Manxcat in Wellies in the Dales
Well, I wish I had brought them along with me at any rate!
One thing at least that Audax cycling does is to re alight the ‘Be Prepared’ motto from many of our outdoor pursuit activities. Was I glad I was prepared! The island was hosting its TT Motorbike Festival, and the TT Practice week had been hot, sunny and still in the weather department. I knew it wouldn’t last and it didn’t!
The ride over to Lancaster was nice enough, and I stayed with my daughter who is at the University there studying hard sums and Economics (hard sums with extra graphs). The weather had been abysmal for the Le Terrier 2012 and most noticeable had been the temperature with a high of just 10 degrees C and a low on the tops of 6 C.
But that was now in the past, today was the first day of my official tour, stopping off at various YHA accommodation sites. Monday 4 June, I was off to Ingleton YH. Today was a short ride of just 26 miles, when I planned my tour in March, I chose a quiet day today in case my legs were lead-like after the Sportive yesterday. With Hettie loaded with 18 kgs of bags – most of the contents didn’t even surface due to the weather, today was to be a quiet pootle to my evenings’ digs.
Ingleton had plenty of pubs and tea shops to eat in. It was Jubilee Bank Holiday in the UK today (not on IOM), everyone had their home and business decked in bunting and UK flags. I had my first taste of Coronation Chicken – and my last I might add not my cup of tea at all, but, I wont be around for another Diamond Jubilee I don’t expect to eat it again. The tea shop had lots of really good paintings available as signed prints of the local area by Keith Melling. I’ll remember his name next time Shedman is after a gift for me, because his pictures were particularly good, and I had cycled through so many of the villages and moors he had preserved in paint and pencil.
Ingleton YH was very comfortable, I had the entire dorm to myself which was a surprise but welcome of course. My only niggle about the hostel was the fact it was licenced I was unable to bring any of my own personal alcoholic beverages, and they only sold wine by the full 750ml bottle, I was going in the morning, and really I can’t drink an entire bottle on my own and function! I’m sure not many folk can. So I had to go without a glass of wine as my meal treat. They were the only hostel not to sell little single shots of wine.
On Tuesday morning I set off to Grinton Lodge YHA. Weather was cold and overcast, I was wearing merino base layer today to keep warm – Merino wool in June!
Up the Ribblehead past White Scar, this glacially carved valley is one of my favourites. The road was very quiet, hardly any traffic on it at all, which surprised me being a bank holiday weekend and now half term for the UK children as well. I supposed the cold had either sent everyone to the continent or to the comfort of a fire lit in the front room.
Hawes was having a busy time with Gypsy families, there were at least 10 or more horse driven wagons and carts noisily clattering up the high street on their way to Appleby Fair. They looked quite splendid. I stopped for tea and a very dried out stale scone in Hawes. I really must remember not to bother eating scones on tours, they are always dried out 3 day old things that break like a biscuit on cutting and stick in your throat, having to be drenched in tea to create a plaster like consistency on eating.
After my ‘Plaster of Paris’ tea stop, I set off once more to Grinton. It was a lovely route, much of it very familiar as it was the reverse of our CycleSeven trip to the Yorkshire Dales in 2011 last July. I found the track we pushed our bikes up from CrackPot. The roads today were hard work though. Hettie and I cycled though Astrigg and I wished I had stopped at Chris’s recommended Sykes Tea shop instead, as I passed it. The entire village was doing their Jubilee celebrations, long tressle tables laden with flag and bunting, each villeger sitting close to one another exchanging ‘God Save the Queen’ chants.
The church and children of the village had decorated it was lovely effegies of the Queen. I took a couple of pics as I cycled though. As I left Astrigg and ventured over Astrigg Common I was dive bombed by nesting birds. The rain was pattering down, and the road was slippery and very steep. The long sweeping downhills were almost sheer in places and Hetties brakes were almost useless in the rainy conditions. This was the first tour where I almost walked down as many hills as I climbed.
