A member of the Honda NC700 forum, Clive, suggested a trip, and was kind enough to put together an itinerary and find some hotels. Howard and I joined up, and the eventual group was ten people on nine bikes.
Clive's suggested start point was near his home in Hemel Hempstead. Howard and I spent the previous night with family in St Albans, knocking a good hour and a half off our journey in the morning and sleeping with a wiggly Labrador on the bed too. We even got a packed lunch!
The morning was sunny, but bad weather was promised, and a few spots of rain fell as we made our first stop to collect Hubert and his wife Jo, riding two up on a white bike with lots of luggage. I decided to don waterproof trousers and gloves now rather than regret it later. This was the right choice.
It absolutely threw it down for the rest of our journey: up the M6 Toll, to Lymm services to pick up another fellow-traveller, along the UK's highest stretch of motorway at Shap Fell in Cumbria, and finally into Carlisle and our hotel. Another two members of our party had already arrived and were happy to see us, but for some reason declined my hugs. We dripped indoors, festooned every available surface with wet bike gear, and made ourselves reasonably presentable for dinner in the bar.