We want to spare you all the cycling nerd’s talk, but nevertheless share some of our impressions over the last few days with you.
We set off from Ambleside at the northern end of Lake Windermere and, after tackling the most challenging ascent yet, Kirkstone Pass, left the Lake District heading for Penrith.
Along the way we admire a herd of young, black and white speckled bulls. After a little hesitation, on of them dares to approach and sucks on Gabrielle’s hand. It appears that they are being fattened for meat. Opposite their field we discover the vehicle fleet of a livestock haulier’s company…
Roger, who runs the BnB we are staying at in Penrith, heads into town to go and buy vegan sausages for our cooked breakfast. Quite generally, our requests for vegan meals have always been met with attentive understanding. Nobody reacts in an annoyed or impatient manner. Being vegan on the road has not been a problem so far.
The following day we fly through Eden Valley behind Penrith. It is hazy and humid and the slowly disappearing hills of the Lake District already seem strangely other-worldly. We peek over a high wall on a farm and spot a small herd of inquisitive piglets. The size of their pen allows them to run around. The adult pigs are kept in separate pens. All of them are destined to be slaughtered for meat, a neighbour tells us.
We climb Hartside, passing fields dotted with sheep and taking in the vastness of the largely treeless North Pennines. Suddenly, a gruesome sight on the side of the road: Someone has hung dead moles from the points of a barbed wire fence. We are left wondering why anyone would do that…
There is neither a phone signal nor Wi-Fi in the hamlet of Garrigill. However, there is a pub where half the village meet and we are served delicious aubergine cannelloni.
In the morning another Kirkstone-like climb brings us on top of Currick. There are tall pine trees here and you might believe yourself in the Swiss Jura for a moment. Wherever you look in this landscape, the sheep and their lambs are omnipresent.
Further along the road we count dozens of dead rabbits run over by cars and just left lying there. No one stops to carry their bodies off the road. In Rookhope we check into the local inn. Above the bar there are photos of Timmy, Anny, Frankie, Molly and many other dogs, the pub dogs and other regulars, we are told. In contrast to the rabbits, they have a face and a name. «We love our dogs, sometimes more than people» says Kenny, the innkeeper.