(written by Nancy)
A very quiet night in the Slaidburn youth hostel last night – we didn’t really hear anything except, unfortunately, the sound of raindrops when the alarm went off at 6:30 this morning. We packed up, had the usual breakfast of oatmeal and as we had access to a toaster Dave got a special treat of vegemite toast as well.
It was just misting as we set off but very socked in so it was hard to see much. Only a kilometer or so from the hostel we came around a bend and hit a 16% climb – uggh, not the thing you want to see first thing on a rainy morning! We worked our way through several small villages full of stone buildings. The houses sit right on the road, with cars parked here and there where there is a little bit of room. That usually means that only one car can pass at a time. People seem very polite as they wait patiently for their neighbors to pass before they pull out and go by.
The rain came in fits and starts –we stopped several times to put our rain pants on and then again to take them off. The pants are not that comfortable to ride in but if it is really raining it does help to keep some of the wet off and the cold at bay. There are lots of little country roads in the area we were riding and we were a bit uncertain about what road we were on but we couldn’t get a very good signal on the phone so we were at the mercy of the road signs and our maps. We found ourselves on a beautiful road that went through the small settlement of Whitewell, then worked our way around up and down some more hills into Longridge, a small village where we stopped for a late morning tea.
From Longridge we had to work our way down and through Blackburn, one of the biggest cities we have been in for quite some time. This required lots of stopping to check the map on the phone and watching out for traffic. Dave got us through though without too much trouble. We did ride over the Wainwright Bridge, which is referred to in our end-to-end guide book as ‘iconic’ – it’s nothing fancy, but was apparently named after Alfred Wainwright who was the author of a seven-volume series on the Lakeland fells.
We had another decent climb out of Blackburn as we headed back out into the countryside to work our way to the next big town of Bolton. Along the way Dave saw a sign for homemade cupcakes and off he went down the road to see what he could find. Well, he found Julie’s Kitchen Cakes, where we each had two delicious cupcakes, artfully decorated, baked by hand by Julie (hence the name!). She was kind enough to give us some information about the road ahead and hotels in Bolton. The cupcakes were just what we needed to get us into Bolton. If you’re in the area and are looking for a unique cake or cupcakes we heartily recommend a stop!
We had a bit more climbing to do as we worked our way around the western outskirts of Bolton. We were aiming for a hotel we had found (with cupcake Julie’s help) that was out near the Reebok Stadium, where the Bolton Wanderers (or something) play soccer. We followed the route Google maps suggested, which took us on a very quiet road, which started out fine but became rougher and rougher as we continued along, until it was rough cobblestone that became unrideable. We ended up walking the bikes for a bit to avoid breaking any spokes or other bits on the bike. Thankfully we reached pavement after not too long and it was then only a short ride to the Premier Hotel, where we are now ensconced in what is for us a fancy hotel room!
Dinner was at the pub next door – Dave had a Gammon Steak, which he thinks was pork, with a fried egg on top and I went with the safe hamburger – all turned out to be tasty, and a deal at £10 for the lot. Now off to plan the route tomorrow – I think we’ll try for Chester but we have some more city riding to get through as we work our way through the two big cities of Manchester and Liverpool. Hopefully we will have a bit dryer day than today.