The Way Of The Roses

12th - 14th September 2011

Monday 12th September.

The remnants of Hurricane Katia were reaching the West coast.

The 2nd stage of the Tour of Britain Cycle Race was due to leave Kendal for Blackpool at 10:30 that morning.

The Met Office said: Very strong winds are expected across today’s race route with gusts of up to 75mph along exposed areas on higher ground and   along the coast.

The stage was cancelled.

Tour of Britain Race Director Mick Bennett said:  "In my thirty years of organising cycling events I have never once had to cancel a stage before it even started, so this is not a decision that has been taken lightly.

Pockets of the route, including the start at Kendal were more sheltered but still experienced extremely blustery conditions. In the main though there were large sections of the stage where conditions were deemed unsafe by ourselves as organisers, hence the regrettable decision to cancel the stage.”

Mark Cavendish and his mates may have bottled out that day but Yorkshire folk are made of sterner stuff. At 9 a.m. the same morning Steve Vickers and I left Kendal and headed for Morecambe where we would start our ride across the country to Bridlington.

About this time last year we had an "interesting" ride around the Lakes (see BB1035) and had talked about doing another one. A ride across the country seemed a good idea so when we heard of the new route called The Way of The Roses it seemed the obvious choice. It starts reasonably locally, passes through the town where I grew up (York), and finishes on the Yorkshire Coast.

Planning, at least on my part, was virtually non-existent, consisting of putting a date in the diary and forgetting about it! More importantly training had also been non-existent - a couple of 20 mile rides in the 3 months prior to setting off! But once dates are in diaries things have to be done.

We got together a couple of weeks before to sort things out. First priority – how to get back? We could, with 2 changes, use the train. The drawback however was that Northern Rail does not allow pre-booking of bikes. You turn up and hope that 2 of the 4 potential spaces are available and not taken by other bikes or disabled passengers! My experience in 2005 trying to get back from John O’ Groats convinced me this was not a good choice!

Fortunately on the Roses website we came across a Bridlington based coach company who would drive us back. A bit more expensive but at least we’d get on. Problem solved.

The 2nd job was how to get to Morecambe? Decision – ride there!

Finally we decided on how far we thought we could do each day and booked the accommodation. Job done.

And so we left Kendal with the wind beginning to strengthen as we headed south through Natland and Holme towards Carnforth. On exposed sections the wind tried its best to knock us sideways but we battled on, taking the Lancaster canal for a stretch before eventually reaching the sea at Morecambe. The wind was really blowing in along this stretch and it was sometimes impossible to look forwards as the sand was picked up and blasted into our faces.

We managed a team photo with Eric Morecambe before battling further along the front to the start of the route – 23 miles already done.

Steve, Eric and Bryan

The start line

The next  4 miles were much more pleasant as we turned away from the sea and had the wind behind us along the cycle track to Lancaster.

Millenium Bridge in Lancaster

Near Caton we saw signs warning of road closures due to the Tour, but no sign of any people. We stopped at a roadside café for a bacon butty and cup of tea and were told of the cancellation. As we came out into more open moorland around the Bowland fells we began to understand why. Whilst it was possible to make good time with the following wind the road sometimes turns and the big gusts catch you sideways and push you across the road. Ok for us with time to take it steady but a different game entirely if you’re in a group of 100 or more riders.

But we had other things to think about. We were having to go up quite few hills as we headed to our day’s finish at Settle. About 7 miles away I realised I had a slow puncture. Rather than fix it I pumped it up and carried on. I did it again twice more before Settle where, whilst having a cup of tea, I noticed a bike shop across the road. After 56 hard miles with 1,350 metres of uphill it was an easy decision to pay £10 for them to sort it out!

A pleasant night was had at the Harts Head. Excellent food and several pints of Copper Dragon Golden Pippin.

Steve had organised our accommodation based largely on the CAMRA pub guide, so the beers were local and good!

Too good in fact. Next morning I felt a bit rough. A Full English would soon sort it out I reasoned. It didn’t and I was to struggle all day.

Not good really because today was the hills!

Steve leaves our overnight accommodation

The bulk of the climbing on this ride is concentrated into the first 60 miles. We were at mile 34 so you can see from the profile below what was to come.

It started within the first mile. Half a mile later I was pushing, thankfully for the first and last time, as we climbed 600 feet over Crake Moor.

 Looking back to Settle on climb up Crake Moor

Steve disappears over the top

The wind continued to blow us on our way as we descended, very carefully because of the sideways gusts, into Airton. Near there we came across 3 other people doing the route, although in more luxury. They had no bags as someone was taking them to each overnight stop. Cheating in my view!

More climbing followed to Cracoe where we stopped for a cuppa, before another climb which took us out of Airedale steeply down to Burnsall in Wharfedale.

River Wharfe near Burnsall

Bryan presses on

18 hard miles done and in front of us the 10 mile stretch with 700 feet of climb over exposed moorland to Pateley Bridge. This was a hard stretch – straight roads with vicious crosswinds and a bit more traffic than I would have liked in those conditions.

On the climb from Burnsall

The final climb of the day followed as we headed up towards Brimham Rocks. It’s an interesting place of strange weathered rocks that draws flocks of tourists and climbers. The really interesting areas can only be seen by walking to them, but we didn’t have time as the rain clouds were beginning to gather so the photo below is the best I could get.

The traffic was heading for Stump Cross Caverns, a local tourist attraction.

We stopped there to shelter behind a wall for a break before we were able to stop pedalling for a few miles and use the brakes instead as we dropped very steeply into Pateley Bridge where we sought out a café for lunch.

A roadside Brimham Rock!

5 minutes later and it was bucketing down. We sheltered under some trees and waited for the worst to pass before leaving the hills and heading down into Nidderdale and the Vale of York.

