Staveley, South Lakeland
Binge cycling in the South Lakes
Jennride is a self supported, off-road bikepacking route in memory of Jenn Hill. We didn’t know Jenn, but her reputation precedes her and it sounds like a big bike ride with like minded people is a very fitting tribute.
We turned up a bit out of shape. Bikes, still in last seasons cross country racing guise, were strapped with bags and transformed into bikepacking steeds. The forecast was good, so we packed light and bimbled out of Staveley just before the mass start, mainly because we didn’t realise there was one and were itching to get going, all available pocket space filled with prototype Cherry Bakewell and Choc Kendal Mint Cake energy bars.
We were itching because the last six months hadn’t yielded much riding. The time away was for good reason (see O.P is GO), but had exponentially increased the faff factor that comes with getting ready for bikepacking. The buzz was the same though, leaving the house early and riding to the station with the first of the city commuters - we’ve both missed that.
Jumped on the Glasgow bound train and alighted at Oxenholme and caught the connection to Staveley, not without a good bit more faffing with a tubeless tyre related issue on the platform there.
Our combined lack of fitness meant that perhaps a slightly more forgiving choice of route would have been apt, as opposed to something from the devilish mind of organiser Richard Munro, local postman/rider/hero. however we'd heard good things about his previous Jennride routes and were both keen for some binge cycling. The most rewarding routes are often those plotted by locals as, for a weekend, you get to feel like one too.
Through the sun, sweat and singletrack emerged one of ‘those’ rides. One that was good for the soul. Peak summer conditions, new trails, meeting people we liked instantly and hydrating with regular Ennerdale blonde shandies left us feeling giddy. Beyond that, details are vague - we were having too much fun to remember - so the photographs tell a better story.
The topography of the South Lakes means that traversing along it from East to West (and back again) means you have to go up and over several valleys to make it out to the furthest point of the route at Wasdale Head. The Inn there is an absolute outdoor establishment and a visit is never dull.
We slept sometime after Eskdale, on the lower slopes of the Old Man of Coniston. That road being most peoples target for the night meant it was speckled with head torches and littered with slug like bivvy bags by morning. Sleep came quickly.
We yawned our way up the rest of the climb the following morning as the Lakes woke up around us, joined sporadically by other riders. Picking our way back to where we’d started the day before, taking in more 'only a local would know' trails and an impossible to refuse Michelin starred bacon sarnie at the Drunken Duck Inn. Rolled back into Staveley after 100 and something miles, fully reminded of why we like riding bikes, the Lakes, new routes and meeting other fresh-air-heads and slumped over a table at the Hawkshead Brewery to top up the shandy levels.