Way of the Roses – Scarborough to Morecambe
Saturday 1st, Sunday 2nd and Monday 3rd June 2012
Friday 1st June was the beginning of a great weekend. I finished work nice and early and met with Jean for a drink prior to embarking on my first cycling tour, the Way of the Roses! Jean waved me off, then I made my way to Stalybridge railway station to get on board the train to Scarborough, due to depart at 17.23. Dave had texted me to warn me of the densely packed train! The 4 day long bank holiday weekend had the same allure to us as it had to everybody else. Luckily, we’d pre-booked our tickets. Dave told me which carriage he was sat. When the train arrived, we met up and got bike and body on board the train. En route, Dave talked for the entire journey – which took 2 hours. I wouldn’t have minded a bit of a snooze and look at the scenery. Although I was to be denied these things, at least Carl managed to get both as he travelled to Scarborough alone. We met up at the station about 20.00 and cycled to the YHA. We signed in, made up our bunks and headed to the pub next door for a carvery and a few beers . We had our fill of food, and enjoyed a few beers and got talking to two of the bar staff from Eastern Europe – nice lads too.
Due in part to Dave’s snoring; we woke about 06.30 to a lovely, sunny day. We made the most of a lovely YHA breakfast prior to setting off on the Way of the Roses. We left the YHA about 08.50 and eased our way through Scarborough. The only difficulty we encountered was the hard ascent of the B1249 toward Foxholes. We had agreed to avoid the first section of the route as it would add about twenty miles onto a scheduled 75 miles planned for the day. After that, we left the busy B roads behind and enjoyed the safety and solitude of the route. Beautiful scenery unfolded before us on tarmac track that was amazingly free of traffic. The Yorkshire Wolds spanned for miles in every direction, and we were lucky enough to be able to see them and enjoy them in great conditions. Every now and then, we stopped, just to ‘smell the roses’. We stopped for a bite to eat in the small town of Pocklington, enjoying the company of two lovely old ladies, one of which informed us that she was the grand age of 92. Well fed and watered, we continued on into the medieval City of York. To jean and I, it is our spiritual haven and short break of choice. It is also a paradise for both walkers and cyclists. The route was a bit convoluted around York and took some negotiating before we picked up the route to take us to Naburn, a hamlet a few miles south of York where our hostel awaited.
The hostel was very much a work in progress, but nevertheless was very welcoming. The proprietor was working in conjunction with the charity Sustrans and clearly had ambition for the premises. We were shown to our rooms, with Carl and I deciding to share due to Dave’s snoring. The shower was a pure delight and once showered and changed; we walked round to the local pub and enjoyed a few pints and a chat with a couple from Hartlepool. We then got a taxi to Bootham Bar and enjoyed even more pints in the ‘3 legged mare’ – Mine and Jean’s local hostelry when in town. After several beers, lots of conversation and no food, we opted for a meal at an Indian restaurant in Bootham. Dave got a little colonial with a waiter as we waited a bit longer than necessary for a taxi – with me snoozing at the table!!!!!!
Cycling – 75 miles completed.
We arrived back at the hostel about 01.30, tired, but well fed and well pissed. We were up for 07.00 for an early breakfast, and were treated to excellent food, as well as the fire alarm going off. The weather had taken a turn for the worse. The skies had turned grey and were letting loose with rain – which stayed with us pretty much for the entire day. We left the hostel about 09.00 and retraced the few miles back to York and picked up our route. Yet again, we cycled along tarmac track/roads that were remarkably free of traffic and enjoyed every moment, even though it was raining. We ticked off 30 miles or so and arrived at the village of Boroughbridge. We were hoping that a café may be open so we could eat and change into some dry clothes. As we approached, I was laughing loudly, which only seemed to disturb the locals – can’t imagine why!!! Luck was on our side. There is a lovely café in the centre of the village, the owners being most welcoming and hospitable. We opted for a decent lunch break, getting well fed, watered and changed into dry clothes before continuing on our way. The gentleman owner took interest in our weekend activity and suggested several alternative routes in an attempt to ease the forthcoming difficulties. Being true to the route, that is the way we continued, for the next 10 minutes atleast!
Very shortly after setting off, I realised that I had left my wallet and phone behind in the café. The usual feeling that occurs in the pit of my stomach very quickly arrived. I s shouted to Dave and Carl to stop and explained the situation. We turned around and returned to the café, hoping to catch staff still there. Not only were staff still there, but the gentleman who we had been discussing the route with had set off in his car to catch up with us as someone had found my belongings before they left!!!! A quick phone call and a short wait found me and my belongings reunited. During the wait, we chatted away to other like minded cyclists who had opted to start the route from Morecambe and without luggage – I envied them at this point.
The route ambled on into Ripon, where Golden Jubilee ceremonies were being held. Despite not being that much of a monarchist, it was good to see all the effort being made to join in these celebrations. Loads of villages we passed through had buntings, flags and other markings to celebrate the Queens 60 year reign. We took a few photos’ before leaving Ripon, after which we were treated to a ride through Fountains Abbey. The route passes through the grounds of an ancient abbey, which spreads for miles. The grounds contain a large herd of deer, which we were able to see on our way through. We stopped in the grounds for a toilet break before heading on. Fountains Abbey is managed by the National Trust so another visit will be paid to this part of the world very soon.
