Bob J, Geoff, Bill, Steve B, Pete D and Nick ( Reporter for the day)
It’s getting a bit Autumnal and everyone arrived at the Shambles in long sleeve jerseys for the day’s ride to Masham. Frank phoned to say he was going to be late, so while we waited we discussed the alternative routes. He arrived after 20 mins so we got going up the High Street to Knaresborough, Ripon and Grewelthorpe. Steve B was going to turn early since he would have a good lunch at home at 2.00 courtesy of Mrs Booker, and he peeled off somewhere near Grewelthorpe, later sending a message to say he was home in time!. At Grewelthorpe we decided to split into two groups of three with Bob, Frank and Bill taking the shorter road to Masham whilst the rest of us headed for Ilton.
This road gives a lengthy climb but mainly not steep followed by a rewarding descent with good views enhanced by the early signs of Autumn tints. Ilton is a tiny hamlet and leaving it you are immediately onto a very steep descent with some sharp hairpins which tested our brakes. Like most such descents it leads to crossing a beck and then an ascent which, in this case, isn’t so bad as the way down. After this, you get a nice road through mixed wood before another descent- steep but not so much as the first one, which brings you down to a larger stream, the River Burn. There follows an idyllic road alongside this before a ford. The ford is carefully made with slippery cobbles designed to trap your front wheel as I found out when I fell off in the middle of it on a hot summer’s day a few years back. I always take the footbridge now, as do all those who watched me.
We arrived in Masham to find that this was the day of the annual Sheep fair and the large Market Square was crowded with farmers, collies and, of course, lots of sheep in pens. Frank, Bill and Bob had had lunch but Bob helpfully saved us a table outside Johnny Baghdad’s Café which like the whole place, was packed. Frank and Bill were ready to head for home so we bid them bon voyage and ordered our sausage and bacon butties which, considering how busy things were, came up pretty fast. We watched the farmers, collies and sheep which were in much variety,( that’s the farmers, collies and sheep), including some very fine black sheep with a white nose blaze which could be confusing for the collies. Bob Googled them and they are Dutch- Zwartbles.
Heading for home via Hutton Conyers and Ripon, Bob led us past the Cathedral and the Prison Museum. For most of the journey, Geoff and I chatted whilst Bob and Pete pushed on ahead but we were all able to wave happy goodbyes as our roads to home parted.