Wetherby – Bolton Bridge, Sunday 27th March 2022, 60 miles

A bright, cool, still Sunday morning saw just three Wheelers assemble in the Shambles: Frank, Fred and me, Mark. We speculated that everyone else must have forgotten about the clock change for Britsh Summer Time but decided that 10 minutes was long enough to wait and an hour was definitely too long. According to Strava only four other Wheelers rode on Sunday and two of those were abroad !

So off we set, pedalling pleasantly through Sicklinghall, down Kearby Cliff and across to the A61. A large fraction of the population of Otley seemed to be out on their bikes, there were dozens of club jerseys making their way through Dunkeswick. We continued through Weeton and then down by the river and turned left at the crossroads and right at the petrol station in Pool, hacking along the bumpy road into Otley. Along the way, Fred baffled us with the complexity of his delayed trip to France, following covid, which seemed to involve more moving parts than the average helicopter.

Once we reached Otley Frank and Fred attempted to show me the sign for Tittybottle Park but it seems to have been removed. Cautious web searching reveals that this is not an uncommon name, also occurring in Masham and Bishop Aukland, among others.

We crossed over the Wharfe and took the familiar left turn to follow the lumpy little road along the valley through Askwith and into Ilkley – plenty of cyclists on this road ! Frank preferred to briefly take the main road at this point before passing through Addingham to Bolton Bridge. Fred preferred not to take this option so we parted company by the bridge at the end of the park.

A short dog-leg at Addingham took us onto Bolton Road and down to Bolton Bridge where the Abbey Tea Rooms was our lunchtime stop. A large group of cyclists were occupying all but one of the outside tables (it was empty inside), so Frank and I sat on a bench until a couple took pity on us and invited us to share their table.

Frank had spotted the last piece of apple pie and made sure he reserved it before ordering his main course. Once Frank’s pie arrived I decided that I needed a second course myself and so a scone and extra drinks were obtained. By this time the large group had moved on and it was much quieter and very pleasant in the sunshine.

Suitably refreshed we rolled up the main road and turned right to Beamsley. To my surprise (and horror) Frank suggested that we head up and over the hill to Langbar, so we did. The torture in three acts rewarded us with some fine views, despite some haze, and we agreed that it was worth the effort. The descent back to the road by the river was welcome and refreshing and we turned back though Askwith with a very very short discussion of whether we should ride the long way to Otley via Weston Moor.

From Otley, it was back into Pool, this time by the Farnley road, with a good coffee stop at Leathley Farm Shop followed by a reversal of our outgoing route as far as Dunkeswick. Here we took a right turn up Harewood Hill on the main road before going our separate ways at the traffic lights: left for Frank, straight on for me.

A very enjoyable ride in unseasonably good weather – thanks Frank.