It is our main bike challenge for the year and we have been training hard for it. We are waiting the 8.22am train at Cuddington on Monday 14th May to take us to Chester, then the 8.52am Manchester train to Warrington. Here we change to get the Virgin train to Edinburgh, exiting at Lancaster and then catching the 10.19am to Morecambe. The pressure is on but all goes according to plan and at 10.45am we leave the prom. at Morecambe bound for Settle, our first overnight stop. At 12.45am we are at Hornby and have an enjoyable lunch at the Royal Oak. It had threatened to rain and the dark clouds above us told us a shower was imminent so we took shelter at the pub until the shower passed and we had an enjoyable day as we make our way passing through small villages and over moor areas, some steep gradients and by the River Ribble into Settle. We arrived at our hotel – The Craven Arms – in Giggleswick and we very much enjoy our overnight stay. We finished at 4pm having travelled 60kms.
Having had gear changing problems with both bikes we called into the bike store at Settle to have them looked over and we were ever so impressed with the service and advice we received. We knew we were in for a very hard day with the first massive hill climb as we left Settle at 11.30am on Tuesday 15th May. (Alas we had taken the wrong route out of the town, our only wrong navigation error on the trip!!) However it was a long downhill ride to the lovely village of Airton. It was then a lot of up and downs, with some hail showers, which proved tiring as we were carrying all our kit in two pannier bags over our back wheels. At Hetton we stopped for a coffee break at The Angle Inn, a delightful location with two wood burning stoves bringing warmth on this cold but dry day. At Burnsall we reached the River Wharfe and stopped to take photographs on the bridge crossing the river. From here we negotiate the longest and steepest hill of the trip taking us up onto the Nidderdale moor and the highest point of the route at 1,312ft (402m) at Greenhow. The decent down to Pateley Bridge was ever so steep (14%) with lots of tight bends. Once at the base of the decent we needed to stop as we were cold and not in a good way. We bought milk, sausage rolls and chocolate cake at the local bakery to help us recover from the long climb followed by a very demanding decent.
Our climbing and walking with our bikes is far from over as once in the town of Pateley Bridge we are once again climbing and eventually reach the top of Brimham Rocks. Farms are cutting their first silage and here we hear a cuckoo making its unique call. At last gradients start to get easier and the Vale of York and the riverside path into the City of Ripon were flat. At 6.30pm we arrived at our hotel – The Unicorn – somewhat knackered, having recorded our hardest ever day cycle. Once in our hotel the heavens opened for an hour or so – how lucky were we. We travelled a hard and demanding 77 kms.
9.45am on Wednesday 16th May sees us pass Ripon Cathedral and we are bound for York. This proves to be a very scenic route and we are off road for long sections as we reach the River Ouse. We are in the centre of York by the Minster having a coffee break in a Café at 1pm and we have travelled some 50kms. We are well pleased by our performance and cycling has been so easy compared to the previous day. Again we are blessed with good weather. Today we are bound for Pocklington and staying at The Feathers Hotel. At Stamford Bridge we pass the sight of the Battle of Stamford Bridge (1066). Fields of bright yellow oil seed rape have fascinated us each day and as for the first time our track took us through a large field we stopped to take photographs. A little further on we stopped for a snack at the road junction just before “Fat Rabbit Farm”. We knew we were doing well and at 3.45pm we reached our hotel having travelled some 80kms.
We are up earlier on Thursday morning and we are on our bikes at 8.45am ready to go. Alas there is a light drizzle of rain (which lasts all day) but does not hold us back. Again for most of the day we are on narrow lanes in lovely country side and apart from two hills to negotiate we are mainly on the flat. We stop at Driffield for coffee at 11.15am having cycled 38kms. At 1.48pm we arrive on the finishing point on the prom. at Bridlington, our massive challenge has been accomplished and what a great feeling of achievement. The tide was in so we went and touched the sea. We had travelled 70kms.
Finding the station we were on the 2.11pm train bound for Sheffield (our target had been the 16.09 train). Here we would catch a train bound for Manchester which was extremely busy but we fought our way on and got off at Stockport and immediately getting on a train bound for Chester. We were back in Cuddington at 6.45pm. all going like clockwork, and our adventure was over. Our effort was well rewarded with an overwhelming sense of achievement and memories of iconic landscapes and beautiful skies that will never be forgotten.
This is a hard route especially if you are carrying your own gear without any support as we were doing. Our overnight stops were well thought out and in reflection there were few alternatives. The route is well sign posted but you need to be careful as other routes are also sign posted. Sustrans has done massive good work in creating this route through The Lune Valley, the beautiful Forest of Bowland, the wild and wonderful Yorkshire Dales and the no less captivating Yorkshire Wolds. Give it a try and you will enjoy it.
19th May 2012