Ride no. 31 was a long one! Starting at 6am and ending at 6pm it was one of the longest days yet out on the touring bike. I covered 53 miles (85 km), went over one ‘major pass’, and finally got lots of sunshine! (And p.s., wasn’t riding that entire time – stopping for meals, photos, stretching, etc!)
I rose early in the morning, just after 5am. The frost all over the tent confirmed what I already knew to be true: that last night was absolutely freezing cold. I say that I ‘rose’ early and not ‘woke’ early as I don’t think I slept any more then a couple of 20 minute stints all night – I was so utterly cold in my ‘summer weight’ sleeping bag that I just couldn’t sleep. I shivered and I grumbled and I shivered some more all night until it was light enough outside to get out of the tent, pack it all up, and get on the road. My horrible mood lifted as I got on the bike, put some miles in, and eventually warmed up enough to stop and have breakfast. With food in my belly I was much happier, but in desperate need for coffee to wake me up after a night of virtually no sleep.
Rolled into the ‘big city’ of Kendal to scout out a big ol’ cup of coffee (mmm), and ended up going around in circles on the towns aggravating one-way system, along with all the other car-commuters in the morning traffic jams. Urgh. Got so fed up with riding around on a loaded touring bike with a bunch of cars that I set off towards Sedburgh without the longed-for coffee.
Out of Kendal I took the National Cycle Route number 68 towards Sedbergh, which goes along some beautiful and quiet, yet very steep (!) rural roads.
I soon abandoned the Cycle Route for a slightly busier, but much more undulating B-road into Sedbergh. Stayed in Sedbergh long enough to contemplate my camping situation. My tent was a great little tent for the trip, but my sleeping bag left much to be desired. Resolving to spend money on a proper bag when I got back home, I decided in the name of sleep that I would get a hostel for the evening instead of freezing my tits off in my ‘summer weight’ bag.
The only trick is that hostels cost money and I’m a big cheap-ass. The trip originally called for three nights camping and three 45-mile days of cycling, but in order to only buying one night’s worth of accommodation, I thought I would split the trip up differently. Now it would be two and half days of cycling with two over-nights. The ‘half day’ (which started at dinner time!) and one frozen over-night was complete – now all that was left was two man-sized days of cycling and one posh hostel over-nighter.
Second National Park of the trip, the Yorkshire Dales.
Challenge set, I zoomed along into the Yorkshire Dales, my second National Park of my wee trip! Snapped a photo with the sign into the Dales and stripped down to just my lycra as the day heated up. I’ve spent a bit of time in the Dales, and it never fails to impress me. It’s a beautiful place with rolling hills, little mountains, and a plethora of valleys (dales) that are each unique in their own way. The Dales I feel don’t get as much press or attention as the Lake District, but they are definitely worth an explore.
Arrived in the honey-pot little town of Hawes in Wensleydale to have a sit down, a toastie, and a think about where to go next. It was only about 2pm when I reached Hawes, and I had already done about 35 miles up to that point. I checked out what hostels were in the area – there was one in Hawes but I thought it was too early to call it a day just yet. So I aimed for the Dales Bike Centre, a little bike shop/bunk house/B&B just outside of Reeth – another 18 miles away. Loaded up on water, as by this point the sun was out in force!, and headed on my way.
Reeth, and my accommodation, lies in the next dale over – Swaledale. To reach that dale from Hawes, a pass must be ascended – the comically named ‘Buttertubs Pass’. Speaking to the chaps at Dale Bike Centre on the phone about the easiest way over Buttertubs doesn’t inspire much confidence. They basically inform me that Buttertubs is one of the hardest road climbs in England, and any way you tackle it is going to be difficult. So, I thought I better get it over with, and headed north from Hawes to ascend via Simonstone.
Not sure if it really is one of the hardest climbs in the country – my bet would be on Wrynose and Hardknot in the Lakes! Got up there with not too much effort (although I did push my bike up a couple of the steepest climbs!) and wheeled my way into Swaledale after many photos. Look at that ace descent! Down from Buttertubs.
I made it into Reeth just before 6pm and hit up the Dales Bike Centre for a shower and bed for the evening. I had my long-awaited coffee (instant, but coffee nonetheless!), lots of food, and a wee look at my photos from the day. If you’ve never heard of the Dales Bike Centre and are a rider in the North of England, you should definitely check it out! It’s a pretty new facility with a bike shop, showers/toilets for muddy riders, a small cafe with good coffee and cakes, and B&B accommodation. They also do bike hire, have secure storage facilities for bikes, and even have a bike wash! The fellas there are always super helpful and friendly and up for a chat – and the dog that wanders around, Mr.Scruff, is also ace.
Well, that’s it for day two, Staveley to Reeth. What a very long day indeed. Managed to massively sunburn my face (sun glasses tan to boot!) and my legs (spandex tan too, yeehaw!), so I look slightly funny now… hrm.