Tour of Britain: stage two

Stage one of the Tour of Britain gave us no cattle, but did provide some narrow roads flanked by hedgerows that seemed happy to accommodate riders who got into strife (prompting a discussion about what exactly Led Zeppelin meant by a bustle in the hedgerows – thanks to CJ who sorted that out). After the spectacular climbing in the Vuelta  (which was wrapping up as this got underway) and Simon Clarke’s King of the Mountains victory we found it difficult to get excited about the points on offer for this stage’s ascents. There was discussion as to the most appropriate acronym for this jersey, with KOTGR [King of the Gentle Rise], KOTLH [King of the Little Hill], KOTB [King of the Bump], KOTSB [King of the Speed Bump] and KOTSP [King of the Sleeping Policeman] all under consideration.

As it happens, Rapha Condor’s Kristian House will be wearing the climber’s jersey when stage two starts today. Rony Martias of Saur Sojasun leads the sprint classification. A late crash on the way into the finish took out a number of riders, including the fancied Mark Cavendish, gaving us a stage winner who was such a surprise that the commentators took some time to identify him as Sky’s Luke Rowe. I was devastated to learn that I missed the presentation of the Combativity Award to Niels Wytinck of An Post Sean Kelly. Along with the honour of the award, reader Scottie tells us that he also received

a 5kg truckle of Mrs Temple’s Well’s Alpine Cheese (a semi-hard cheese made from Brown Swiss cow’s milk at Copy’s Green Farm, Wighton near Wells-by-the -Sea apparently)

Now that’s worth getting into a break for!

On to stage two! This 180km stage contains three Cat One climbs, all in the first third of the stage. Scottie tells us to watch out for sheep, but it’s the finish at Knowsley Safari Park that has me excited. According to the official site:

with just over a kilometre of racing to go the race heads past the entrance to the Safari Drive for a very fast final kilometre, including a swooping final corner past the elephant enclosure. As riders hit the final few hundred metres of the stage, they’ll sprint alongside the giraffe enclosure, providing a unique and spectacular background to The Tour of Britain.

Elephants! Giraffes! Surely there will be some buffalo to fill the bovine quota for the day.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m going to leave today’s Tour de Snack to Scottie, as he’s clued us in to the two cheeses for this stage and has also suggested some interesting beer matches.

I must admit, I don’t know much about cows, but I am a big fan of wine, cheese and beer. Tomorrow obviously it’s going to be difficult to look beyond Stilton but for a pairing that spans the entire Stage 2 region may I recommend the mild crumbly HS Bourne’s Cheshire Cheese (from Malpas) with the hoppy pale Thornbridge Brewery Jaipur IPA, (5.9abv) from Bakewell (home of the famous tart) or for the traditionalists, Cropwell Bishop Blue Stilton with White Shield’s Bass no 1 Barleywine (10.5%abv!!) from Burton. Old Skool!

I believe Bass Barleywine is named after (but not made by) the famous Bass brewery (est 1777) in Burton on Trent (Peak District water was considered to be the best in England and the top-selling Buxton and Malvern mineral waters are sourced nearby). IPA, as you probably know, is India Pale Ale which was specially brewed as a lower alcohol easy drinking light beer which was shipped out to the four corners of the Empire but especially India, for hot-weather quaffing by the British Army in the days of the Raj (although at nearly 6%, Jaipur is not really lower alcohol!). Greene King IPA from Suffolk would be a good pairing for the Shipford.

Interestingly, because of the PDO, Stilton cannot be made in the village of Stilton in Huntingdonshire where a version of the famous cheese was originally made!

I remain hopeful that we might spy some of the local cattle breed, the Blue Albion.

Image: Kranky Kids

There’s are some more images of this breed on Flickr, so you can familiarise yourself for tonight’s round of Spotto.


