A Bridge Too Far: the last hurrah for my Coventry Eagle Touristique?

Our local BBC ‘Look North’ presenter has this routine – it seems almost like a contractual obligation – to have a bit of banter with the weatherman instead of having that bit more time to talk about the actual weather. This is how it usually goes: presenter hands over to weatherman; weatherman has a go at presenter’s hair/skin colour/age and so on. (Does this happen in all regions? Have I asked this before?) Anyway, a variant of this is for the presenter to show us a viewer’s photograph and then the weatherman rubbishes it, especially if it’s one taken of the Humber Bridge. Yes, people are still trying to get an original photograph of the Humber Bridge, 30 years after it was opened.

I shan’t bother, but here are some photographs anyway with my oldest bike; my Coventry Eagle Touristique, and possibly its last ride ever, on a ride from the Humber Bridge…


Dark clouds gather for my old bike on the hill between Welton and Elloughton

I had lost track of the weather forecasts on this day. Simple practicalities, and my own faffing about getting ready, meant that I didn’t leave the house until midday. I had planned to go to Driffield to do the Byway Local Loop there. But I left it too late. Instead I rode what I believe to be another sort-of official provisional route – one planned to cover ground a bit nearer to home.


Following the Byway from the Humber Bridge car park down to Hessle Foreshore

The Humber Bridge car park is less than ten miles from my home, but I fancied an Aberdeen Angus burger from Mrs B’s Humber Bridge cafe before setting off. Walkers and cylists can follow the byway down to the foreshore rather than using the potentially busy Ferriby Road.


After passing underneath the Humber Bridge, the two main cycle networks agree on the way forward

After these signs a short side road then right towards the Hessle Foreshore (signs also point to the eastbound stretch of the Transpennine Trail).


Through the car park of a pub on the foreshore and along the Transpennine Trail

Hessle isn’t much fun to get to on road by bike and to the west the Transpennine Trail along the north bank of the Humber Estuary is a very pleasant route. Just be braced for the noise of the TransPennine Express hurtling along beside you: the tracks carrying the TransPennine Express are perhaps five yards away.


The footbridge crossing the A63 at Melton. The downside of going west from the Humber Foreshore

The first of many, unfortunate, crossings of the A63, here at Melton. Without the bridges to link them, the minor roads alongside the A63 would seem to peter out.


Melton merges in to Welton and more agreement on the way to go

After the footbridge in Melton there is a sign that seems to suggest cyclists should take the path alongside the busy A63. I went in to Melton and followed the road in to Welton. The one-way system brings you out at a T junction and Cowgate (above). Follow the signs to Elloughton and Brantingham.


The road between Welton and Elloughton, overlooking the Humber and south bank


A difference of opinion. Right to Elloughton Dale and left to Brantingham. I went left…


… but had to cross the A63 again


The pretty church tucked away in Ellerker, on route 1 of the NCN

Ater Brantingham (and another bridge over the A63) the NCN signs take the cylist in a little circuit around Ellerker. The church there is almost hidden from view and is accessed by a footpath from one end, or from a narrow side road. Then on this little loop it’s off towards South Cave. (At least, it should have been. Not for the first time I complicated things, this time by heading off towards Broomfleet. I should have taken yet another road bridge over the A63 (I had left the map on my sofa), but put in a considerable detour through North Cave. Never mind.)

No more pictures until the end of this ride. From South Cave this route goes along a testing road up South Cave hill (Beverley Road). This is a narrow, twisting wooded lane, but can be busy as it was on this day. It’s still not over when the sky appears between the trees at the end of the woods. A well-deserved lengthy descent along Riplingham Road to the Swanland Dale road, in to Swanland and then Ferriby before retaking the Transpennine Trail back to Hessle and the pile of stones marking the start of the 79-mile Yorkshire Wolds Way.


Back on the Hessle Foreshore, and the marker for the start of the Wolds Way

I still have problems thinking of Hessle as being in the Yorkshire Wolds (perhaps it’s because I lived in Hessle for many years and it feels so unlike the other places in the Wolds). It’s irrational of me, as it is the start of the long distance walk that reaches up to Flamborough Filey on the north coast. Although the descent from the top of South Cave hill is as rewarding as any further north in the Wolds, there is no doubt that those crossings of the busy, and noisy, A63 take the shine off any route that goes west for so long from Hessle.

Assumes a start at the beginning of the Yorkshire Wolds Way on Hessle Foreshore

My Coventry Eagle Touristique

I plan to take my trusty, rusty old bike to Ellis Briggs in Shipley on Friday. I’m hoping they will tell me that it’s not too far gone to renovate, but the frame is very rusty, especially around the bottom bracket and chain stays. So this may have been the last ride – my guess at yet another (provisional) Big Skies Bike Ride – before its enforced retirement. I hope not. Two years ago a chap in a LBS told me it was too dangerous to ride, but I went off on a tour of the North Yorks Moors and the Yorkshire Dales anyway. But perhaps he was right. I don’t know. I bought the bike for £260 in 1985.

I try to keep the frame dry and I apply WD40 or similar to the frame after the rare occasions I take the bike out. It had rained all the time I was refitting the wheels and chain. It stopped as I was about to set off and remained clear until I unlocked the shed to put the bike away after this ride when it poured down. Perhaps it’s a sign…?

I have replaced everything except the saddle (and seat post), brakes and Simplex downtube shifters. The bike rides really well despite loose bottom bracket bearings in this Reynolds 531ST frame. Can it be saved? We’ll see…