We’d booked the hostels for this mini adventure a few months ago, expecting Helen’s new touring bike to have arrived. Unfortunately it was stuck in America, or Malaysia or somewhere exotic like Milton Keynes. Plan B involved fitting Helen’s new handlebar bag to her road bike, and then loading me up with everything else. Fortunately, we were travelling light.
Good Friday arrived, and I took Nelly for an early morning walk around the park, while Helen made sure that the house was neat and tidy for her youngest, who was staying the weekend with his girlfriend to look after Nelly and the cats.
At 9.30 we headed out into the Lancashire rain, down to the cycle path and out of Lancaster. ‘Steady away’ was our motto, as Helen was worried about doing 50-60 miles a day, three days in a row. The plan was to stop little and often, taking plenty of photos.
Soon we arrived at Ingleton and stopped at the marvellous Seasons Bakery, and despite the large array of cakes we both opted for a chicken, pork and stuffing pie. Tasty!
We then prepared ourselves for the long slog over Newby Head to Hawes. It’s one of my least favourite roads due to the traffic, but today, most drivers seemed to be giving me extra room, which makes a pleasant change from cycling in Wigan. We stopped at the famous Ribbleshead viaduct for a quick selfie….
…before the last climb up to Newby Head and the long descent into Hawes. We cycled around the busy town looking for a welcoming cafe, although the one that I’d stopped at a few years earlier was now a Chinese take-away. We re-traced our steps and stopped at Cafe Curva, where we sat outside in the sun, with good coffee and equally good bacon butties. What more could you want? A friendly woman then came and sat near to us with her beautiful dog, which was a Bernese Swiss mountain dog. She was huge, but apparently the smallest of the Swiss mountain breeds. Helen, ever a sucker for a furry face, saved some bacon for her.
Back on the bikes, and the sun was really out now, and with a nice tailwind the 17 miles from Hawes to Leyburn flew by, except for the monster climb out of Askrigg. This is the village where the TV show ‘All creatures great and small’ was filmed. Also, the ‘monster’ climb wasn’t the proper ‘monster’ climb out of Askrigg, just it’s smaller cousin.
Once in Leyburn we stopped in the sun for a cold fizzy drink. Helen wanted a diet coke while I opted for a refreshing fizzy rhubarb drink, which my beautiful wife decided was much nicer than a diet coke. Leyburn was busy with a Friday market and was packed, mainly with cars. If only there was some other mode of transport, for example, a bicycle. There was also a shop called The Wobbly Dog, which probably sold tea towels.
Out of Leyburn and the final climb, while not steep, did go on for ages as we made our way through an army firing range. There were also loads of cyclists coming past in the other direction, some wearing numbers, so there must have been an event on somewhere. Once at the top the view was amazing, and Helen did that panoramic thing with her phone, which was ruined by my face. The last mile was then all downhill to the Grinton YHA.
The YHA at Grinton is in a grand old house, welcoming and warm, with half a dozen ‘pods’ in the garden, as well as brilliant views across the valley.
Over pizza and a beer we chatted about bicycle touring, and how Helen had been a little nervous about going touring with me. I truthfully told her that if I’d been on my own I wouldn’t have been going any faster and would have stopped just as often. There is no rush, take your time and enjoy being on your bike.
In the dinning room of the YHA there were some creative drawings of woodland creatures on the walls. A stag, ram, hedgehog and a fox, all without feet, hidden in long grass. I suspect that the artists wasn’t confident drawing hoofs and paws.
That was the end to a brilliant day one of our mini touring adventure, although I should add that I’ve had my bike for about six months. In that time the left cleat has been a little tight, so on the morning of our little trip I decided to loosen it a little, as I didn’t want to come a cropper with a fully laden bike. I should have looked closer, as I tightened it, and at the first junction I very nearly did fall off. To prove how much of an idiot I can be, I decided to leave it and loosen it when we reached Grinton. I forgot and spent the whole of the second day being unable to un-clip easily as well.