While our free-camp spot was technically great, neither of us slept very well. It was extremely windy and the confined space in which we placed our tent didn't allow room to stake the rain fly down. This made for a lot of noise as the loose fabric whipped against the tent during the very long, windy night.
Normally this wouldn't bother either of us, except that sometimes it sounded a bit like someone walking up to the tent! It was difficult to discern what all the noises were and there were several times during the night when I woke up and lay super alert trying to hear if anyone was coming. When we were able to get some sleep, I had weird dreams about our campsite, and Tara had nightmares about it. In retrospect it was probably foolish to get so worked up when we were clearly well hidden. Oh well.
Our nerves still rattled from bad dreams, nighttime noises, and the sound of ATVs in nearby fields upon waking, we hastily packed up and left without breakfast. With only "Snackie Bars" (like granola bars) to tide us over, we took off in our standard speedy fashion to ride into the the town of Caldbeck. Arriving in Caldbeck was like entering a different world. Vastly different from our campsite only three miles away, Caldbeck was truly in the Lake District, nestled in vibrant green hills with bubbling clear streams running between them. We stopped at a quaint little place called The Old Smithy to eat breakfast before heading on to our first ride into the Lake District.
Everyone we talk to about cycling through this area warns about the hills so I'm sure they must be coming, but they were pretty easy today! In fact, the hills made for some spectacularly enjoyable riding. Several times we would push up a hill for half mile or so and be rewarded with two or three miles of rolling descents where all we had to do was sit and watch the scenery blow by. It was absolutely beautiful and I almost felt like I was on a motorcycle again.
After a relatively easy 15 miles or so, it started raining lightly as we approached the town of Cockermouth, our destination for a few rest/work days. We rolled into town and set up at an artsy cafe to respond to emails and find a B&B for the night. Our internet connection has been spotty for the past several days and we were both blown away by the deluge of emails we had received via our contact page. There was an article written about us in the newspaper of Tara's hometown, and we were thrilled and surprised to have so many responses to it. We spent a lot of time organizing them and figuring out how to make sure we replied to everyone. While Tara was sifting through the emails she had chosen to reply to, I set out to find an affordable B&B. We wound up at 'The Rook', a wonderfully cozy place for £45 a night. We set up shop and I immediately got to work while Tara settled in to read her book.
We asked Vicki, our very friendly host, if we might cook our dinner outside in her little garden on our campstove, but she gave us an odd look and told us we could just use her "cooker." We stopped at the grocery store and stocked up on supplies for the road and made a tasty chicken dinner with garlic bread in her kitchen before heading to our room to Skype with friends and family. I think we are going to try to find a B&B at least once or twice a month. It is a refreshing change from camping and as long as we find a few free-camps between each one it shouldn't affect our budget too much.