The weather closes in

View across the Vale of York

The final 18 miles or so of the day were, thankfully, on the flat. We dropped off the moor and the route took us through the delightful grounds of Studley Park, with stunning views to Ripon Cathedral, which we passed a few minutes later before reaching, after a 53 mile day (1,802 metres uphill), our overnight accommodation at the 13th century Black Bull Inn in Boroughbridge.

Ripon Cathedral from Studley Park

End of Day 2

Sadly my stomach had not recovered from the previous night so, whilst Steve enjoyed a few pints of the local brew, I made do with a coke! The food was excellent though and I managed to force down a very large portion of haddock and chips.

Day 3 dawned sunny and bright and only light winds. We left Boroughbridge and headed for York through quite little villages that I cycled to when I was a young lad to go fishing, or rather in my case to sit by the river catching nothing!

2 hours and 20 miles of steady riding brought us to the centre of York where we stopped for a cup of tea with old friends of mine, Steve and Linda Whitehead. Their house faces on to the River Ouse and in the flood of 1982 they, and many hundred other people, were flooded out. The river had peaked at 16ft 9ins above normal. Millions were spent in enhancing the flood defences. The work involved building a containing wall in their front garden. When a flood alert occurs the Council come along and bolt the gate to make the barrier complete (see photo below). The wall allowed for a flood level of 18ft, a level not reached since 1625. In 2000 it got very close – 17ft 9ins - and water was lapping the coping stones on top of the wall.

Leaving the Whitehead’s we passed York Minister and headed out towards Stamford Bridge along quiet roads and even on bridleways through fields.

 Tea on the veranda in York

Interesting section of the route!

Stamford Bridge is famous for the battle between King Harold of England and Harold Hardrada of Norway in 1066. It is said that winning this battle left him weakened militarily and lead to his defeat later that year at Hastings.

For us it was the place for a cheese and tomato sandwich before pressing on to Pocklington and the start of the Wolds. The next 10 miles or so were a delight. Although we were climbing it was much easier than in the Dales and the views were so different with big skies and rolling fields.

Wolds Scenery

Tour de France?

All too soon it was over and we finished the final few miles (66 miles / 1054 metres today) to Driffield for our overnight stay, and to begin our search for Wold Top. Steve’s Camra guide had assured him this was the local beer to drink. Unfortunately the pub we were staying in only served Greene King IPA. We had a pint of this but he deemed it unsatisfactory and the search commenced. After some wandering we came across a hotel bar that served the said beverage and there we stayed. Personally I thought the IPA was better, but who am I to argue with an aficionado! The food was good though!

After breakfast the next day we were away for the last few miles to Bridlington. Steve rang our transport man to see if there was any chance of an early pickup? He said he could do 2pm, an offer we accepted gratefully.

We decided to extend our last day by leaving the route and heading North to take in some more of the Wolds countryside.

In the Wolds near Burton Fleming

Ploughing underway

Eventually we turned South East and rolled into Bridlington under lovely blue skies and headed along the front to the finish after a 29 mile (430 metres uphill) day.

 Bridlington comes into sight

The End

My cycle speedo tells me we had done 212.89 miles at an average speed of 11.1 mph and a maximum speed of 34.6mph. However these miles are now known as ‘Hardaker miles’ because Steve’s GPS tells a slightly different story. According to this we did 203.4 miles with 4,636 metres of uphill, at an average of 11.3 miles and 258 metres per hour.

Our transport turned up on time and less than 4 hours later we were back in Kendal. Despite my *gypy stomach* day I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. It takes in such varied country and when the weather is good (which it was generally for us despite the hurricane!) there is no grander place than Yorkshire! Shame the Tour lads missed it!

Bryan, 15th September 2011


The Route: Click on picture for an enlargement



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2011 Outings

BB1101 :
Wasnfell Revisited
Tuseday 11th January

BB1102 :
Recuperation Scar!
Thursday 17th February

BB1103 :
A Promenade of Pensioners
Thursday 24th February

BB1104 :
The B Team
Thursday 3rd March

BB1105 :
  A Little Bit Of Wind
Thursday 10th March

BB1106 :
A Linthwaite Round
Thursday 17th March

BB1107 :
Home From The Pulpit
Thursday 24th March

BB1108 :
Taking The Brunt
Thursday 31st March

BB1109 :
Up The Spout
Wednesday 6th April

BB1110 :
Not The Royal Wedding
Friday 29th April

BB1111 :
Kentmere Parts 1 & 2
Thurs 5th, Saturday 7th May

BB1112 :
Five Unknown Tarns
Wednesday 11th May

BB1113 :
Gurnal Dubbs Revisited
Thursday 19th May

BB1114 :
A March Through The Mist
Wednesday 1st June

BB1115 :
Brief Encounter
Wednesday 8th June

BB1116 :
Extraordinary and
Lesser Mortals
Wednesday 15th June

BB1117 :
Farewell David Daw
Wednesday 29th June

BB1118 :
West Side Story
Thursday 7th July

BB1119 :
st Side Story
Wednesday 13th July

 BB1120 :
All The Way From Barrow
Wednesday 20th July

 BB1121 :
Suitable For The Guests!
Thursday 28th July

BB1122 :
Graylings In Flagrante
Wednesday 3rd August

BB1123 :
The First Indecision Outing
Wednesday 24th August

BB1124 :
The Second Indecision Outing
Thursday 25th August

BB1125 :
The Tale of Tony's Triumph
Wednesday 31st August

BB1126 :
The Gunpowder Trail
Wednesday 7th September

BB1127 :
Four Lords a-Leaping
Thursday 15th September


The Way Of The Roses
12th - 14th September




 Click on the photos
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