Norman’s Conquest a tour of 1066 land!!

Taking advantage of my week of work staycation in July and the decent weather we were having I decided to cash in several brownie points accumulated this year and have a decent explore around East Sussex. I ended up with my longest ride of 2020, which was also my longest ever ride to date, this was a ride that consisted of 1 Abbey, 3 castles, 1 tower, 1 Observatory and a Mermaid (Street)!

There was no official plan for this trip, I only have a vague idea of where I was going and would be making it up on the fly. Coffee drunk, breakfast consumed, I set about filling my bidons and organising snacks and lunch for the trip, all loaded in my newest purchase a Carriadice Pendle saddlebag.

I set off heading out of Eastbourne towards Pevensey Castle, whose ruins stand on what was once a peninsula projecting from the Sussex coast. This naturally defensible site, first fortified by the Romans, was most famously the place where the Norman Conquest of England began when William the Conqueror landed there on 28 September 1066. He built temporary defences at Pevensey, probably within the Roman fort, and later a great medieval castle developed inside its walls.

After Pevensey followed the road to Wartling and Herstmonceux, with the first climb of the day, stopping to get a photo of the Observatory on the grounds of Herstmonceux Castle. When the Royal Observatory had been founded in 1675, Greenwich had been a village in open countryside, several miles outside London. With the growth of the capital, however, the area became urbanised and gradually deteriorated as an observational site. Smoke from factories and houses, along with mercury vapour street lighting, meant that by the end of the second world war, the only option was for the Admiralty, which in those days was responsible for the running of the Observatory, to re-locate it. After what is described as ‘extensive investigations’ Herstmonceux in Sussex, ten miles north of the resort of Eastbourne, was selected as its new home. Because of the importance of the establishment, and the fame of Greenwich, it was renamed the Royal Greenwich Observatory. Virtually all new observatories have been sited on mountain tops, where the ‘seeing’ qualities are excellent and the number of clear nights per year is far greater than at lower levels. By contrast, Herstmonceux is nearly at sea level and lies adjacent to marshland, the mists from which sometimes made observing a problem.

Herstmonceux Castle was one of the first large brick buildings in the country. The name is derived from the Saxon word ‘herste’ meaning ‘a clearing in the woods and by which name both the manor and the family which lived there was known. A marriage between the de Herst and the de Monceux families in the twelfth century gave us the present name of Herstmonceux. Originally constructed in 1441, the castle fell into decay and the interior was gutted in 1777. The ruins became a popular attraction until acquired by Colonel Lowther who began the reconstruction and renovation of the interior in 1911. The castle later passed into the hands of Sir Paul Latham who completed the restoration. Once purchased by the Admiralty, it became the home for the Observatory.

Continuing to climb up and onto the A269 and the fast downhill of Boreham Hill then climbing once again onto Standard Hill. I turned left onto the A271 Kitchenham Road, past the signs for Ashburnham Place and the Orangery heading downhill at last to Battle. Stopping at Mrs Burton’s Restaurant and Tearoom for a cup of black coffee and wholemeal toast smothered in marmalade, sitting outside in the glorious sunshine in front of Battle Abbey, where on October 14th 1066 the battle of Hastings (as it became known) was fought. The Benedictine abbey of Battle was founded and largely endowed by King William in about 1071. Dedicated to the Trinity, the Virgin and St Martin of Tours, it was established as a memorial to the dead of the battle and as atonement for the bloodshed of the Conquest. It was also a highly visible symbol of the piety, power and authority of the Norman rulers. Despite the unsuitable location on top of a narrow, waterless ridge and objections from the first monks, William insisted that the high altar of the abbey church be placed to mark where Harold had been killed. When the new church was consecrated in 1094 in the presence of William II (reigned 1087–1100) and the Archbishop of Canterbury, it was one of the richest religious houses in England.

