Skipton’s club for all road cyclists, whether just getting into cycling as a sport, experienced racer or anything in between! Here you will find news updates on club events and activities as well as an introduction to riding with the club.
The promise of warm sunshine and a little breeze brought out over 20 riders for today’s social ride. The 50 miler route was one of the club’s favourites: from Gargrave to Hetton and Cracoe, up and down Littondale from Arncliffe and then round the Buckden Triangle, Cafe stop at Kettlewell and then down the dale to Linton via Grass Woods and Rylstone. A shorter version followed the same roads to Kilnsey and returned the same way.
There were 11 in the faster group, closely followed by the other 11. Caran and Adrienne left the group at Kilnsey to do the 30 miler and Jacquie joined us at Kettlewell having missed the start time because of heavy traffic.
The dales’ roads were busy with much more traffic then usual as it is the Bank Holiday weekend and for once, good weather! So it was a relief to get off the B6265 at Kilnsey and head up Littondale to Arncliffe on the quieter stretch of road. The show ground at Kilnsey was in an advanced state of readiness for the event on Tuesday and several groups of climbers were scaling the Crag in the warm sunshine.
After that glorious stretch of Dales scenery to Hubberholm, riding at a decent pace, both groups met up in the Village Tea Rooms in Kettlewell and enjoyed an al fresco lunch.
Some opted for an extended ride down the dale to the Cav Pav for ice creams on the return. A few called in for “other refreshments” or the usual post ride coffee and cake at the Clubhouse. Clearly a day to record as one of the finest Saturday rides of a generally disappointing summer!
For this year’s club weekender we returned to the wide open spaces and quiet roads of Northumberland. Our first visit up to England’s most northerly county was 5 years ago when we stayed in a bunkhouse in Chatton. Those who were involved then had what can best be described as a mixed experience of good cycling but poor “fly-blown” accommodation on a chicken farm! This year we had good accommodation, interesting and varied rides and decent weather. The benefits of this part of the country are: the easy access to the stunning coast line, the back drop of the Cheviot hills and nearby, the Borders and all on comparatively quiet roads.
The accommodation was at Walker Walls a short distance from the small town of Wooler. It has good kitchen facilities, large common/dining area and adequate bedrooms and showers etc. for the 16 club members who came along.
On day 1, members were arriving at different times but most opted for some initial leg loosening after their 3 or 4 hours drive up the A1. Geoff, Richard and Rick had taken a train to Alnmouth and cycled cross country to Wooler. The villages of Ford and Etal fitted the bill for a short but interesting intro. They benefit from a tearoom, a thatched roof pub, a castle and a un-passable ford across the River Till. In fact routes on both days 2 and 3 passed close by, so refreshments there proved very attractive.
Insofar as custom and practice has developed, the first evening of our club weekenders revolves around a communal meal to start off the experience of sharing and spending time in each others company. A choice of Keelham Farm shop pies, Chile con Carne and a veggie options with rice and baked spuds. A sweet course of various cakes really got us off to cracking start!
Day 2: A ride with a difference across the Border into Scotland with a lunch stop in the town of Kelso at the Hoot ‘n Cat cafe who were expecting us and reserved a room for our use. The road from Wooler to Town Yetholm closely followed the contours of the northern edge of the Cheviot range to the South and the Border hills to the North. So surrounded by hills and fast flowing burns this section was a joy to cycle through with hardly any traffic except for 2 slow moving, giant agricultural machines that were heading the same way as us. The actual border was an unmissable photo opportunity and the selfies multiplied in the process. The obvious jokes (?) about passports and undesirable aliens abounded.
With the breeze at our backs we enjoyed several miles of fast and tidy riding from Kelso to Cornhill along the banks of the Tweed which is a wide and impressive stretch of water forming the dividing line between us and the Scots. From there we turned south towards Ford again and dealt with the headwind with equally efficient group riding for several miles.
Saturday evening saw us dining at at the Tankerville Arms in Wooler where we were given use of the wedding banquet room for our 3 course pre booked evening meal. Mixed opinions on the food depended on choices made. Salmon and vodka tagliatelle was a curious menu item! The evening “livened up” with a few drinks in the Anchor Inn nearby. Clearly the locals know how to enjoy themselves there and some were very quick to point out their Yorkshire credentials to an embarrased member of our party who wasn’t particularly impressed by tales of “Scarborough milkmaids”…really! Another resisted a lot of attention generated by taunts about his ‘”short shorts!”
