We spent two hours replacing our stolen property before we were able to leave town, cycling along quiet roads in the warm sunshine, much of it on the old A66. Laden with camping gear, the Old Coach Road wouldn’t have been a serious option for us even if we’d not lost so much time, but we didn’t feel we were missing out.
A sign Cyclists please slow down through the farm amused us as we toiled up a steep hill in bottom gear.
We reached Penrith in the middle of the afternoon then paused at Little Salkeld Mill for refreshments to sustain us for the long slog up to Hartside Summit. This is the best café you’ll find on the route and you’ll need the calories from their gooseberry flan or bakewell tart.
It was 18:40 by the time we reached the summit and the café was closed but it was downhill all the way to Alston, a unique market town in the middle of nowhere with a steep cobbled street. We dragged our bikes up it to the late shop to be served by a sullen young woman. The older people were friendly but disaffected youths were driving cars and motorcycles aggressively while those too young to pass their test hung round looking bored. We were glad the youth hostel was on the edge of town. Twenty guests were staying, every one a cyclist including a party of six from the Netherlands. Friendly warden, comfortable hostel, nice atmosphere – a good place to stay.