This trip grew out of a few conversations about how nice it is to get away for a day or two. Patience and Len kindly co-ordinated those who were interested, leading to a group of eight of us meeting up at Halton Station on a not particularly spring like morning. There was some evidence of confusion in peoples clothing as the forecast heatwave had clearly not arrived.
The group (Len, Patience, Helen, Roy, Tracey, Peter, Nick and myself) opted for the well worn direct route from Halton to Kirkby Lonsdale via Redwell and Arkholm. On arrival at the A65 no time was wasted in heading for the delights of Casterton Golf Club's cafe. From here we took the lovely lanes leading up to the terrace behind Barbon village. The steady climbing kept us warm and continued to do so as we wound our way up the beauties of Barbondale. Nick had a brief technical along this section when his chain sucked round to jam against the frame. Nothing a good jiggle couldn't remedy.
Over the top and down steeply to Dentdale was a cooling experience and we were beginning to think about cafes and the like. It was at this poiunt that Peter advised me that my back tyre looked none too healthy. Len stayed with me as I changed the tube, the rest going to Dent in search of sustenance. Just as I was struggling to get the tyre up to pressure a local resident turned up to observe my efforts and make general conversation about the advantages of motorised transport.
We soon continued and found the others focussed around a handy pair of benches. It was drawn to our attention that there was no cafe open and the shop was on the point of closing. Our alarm was defused when we found that sandwiches and drinks had already been bought for us. It was pleasant sitting on those benches, the weather improving (it had never actually been bad) and thoughts of the steep climb only hazy in our minds.
After a delightful meander up the valley, those thoughts came into sharper focus as we ground our way up under the viaduct to Dent Head. But it was soon over and we were sweeping down Widdale towards Hawes. We took the little lane to the left down to Appersett before rolling down the main road into Hawes. It didn't take long to all agree on a visit to the Creamery cafe.
Soon we were all being welcomed to the YHA hostel, excaept for Nick who had special Chairman's accommodation at the Fountain Inn. Patience had booked a table for us at the White Hart, where we enjoyed good food, good beer and good cheer.
Suitably rested we met for breakfast the next morning with clear blue skies giving a lift to the proceedings. A visit to the shop was in order – we weren't risking getting caught without a sandwich again! Also Patience (what a trooper!) wanted to pre-order supplies for the evening meal she was planning for us all.
We set off for Buttertubs pass in glorious sunshine and before long were pushing hard up its tasteful slopes skirted by heaps of old mining spoil. At the steepest point some of us got off to push; I was recalling that the Tour de France had come to a halt at this same place, though for slightly different reasons. Over the top of the pass we paused to admire the Buttertubs themselves, with their creamy limestone. (Well some people shot straight past and for some reason, when advised of their error, seemed loath to ride back up the hill for a look)
In the valley bottom of Swaledale we had a nice cruise to the village of Muker where, yes, we went to the cafe. Here we checked on the correct pronunciation (not “Mucker”) and heard that a Mr Hoy had visited. Riding down valley from here was a delight: easy and cruisy with quintessential dales scenery all around. We arrived in Reeth, ensconsed ourselves on the green there and ate our sandwiches whilst passing comment on all the other people we could see.
The next section of the ride was a staggering one mile downhill to the Bike Centre at Fremington. This is an excellent establishment with a bike shop and a cafe which we felt obliged to investigate: good. We also checked out the accommodation they have for possible future use: again good.
From here we went through Grinton and over the noteworthy climb of Redmire Moor. It was hot, it was wonderfuly wild and uplifting. Downhill to the village of Castle Bolton with (you guessed) its fine imposing castle and then on down again into Wensleydale. The downhills were uplifting too.
We followed the small road on the north side of the dale, pleasantly and steadily up the valley through Carperby to Askrigg. Here we found a cafe still just open (well it had been a while since the last one). Len and Patience nobly forsook this opportunity to go and get the evening meal started. After another pleasant little sojourn in the sun we followed the remaining undulating road back to Hawes.
Back at base there was a little preparatory outing to the pub before we set upon the excellent meal Patience had organised for us at the hostel. We had done about forty miles but they were the longer sort of mile. Quite a bit of wine flowed and as a result I offered to write this report.
The next day dawned to mist over the hills. We had already decided to head over Garsdale to Sedbergh as an easy way home. As we were going over Garsdale Head it was doing a good impression of raining. Approaching Sedbergh we called at Farfield Mill. A couple of us took an unplanned excursion through the museum-cum-workings before finding the cafe, and very interesting it looked too.
The next stage was to Barbon village for a fine lunch in the sun before following the Lune valley back home. What a lovely outing!
Pictures from Peter Wild