Saturday, 26 May 2012

Way of the Roses review, part 3

Day Three, Ripon to Driffield

Cake at Beningborough Hall
Leaving the big hills behind, day three rolled us down to York via Boroughbridge and Linton-on-Ouse, through the grounds of Beningborough Hall where we had elevenses at the National Trust cafe and picked up sandwiches for later.

York Minster
Then on to the minster in the ancient city of York via the riverside cycleway along the ings of the Ouse. Out of York on the disused railway line, we headed for the wolds and encountered our first bridleway of the day, east of Dunnington.

Following the bridleway to Stamford Bridge

Having had a picnic on the way to Pocklington, we stopped there for coffee before tackling the only significant hill of the day as we climbed through the Yorkshire Wolds in Millington Dale.

Pasture Gate in the Wolds
Possibly the best descent of the whole Way of the Roses route for me was from the top of Pasture Dale where Pocklington Lane starts a 500ft descent through Huggate becoming Driffield Road and ending in Kilburn some seven and a half miles later. It's the sort of hill you can pedal down and really enjoy. From there, the lanes took us to Driffield where accommodation is available, but not easy to find.

Day three stats: 79 miles in around 8 hours and 1920ft of climbing.

Day four consisted of the remaining 23 miles that included a detour via Rudston and Boynton because of works on the roman road Woldgate. We had a brew on the front with a number of other groups that had just completed the route and then made our way to the station, picking up fish and chips just before departure - sweet reward for a great few days cycling.

Bridlington Station buffet

Way of the Roses is a superb route with plenty of variety, challenges and interesting scenery - highly recommended!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Way of the Roses review, part 2

Day 2, Settle to Ripon

If you've done your Way of the Roses research, you are probably aware of the hill out of Settle. Long before the full English breakfast has settled, Albert Hill gives a foretaste of the challenge that lies up ahead on Scosthrop Lane. The only tips I can suggest is stick to muesli and a banana, reward yourself with a late second breakfast on arrival in Airton and do a couple of laps of town to warm up. It's all very impressive and gives a great sense of satisfaction having attained the summit.

Second big hill of the day up from Skyreholme
The next section passes through some lovely Yorkshire villages and renowned eateries, but there is more climbing to be done, so choosing where to refuel is important. It's a great temptation to call in at the Craven Cruck Barn in Appletreewick, which is where we noticed some other WOTR riders entrenched. The problem is, if you stop, you'll not want to get going again and as soon as you do, you encounter the steep uphill out of Skyreholme and onto Craven Moor past Stump Cross Caverns. If you can wait, refreshments are available there or down in Pateley Bridge, which is where we had lunch. A word of caution: The descent from Greenhow Hill is a classic but does involve four steep gradients so it is too easy to let the bike run away before you realise what speed you're doing. It is an accident black-spot and has already claimed a few WOTR riders including two airlifted to hospital last October.

Looking back to Pateley Bridge and the Nidd valley
For us, this was the day with the most effort required, as we still needed to get to Ripon, which involved some more climbing out of Smelthouses onto Brimham Moor. On the one side you look down into the Nidd valley and then, on attaining the ridge of Hartwith Bank, a huge vista opens up east and you know you've crossed the divide of the Pennines.

The view of Knaresborough from the top
It's not quite down yet as the route follows round Brimham Rocks with the expansive views over the flatter end of Swaledale and the wolds. Descending to Fountains Abbey and a trip through Studley Park with its impressive driveway, to finally emerge through the gates into Studley Roger and Ripon itself, was our remaining work of the day.

The main drive of Studley Royal deer park with Ripon cathedral in the distance
Day two stats: 42 miles in around 6 hours, ~4560ft of ascent with two cafe stops and max speed held to 40mph down Greenhow hill - that was near the top, it was considerably less on the steeper lower slopes.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Way of the Roses review, part 1

Day 1, Home to Settle

It seems plenty of cyclists will be tackling the Way of the Roses coast to coast route over the Queen's Diamond Jubilee bank holiday weekend. We're off to try Lon Las Cymru but I thought it might be nice to look back at our experience of the WOTR route last September with a few pictures to whet the appetite for those tackling it in the next few weeks.

I persuaded our happy troop that trains would take nearly the same time as cycling to the start in Morecambe from our base in Blackburn. Following Lancashire Cycleway NCN 6 up the Lancashire Coastal Way from Conder Green meant we could refuel with elevenses at Cafe d'Lune, overlooking Morecambe Bay. Because of that, day 1 of the official WOTR route started just before lunchtime so we planned to spread the hilliest sections of the route over the first two days, with the third day being the longest mileage. Day four would be a short section and return home. Our stopovers were booked in Settle, Ripon and Driffield.

Crook O'Lune

From the traffic free start in Morecambe, the Lune Valley Cycleway takes you to country roads and the first hills of the day, these essentially being a detour to avoid the A683 between the end of the cycleway and Hornby.

Climbing up from Halton Green

Lunch was taken at the Bridge House Farm Tearoom in Wray, and can be recommended. From Wray,  passing Bentham toward Clapham, one senses the geology changing and the transition from Lancashire into Yorkshire. From Clapham the way gets interesting as the need to avoid the busy A65 takes you off-road onto some classic ancient tracks.

Whilst a verge path along the A65 will in future be another option, it is well worth the effort to trudge up through the tunnels above Clapham and onto Thwaite Lane, as it is then that you really start to get an idea of the beauty of this route.

Thwaite Lane
Isolated, away from traffic and towns, you know you've entered limestone country with stunning views of Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent on the way to Stainforth and, finally for us that day, Settle with views of Giggleswick school as we passed by.


On a recent visit to Settle we were treated to a tour of the Settle Water Tower at the station. This featured on the television series Restoration Man. If you are lucky, Mark Rand and his wife may be working in the garden and offer a visit around in return for a donation to the Friends of Settle and Carlisle Railway. Be warned though, visitors may get featured in the water tower blog.

At the end of day one we'd covered around seventy miles in nine hours and climbed about 4140ft including the thirty five miles added before the official start. This section of the Way of the Roses was thirty four miles, took about five and a half hours, ascended around 3000ft and including two cafe stops.

Next time....tackling the big hills and danger.