An early morning cycle to Crewe train station to catch the train via Lancaster to Morecambe enabled Dom and I to start the route about 10.00am on a sunny Friday morning after the obligatory picture with Eric Morecambe (I'm the one with the short fat hairy legs to his left!) and a quick shirt change to save my RNLI logo shirt for the final day and we were off!
We packed light and carried everything we needed for the stay with us.
The route out of Morecambe was along a tarmac path on a disused railway line but as soon as we got to Lancaster it was on to the proper roads and immediately into the hill climbs! A lovely route round Aughton, Hornby, Wray to Clapham where unfortunately we took a wrong turn and an unplanned 5mile detour over a hill and down the other side almost reaching Ingleton before we realised our mistake... Oops!
Returned to Clapham (I never thought it would happen ;-) and a pit stop to re-fuel. The route signage wasn't clear and we ended up spending a long time trying to find the right route through Austwick around Wharfe to Settle but ended up back on the main road and so conceded and took the B6480 into Settle which was busy and VERY hairy!
By the time we got to Settle for a late lunch we were knackered and had cycled 45miles instead of the planned 35!
Settle is very picturesque and we had a great lunch at the 'Naked Man' cafe before tackling the steep 375m climb out of Settle towards Kirkby Malham. Very pleased to say we cycled all the way, albeit with a few breath catching stops (the plains of Cheshire are not really good training for these sorts of hill climbs!)
Spectacular views from the top of the hill back down towards Settle 'almost' made it worthwhile ;-)
On the home run from Cracoe we missed the turn off the route to our digs for the night at Threshfield and I ended up paying for it with a front wheel puncture after hitting a pothole! The spare inner tube used, we got to The Old Hall Inn for a fabulous evening stopover!
All in all a great start to our coast to coast cycle!
Saturday 25th August 2012 ~ Grassington to Dunnington (York)
After a full English breakfast at the Old Hall Inn in Threshfield we set off in a light drizzle via Grassington to pick up the route again in Burnsall and climb through thickening hill mist/low cloud (down to less than 100m visibility) up to the highest point of the route at Greenhow (402m). A shame really as the views would undoubtedly have been stunning but for the thick fog!
The descent in the rain into Pateley Bridge was a white knuckle ride down 20% hills with hairpin bends and rutted roads... Glad to get that over safely!
The rain stopped and from there we climbed again running past Brimham Rocks with their unbelievable stacked rock formations!
Onwards through the beautiful grounds of Fountains Abbey complete with Main Hall, it's own church, lake and deer grounds.
Lunch Saturday was in Ripon in a coffee shop in the main square and a well earned rest with the last of the major climbs behind us :-)
The Cathederal in Ripon was again a work of Art!
From Ripon we travelled mostly on single track roads barely seeing a car for miles through Boroughbridge, Dunsforth (along some very muddy lanes). Just after Linton-on-Ouse the heavens opened and we got a thorough drenching!
The rain stopped (leaving us soaked) as we headed in to York along a couple of miles of tarmac towpath along the River Ouse itself.
The route popped us up right in the middle of York city centre barely touching a road en-route!
I'd forgotten how impressive York Minster is! How did they build such things!?
Our Saturday night stop over after our 66mile ride for the day was at a small but homely B&B East of York in Kexby near Dunnigton. The owner was good enough to run us to the local pub for dinner after we'd showered both us and the mud off the bikes! Another great day cycling!
Sunday 26th August 2012 ~ Dunnington to Bridlington
Third day saw us setting off on a bright day with patchy cloud on a predominantly flat run on quiet back lanes through Stamford Bridge and Pocklington.
The lane from Pocklington ran through a country park valley alongside a dried out river bed which was lovely. Midway along this lane we came across a herd of special breed cattle, one of whom had just given birth minutes earlier to a calf! The calf was still being cleaned by it's mother but already trying to stand on very wobbly feet.
A short hill climb through Huggate and then some blisteringly good roads where we were at last able to motor to reach Driffield in time for lunch having done 33 miles.
The last time I was in Driffield was about 25 years ago to record a couple of tracks with a band I used to play with at 'Lambs to the Slaughter' studios. Thinking about it, we're still waiting to hear back from them but I've not given up hope yet of getting signed up with a major record deal...
The final 20 miles to Bridlington were great knowing that we'd almost done.
More single track lanes around acres of flat fields around arable farm land and criss crossing the railway line via level crossings.
Two miles from Bridlington with the sea in sight Dom got a puncture... Unbelievable!
A short delay whilst we got it fixed and then a victory lap through the narrow streets of Bridlington Old Town (where we later went to celebrate :-).
We arrived at the finish line about 4.30pm having completed the route and covered 184miles in total!
All in all the Way of the Roses coast to coast route is fantastic and one I'd definitely recommend ~ http://www.wayoftheroses.co.uk/
It's well sign posted and with the accompanying map an easy route to follow (apart from our detour to Ingleton on day one! ;-)
We met some great people en route including a few cyclists we kept bumping into along the way... A couple of German guys on road bikes who spoke better English than us! A couple of guys on Mountain bikes from Oldham and a group with a tour guide on mountain bikes. The group were great we got covered in mud together on one stretch of road between Ripon and York, but the guide was a bit pretentious and obviously felt he had something to prove. I hope his dashing off and leaving them to catch up didn't spoil it for them.
I can't thank everyone who supported me enough... But a special thanks to Dom who I had a great laugh along the way with... A true mate!