Of course such fun and games were an ideal preparation for Day 3 as we had planned a prompt start to get across the Causeway to Holy Island and back within the safe crossing times! All agreed that this was the highlight of the weekend with it’s somewhat unique journey across to an island laying about 3 miles off shore and approached along a strip of tarmac with sands and mudflats on both sides until dry land is reached after about a mile. We followed Sustrans Route 1 from Belford to Beal, rather slowly at times behind a flock of sheep! The island was crammed with day trippers so after a brief stop for a coffee and look at the castle we headed back to Beal where we had booked into an inn for lunch. A traditional photo shoot at the high tide refuge hut needed to be taken en route.
Unfortunately the pre-booked lunch wasn’t a great success with portions insufficient to fuel our the finely tuned bodies that we had developed over the weekend. Those who had only ordered egg and beans were served with this pathetic plate (see below). A cause of some hilarity but not so funny at £7.50.
We fared better when on the return leg to Wooler. In pouring rain we stopped at an ice cream parlour for probably the best and biggest ice cream cornets ever.
And so to the last day of our stay. Day 4 had to be a short ride because the first task was making the bunkhouse clean and tidy before we could leave. We waved the train travellers off as they made their way back to Alnmouth and then we drove to Bamburgh to park by the impressive castle and wide sands.
Our destination was the picturesque village of Low Newton by the sea just a little way south where we had lunch, al fresco, outside the Ship Inn. Kippers were a popular choice but the famed crab sandwiches weren’t available today!
And so the weekend ended with a lovely coastal ride back to Bamburgh with the sea and the Farne Islands just off shore to the east in bright sunshine. An excellent end to a very memorable few days. I think we might be going back there!
With inclement (wet and cold) weather in the preceding weeks and days, the forecast for the ride was ‘wall to wall’ sunshine, whoop, whoop, and we were not disappointed! This definitely reflected in the number of riders who turned up at the back of Chevin Cycles for the ride.
A ‘not too extreme hilly’ 50 mile route was selected with Simon T in mind, as he gets back ‘into the swing’ after illness; and because this was his last club ride before getting married the Saturday following. Finding a ‘not too hilly route’ is pretty difficult to find in the Dales.
Regardless, a ‘good old favourite’ club run was selected that would take us through; Embsay, Bolton Abbey, past the Cavendish Pavilion, Barden, Appletreewick, Hebden, Grassington, the back road to Kettlewell, Kilnsey, Linton, Cracoe, Hetton, Winterburn, Airton, Otterburn, Flasby, Gargrave, Carlton in Craven and back to Skipton. The 30 mile route option would be decided ‘on the fly’ with either a loop back to Skipton, via Grassington or via Kettlewell (legs dependent).
24 cyclists set out from Skipton. Riders were split into 3 groups. A ‘faster’ group of 9, followed by a group of 15 ‘social riders’ whom notionally split into two equal-ish groups, (sometimes more equal than others!). Everyone was enjoying the sunshine and decided on the longer loop with refreshments at The Cottage Tea Room in Kettlewell. It was a very pleasant change to sit outside of the tearoom and bask in the sun, whilst having our refreshments served.
With everyone suitably refreshed, just before everyone set off for the second half of the ride, Simon said a few words about his upcoming wedding, and in effect as this was his ‘Stag ride’ and therefore we should stop at the pub on the way home. With the Mason’s Arms in Gargrave, chosen as the selected ‘watering hole’ it was very difficult to coax many to finish the 50-mile ride, with just 5 of us doing this, and even then in our haste we missed the Airton turning! The remaining riders took the shortest route to the pub, achieving I am sure, PBs on every segment on the way. A drink in the sun-drenched beer garden, just ‘hit the spot, as we raised a glass to Simon and Jude his ‘bride-to-be’.
I must be jinxed! – this was the third ride in a row where I have been ride leader and it’s rained heavily. It was the day of Skipton Gala so I should have guessed as its usually rains for the gala 😊
Anyway, seven hardy souls turned up at Chevin for the planned route over to Waddington. I think the better forecast for Sunday made that a better option for many.
There was a quick discussion from some members – including me – about cutting the ride short.
We set off in a heavy drizzle but by Carleton one had already abandoned and returned home. Onward to Broughton and Thornton at a fairly brisk pace. This where the 30 and 50 routes planned to split. Steve, Neil and myself opted for doing the 30 miler leaving Christine, Gary and Phil to bravely carry on. I hereby apologise for abandoning my duties as ride leader, please feel free to sack me and not permit me to lead any rides in the future.
