I had organised to be in Yorkshire to look after my grand daughters, while mum and dad were at work, but there was a gap of four days in between, what could I do in those four days?
What any keen cyclist would do, bang some bags on the hack and head out.
I had not seen my brother for a while so, the North Yorkshire Moors would definitely be on the list, and there were a few coastal towns and villages I had not been to in an age, so a plan came together.
Saturday morning rolled around and I pushed off from Hornsea, heading north, then out on to the Yorkshire Wolds, lumpy, but not steep, more rolling. As I head through Lissett I pass the monument to 158 Squadron “Strength in Unity”, a great tribute.
I meandered through Burton Agnes and on up to Thwing, through Foxholes (both great names) and on to Shurburn, where I picked up the A64 west. There is a shared use cycle path on the north side of the road all the way to my next turn at West Heslerton, which made it more pleasant. A right turn here and up through Yedingham and Allerston until I hit the A170, heading west for Pickering.
The A170 is a busy old road and I have to watch my shoulder for a few miles, until I hit Thornton Dale, a stunning little spot with a stream running through it, along with a steady streams of traffic that doesn’t seem to know where it’s going. I sit for a while, have my lunch and thinking how lucky I am to be on my bike.
A short pull out of Thornton Dale on the A170 and I spot another shared use cycle path, which makes this part a little safer and takes me all the way in to Pickering, where I hear a Costa coffee calling. As I am sat there outside Costa in the sun I hear the 14:00 steam train to Whitby whistling as it heads to fill up with water for its journey. I jump on the bike and hover around for a while to watch it head out, crammed with steam fans. What a great sight.
OK, final part of today’s journey, and now we enter the North Yorkshire Moors, not quite as forgiving as the Wolds.
A sharp right at Aislaby and now it starts to climb and drop and climb again for about eight miles to Rosedale Abbey. Once through Hartoft, you start to get a great view of the valley below and the famous Rosedale Chimneys and the infamous road climb up there, hitting 33% for a good few metres, enough to feel it. Won’t be attempting that on this trip though.
Total 86 Km, 4:10 minutes riding
After a great family night catching up, I waved goodbye to my brother and his family and hit the first challenge of the day straight off the bat, just under 1.5Km with an average of 10% and peaks of 25%. It actually continues to climb at a reduced rate for a further 3.5Km. A good way to start the day. Once over that I feel that has to be the hard one out of the way….wrong! On the top of the moor it was just sky, heather and a few pine trees, very exposed and not the place to be in bad weather.
The road then tips down to Egton Bridge and I spot a 30% descent sign in the bushes, and feel glad I am going in this direction. Brakes on I wind my way in to Egton Bridge, a funny little village thats main feature is, guess what, a bridge. Once over it and past the church I spot another sign, a 30% accent sign. This does not bode well, as I am overgeared (34 x 30) and carrying about 25Kg in luggage.
All I can do is chunk away at it for 1Km until I reach the top, but there are small rest bites so it’s not too bad and I soon reach the A171 and turn left then quick right, getting off it as quick as I can.
The next few Km rolls down descents of 17% to 25%, into dips, which under normal UK weather conditions would have been fords, but are now dust bowls. Then up accents of a similar percentage, making these really beautiful little roads to ride. When I hit Lythe, I took a left on to the A174 for the final 10 Km through to Staithes.
It must be 40+ years since I was last in Staithes, but I remember it left an impression on me, reminding me of Devon and Cornwall, where I spent most of my holidays as a kid.
As you turn right off the A174 in to Staithes you are warned of the descent and it is steep, but rolls you down in to a beautiful little harbour, with small fishing boats, steep cliffs and sadly when I arrived, holiday makers. As the afternoon rolled out, the tide went out and the tourists left, then it was idilic.
My hotel, the Royal George, was a cracker and a small walk from the harbour, very comfortable and great staff. I am glad I chose to stop over here, even if it was only a short day on the bike.