The route remained decent until we came to Pateley Bridge where we were met with the steepest and longest ascent I have ever encountered on a bike. Doing this ascent on a lightweight road bike is difficult enough, but bikes laden with gear made it even more arduous. Part way up, thinking about the remaining miles, I dismounted the bike and walked for a while. Dave and Carl waited patiently for me at the summit of this mammoth ascent, which we then freewheeled and enjoyed the descents that always follow such hard work. Now we were truly in the Yorkshire Dales, which has roads very similar to that of the Derbyshire High Peak so all those hours of cycling had now paid off. Tired, wet and getting increasingly hungry and grumpy, we finally made it to the hamlet of Threshfield – home of the Craiglands Guesthouse. Ann, the proprietor, met me with ‘Sorry, we’ve double booked you’ which fortunately was just her sense of humour – not that I had much of one of those at this point!!! My gear was piss wet through, good job for my waterproof bags! Ann said she could store some of my gear in her cellar, where the boiler is………….. Good stuff!
Once again, we were fortunate to have lovely rooms with lovely power showers to freshen ourselves up with. Although Lady Luck had been riding with us so far, she had left us briefly. We had left the B&B too late, each pub we entered to get some food, we were told that they had stopped serving – b——s! I was so pissed off, I walked ahead at a pace, furious that we’d missed the chance of hot food!!! For the 2nd night in a row, we settled for a meal in the local Indian restaurant which was very nice. We had Lassie, a milk shake type drink which Dave introduced us to, very nice it was too. We walked back to the B&B, aching and tired and ready for a good nights sleep. Cycling – 75 miles completed.
We woke on the final day of our journey to find that the grey skies and the rain had moved on and made way for blue skies and sunshine.
We didn’t surface until 07.30, with breakfast being served from 08.15. We were once again fed and watered to our upmost satisfaction. We gathered our bikes and belongings and packed up for the final day of cycling. Ann only accepted cash or cheque as payment; luckily Carl had enough cash to pay the outstanding balance. We left Threshfield at 09.50 and continued along a busy main road but only for a mile or so. My breaks were making a lot of noise, on inspection they had totally worn down to the metal! We continued on the route, via quiet roads and tracks we had become accustomed to. The routine was up hill and down dale but without the severity of the previous day. Carl had told us about a steep descent we had to negotiate into Settle. The rear brakes on my bike had severely worn and were wearing on the wheel rims. I used caution on this descent, using the front brake with occasional use of the severely worn back brake. Luckily, the cycling shop in Settle was open for business. I purchased some new brake pads which Carl and Dave then fitted – many thanks to you both!
Although I was somewhat behind Carl and Dave, I was not behind them by much. I was tired and weary but fortunately for me, not in any pain as such. Wearing cycling shorts as well as cycling pants, my behind didn’t suffer as much as I’d anticipated. We were lucky to have great views all around us, which at times we stopped to savour. We passed through a small village with a running event being held, as such roads were closed but open to us. Carl and Dave opted for meat pie and peas when offered then we continued on our way. We left the Yorkshire Dales behind us and travelled a short section of the Forest of Bowland. Again, beautiful terrain for us to enjoy. Fatigue now came on me but I continued on and as we neared Lancaster, the terrain began to level out – finally!!! Travelling through these lovely country lanes, we passed a hamlet that made us stop and stare. There was a small field, with bales of hay and a fabric canopy. Under the canopy was a female vocalist, singing with a jazz type band. She sounded fabulous, we stayed to hear her finish her ‘set’ and left before the temptation of the pimms tent became too much to avoid.
We stopped for a drink and a bite to eat just before Lancaster; from hereon it was lovely, flat cycling terrain all the way into Morecambe. We reached the finish/start point on the promenade about 16.00 and congratulated ourselves on a most enjoyable few days. The sun was shining and we were feeling totally euphoric. Photo opportunities taken, we then found a promenade chippy and tucked into fish and chips, followed by ice cream – lovely jubbly.
We left the prom and headed toward Lancaster and the train station. It was lovely just to amble along the route, rather than maintain the pace we had done for the last 200 miles. We boarded the 18.23 train to Preston, which was delayed by ten minutes. The journey to Preston was brief, after which we got the connecting train to Manchester Piccadilly.
The three of us enjoyed the ‘views’ the return journey offered us – with a young female passenger asking Dave to explain what he was staring at. It could only happen to Dave but Dave handled it in a most assertive manner, while I nearly p—-d myself with laughter – the joys of it. We arrived in Manchester just short of 20.00. We said our good-byes and Carl headed home alone. Dave and I, having missed the 19.48 to Glossop opted for the next train to Stalybridge. We had about 5 minutes to get to the other side of the station which we did successfully. That left us to cycle home via the gradual ascent of Mottram Road from Stalybridge back to Glossop. I arrived home at 20.50, very tired, very smelly, but extremely happy with the weekend I’d spent with Dave and Carl with our bikes. I was also bloody glad to be back home to Jean and Josh.
Cycling – 50 miles completed.
My 1st cycling tour. Cycle touring has given me an alternative from MTB or road racing, neither which I am particularly interested in taking up. It was tiring but most enjoyable, as was the company of Carl and Dave. In total, A fabulous experience! A great way to spend some time with new friends who may well go onto become old friends. Did this weekend top the previous one – I would say it did. Will there be more cycling tours –yes there will!!!! Many thanks to Carl and Dave for their company and experience.