That Time of Year Again

Time for the annual lads weekend away – our annual trip to drive fast cars (for those who have them), eat too much and drink a load of beer in one of Britain’s more impressive locations. This time we were driving up to the Lake District.

We’d found a very nice looking hotel in Great Langdale called the New Dungeon Ghyll ( ). It looked very nice, and it turned out to be as nice as it looked. More of that later. First of all, we had to get to the place.

We decided ( or probably Jimmy decided ) that just driving up the M6 would be a total waste of a fairly sunny day, so instead we decided we’d try crossing the Pennines on one of its roads which are famously bad to drive on when the weather turns a bit sour.

So we drove up the M1 as far as Chesterfield and then, to quote Iron Maiden, we ran to the hills. Except we drove. And we didn’t displace any indigenous Americans. At least, I don’t think we did. I don’t think there are many indigenous Americans in the north of Derbyshire.


When we got to the hills we decided it was high time for some lunch. We stopped at a likely looking pub in Owler Bar. To be honest, there are pretty much only two dwellings in Owler Bar, and both are pubs. We chose the Peacock, mainly because it was the first of the two that we came to. It did a fine selection of snacks and more substantial comestibles. Highly satisfactory for passing Porsche drivers and their passengers.

From here, time was marching on a bit (what with it being November), so we headed out west over the hills in search of the bit of supposedly fun driving for the day – the Snake Pass. The Ladybower Reservoir seemed incredibly empty, but then we had just finished a very hot and dry summer, so I guess a lot of the water was taken away by consumers and wasn’t replenished by the streams. It was really very low, though.

The Snake Pass is the opposite of low. It carries the A57 over the Pennines on its route from Liverpool to Lincoln and is famous if you listen to radio traffic broadcasts in the winter by virtue of its being the first road to close and the last to reopen any time there’s the slightest flurry of snow. Driving over it in November might have been a bad idea had it not been for the lingering warm weather. By the time we heading over the top the sky was starting to look a bit gloomy though. Our mood was about to take a step in that direction too.

Oh please! Around Manchester in the Friday Evening Rush Hour

The source of our worsening mood was that we’d managed to descend from the hills into one of the busiest parts of Britain’s road network at 4pm on a Friday afternoon. First of all it took us ages to get through Glossop, a small town that’s as far away from Derby as you can get whilst still being in Derbyshire. The delay seemed mainly to be the result of one bad set of traffic lights.

Continuing from Glossop dropped us into the nightmare of the Manchester Outer Ring Road. It was quite busy, and by now it was quite dark too. In truth, it’s not that bad, but like all British motorways it can feel a bit cramped when it’s busy, which it is most of the time. We eventually escaped onto the M61 and found ourselves at the Rivington Services in need of some coffee and some turning around of our bikes. That was much needed.

Breaking Free

We weren’t really sure how much longer it was going to take from this point. However, we weren’t in a desperate hurry and we were expecting the traffic to thin out somewhat, which it did. So the rest of the journey up the M6 and into the Lake District was pretty humdrum. It got a little more fruity as we passed Ambleside and started heading up into Great Langdale, because the road was quite narrow and twisty and it was a bit difficult to spot the corners. And a lot of the vehicles coming the other way were doing so on our side of the road.

By the time we passed the last settlement before the hotel the drivers had earned their beer for the evening. We were glad to get checked into the hotel and find our very nice rooms. And then we retired to the bar for some well-earned beers and dinner. The boys had earned themselves a day of not having to drive at all on the following day.