My new sleeping bag performed well. I was snug and warm and slept well. But when I woke up, I felt something strange and squishy under my head… then I realised to my horror that I had left a banana in my sleeping bag hood last night, I had slept on it and it had gone squishy and split. Yeuch! My new bag had been christened.
I made good use of the award winning bathroom facilities, made breakfast (the full monty in a can) and packed up to go by about 9:30.
Immediately, my knee seemed worse than yesterday, but the terrain was fairly easy going, so I was hopeful that I would not damage it any more today.
The route wound it’s way through the valleys between the Shropshire hills, crossing back over the River Severn at Melverly, and moving on to the flatter country towards the Mersey estuary. After the amazing scenery of the Welsh borders the countryside was now far less interesting.
I stopped for lunch at the Red Lion in Ellesmere. Again this was ok, but like the countryside, I had been spoiled with good food over the previous days and this seemed disappointing.
After lunch the route took me past the lake from which Ellesmere gets its name. The weather had been fine and sunny all morning, but by Threapwood it had started to rain and continued to do so until just before the Mersey crossing.
I passed the dramatic ruins of Beeston Castle, perched on top of a rocky outcrop, and then the Delamere Forest and the lake that gives its name to the forest. Here I stopped for a high energy snack and watched the sea birds flocking on the lake.
I then had an issue to sort out: I had just passed a camp site in the forest, but this was only 70 miles into the day and I needed to do more to catch up. However, the next camp site on the map was north of Ormskirk, which was too far. So I decided to book into a travelodge at Haydock, a slight shame as it breaks the promise of spending all nights under canvas. But it is essential that I get to at least Dumfries before I break for my father’s funeral, and so this was the best option.
I pushed on to Runcorn where, after some initial confusion, a local directed me to the Runcorn Bridge which spans the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Mersey. After this I cycled along the Sankey Canal past the Fiddler’s Ferry power station to the outskirts of Warrington, where I turned North to get to Haydock and the Travelodge. This proved a bit elusive as Google Maps showed it in the middle of a housing estate!
It was the latest finish yet of a day’s cycling, and by the finish I had again used lights and reflective clothing, but despite the knee I had managed to complete exactly 100 miles.
For supper I visited the local Chinese take away.
The long day has put me roughly back on track. Now the challenge is to reach Dumfries by Saturday evening with the Lake District to negotiate. With the crossing of the River Mersey I have now entered The North.