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Latex Gloves, Sellafield and Wigton

  • From: Ravenglass
  • To: Wigton
  • LEJOG miles cycled: 0
  • Miles cycled: 72
  • Map of the journey (or at least 65 miles of it!)

A day on which our intrepid pair surmount a number of obstacles, are followed by the nuclear police and come to hate Wigton, whilst discovering some latex may have been useful.

Today (Wednesday 20th March) we started the Hadrian's Cycleway from Ravenglass to Cumbria (about 196 miles with the extensions we are planning). We intend to do this over 3 days but not necessarily in logical order or each day in the same direction because of the weather forecasts. We may yet not do Friday as the forecast is simply dreadful and we would be battered by strong winds and rain, possibly snow.

Day 1 would be a challenge - we were squeezed by arrival time of the first train (1020 if on time) and dusk about 1830 (or earlier train). As things turned out, some mishaps and lessons proved challenging along the way.

Great train journey - we only just got to Carlisle in time for the first train to Reavenglass, after I picked Robert up at 0730. Train set off on time but was 20 mins late arriving at Ravenglass - first minor indicator of things to come. Ravenglass and the Eskdale railway looked like somewhere to definitely come back to another time.

Then calamity - we had literally ridden only 10 yards and had not left the station environs when Robert's chain broke (link winter corrosion as it turned out - on a chain new only 2 months ago!). Robert's first thoughts were to go home on the approaching return train as he had no means or knowledge as to repair. However, Steve was in the boy scouts and was carrying a couple of spare links plus the right tools - in this case a link extraction tool. 10 minutes later the chain was restored to health. However, lesson number 1 - pack some latex gloves in the tool kit! Steve was covered in grease and dirt and could not get it all cleaned off with just soap and water.

We were now nearly 50 minues late setting off on what was a late start anyway. Our plan A to cycle 85 miles to Carlisle was in doubt and Plan B was enacted - cycle to Wigton for the 5ish train to Carlisle.  Still tough but doable - but we should have been looking at those indicators of things to come...

Damm! 7 miles in I realised I had forgotten to turn on Bike Brain at the start of the journey to record trip details and map! Bummer!

Ride progressed towards Sellafield - yes that Sellafield! Path closed next to railway due to outfall works with no simple diversion. In fact the poorly signed diversion was aimed at walkers and took you round the outskirts of this huge industrial fortified encampment. The stiles and path across the railway and first burn were almost insurmountable to cyclists and should have warned us of things to come. We more or less pushed and carried bikes through fields for 2 miles and then had a major cycling route diversion from which we lost about an hour. I feel all sorts of complaints coming on. The spooky thing here though was the MOD police followed us round their perimeter road and watched us all the way - perhaps they thought we were a couple of terrorists scoping the place out, really guys, get a life!

So back on track but running late, we identified a couple of short cuts we had not intended which also involved a few major roads unfortunately. Daylight would be running out soon. We also forgot about the 5ish train aiming just to reach Wigton by 1830 before dark and catch the 1848 to Carlisle.

Good relatively easy and flat cycling through Egremont, Whitehaven, Workington, Maryport. My overwhelming recollection is of once great thriving towns now looking a little run down. Litter everywhere being one indication. Is there work for people here now with steel works and ship building all gone? Beautiful backdrops of the Lake District though. At the start of the journey the views of snow covered Great Gable and Scafell looking up Wasdale were simply spectacular.

On to Wigton and by now we thought all mishaps behind us. Arrived Wigton 1815 in time for the train - which did not turn up! By now the temperature had dropped to 2 or 3 degrees and we were getting cold. A further hour to await the next train. A local told us this was not much of a surprise and filled us in on Wigton. Basically not a friendly place to strangers after dark, full of fights and feuding families and only one major employer. So we stayed on the station and got cold to the core. Thankfully the 1844 arrived and we could crawl aboard a warm train to begin recuperation for tomorrow's 65 miles from Newcastle to Tynemouth and then back home. Tomorrow we also meet up with our generous first online donor - the wonderful Gary Nicol.

See you shortly.