We plodded on to Hazy Days café at Hellifield to refuel and warm up. Just after we left the cafe the heavens opened for a heavy downpour. I suggested that if we hadn’t done the cafe stop we may have made it home before this. Onward to Gargrave via Otterburn, Bell Busk etc. then we all started to plot our individual routes back through Skipton to avoid the road closures as the Gala procession was just due to be setting off. We also decided to forego the post-ride Coffee as we were all pretty much wet through by this time.
A few Strava PRs were gained, I guess mainly as we didn’t want to be hanging about and didn’t need to stop and regroup. Strava reports suggest that the 50 mile riders had a reasonable ride without too much of a soaking. However further discussions suggest that that perhaps was not entirely correct and they also got a right soaking, also many roads were plagued with loose chippings as local authorities seem to be doing resurfacing works.
Interestingly a few people rode the route on Sunday which was a much brighter day.
Thanks all for turning up and supporting the rides.
Wednesday night Training. Making the most of a warm light evening this week. Great weather but only 3 of us out. Maybe a Malham Tarn Loop on an evening is not for everyone. All the climbs were ‘attacked’ fast and furious tonight giving us an 18mph average by ride end. The peace of Malham Moor was interrupted briefly by a motorcycle club outing, also held up slightly. Cyclists descend hills a lot quicker than the engine variety…well I do anyway! With no lights it was a race against the setting sun on the return leg back from Arncliffe. Helped out by some returning TT-ers doing a turn on the front till we dropped them. We all agreed it felt like a proper workout Thanks to Tara and Richard for being up for A 39 miler on a school night
The weather forecast was generally good for the day so it was a bit surprising that the turn out was on the low side but it did make the 3 groups very easy to organise and manage during the day. Thanks to Steve Wilkinson for helping me get the routes up on Strava, I feel I’m get nearer by the day to being able to post the routes myself, quite a challenge when a couple of years ago I thought “Strava” was the name of a distant galaxy.
The faster group of 5 then 6 set of with fine gusto not to be seen again until we met up at Fewston Farm Shop Cafe where we all sheltered from an unexpected downpour which certainly put the dampers on things, literally. At least we had time for another tea and an nth visit to the toilet. Quite an issue for the over sixties.
The hail stones were an interesting addition especially considering that most of us were tending towards summer cycling kit.
9 of us in the main group departed from the back of Chevin Cycles, 4 completing the 30 miler through Grassington and the 5 of us continuing to Fewston Cafe, amazingly good food prices and loads of seating. Our ride near Appletreewick was livened up by a local farmer in his “golf buggy” who seemed to think the local roads were his and that we were affecting his rapid pace of life. Interesting that he managed to find time to “have a go at us”. Mind you there were scores of cyclists about taking part in “Fat lads at the Back sportif”. However, when it came to cyclists insurance, which he assumed we didn’t have, I did put him straight. Anyhow, the scenery was fab as May is such a brill time of the year with all the new growth and wild bird activity.
On the return leg of the ride, the five of us stayed together well and got into some neat group riding. We finished up at Kane’s pad (the Clubhouse Cafe), had an excellent coffee or two and probably put the world to right.
Preamble: when I recce’d this ride to Dunsop Bridge on 4th April I established three things: 1) The Puddleducks Tearoom (our destination) proclaimed itself to be located at the precise centre of the United Kingdom (more of which later); 2) the journey there and back from Skipton was a bit further than the “normal” 50ish miles for an SCC Saturday ride and 3) the proprietors were very relaxed about their ability to accommodate a sizeable cycling group. Nevertheless, I promised to call them on the morning of our ride to advise on our numbers and ETA. They agreed this was a good idea so, to be on the safe side, I called on the Friday before the ride and again on the morning of the ride. On both occasions I was diverted to voice mail where I left my messages. No responses to two calls generated the germ of a very small doubt which lodged itself in my mind. Still, it’s just a café – yeah – and it’s Easter Saturday – yeah – so they’re bound to be open. What could possibly go wrong?
So, what could possibly go wrong? The morning of the ride (Easter Saturday) dawned bright and clear with just the slightest of early morning chills to enliven the senses. Everything pointed to it being one of the warmest Easter weekends on record.
