No fewer than twelve Wheelers met in the Shambles in warm but slightly threatening weather with the declared destination of Malham via a coffee stop at Hebden. The twelve were Bob, Graham, Mike Bo, Greg, Michael Br, Geoff, Paddy, Nick, Pete D, Bill, Steve W and me, Mark. We were later joined by Dennis to make a baker’s dozen.
Rolling out of Wetherby at 9:30 sharp – discipline is certainly improving – we headed east up the hill past Linton and then up Sicklinghall main street. We regrouped at the top to form into two sets of six as a group of twelve seemed a few too many for the roads we were intending to use.
The route took us through Kirkby Overblow then down to the main road briefly before heading up through Burn Bridges to Beckwithshaw. A right turn to plunge down over the bridge was followed by a small hill and then the straight, flat miles of Penny Pot Lane. Crossing the A59 at Menwith Hill we met up with Dennis, who had come from Knaresborough via Hampsthwaite, and took to Duck Street into a headwind which had been gradually increasing since the start.
When we reached Greenhow Mike Bo turned right to drop into Pateley Bridge for a shorter ride as he had Coast to Coast in a Day coming up. For the rest of us a left turn took us mostly downhill into Hebden where we stopped at the Old School Tea Room for morning (just) coffee. Dennis had just celebrated his birthday so, as is traditional, he bought coffee for everyone – well, for all the Wheelers, not the whole café. Thanks Dennis and happy birthday !
The second group had fragmented on the way to Hebden but once they arrived Dennis again provided hot beverages. After drinks and snacks Bill and Paddy concluded they had gone far enough for the day and would return via Burnsall and Bolton Abbey. The rest of us, still in two groups, set off through Grassington and Coldstone, past the imposing Kilnsey Crag and through Arncliffe to the equally imposing Brootes Lane up to on to Malham Moor. By this time the headwind was starting to feel more than just a nuisance but we consoled ourselves with thoughts of the tailwind we would have to help us home.
Dropping down the Cove Road into Malham we made our way to the Old Barn Café which has the convenience of a bike stand and plenty of seating at the back. We were joined by the second group before long and, after a late lunch, we decided that staying in two groups was probably best, particularly as none of the front group had any need to go back into Wetherby. The small disadvantage of this was that none of the front group were entirely sure of the best route but we figured it out on the way.
Airton, Hetton and Rylstone passed by pleasantly, particularly on the recently resurfaced lane, before we took Brakenley Lane into Embsay and then the gated road to Bolton Bridge. From there it was business as usual: Ilkley, Otley, Pool and Dunkeswick. Dennis took a left here while the north Leeds posse turned right for the drag up Harewood hill and home.
Despite the threats it never actually rained and we agreed it had been a fine and scenic ride through some of Yorkshire’s finest.