though doubtless i come across as a worldy wise traveller of the globe, accustomed to laying my head in a different country each night, the truth is far more mundane. the many-bedroomed mansion in the country, security guards and cctv that exists between you and me is merely a construct to hide the inescapable fact that i am far more down to earth than evinced by my more usual public persona. this is perhaps no better characterised than by pointing out that mrs washingmachinepost and i began married life honeymooning in portinscale in the lake district.
though a solitary bicycle was as much a part of our family as the carrier bags employed to take the shopping home each week, you may infer from the word solitary, that only one of us had made inroads to the velocipedinal life. thus our humble beginnings on the northwest region of englandshire were, dare i say it, observed from the front seats of a motor car. it will be of no interest to you whatsoever that said motor car suffered greatly from a lack of oil in the gearbox during the homeward journey, heralding a remarkably accurate rendition of ball bearings playing in a washing machine.
if only i could have seen that as a foretelling of things to come in the blogosphere (a term i abhor, but couldn't think of a viable alternative).
from the point of view of having an excuse ready at every turn, our lake district meanderings took place some considerable number of years prior to mr barrett penning his excellent guide to the roadways that inhabit this endearing portion of country south of the border. this way i have no need of apologising for not having a copy accompany us during the nuptial aftermath. of course, more recently and for a considerable number of years, we have holidayed near penrith, but that would invite a whole enchilada of alternative excuses.
disappointingly, mr barrett seems to have been carefully intent on ensuring portinscale, only a matter of stones throws from the town of keswick, feature not on any of his intriguing days out on the bicycle. though he does point out that "Some have very steep gradients and cross the highest passes in England...", those exist purely for the masochistic pleasure of those who see the defiance of gravity as the colour of joy.
in his introduction to the book and to the lake district itself, he features a seven-day touring schedule, but also advises that the intrepid rider might like to follow the route of the annual fred whitton challenge sportive ride. though as he records "Winners usually complete the course in less than six hours...", there's not a lot of sightseeing or coffee stops included in such alacrity. thus he has thoughtfully diced the fred whitton into manageable chunks encompassing two, three or five-day challenges depending on your ability of predilection for a relaxed daily mileage.
other than this, however, there are a wide variety of rides that can easily be accomplished between breakfast and dinner, each accompanied by a well-illustrated map, points of interest and pedal-stroke-by-pedal-stroke directions. nor would it be a cicerone guide were it not to contain information pertaining to weather, getting there, topographical information and impressive photography. each day ride is headed by the necessary map references, distance, grading as to perceived difficulty, average time for completion and, most importantly, cafés and pubs along the way.
notably enough, the author, a man renowned in the world of long-distance cycling, is also the chap responsible for the recently reviewed cycling in the hebrides also published by cicerone. and far from being domiciled in the region, he resides in the more unruly weather of the outer hebrides.
it's worth noting that, even if your interest in the lake district extends only as far as participation in the fred whitton challenge, this would be the ideal volume to pack in one of those rear pockets (yes, it does fit) to aid your sub six-hour participation.
"...you will undoubtedly get wet and experience blustery days. So be prepared for them."
thursday 26 may 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................