Note to Self:
There is a fantastic pub in Grinton, The Bridge Inn. Just before the YHA (half a mile before hostel). The food I had booked at the YH was defrosted frozen packet food. Not well flavoured, but filled a tummy space (just). Whereas the pub at the bottom of the hill where I stopped for a cider, sold the most fantastic quality home produced food I had seen in a long long while! Highly recommended was the view from the top of my cider glass and the smell….ooooh.. Next time, Im eating there. More expensive than the hostel food of course, but as a holiday treat…. They even had a good vegetarian option, whereas at the hostel it was thawed out and heated up lasagne yet again.
Grinton Lodge is a flag ship Hostel I think. A bit like a hotel but with dorms and of course quite inexpensive compared to any hotel. Warm and comfy, but a bit sterile for my liking, although I would use it again. Hettie had a very nice Game Store – it’s an old hunting lodge and Hettie lived where the deer and bagged animals would have been hung in days gone by.
Wednesday 6 June
Today I was cycling a DIY GPS Audax Altitude Award ride, it was a 76 mile loop of the Bishopdale Valley. It rained throughout the day, with just little snippets of sunshine where I would jump off Hettie to take photographs.
Once more the fear of over braking was a real safety issue, I had chosen a nicely steep route, which meant a lot of very slow down hill walking… The roads were very quiet, hilly and twisty. At one point while cycling out of a valley up a steep incline a car coming towards me pulled over. I thanked them assuming it was to let me pass at my slow, slogging uphill speed, but no, the driver looked at me as the passenger door was flung open and the drivers partner threw up into the gutter. The low cloud and lack of horizon held no prisoners, and this road must have been like a very slow roller coaster in a car.
At 526m of height, a familiar view met me round a corner. The steel rope guidelines told me I was at Buttertubs, and yes, on the SATMAP up came the Buttertubs on the OS map, this time I was cycling it opposite to the direction we did last year. Mr Sunshine popped out in time for a quick photo session before I passed a corner into the really steep downhill section that I had to walk again, I remembered walking it in the opposite direction last summer too! Gravity was being particularly hard on my legs today!
At Thwaite I stopped for lunch and for the first time I tried another delicacy, this time fruit cake with cheese on top! Oooh, my 2 favourite foods, cake and Cheese! Not sure if they really went together though, the cake was spicy and sticky like Christmas cake or Christmas Pudding, and a huge slab of Wenslydale was sitting where the marzipan should be, pretending in fact to even look like Marzipan. But I wolfed it down all the same.
As I left Thwaite I heard a cuckoo calling, I haven’t heard one of these for years!
I was on my return to Grinton Lodge now, my legs were tiring, and I was looking forward to another relaxing evening of nothing much. My Audax today, took me down Tan Hill.
It wasn’t too steep, a nice rolling decent, the sun was now out for the rest of the afternoon and I was able to sit while decending which made a refreshing change. Glad to be cycling Tan Hill in this direction though, I think the hill down was at least 3 miles in length. As Hettie and I were at the top too, we got a grand view of a big sky above us.
Thursday 7 June
Grinton Lodge YH to Kettlewell YH
Weather – mild with low cloud and drizzle all day long again.
Legs were lead filled today, no pain or discomfort, but they lacked oomph and energy. The rims and brakes got soaked again and I had little in the way of real stopping power, yesterday speaking to a family at Grinton Lodge I learnt a new cycling phrase ‘ The Emergency Brake’. Which I was to use on a number of occasions today. ‘The Emergency Brake’ you see is your foot! I learnt about this from a lovely family cycling the Dales themselves, from their 10 year old son.
I took the hilly, but quicker route to Kettlewell, this one went right over the tops and ended up in Castle Bolton. The tops across the moors were very exposed to the rain and as usual after application of ‘the Emergency Brake’ on a number of steep downhills, I walked yet again.
Kettlewell YH from Grinton Lodge over the tops was just 22 hilly miles, very pleasant traffic wise, just not a very pleasant slippery road though. The hostel at Kettlewell was very welcoming. I looked drenched when I arrived, (but my trusty Paramo kept me warm and dry within) With Hettie tethered outside the Post Office, the lady inside was close to closing as I arrived just short of 1pm. She didn’t have to, but she had the computer on, found the room I was in, and handed me the key telling me to be sure to ‘register’ properly with the YH staff at 5pm. She also gave me the key for Hetties shed.
