Following on from Friday evening’s Steak dinner and hilarious entertainment we awoke on Saturday to find there had been a slight overnight frost. Fortunately the weather forecast was for steady improvement with sun peeking out from the clouds like a nosey neighbour twitching the curtains. Our destination for the day was the Tan Hill Inn. If anyone was in any doubt about how much climbing would be involved, the fact that Tan Hill Inn boasts to be the highest pub in England should have been a clue. 🎶The only way is up 🎶
Two routes had been chosen, a short 40 miler or a longer 60 miler depending on weather conditions but both using the same roads to our lunch stop. Just as we set off, James realised he had a problem with his electric gear shifters. As Chris stayed to assist, Pugwash chased after the peloton to advise them of the “mechanical” unfortunately the lead riders were well on the way downhill at full tilt. When the message did get through, we waited at Askrigg to regroup unfortunately without James who had to take his bike to a repair shop.
Once on our way again we continued to Carperby and Redmire over rolling terrain. Mark was having trouble with “clipping in” so we stopped beside a magnificent oak tree in Redmire to see what was wrong. Neil and Mark eventually came up with a makeshift solution by sticky-taping his shoe onto the cleat.
Meanwhile some of the group set off “to get a start up the hill”. Did they know something that I didn’t? I soon realised what they meant when we turned onto the foot of Sissy Bank where the gradient went skywards touching 17% at one point. After regrouping at the junction of Whipperdale Bank, Neil piped up with “We were not supposed to come up that climb. We should have come from that road” he said waving his arm in the direction of Leyburn. “We were only following the route on the Garmin” we assured him.
By this time, we were out on the exposed moorland and could feel the full force of the North westerly wind in our faces as we headed to Robin Cross Hill. The initial section went through an army shooting range. We were glad to see the ‘🎯targets🎯’ were facing away from the road as we heard the occasional gun shot ring out. The terrain was undulating generally upwards with nothing too steep but made much tougher by the head wind.
The next sector took us back down towards Grinton then into Reeth where we stopped at The Buck for coffee and a few biscuits. While enjoying the sunshine, our peace and quiet was disturbed by procession of around 30-40 motor bikes passing by making an infernal racket as they went.
Suitably fortified we set off for next climb to Tan Hill, an 11 mile (17.5km) slog into the wind with an ascent of 1086ft (331m). It may have felt like an unrelenting climb but there were a number of downhill bits along the way to recover on. Having said that, the sight of the pub over the brow of the final hill was a welcome sight indeed. Which is more than can be said for the welcome we received from “mine host”. When asked if they “do sandwiches” replied “You can have what’s on the menu”.
Full meal it is then. “I’ll have the scampi and chips please” said some while others went for “Fish finger sandwich with chips”. Chris tried to pull a flanker and ordered Chicken Nuggets from the kids menu plus cheesy chips. “Sorry you can’t order from the kids menu, oh and very sorry there’s no scampi either”. This is going well. Despite all that, the food was delicious and service prompt.
“Right folks, what’s it to be?” asked Neil “40 mile route or 60 mile route?” With the thought of Buttertubs on the short route, we all opted for the longer 60 miles “We should have the wind behind us from Kirby Stephen” we said encouragingly. Still Neil tried to take us to Buttertubs as he took the first turn towards Keld. Many shouts of “wrong way” brought us back on track heading off downhill to Oxenthwaite.
Turning south through Kirby Stephen we then followed the river Ure valley through the small villages of Castletwaite, Aisgill and Hardraw before returning to Hill Top Farm where we were greeted by coffee and an array lovely cakes to celebrate Chris’s upcoming birthday.
It was a tough ride but I think we all enjoyed the challenge. Although someone did suggest we should look for flatter terrain next year!