5 thoughts on “Tour of Britain: stage two

  1. Scottie says:

    Well it’s Brits 1, Aussies 1, Wildlife 0 so far. The organisers are havin’ a giraffe – must ‘ave been the animal’s day off at the safari park! And how British are we?? Politely clapping at the side of the road, uniformed schoolchildren waving mini Union flags and not using them as pretend matadors’ capes obscuring the riders’ views, and no semi-naked drunk men running alongside the pros shouting in foreign. Hat’s Off Britain, Jolly Good Show!!
    I’m looking forward to tomorrow when the ToB traverses the border country of the south of Scotland, the historical badlands that gave rise to the Border Reiver, late medieval cattle and sheep rustlers who took advantage of the lawlessness of the times to wreek havoc by continuous cross border raids and clan feuds. The two famous reiver clans were the Elliotts and the Armstrongs and if you ever wondered where Lance inherited his combative nature and his desire to take what he wanted at all costs, look no further. When sheep replaced cows and the Union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England heralded a new era of law enforcement, many reiver families emigrated to the Americas and would eventually become the first cowboys….but that’s another story.
    I’m not sure we’ll see many cows until we get closer to Dumfries but we should see sheep. Black faced Cheviot sheep and lots of them. The stage starts in Jedburgh, home of the Scottish Borders Brewery and while we’re waiting for the real cows why not enjoy a pint of Holy Cow – A smooth and complex ale with a balanced malt and hop profile? (4.2% ABV)
    This could be enjoyed with Teviotdale, a full fat hard cheese produced from the milk of the Jersey cow produced in the area of Teviotdale in the Cheviot Hills nearby. I say could because, despite its protected status, sadly there does not seem to be any producers these days.
    Onwards to Hawick and the first sprint will finish in the shadow of the equestrian monument in the centre of the town commemorating the defeat of an English raiding party in 1514, (yes we Scots have long memories!) and inscribed with Teribus ye teri Odin (Men of Hawick and sons of Odin is the enigmatic translation.
    Onwards towards Moffat and if this were the TdF the helicopter would swoop around the wonderfully-named Devil’s Beeftub and Paul Sherwen would tell us it’s a deep glacial dead-ended valley and a famous hiding place for rustled cattle and escaped Covananters. I miss Paul.
    After Lochmaben – where my uncle runs the Crown Inn opposite the Burn’s statue – and the 2nd intermediate sprint, the peleton will pass the Lockerbie Creamery, a large dairy factory churning out industrial quantities of the famous Lockerbie Cheddar, possibly the most orange-coloured cheddar in the world, a kind of taste-free, rubbery Manchego. I would forgo this mass-produced fare and wait until the race passes Dumfries and heads out into Galloway past Loch Arthur and into the beautifully-named village of Beeswing, where artisan cheddar is produced organically by the wonderful Camphill Community who also produce what is in my opinion the finest cheese produced in Scotland today – Criffel. A wonderfully smelly, soft wash sticky rind cheese with a pungent earthy flavour with rich creamy curds and made from organic, unpasteurised cows milk, this cheese is a real treat and is a tour de snack worthy of anything our cross channel cousins can produce. I’d enjoy it with Criffel Ale from the Sulwath Brewery in Castle Douglas (4.6% ABV) A dark & malty Strong Scotch Ale with a creamy, slightly sweet flavour and depth of complexity. Both are named after the highest peak in the Scottish Lowlands at 569m. Sulwath also brew the Black Galloway (4.4% ABV), a very dark Porter style beer named after the hairy native cattle of the region.
    As the race swings back into Dumfries, I’d like to give a special mention to the other local beer named after the Black Galloway, Black Madness from the Madcap Brewery in Ecclefechen – a dark seasonal winter ale with lots of roasted malt character and spicy undertones provided by a blend of three types of hops. (I tried to paste jpegs of the cask pump handle icons of the three cow-related beers here but it won’t let me – the Black Madness especially is worth a Google)
    A few years ago I was lucky enough to live in Galloway – it’s home to 6 of the ‘7 Stanes’ the best mountain biking tracks in the UK. As well as the three varieties of the eponymous and very beautiful cow, I do remember seeing the odd Highland, many Freisians and more than one herd of alcapas in the area so good luck and happy spotting. I know I promised sheep and cape buffalo today but I’m confident that Scotland will deliver tomorrow…..

    • Injera says:

      Mimolette is very orange – but also very tasty! I reckon the Lockerbie cheddar sounds a bit like the orange cheese available in the US, which I think might be called Monterey Jack.

      Thanks for another in-depth insight into the local cheeses and brews! I really hope there will be some bovines today.

  2. Pingback: Tour of Britain: stage three | Les Vaches du Tour

  3. Scottie says:

    Thankfully we saw our first cows of the tour although sadly not Galloways. I saw my uncle’s pub, The Crown Inn in Lochmaben and the crowds in Dumfries saw Cav in full flight so everyone is happy tonight! Tomorrow, from Carlisle, the race climbs to Shap Summit along the route of England’s highest A road and into Kendal, capital of the Lake District and home of the famous Mint Cake – the original energy bar and a staple of Hilary and Tenzing’s ascent of Everest- before descending into Blackpool, the quintessentially brash British seaside resort. After stage 1’s little bumps, stage 2’s gentle rises and stage 3’s Lowland peaks, today’s KOTM will really deserve the title as the Lake District is England’s highest region.
    One of my favourite things of the North West of England is Booth’s chain of supermarkets. I’m not a big fan of supermarkets but hats off to Booth’s who champion both local seasonal produce and small scale artisan suppliers. Shopping in Booth’s is a delight. Sadly my nearest Booth’s is 260 miles from my home on the south coast!
    Booth’s will almost certainly stock Keverigg, a beautifully textured creamy cheese with a slight crumble and a tangy aftertaste with a natural rind, made from organic milk from Winter Tarn Farm’s pedigree Holstein herd near Penrith. Winter Tarn also produce their own Rose Veal and as you probably know, all British veal is cruelty free. The abundance of clear clean fellwater in the area gives rise to an abundance of small local breweries and that makes choosing a beer tricky so I’ve picked three. Loweswater Brewery’s Loweswater Gold (4.3%) is an award winning tropically flavoured golden ale brewed using three malts and German hops; or for an antipodean theme, Hawkshead Brewery’s NZPA – New Zealand Pale Ale (6%abv) – described as ‘a complex, strong, modern pale ale made using four New Zealand hops; Green Bullet, Motueka, Nelson Sauvin & Riwaka. Packed with punchy, green, citrus hop flavours with a dry, bitter finish.’ For a more generally available beer I’ve moved south of the Lake District to Lancashire and Blackburn’s Thwaites Brewery. Wainwright’s Ale (4.1%abv) is named after local hero A.Wainwright, the father of Lakeland Fell Walking and author of the beautifully illustrated ‘Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells’.
    Nice to see the Scottish Saltire flag flying today. Tomorrow’s stage is the closest to the Isle of Man so expect to see the Manx triskelion fluttering in the winds blowing in off the Irish Sea. Until then…..

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