Another night in a dorm alone.
Hostel was big, roomy very comfortable. Showers worked, had lots of water, but they operated by those push button thingys, that didn’t stay on very long, but I got the hang of it.
The food in this hostel was the best I had eaten in any hostel. I had vegetable Wellington with new potatoes and fresh steamed vegetables on my first night. All home made. Very nice indeed and I was able to purchase wine by the glass too. The staff were wonderful. Warm friendly nothing too much trouble for them. I even purchased breakfast here, and I was glad I had. Crossants which were bakery fresh, yoghurt, fresh fruit, toast coffee/ tea and I could have had a cooked breakfast too had I wanted it.
After my Audax Altitude Award GPS ride, I was rewarded with a nut roast (home made) with Yorkshire pud, roast potatoes and steamed veg with gravy. It was better than Christmas dinner!
My AAA ride was a more simple affair today, fewer hill work, it was also on B roads a lot instead of un numbered roads, so the surfaces were less slippery. The route was up the Ribblehead Valley, then back to the Hostel via the Bishopdale Valley. As usual to add a bit of spice to the day, it was raining. I had made the decision the evening before that, if it was windy, I would instead go and see how cheese was made in Hawes as there was a good bus route just outside. But if it was just raining as the route wasn’t too hilly, I would instead Audax.
Well, the weather heard me. It was low cloud as usual, raining quite heavily, but no wind at all, and none really forecast until the early evening. Soooo another Audax day ahead.
Having ate like a lord yesterday, and not cycled far, my legs were powerhouses again. Today though as the rain was heavier than previous days, I was wearing my new Paramo jacket the Mirada jacket which is a female specific version of the Quito. Loved it. Just with a base beneath, the zippers allowed breathing. No water penetrated at all, and no sweating either. I had Sealskin socks and 3 seasoned gloves on today as well.
The route rode well, I hope its enough height for AAA points, I had made sure there were 3 peaks along this route, the route to Settle along the reverse of the Way of the Roses, then another peak at Ribblehead, and finally the peak at the end of the Bishopdale Valley, but was it enough?
Didn’t meet any other cyclists except the souls heading East along the Way of the Rose's, none of them had smiles to offer, perhaps jealously believing I was making my way back to Morecambe at the start. The rain pelted down, dripping off my nose and chin. As I got nearer Settle the road sign said 12%. Look, there NO way that the hill into Settle is 12% I really don't believe that road sign.
I can easily cycle up or down a 12%, even fully luggaged up, but I had difficulty keeping upright walking down this hill, as my mountain bike shoes didn’t even grip that well it was so steep, by now I had a small rub on my heel too from so much bloomin walking!
Not much else to add, other than the rest of the ride was in the pouring rain, uneventful and a bit boring without any real hilly challenges to do. I ate at the Ribblehead Station where I was lectured to by the landlord for cycling in the rain as this road was so dangerous, blah blah blah… Met hardly any traffic at all! I bet it’s a very safe road in the wet as no-one fancied a burn out today!
I left for Slaidburn on the Saturday morning, after another comfortable stay in one of my favourite hostels. I was to cycle from Kettlewell to Slaidburn, then drop off my gear, and cycle Pendle, and Newton in Pendle. But the following morning I really had had enough of cycling in the wet. Pendle hill is a biggie and I didn’t fancy it with poor brakes, which by now were half way worn out any way, and were in dire need of adjusting. No…. I would have a longer sleep, get up for a leisurely KettleWell superb breakfast, and set off later, to arrive in Slaidburn after lunch.
Slaidburn was just 32 miles away. By the end of this tour Hettie and I had clocked up 400 miles from Saturday 2 June to Sunday 10th June by the time I was back at home on the IOM.
In all, I had another ace little tour, I did enjoy this ride, just not as much as I do when I am actually cycling though! Please, please Mr Weather make it nice for Northern Ireland with Tina!