Back again! The 16th Keswick Beer Festival
I started this ride report just after I got back from it last year then I rather forgot all about it, but since I'm off for this years trip in a few weeks I thought I'd better finish and post it!
Last year (2011) my annual trip up to the Keswick Beer Festival didn't go according to plan as, a week before heading off, my bike decided to eat it's alternator.
Which was jolly annoying.
So no ride report last year which means you got to miss out on stuff like this,
Then, when the weekend before I was due to head north my right turn indicator decided to pack up I was not best pleased, however I wasn't going to miss out 2 years in a row and got down to some dismantling
and cleaning of the offending connector.
Everything finally working okay it was time to head off.
Sunday 27th May
One change of plan was, because I was working up in Cambridge, I thought I'd ride up on the Sunday before the festival and head north directly from there.
The other thing to mention is the weather, we'd had a very dry winter and, as is all too typical here, the powers that be were screaming drought and plotting hosepipe bans all of which had the usual effect, we ended up with one of the wettest summers on record. That being said it was a gorgeous weekend and I set off on the 70ish mile journey,
though what hadn't occurred to me was I'd finish the journey heading into the late evening sun which wasn't much fun!
That aside though a jolly nice start to the trip.
I'd started working in Cambridge on 1st May on a two month temporary contract here,
founded in 1534 by a Letters Patent issued by Henry VIII they published their first book in 1584, Two Treatises of the Lord His Holie Supper, and, according to the timeline laid out around their rather splendid staff canteen, their major claim to fame was in 1877 they turned down the book that was to become the Oxford English Dictionary!
Very nice place to work, around the offices they have things like this,
while outside they have a conservation area,
a cricket pitch,
and next door behind the bowling green a nuclear bunker that in time of war would have acted as a regional government base.
Thursday 31st May
Ready to head off the Keswick I had, naturally, been checking the weather forecast all week and it had looked okay but, being a cynical soul, I took a look at the rainfall radar that morning to see if they'd been right and oh dear.
Nothing much I could do other than remember the old maxim, if you ride a bike in Britain you'll get wet, deal with it, so I set off from my digs in Cambridge,
and headed up the A1.
I met the rain at Newark and from then on it was a wet slog all the way to Keswick where I arrived rather early so I took a damp loop round Bassenthwaite and had a bit of a rest,
but to be honest I was feeling somewhat bedraggled,
so headed to my hotel rather early where I was given the sort of welcome to cheer up anyone's day.
One question was resolved, in my usual room the bathroom has hooks in the ceiling above the bath which I'd always wondered about, turns out they're for hanging up your bike gear to dry!
Having got myself settled in and because, naturally, the rain had stopped I took a little wander around,
while waiting for Nigel to arrive. A loud throb announced the appraoch of his Akrapovic and I watched as he headed up the lane to the hotel, rode past the entrance, turned around in the school entrance next door, and finally made it into the correct car park!
In the evening we headed off to the sponsors evening at the festival, checked out our beer,
met up with old friends,
and got ready for the main event starting Friday.
Friday 1st June
It wasn't raining which as far as I was concerned was a great start to the day! I took a walk before breakfast to enjoy the local sights,
and escape the attack lambs.
After breakfast and a short wander into Keswick we geared up,
and headed off to nowhere in particular, just a nice ride around down to Thirlmere,
which technically isn't a lake but a reservoir, on down to Ambleside and up over The Struggle to Kirkstone Pass.
After a brief personal refuelling stop at the Kirkstone Pass Inn we headed down towards Ullswater,
then off around the back roads of Penrith and Unthank,
before making our way back to a pleasantly sunny Keswick.
On our return, Nigel felt the sudden need to clean his bike, which I thought was odd,
clean my bike which I thought wasn't odd at all,
and take tea in the garden, best idea of the day!
Heading off to the festival Nigel was delighted to see the wrist passes were a fetching Kawasaki green,
but was less delighted, as was I, to see our beer had undergone an overnight identity crisis.
Still it was a pleasant evening,
the number of costumed visitors grows year by year,
though I'd have expected Spiderman's changes to be more stealthy somehow,
while some of the costumes get very inventive!
All in all not a bad day.
Saturday 2nd June
Okay, the plan today was to head to the Scotlands so Nigel could show me some of his local roads, it started out fine,
but then as we headed off the Carlisle, Nigel got a bit over excited and ...
….. err Nigel …..
When I got to Carlisle there was no sign of him so I took the new northern by-pass up to the M6 and waited for him there,
but to no avail and after a couple of circuits of Carlisle I decided he was lost and that I'd certainly get the blame. Still, I wasn't going to let it spoil my day and I set off down the Eden Valley, one of my favourite places.
Even had a bit of luck bumping into the Duchess of Hamilton on the Settle and Carlisle!
In the end a very nice day, amazingly I arrived back at the hotel 2 minutes after Nigel and it turned out I was right, somehow it was all my fault.
The festival is open all day on Saturday but since we prefer to get some riding and food in we usually just do the evening session after a visit to the George.
Down at the festival it had apparently been a pleasant if rather cool day but in the evening it turned unseasonably chilly with a rather nasty wind which meant very few people outside the marquee,
not that it had stopped the drinking,
and one has to make the best of it!
Enjoying your report + pics.
Sunday 3rd June
Normally this would be going home day but the powers that be had played around with the normal spring public holidays because of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and both Monday and Tuesday were holidays so we decided to stay the extra night and get some more riding in. What were we thinking? It was cold, windy and thoroughly unpleasant, the only saving grace was the rain band that covered most of the country was stuck about 20 miles south of us.
So deciding to leave the bikes resting for the moment, on the off chance the weather improved,
we wandered down to the new bike cafe, had a nice chat to the few hardier souls who'd ridden there (the arrivals looked jolly cold and, in a few cases, jolly damp) then headed down into Keswick.
We checked out the market,
and had a nice slow mooch round the many walking and climbing related shops while enjoying the views you get to peek around the town.
By evening the market had gone to be replaced by some sort of jubilee event,
but we had other priorities on our mind, or rather stomach!
After sorting out the inner man we found a band was playing by the Moot Hall, and very pleasant they were too,
then it was a wander to our last pub and our last pints of the weekend,
where we got chatting to a nice New Zealand couple who were waiting to get their seat in the restaurant, despite the weather or maybe because of it Keswick's eating establishments were very busy, before heading back to our hotel. Naturally that's when the sun decided to make an appearance for the first time that day!
Am going to be working in London for six months. I wish I could make it to one of these kind of festivals this time around. Real ale is soo hard to find in the US. Actually, I only have to drive about 20 miles for cask, but given how traffic is, its really a PITA :1drink
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