26 eager cyclists turned out for this, my first, SCC ride as leader. The six members of the “fast squad” departed with gusto leaving the remaining 20 to brave the A59 in two smaller teams so as to lessen the annoyance to the Easter traffic. The “usual” route to Bolton-by-Bowland was pleasant and incident free – save for one heart-warming moment when the gentleman passenger of a boy-racer’s car enlightened us by opining that, in his (no doubt humble) opinion we were all, in fact “a bunch of wankers”. Well, who would have thought it?
Relief presented itself in the form of the public conveniences at Bolton-by-Bowland, and during the relieving process 5 members of the group resolved to follow a shorter route by heading up to the “Delicious Deli” at Gisburn and thence back to Skipton.
The remaining 15 girded their (now relieved) loins, gritted their teeth and pressed on. The climb out of Bolton heads up Holden Lane which, evidence suggests, was last resurfaced in the summer of 1749, and follows Holden Clough which is long and relentlessly steep and leaves little breath available for small talk. Eventually someone summoned enough wind to shout “stop” and we regrouped at Lane Ends before pushing on via Easington and Newton (and four fabulous and well-earned descents) towards Dunsop Bridge – with the scent of coffee and burnt sausages (more of which later) now in our nostrils.
Arriving at The Puddleducks Tearoom we were greeted by a small scene of calm indulgence surrounded by a larger scene of chaos and carnage. The calm indulgence was being experienced by the six members of the “fast squad” who had settled themselves down “al fresco” and were tucking into their pies, beans, toast, teas and cakes. As ride leader it befell me to admonish them severely for failing to cool the Sauvignon Blanc in anticipation of our arrival. Personally, I blame Rick S – a man of wide experience who should know better.
Then things went downhill… the place was busy (it was Easter Saturday after all), but they did remember my visit and their agreement to accommodate us, didn’t they? Err… no. In fact they were the NEW proprietors, having just taken over the business TODAY! Ahh… but the old proprietors surely passed on my request didn’t they? Err… no. Ahh… but you did receive the two voice-messages I left for you didn’t you? Err… no we haven’t listened to the voicemails yet. Ahh… but you can serve us can’t you? Err… no, well not for at least half an hour as we’ve got 30 outstanding orders to fulfil.
In an effort to negotiate a route through this trauma-inducing impasse we were offered the option of a “bulk deal” on sausage butties which, it appeared, could be whistled up by magic as long as we all agreed to the same choice. So we did. We awaited the impending feast with a mixture of starvation and trepidation, during which time an erudite debate ensued concerning the claim that we were now sitting in “the centre of the United Kingdom”. Doubters asserted it must mean Great Britain rather than the UK. Others disagreed. Edward intervened “you’re both wrong” he asserted “the centre of the UK is over there” (he pointed). “I could even give you the coordinates – assuming you know what a coordinate is” – he mansplained to Caran. And, you know what, he’s right. It’s at Whitendale Hanging Stones near Brennan’s Farm (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brennand_Farm).
Who said troubles come in threes? After topping off our sausage butties with a round of cakes we, somewhat reluctantly, mounted our trusty steeds and plodded off into the east. Luckily, there was little headwind and we made rapid progress until my enduring bad luck intervened once again and I punctured in the run up to Wigglesworth. Still, with help and encouragement from Matt and Neil, I was soon back in the saddle.
I feel this ride report is now in danger of outlasting the ride itself, so I’ll draw rapidly to a close with the following summary: Dunsop Bridge is 30 miles away – back in Skipton we all had over 60 on the clock but everyone survived both the ride and the sausages, and we now know where the centre of the UK is but don’t trust the proprietors of The Puddleducks to listen to their voice-mails and Karen is right… a G&T does go down well after a long ride.
A recce of the route was undertaken on the preceding Wednesday. Snow was evident on the surrounding hill tops, and snow and hail were encountered on the climb up to Tosside. With driving rain being the norm for the day.
What a pleasant surprise to awake to a sunny, albeit cool, Saturday morning. Donning plenty of layers of cycling apparel to keep warm; the sun stayed out for the entire ride, the temperature rising to 14°C; with everyone discarding layers as the ride progressed.
26 cyclists set out from Skipton, with an additional 2 joining in Gargrave. Riders were split into 3 groups. A ‘faster’ group of 8, followed by 2 groups of 9. Everyone had elected to cycle the 50-mile route! With the bikes almost in ‘auto-pilot’ mode, we navigated the ever-popular route out of Skipton via; Carleton, Gargrave, Bank Newton, Nappa, Halton West, and Bolton by Bowland.
