2011.05 May, Dales

Weds 18th to Mon 23rd May 2011 – The Ay-oop Ride.
Wednesday 18th May.
PT,RT,MA,MR,JR,ZA assembled at 8 Tudor Close, where Dales Ride polo shirts were distributed. Departure uncharacteristically before target time at around 08.40.
Breakfast at Box Hill Rykers greasy spoon, where Martin came over all romantic, either because he was with his friends from the FGCC, but probably more likely because of an earlier liaison there with the now Mrs Rolfe.
Lunch at Keele Services with a change of drivers resulting in separation of the convoy at Preston turn off the M6.
Arrival at Horton around 3.40pm. A walk down the valley alongside the river in search of O2 connection for JR, with an excellent pint of Helwith Bridge bitter from the Three Peaks Brewery at the Helwith Bridge inn.
After the first pint of Helwith Bridge bitter

A hike up a bridleway led by MR, almost reaching the top of Pen-y-ghent and almost leaving JR whilst he continued sending emails. During the hike, Mr Mead arrived by train on the last leg of a journey down from the wastes of Caledonia, where he had been bringing Hawkin’s Bazaar to the natives.
Dinner was taken in the Crown Hotel with plenty of Black Sheep.

Thursday 19th May.
Before a hearty breakfast bikes were extracted from LSV2 and re-assembled.
A fine body of men sets off on the first day
Those riding (6 no.) ascended lower slopes of Pen-y-Ghent and came upon a massive ‘sink-hole’ called Hull Pot– a feature of limestone landscape.
Shake Hole
Having managed to avoid plunging into it, we continued up and around the northern flank of Pen-y-Ghent before descending (after a navigational foxup) at Foxup into Littondale. Having only covered c.6 miles in >2hrs, we made faster progress by road down the valley to Arncliffe and Hawkswick Cote where, refueled by ‘Geo-bars’ (kindly provided by a parishioner of St P&P, Rustington) we ascended off-road to the south-west, taking an off-road route to Malham.
En route we met a couple of walkers from Leeds, one of whom wanted to know all about where we’d come from etc. We guessed he was in his eighties which gave much encouragement to the senior members of the FGCC! After a fast descent into Malham, we encountered AM (admrably upholding the libatory traditions of the LSV Driver) supping a pint outside The Buck, reading his newspaper (not the Mail). Most of us partook of a ham sandwich (perhaps a tad overpriced) much refreshed by pints of Timothy Taylor’s ‘Landlord’. Finding that it was almost time for tea before we left, we partook of tea and excellent cake/scones at a nearby tea-room. We set off up a v steep hill eastward out of Malham, encountering a preaching cross (shaft of) although no sermons were preached. A cracking route took us east towards Threshfield Moor, then down to digs in Threshfield/Grassington. Those of us at the former were met by Ann & Dennis – Craiglands – lovely Edwardian Residence. fgcc-dales-2011-050.jpg
Martin & Richard were billeted with some ‘laydees’ at New Laithe House (of whom no photographs are available . . ). We met for dinner at The Forresters Arms in Grassington – > than satisfactory. LSV back to the digs. A great day . . . (ZA)

Friday 20th May
After a hearty breakfast we got lost getting out of the carpark and had the usual rendevous failure; should have been outside the “laydees” but Martin and Richard had fled; they refuse to share the reason for this… or indeed provide a photo of the “laydees” concerned! Splendid cycling northward on the road up Wharfedale through Conistone, with “panniered up” touring cyclists in evidence, to arrive in Kettlewell where we stopped for tea to avoid the worst of the rain, in z’s café. Much admiration was devoted to the calendar girls, modesty tastefully preserved by marvellous baps. Also sheltering from rain was a fellow (but roadie) cyclist up from Leeds. Then after steep climbs north-eastward on road out of the town, we skirted to the north of Great Whernside and after a flying downhill run arrived at the Thwaite Arms in Horsehouse for the best and the worst of Coverdale’s fare. Excellent pints were accompanied by Bruce’s inventive cuisine based round frozen yorkshire pudding and tinned mince. Climbing steeply northwest up the side of Coverdale (mostly by carrying bikes up the bed of a river),
fgcc-dales-2011-063.jpgwe proceeded over Fleensop moor to Walden then down the road to West Burton, where we lost Martin in its one way system. After more planning failures the rest set off to Asygarth Falls. However, after trying to regroup, we realised that time was against us so we set off by road to Wensley and then along the riverbank to the digs at the Priory in Middleham.
Martin awaited us in the handy Castle Keep Tea room, having taken the overland route from West Burton. An evening of convivial dining in the Black Swan completed the day.

Saturday 21st May
After a hearty breakfast, and with Rachel (chatelaine of the Priory) and her family scrambling into the car to catch a train, we left the Priory to retrace the previous day’s route to Wensley (guess which Dale that’s in), and then take a minor road along the northern slope of the dale to pass below Preston-under-scar, before the leaders of the peleton decided on a hurtle down into Redmire. Regrouping, we climbed back up the north slope of the dale, and then followed a bridleway to Bolton Castle for a spot of culture and, of course, tea and buns.
After being treated to a display of falconry, we proceded along to Aysgarth by a fine bridleway
Bolton to Aysgarth
where we enjoyed the falls, each in our own way.
Just a short ascent up the south side of the dale, we followed a minor road to the night’s palatial accommodations at Thornton Lodge. Vanessa exceeded all parameters for an FGCC-approved Hostess, welcoming us with tea and biscuits in the lounge.
JR and MA were despatched to stock the cellar for dinner, and book into their digs in Bainbridge. Dinner was enjoyed at Thornton Lodge in the pannelled dining room, accompanied by “session bitter” and wines.

JR and the session bitters
Gentlemen then retired to the lounge to take a contemplative glass over a game of pool.

Sunday 22 May
After a hearty breakfast, the peleton rearranged itself as Andy assembled a bike to ride, and PT gratefully took shelter from the rain and wind in LSV2. PT and MR then took off for Ribblehead, where MR was despatched south on a hideously purple train. Returning, PT encountered the peleton battling into a 30 mph wind and rain along the road south from Hawes to Ribblehead. Despite having stopped in Hawes for tea, blood sugar levels were dangerously low, so the sight of LSV2 and PT’s tea station alongside a roadside waterfall was most welcome. PT having earlier seen the drenched riders had been off in search of tea and cakes and found them in Newby Head farmhouse at the top of Widdale.

The welcome tea station
The rain eased as we arrived at Ribblehead, in time for a viewing of the viaduct and a pint of Station ale and an exquisite pork pie with black pudding in the Station pub.
Next came a six-mile descent down Ribbledale back to Horton and the Crown Inn, for showers, black sheep and a well-earned (by the riders) spot of dinner.