Wetherby – Foulridge, Thursday 23 September 2021, 84 miles

A grey and rather a windy day greeted the six Wheelers who gathered in the Shambles: Graham, Mike B, Michael, Steve (just in time), Greg and me, Mark. The destination was Foulridge, an unpleasant-sounding name for a not-unpleasant place. We were heading just about directly into the wind on the way out, with the promise of a tailwind home – which never quite lived up to my expectations – or hopes, perhaps.

On the dot of 9:32 we left the Market Place, having been assured that the section to the first coffee stop in Addingham would be flat. That was mostly true but the strong wind and enthusiastic pace more than compensated for the lack of elevation gain. A stop at The Ginger Plum Coffee Shop was very welcome with the usual excellent coffee and cakes.

On leaving the café Steve revealed he had been suffering from a back problem and would be turning for back at this point. Mike’s pre-declared hip injury was not proving too problematic however so he decided to carry on into the hills.

Leaving Addingham we took the drag up the main road towards Silsden and at the top of the hill we took a tiny right turn on to Cringles Lane which led across a high plateau with great views on both sides. Then there was a plunge down through Kildwick and across the Skipton Road to Cononley where we encountered the almost-always-closed level crossing gates. At least ten minutes later we set off, following a series of hills through Lothersdale. After about six miles of near-continuous climbing we reached a junction from which Graham assured us it was all downhill to lunch – and it was… mostly.

A little wiggle in Foulridge took us down to the Leeds-Liverpool canal and our lunch stop at The Wharf, housed in an old warehouse. We chose to sit outside but regretted our choice for a while until the oblivious owners of four very noisy dogs decided to leave. My ciabatta with salad was very good and I think everyone was happy with their meal, apart from the lack of pepper for Greg.

Despite windproof, we were starting to feel a little chilled as we set off after lunch. As we were leaving Graham said, in jest, that we should check our tyres. This must have annoyed the puncture fairy because just a mile later Graham found he had a front-wheel puncture, caused by a thorn that took some effort to remove.

Tube replaced, we continued uphill and northwards before a descent through Barnoldswick on the main Skipton road followed by a right turn onto a quiet lane through Elslack. This was followed by a very pleasant weave through the manicured grounds of Broughton Hall. A short piece of the main road led to the back road into and through Skipton and then the inevitable haul up the A65 and down into Addingham.

From Addingham we headed into Ilkley for a final coffee stop at Friends Of Ham – strange name but good coffee. Then it was along the quiet side of the Wharfe into Otley and up the main road towards Bramhope. Passing through we turned up King Lane and jigged through Eccup Reservoir, the Harrogate Road and along Wigton Lane to our splitting point.

A grand day out, I think everyone was tired but happy at the end – if only because we were on flat ground. Thanks to Graham for leading the ride and to everyone else for not stealing my place at the back of the bunch.

Mark