Wed 10 July’ Thurs 11

Up to have another hearty English breakfast in our room, then pack and on the bikes. A cooler day thank goodness, but fine as we did our last ride along the lakeside. Then the climb up to Kirkstone pass! It was lovely going past all the farms, then it got higher and steeper and wilder looking. We pushed the bikes up the last steep bit to the 1348m mark (have done a bit of laden bike pushing – P), and, behold – a pub at the top! It was quite cool by now so we rushed in and revived ourselves with coffee and hot buttered teacakes, spread with homemade rum butter and jam.


Pub offers beer and got buttered tea cake with tea or coffee too

What a great rush down the other side, into the green valleys again until we reached Lake Ullswater. Suddenly we were diverted by the ‘Steamer’ sign and in no time were sitting in the bows, gliding over the glassy water, admiring the fells, the camping grounds and number of people out walking the steep paths. From the end, it was lovely riding through pretty farming country and tiny villages to Penrith.


Ullswater ferries abound



Wind swept tourist on Ullswater


Next adventure, train to Carlisle (10 min) change to go to Newcastle, then change for last leg to Durham. Enjoying the train trips, they are very smooth and comfortable. Then on the bikes to find the Moor End B&B, dinner at the local pub (good Pimms) and sleep well.

The room there was on the 3rd floor, up under the eaves, and filled with decorative glassware, mirror ware, welcome and love signs. Breakfast next morning was in over decorated room with red and white chintz everywhere, but it was the best hot English breakfast yet, with, oh joy, a pot of real coffee. Debbie and Martin were the nicest people.


Big trains! Fast and comfortable


Local trains are excellent too

Then, the bus to Durham and what an amazing sight to see the castle and cathedral rising above the trees on the high ground up from the river. Those buildings and their immediate vicinity are now UNESCO World Heritage classified and it is spectacular. William the Conqueror started building the castle in 1072. The cathedral was built in an amazing 40 years and finished in 1096, then additions were made over the centuries. It is vast inside, soaring 66m high, massive pillars, wonderful windows, 2m thick walls. Glad we had the guided tour to learn more about it.


A short break then on to see the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition in the University Library. The Gospels were completed sometime around 800AD so it was wonderful to see them in an exhibition which put them in context with the history, and Durham at the time.


Publicity logo for Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition

Had time for lunch, then a guided tour of the Castle. What a marvelous place – it now belongs to the University and students can board there. One of the students was our tour guide, she was excellent. The ancient choir stalls in the chapel were the setting for the Gringotts bank in one of the Harry Potter films.

Topped off the day by going back to the Cathedral in the evening to see a performance of “The Sixteen”. They are a group of world famous Medieval choristers and Peter was beside himself that we could get tickets for 10 pounds each. Sitting in that wonderful building, listening to such pure singing was spine tingling. Celebrated with a fine Italian meal, then rushed to catch the last bus back.


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