As I munched on my toast I pondered on where to go next, I know I thought to myself, Bodiam Castle. Turning right off Battle’s main street onto Mount Street and straight on at Caldbec Hill, this would be the start of the serious climbing section of the trip (although there would be one horrendously long hill later on after Rye, that I was not looking forward to). Some of the local cyclists I had been talking to at the Tearooms in Battle called this area the Sussex Alps, whilst not as forbidding as the Yorkshire Dales hills from 2019’s Pub-2-Pub (Way of the Roses, Bridlington to Morecambe), these were short and steep and I ran out of gears and legs in several places. Crossing the A21 I wound my way through the quiet back roads, I crested another steep hill and looked down the valley towards my destination. Originally built in 1385, Bodiam Castle has spent centuries as one of the best-loved and best-known castles in England. The castle was built by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, who is known to have once been a knight of Edward III. With his knowledge of battles, he designed the castle with the intention of defending a possible invasion by the French, during The Hundred Years Wars.

Taking advantage of the facilities at Castle View cafe, I topped up my bottles and then had a short wander up the car park to view the Castle and its impressive moat. It was crunch time, it was too early for lunch and I needed to consider the route I would be taking to get to Rye. I decided that I would just follow the lanes and turn randomly at each junction I came to, as long as I was travelling in the general direction I would be fine. I passed through one hidden sleepy little village after another, eventually picking up the A268 at Peasmarsh, passing through Bowlers Town I headed to Rye, thankfully it would be mostly downhill as I was now starting the get hungry and the thought of the food I had in my saddlebag was getting to me.

Pausing to take a picture at the walled gated entrance to the town of Rye, which is considered one of the finest of the Cinque Ports, which is an association of ports on the SE coast of England, originally consisting of Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover, and Sandwich, which from late Anglo-Saxon times provided ships for the king’s service in return for the profits of justice in their courts.

I headed up the High Street to Ypres Tower, in 1430 the tower became the property of John de Iprys; which lead to the name Ypres Tower. In the 16th century, it was used as a prison and courthouse. The tower was damaged during air raids in World War 2 and has been repaired and restored since then. I had planned to have my lunch in the shadow of the tower but there were too many people wandering around. I turned my bike around back to High Street, pausing once more at the bottom of Mermaid Street I took another picture and then continued to the harbour carpark. Quickly unpacking my lunch from the saddlebag I stuffed my face with homemade chunky beef chilli and rice, wonderfully still hot thanks to my trusty Stanley food pot, cherry tomatoes, carrot stick and mini babybel cheese.

The long-distance National Cycle Route 2 passes through Rye and I would be following it back to Eastbourne, leaving Rye following the cycle route on the A259 I shortly turned left at the aptly named Sea Road towards Winchelsea Beach. Joining Pett Level Road I soon encountered traffic issues, due to the road being extremely narrow and daytrippers had flocked to the seaside in their droves, there were cars parked everywhere from Winchelsea Beach to Pett Level Beach. It was traffic chaos! due to the parked vehicles sometimes on both sides of the road, there was only room left for single file traffic, and for every vehicle leaving there was two wanting the empty parking space, I had a few close calls with vehicles trying to overtake me, or coming headlong towards me.

Thankfully the traffic issues eased as I moved slightly inland after Pett Level Beach, Although I was not looking forward to the next bit of the ride, ahead of me was Battery Hill, which is as my Myrtle would call a forever hill! It wasn’t long before I was off my bike and pushing slowly up, and up, and up, the day was getting hotter and I was almost out of water. Finally, I got to the top and could re-mount, I knew that the NCN2 went through Hastings Country Park, I turned left at the first sign, thinking I was on the right path, unfortunately, I soon came to a dead-end and had to turn around and head back to the road, I soon saw the cycle route marker not far from my wrong turn.

Coming out of Hastings Country Park I was rewarded with a long descent down to Hastings Old Town and the pleasure beach, stopping at one of the snack shops I topped up my water bottles. Hastings has a shared cycle path and promenade that runs from the Old Town down to St Leonards, although I stuck to the A259 as whilst the cycle lane is segregated the promenade was extremely crowded with pedestrians and cyclists.

