Wetherby – Lofthouse, 27th May 2021, 76 miles

12 Wheelers met in the usual Market Square meeting place to set off to Howe Stean Gorge. The group comprised Dennis, Fred, Michael, Mike, Mark, Steve W, Nick, Steve P, Graham, Greg, Bob and Bill.

The northwesterly route included passing through the usual villages…Sicklinghall, Kirby Overflow and Burn Bridge before arriving at Fewston farm shop for a welcome coffee stop. The manager made us feel particularly welcome by erecting a dedicated table and chairs for all.

Early leavers at the cafe were Bill and Fred and, soon after, Dennis. Further climbing occurred crossing Skipton Road, up Hardisty Hill to the ‘Old Wife Ridge’. Shortly after there was a very sharp descent down Yorke’s Folly into Pateley Bridge. The final outward leg was particularly scenic along Wath Road, hugging Gouthwaite reservoir, reaching Ramsgill, and Lofthouse.

Comments over the lunch experience at Howe Stean Gorge were mixed. There was confusion over what was available in terms of the ‘breakfast menu’ and some disappointment over the cessation of free drink refills. But, food was served quickly and hot and, given the nature of the cafe, prices were reasonable. Steve W left after lunch taking in Greenhow on a speedy, early return to Wetherby.

After lunch was taken it was time for the main event of the day….the ascent of Lofthouse aka “Trapping Hill”. Ranked as hill 145 in the top UK climbs, the group ascended 112 m in just 1.2 km, an average gradient of 9.4%. Nick and I (Steve P) were happy bringing up the rear whilst the main Peleton attacked the hill in style.

Once ascended the group were rewarded by a lovely, long and desolate descent past Leighton reservoir, back along Gouthwaite and then along gently undulating roads to Masham.

The sun was breaking through as the crew passed through Masham towards the final coffee stop at the Spa Gardens in Ripon. Coffee, cake and ice cream were consumed in the lovely, and unusual (!) afternoon sun. Once through Knaresrough 8 wheelers (Nick turned off for Tockwith) completed the last leg to Wetherby in a no-nonsense style, cycling at between 18 and 21 mph.

It was a hugely enjoyable and challenging day.

Steve Pearson