Total 37 Km, 2:00 minutes riding
After a great nights sleep and a monster breakfast, I set off, slowly, up the hill and back on to the A174, tracing my steps to Lythe, then down the big hill in to Sandsend. This was somewhere we visited regularly as kids, as a friend of the family had a place there. After 40 years, it still looked the same, quite unspoilt, and that’s what I like about this part of the North East coast.
The ramp out of Sandsend led me in to Whitby, and I couldn’t resist a ride down the harbour wall, in the shadow of Whitby Abbey. I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Whitby too.
The plan from here was to find the NCN 1, which looked as though it would drop me straight in to Robin Hoods Bay, a route that should also take me on to Scarborough the day after.
I found it the NCN 1, which was lurking near the entrance to some industrial site, and it was a gravel trail, which took you quietly off the main road, then slowly dropped in to the main village of RHB. I wasn’t sure where my hotel was, but I knew I wanted to ride down to the bay itself, so down I went. This is not for the faint hearted, it warns you that it is 30%, and you feel like you are dropping off a cliff, as you weave through the people trying to walk down the road, and twist and turn your way down to the sea.
It’s a real quaint harbour, badly hit by erosion, and has had a large sea defence wall built since I was last there. I make a note of some of the places I want to check out, then go in search of my hotel, which I now know is back up at the top. A bit of a relief as I would rather climb this beast on warm legs than straight after breakfast. I stick it in my lowest gear and step my way up, much to the amazement of some of the of the pedestrians, as I ask them to move out of the middle of the road so I can pass.
It turns out Raven House is on top of the cliff overlooking the bay, and the compact little room I have has a sea view. I say compact as it is a box room, wide enough to fit a bed across it, under the window. Then as I look at the bed there is a basin to my right, a toilet to my left and a shower next to that. Efficient use of space, but odd to see a loo in the middle of a bedroom.
On the walk down to the bay I found an exhibition at the Old Coastguard Station, displaying old photos, going right back and it was interesting to see the changes, the building of the sea wall, but one house on the front and the pub remained the focal point of the harbour all through, almost unchanged.
I had an evening meal in the Victoria Hotel, mainly because there was nothing else close by, but it took 45 minutes to deliver my meal, by which time I was starving. I passed on dessert as I might have been there all night.
Total 36 Km, 2:15 minutes riding
I woke to another stunning day, and quite warm at 08:45, when I left. I was patting myself on the back as I didn’t have to climb out of the bay and should pick up the NCN 1, which as a railway line should be reasonably flat to Scarborough.
Firstly, I retraced my ride back to the NCN 1 from Whitby and followed the signs towards Scarborough, but couldn’t find the next section South, and by the time I had climbed the 25% hill to the A171, I had lost the desire to drop back down and keep looking. This left me with the only one option, the A171 all the way to Scarborough, about 25Km. Traffic wasn’t too bad, and I managed a to pick up a reasonable pace, swinging off at Burniston and taking the coast road to the Scarborough North Bay.
I had a steady cruise on the Royal Albert Drive, then on to Marine Drive, where Tommy Voeckler won the Tour of Yorkshire in 2016.
The aim was to pick up the NCN 1 again after Scarborough and head inland at Cayton, over White Gate Hill to Hunmanby. From there it was down to Reighton, Flamborough, then Bridligton for lunch on the North Shore.
While I was sat on the front eating lunch, the temperature on the Garmin kept climbing to 35 degrees, I thought it felt warm, but that was warm!
It was a simple dash now through to Lisset, and retrace my steps from Saturday, back through Skipsea to Hornsea and finish at the Mere, the same route I had used at the end of the Way of the Roses, back in June.
Total 94 Km, 4:15 minutes riding
It was only four days and two of those were very short, but it was good to revisit some of these places again and catch up with family. I need to get some more of these trips in before the end of the year. I also need to get a bigger cassette 😁.