Wetherby to Fewston and Ilkley, Thursday 26th October 2023, 54 miles

This ride was posted as a ride to Hebden but once again the weather intervened and there were no objections when I decided to change the lunch stop to Ilkley. The morning started with some drizzle and a poor forecast but I was delighted to see 7 people on the start line, all obviously keen to avoid those household jobs. So myself Graham, Nick, Steve P. Mike Bosomworth, Michael Brawley, Dave Westerman and Sean Flesher headed off towards Kirkby Overblow and the normal route to the farm shop above Fewston. The drizzle had now changed to rain of the persistent and annoying type but our mood was brightened by the appearance of Phil Webb in Burn Bridge, with a big smile and his best Tommy Steele impression. After a brief stop, we carried on up the hill and through Beckwithshaw, along to Norwood and then up to Cobby Syke and the Farm Shop and cafe. We were now all thoroughly wet, gloves tested to the limit and jackets removed and placed on the backs of chairs in the faint hope that they might dry before we set off again. It didn’t take long for me to decide that Hebden probably wasn’t a good idea and we settled down to a relaxed coffee break in the knowledge we were now only heading for Ilkley. Most people now had something to eat with their tea or coffee and sausage rolls seemed to be very popular.

We eventually had to move on but the rain had not relented and so it was back on with the wet gloves and off through the reservoirs and up to Timble. Over Askwith moor with a steep hill to climb on the back lane and then down to the river and our normal cafe at the station. Sean didn’t stop for lunch and headed off for some extra miles. Another relaxed break was taken with sport being the main topic of conversation. As we left the cafe the rain had finally stopped but we were then not on our way as Mike Bosomworth discovered a puncture. It didn’t take too long to mend and Dave kindly gave Nick a hug when he declared he was feeling cold. Steve P has a picture somewhere. The route home took us over the iron bridge and into Otley. Steve left us here and Mike Brawley left us at the Harrogate road. Despite the rain, I think everyone was pleased they had made the effort to get out. Autumn in Yorkshire. I can think of a lot worse places to be.