For me, the Holden Lane section was ‘unexplored territory’. A 20-min (Cat-3) climb from Holden to our Café stop at The Old Vicarage Tea Room in Tosside. It was challenging, but doable! When we arrived at the Tea Room, the first group were sat outside in the glorious sunshine, and already tucking in their well-earned refreshments.
Now suitably refreshed, it was all ‘down-hill’ back home to Skipton … well apart from one or two ‘undulations’ to negotiate. Certainly, it was down hill to Wigglesworth. Flat Lane is definitely NOT flat! Arriving in Helifield, it was back into ‘auto-pilot’ mode as we basked in the sun and plotted our course back to Skipton via; Otterburn, Bell Busk, Eshton, Gargrave, Broughton, Carleton … and for some, a coffee and cake in the Club House Café.
A drizzly start to today’s ride didn’t put many off the border crossing to the Red Side: no passports required. A small advanced party of 5 set off into the distance, followed by 3 groups totalling another 18 riders. Not content with that, we collected another 2 on route to Gargrave. A usual out-route took us through West Marton towards Baa’lick. The 30 milers left us as we headed for Blacko. I’m hoping they found the route from Foulridge, although they’d already rebelled and decided they weren’t going to do the little climb out of Earby I’d set on the route . The rest of us descended into Witch Country. Passing my old primary school in Roughlee, I recalled tales of years gone by and the massive injustice of being told off by my old headteacher. The climb now ramped up to Newchurch with more than one of our group hufflepuffing and cursing the short but steep climb. At the top, Andy began reflecting on the Strava title for his ride whilst looking over to Pendle Hill. Onward and down to lunch at ‘The Cabin’ in Barley.
Thanks to Paula at the Cabin for sorting lunch, the usual beans on toast for most of us, although, Jayne’s beef stew and dumplings was being enviously looked upon by more than one of the group. It was pointed out to me that Edward might have got a bit grumpy as the tea didn’t come in a pot! I’ll let them know the next time we call in. I did have to put ‘our Paula’s’ mind at ease on more than one occasion that we didn’t have to go up the hill we’d come down after we’d finished lunch; we just had another one instead. Climbing post lunch out of Barley to the foot of Pendle, we had a short photo stop before descending to Downham and a downpour, no doubt bestowed upon us for heading back to White Rose Country – hopefully not cursed by the witches. The long steady climb back towards Hellifield left one member of the group feeling deflated, well, his back tyre in any case. Matt even blew a valve trying to pump it up. Limping on to Otterburn, where Tara jumped to the rescue with a track pump having already been home for some time. Steady away …. we all returned to Skipton, where a small group had a coffee before returning home. Big thanks to everyone for an enjoyable – if a bit of a hilly – ride today. Gary
Another Beautiful spring weather day – perhaps half-term kept the numbers down to 10 – where were the rest of you? It was a beautiful day to get up to Greenhow Hill and get long distant views! 10 riders set off from Chevin – nice to see Will back after a long lay-off with a rugby injury! Up to Embsay past the bad tempered motorist and up Black Park. The views were getting better as the sun burned off the mist. A fast descent to Barden Bridge and then on to the T-junction at Skyreholme where the lone 30 miler carried on to Grassington. The 9 carried on up the New Road climb to the Grassington – Pateley Bridge road. It’s a spectacular climb as you try to escape the steep sides of Wharfedale! Up past Stump Cross Caverns to Greenhow Hill at a good pace and then suddenly into the wind as we turned south along Redlish Road to Fewston. The wind was surprisingly cold but few noticed as the tight group zipped along seeing the golf balls of Menwith Hill emerge and grow in definition, as the early morning mist cleared. Good service and low prices at Fewston Farm shop and then down to cross the dam wall of Fewston Reservoir on the Washburn. A scenic detour was taken via Timble village – Mark wanted to know if the pub was worth visiting!
Phil enjoyed the short sharp climb to the top of Askwith Moor and then a fast decent to Ilkley via Askwith, where we gathered at the stone footbridge over the Wharfe. The group decided that they’d had enough climbing and that the roadworks to the Cringles were best avoided. This meant a steady ride back to Bolton Bridge via Nesfield and then the Gated Road to Embsay. Back to the Clubhouse café at a very respectable 3pm. Very few traffic incidents “luckily”, apart from the near miss at Bolton Abbey. One of our number was cut-up by a 4×4 driver with poor distance judgement. No harm done or nerves shredded.