get this about the cathedrals. I’m a pilgrim and sometime it feels like they want to get rid of you quicker than a pub at 11.20pm!
Inside is nice but I found it strangely claustrophobic, largely I think because the organ is placed centrally which obscures the view from the east to west ends and vice versa. It has a cool medieval feel though, largely engendered by the old worn stone pillars and arches. Oh… I think they spelt one of their signs wrong outside.
I had a comfortable night in the Premier Inn last night but you feel strangely disconnected from the town; like you’re in a service station or retail park – which I was! So, I decided to buy local and checked in at a friendly B & B called Cartref Guest House. Really nice room (and much cheaper than Premier Inn) and they even agreed to wash all my cycling kit. I take two day’s worth… but it’s been three! So very grateful for that!
As I write this I’m sat at the bar (can you see my beer?) in a really cool bar/restaurant called The Thin White Duke. Enjoying a lovely pint of ‘Double Hitch’ which is brewed locally by Hesket Newmarket Brewery. I had a Gourmet King Burger which was probably one of the best burgers I’ve ever had! If you’re passing through, eat here!
Heading across to the East coast and Newcastle and Durham cathedrals tomorrow. And then start heading back south!
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