Return to Whittle Wanderer

Cumbria, Wensleydale, Middlesborough, Sunderland, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
(4 day bike-ride)
Fri 31 Aug - Mon 03 JSep 2012

Fri 31 Aug 2012

Fri 31 Aug 2012

Sat 01 Sep 2012

Sun 02 Sep 2012

Mon 03 Sep 2012

Yesterday I called at Chorley Railway Station to navigate the minefield of bying return railway tickets that included my bike. Different lines have different policies. My journey was Chorley - Newcastle-on-Tyne. I could get a bike reservation on the Chorley - Carlisle leg but not Carlisle - Newcastle. It also turned out buying return tickets for each leg was cheaper than the whole journey.
This morning I cycled to Chorley to catch the 06:31 Edinburgh train. I would only be on it as far as Oxenholme. The weather was excellent and the sky clear when I left and I was able to watch the sunrise on the approach to Preston. It was still clear and sunny when I reached Oxenholme about 07:15. The platform was very busy as I wheeled my bike through the underpass and on to the southbound platform. I took the exit, fixed the gps tracker to my bike and set off up the steep hill on the B6254. At the top I turned left along the lane to join the A684. There were a lot of ups and downs as I headed for Sedbergh. I knew I was approaching the M6 motorway when I saw the motionless wind turbines ahead, silhouetted against a blue sky.

The sunshine was nice but the lack of wind was the best part of the cycling. I stopped briefly as I crossed the motorway at junction 37 to take a couple of photos before continuing to Sedbergh. The narrow main street through the town is a delight to ride. The main traffic is diverted around the town centre so the original street has little traffic but all the bustling shops. I left the town and headed up to Garsdale.


Riding up Garsdale I was able to recall my fist cycle ride up here in a cycle race 50mile mountain time trial in 1968. My speed then was about twice what it is today. The climb to the Moorcock Inn was steady and enjoyable.


Riding towards Wensleydale was very undulating with some step climbs. Instead of riding through Hawes I took the much quieter lane to the north. Through Askrigg I continued to the turn of to Aysgarth and the falls.


It was a narrow lane at the bottom but being on a bike I could stop with impunity to take in the views. The River Ure was dark and brown due to recent heavy rain but a few patches of sun broke through giving it a very colourful appearance. At the main A684 I stopped to eat some toast Id brought with me. As I sat on a wall an old lady from the adjacent bungalow came out to chat briefly. Her main concern was not being able to mow her lawn anymore and having to get someone in to do it.

Aysgarth Falls

I pressed on to Leyburn but now being on the main road the traffic made cycling difficult at times. I reached Leyburn just after 12 noon and was amazed how crowded it was for a Friday. Id planned 2 possible options for the next part of my ride, depending on what time I got here. I was up on my schedule so took the longer option along a more southerly route. I was still on the A684 and its heavy traffic. At Bedale my route left the A road and I took the quiet lanes through Exelby. After crossing under the A1 I joined the A61 to Thirsk. As I pedalled along I noticed a sign to my left which I had to check again to make sure Id read it correctly. It said Ashes Crematorium.

Ashes Crematorium near Thirsk

It was for animals but still a strange choice of name. Further on the Thirsk racecourse was to my left and quite busy. Next to it was a Lidle supermarket so I stopped to buy some water. At 42p for 2lt it must be the cheapest Ive bought. I got 3*2lt bottles tied them to the top of my panniers and continued. In Thirsk the town centre was very busy and many people sat around enjoying some veiled sunshine. Id done over 75miles and didnt want to get too far ahead of my schedule so decided to continue and camp at the first opportunity. I left to the east along the very busy A170.


After Sutton-under- Whitestonecliffe I noticed a small lane to the right and stopped to investigate. I wheeled my bike through a gate into a field with a tall thick hedge. I thought Id found the ideal site and pitched my tent. Just as I got in the rain started then soon after I heard a tractor in the lane. I expected it to continue but it stopped by the gate and I then I heard voices. I assumed Id been seen and the farmer had come to investigate. I got out of the tent to see the farmer and two others inspecting the wheat or barley crop closely. They told me it was fine to camp where I was and they continued with their checks. The grain was closely inspected and tested between their teeth. I assume it was to check if it was OK to harvest.

Camp by the crops