Tour of Britain: stage four

Stage three delivered two things we’ve been expecting since Sunday: a Mark Cavendish stage victory and some cattle. Before we rush headlong into the stage results, let’s check out the cows.

Not Belties, but they look on the sturdy side of black cattle, so let’s say there’s some Galloway in there…

The cattle-spotter’s version of the LBJ.

Yesterday’s stage brought us sunshine, rain, a long-lasting breakaway and a return to bright conditions for the final sprint. The breakies were deemed unlucky to have relatively straight, wide roads leading into the finish; had the run in to Dumfries been more technical they might have had a chance to keep the chasing peloton at bay. Wiggins got the Sky train organised in the final 5km to deliver Cavendish a comfortable win by sprint standards – I’m sure the fans who showed up at the Strickland Arms would have been happy to buy drinks for anybody in the black-and-teal.

Cav might have taken the stage victory, but Orica-GreenEDGE’s Leigh Howard will line up in the gold leader’s jersey for stage four. Boy Van Poppel still leads the points classification, but Urtasun gives up the climber’s jersey to Rapha’s Kristian House. Peter Williams retains the lead in the sprinter’s competition.

Stage 4 is back in England, with a 156km course from Carlisle to Blackpool. The mountain points on offer tonight will come from three climbs: the Cat 2 Shap Fell at 51.8km, the Cat 2 Old Hutton at 79.9km and the Cat 3 Quernmore at 114km. Having a climb so late in the stage means we might get a chance to see it, and the scenery all through this stage should be spectacular.

There are some cows milk cheeses produced in this area, which suggests we might see some cows although there are no breeds specific to the area. Scottie’s local tips for cheese and beer are as follows:

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’.

Let’s not overlook Lancashire cheese, which comes in three varieties: cream, tasty and crumbly. This cheese developed when farmers used excess milk to produce cheese. Given that they lacked enough surplus milk to create a cheese from one day’s yield, the cheese was made from the curd from two to three days’ worth of milking.  The method was standardised in 1890 and is adhered to for Lancashire cheese production today. British Cheese claims it makes the best cheese toast in the world so I reckon it might go well with some of Scottie’s recommended beer in a rarebit.

Keep your eyes peeled, cross-check with the Kranky Kids wall, and see if you can identify any British bovines.