I have had a brilliant, fantastic time this weekend at the first Cycle Touring Festival. I have been to the CTC York Rally a couple of times but this was a very , very much more enjoyable experience.
Earlier this year, quite by chance I discovered this was going to be held in Clitheroe, Lanchasire which is over the Pennines from here. However, I knew that there wouldn’t be time to cycle there and back and have time for the festival , so we made the decision to use the car to go. Not to waste a car journey, we combined it with a visit to the Preston Temple and Empress Mills so we could make full use of the day. Our spiritual lives were replenished by the peace of being in the Temple and I was able to stock up on some creative sewing supplies at the very well stocked, friendly Empress Mills.
Although , I had taken food to cook an evening meal, we decided as there was a Crown Carvery at nearby Great Harwood , we would have a meal out and enjoy it we did. We arrived at Waddow Hall just before 6.00pm and then pitched the tent and got ourselves sorted out before the welcome at 8.00pm. It was so good to meet with so many like minded people as we know so few cycle camping tourists in real life. What was even more thrilling was to hear some of the people whose blogs I have been reading for years, speak about their experiences and the travels they have been undertaking.
Waddow Hall belongs to the Girl Guide association and the main hall is a listed building. This was very interesting to my husband and the facilities were really good with various conference rooms and a number of different camp sites around the complex. We stayed on Wades Hill site with lovely views of Pendle Hill. This is Pendle witch country where various women were accused and executed for witchcraft in the middle ages.
The weekend was packed with workshops and discussion panels on such a variety of topics ranging from choosing a touring bicycle and camping kit to cycling in every corner of our wonderful earth. There were fitness and yoga classes and how to write for magazines and using technology and communications. So much in fact, that it was impossible to choose which to do at times. It was also great to meet so many women, even those of my age who enjoy life on the road.
However, DH isn’t so much into this sort of event, but had come along so we decided to have a short ride out. The sky was grey but it wasn’t raining at that stage so we set off through Clitheroe and then along through Chatburn into Downham. We were looking for a small marker that had been erected to the Mormon Pioneers who left the village in the 1800’s to trek West. However, we couldn’t find it and it began to rain in earnest so we made the climb back out of the village and along towards Grindleton but turning towards Great Bradford ( a tiny village) before the run back to Waddow Hall.
This is the bridge over the river just before Great Bradford
We arrived back just after morning break but were able to get a few biscuits ably looked after by Sharon who was a real treasure. She and her helpers were really great at getting all 200 participants fed and watered throughout the weekend.
In the afternoon , after a soup and sandwich lunch, I went into workshops on cycling kit and then the more specific aspect of cycling as a woman. Being a lady of a certain age , there are some things I no longer have to worry about but there were older woman in there too. There was also discussion panel on cycling in Europe but lots of it centred on France. It is well recommended but I think my experience of learning French has put me off going there. I was useless at French:).
Saturday evening was again packed with speakers such as Emily Chappell, Stephen Lord and Tom Bruce. All very inspirational. One of the best things for me though was when a lady said to me “are you Brenda in the Boro”. She then told me she reads my blog sometimes.!! woohoo!!!
This is Chris and her husband Mike (the pedallingphotographer.com).
The weather had not been very kind and it continued to rain and the wind blew up hard during the night but I am pleased to report the tent stood firmly despite it’s size compared to most others. I am going to make a few tweeks to the extension tarp piece.
Sunday had a similarly packed programme of events but we missed some on the morning by attending church. We were back for lunch though and the sun came out. DH said he would pack up the dry tent if I didn’t mind missing a night camping. No problem. I went off to listen to talks about cycling in North America and then Cress Allwood and Stephen Lord discussed the psychology and logistics of a long trip. The consensus of opinion being don’t be too concerned about have you got it all sorted but just do it.
All too soon, it was over.
We gathered around the firepit, that had remained unused because of the weather, for various speeches and prize giving.
This is the lovely Laura who led the team that organised the event, at the final summing up. I sat next to a lady about my age, Felicity , and she said to me how included she had felt all weekend. The camaraderie felt by all was amazing . I do hope it is run next year and I for one will sign up in double quick time.