Back in October, Stu and I embarked on our first real adventure – til then, we’d had independent city breaks, visiting Budapest, Amsterdam, Paris, Warsaw, Edinburgh, Liverpool and London, but this was the first where there would be no public transport, no cities, and everything we needed would be carried on our backs.
I first read about Pod n Pedal – ‘the sustainable Lake District holiday’ earlier in the year, when exercising my wanderlust to escape the humdrum of every day. It seemed right up our street – we both cycle a lot, we both enjoy the outdoors – and hey, if we were going to go travelling in a year or so, it would be good to have some camping experience. We booked the 4 day excursion for the week prior to my birthday as a mini-break and what can I say, it was fantastic. It was a challenging, emotional roller coaster of four days where I’ve never been happier, I’ve never been more frustrated, I’ve never been more hungry, and I’ve never felt more proud.
Coming from York, then living in Birmingham and Manchester, I’ve been been blessed with flat roads for almost the entirety of my adult life. I briefly hired a bike during a year’s study in Falmouth and after cycling up the hill to uni once, I vowed not to do it again. (I took up the treadmill at 2% instead – not a fan of hills.) Before we went to the Lakes, we saw the maps and the mileage was what took our attention – around 12 miles, then 19, then 35, then 19. Not too long at all – we’d recently cycled the 45 miles to Liverpool as something to do before lunch.
Well, never again will I look at a map without looking at the elevation. 35 miles, where the total climb is 3165ft, and the map directions are vague-enough that you get an hour lost, is pretty different to 35 miles of country lanes on flat terrain. After covering 34 of those miles, and not knowing where we were, I had my first tears. Little did I know, just round the corner and down a hill was our campsite.
Whilst I say we camped, I’m totally shying away from the truth – we stayed in Camping Pods. Essentially, carpeted sheds, with a plug socket, a heater and a light. It was a great way to ease in to camping.. haha. Despite travelling in October, the weather was surprisingly beautiful, but cold at night – so the heaters were a welcome presence. You could either take your own sleeping bags or pay a bit extra for the Pods to be kitted out – which we ended up doing last minute as we were reluctant to cycle with any extra weight. It was worth it.
One of our biggest expected challenges was that prior to the trip, we both gave up eating meat. I was focussed on veganism, and Stuart, vegetarian. Could we do the trip as Veggies? Proudly yes. Asking for Veggie options gave us much more opportunity to chat to locals, we got some incredible tailored meals, and we got to try some great new foods, including two epic pot pies at the Brackenrigg Inn – I recommend it wholeheartedly, such friendly staff and incredible food.
The trip was eyeopening, inspiring, and just so much fun. The adreneline from all the cycling certainly helped, but it was wonderful. We met so many lovely, friendly people – so thank you! On to the photos:
The four days took us from Penrith through to Oxenholme, so train travel to and from the Lakes was easy. The cycles were challenging, but I’d recommend it for everyone! You can read more about Pod n Pedal here: http://www.podnpedal.co.uk/