I left the A259 at St Leonards to continue on the NCN2 path that runs next to the sea to Bexhill, heading up Galley Hill I paused at the viewpoint to look down over Bexhill town, which was where British motorsport was born, there is a small museum near the clock tower that is dedicated to this. Bexhill is also home to the stunning art deco De La Warr Pavilion. Following West Parade I pass the Sovereign Light Cafe, made famous by the band Keane.

Turning left after Cooden Beach Hotel onto Herbrand Walk and shortly passed Normans Bay where the Normans landed in 1066. skirting around Sovereign Harbour and onto the start of Eastbourne’s beachfront at Langney Point. I stop at a little ice cream hut next to the Sovereign Treatment Works ( known locally as ‘Poo Palace’) which was built in the style of a redoubt style fort, treating myself to a cold bottle of diet cola (other fizzy drinks was available) and an ice lolly before the final push home.

Zipping up Royal Parade past the pier, the bandstand and the 5 star Grand Hotel ( the only 5-star hotel by the sea in Sussex, often referred to as ‘ a palace by the sea’) I was surprised by how much energy I had left, my legs felt fresh full of vigour, mmm should I push on and try for 100 miles, no this would mean having to loop around and past home. I climbed King Edwards Parade towards Holywell, turned right into Meads, following the road round I head up the final climb on Paradise Drive. passing The Royal Eastbourne Golf Club after another 5 minutes I pulled up outside the rear of my house.

Pub-2-Pub 2020, cycle touring during a pandemic, part 3.

Day 3 (Whitby to Hull), cancelled due to weather forecast.

Unscheduled rest day due to Storm Ickle Baby Kimmie, had to resort to support team (the aforementioned ickle baby Kimmie daughter #3 along with grandchild’s #3 and #5 of 6) to transport us from Whitby to Hull. With a side trip to Robin Hoods Bay, lovely little place that I have been wanting to visit for some time.

No cycling issues today (obviously), but leave it to the daughter and grandchild #3 not to listen when told not to get too close to the water on the slipway!!! When they got drenched by a large wave. Leaving Robin Hoods Bay we set off for Hull, stopping in Scarborough for a fish and chip lunch.

After we checked in to the hotel at Hull and sorted out some essential maintenance to the bikes, obviously their needs came before ours!!, we ventured out into Hull City Centre for some food and a pint (well it’s still a Pub-2-Pub trip, the rules does not discriminate if no riding occurred!!)

Day 4 (Hull to Camblesforth)

The good thing about staying in a Premier Inn is the all you can eat breakfast, but instead of the normal full English we both opted for porridge, fruit and yoghurt, we were joined for breakfast by Grandchilds #3 and #5, whilst the Daughter was outside sucking on a cancer stick (horrible habit Ickle Baby Kimmie, it will stunt your growth). After struggling with our bikes back down to ground level we recommenced our truncated trip on a very chilly, damp but not as windy Sunday morning, weather is defiantly autumnal. Today would be nice and easy(ish) with only a little lumpy section early on in the day. We would be following the Trans Pennine Trail for most of today, but finding our way to the trail was anything but easy, signage around the City centre is a little lacking.

We eventually left the city behind us and was heading towards the Humber Bridge, we had hoped to cross the bridge and return again, but on arriving we found it closed to traffic that day. Following the alternative Trans Pennine Route from the bridge as the main route was also closed, this sent us around the houses around the A164. Again the Garmin was playing up as it did not like us not following the GPX route we had plotted, instead of listening to the device when it tried sending us back to where the device wanted us to be, we ignored it this time as we had had enough of being sent back to where we had deviated to only be sent almost back the same way again.

We was now on some lovely quiet lanes and it was nice to ride side-by-side to chat rather than shouting back and forth at each other. Following the river we passed through several picturesque villages, we started looking for somewhere to stop and have a snack, unfortunately everything we passed was closed. We pushed on leaving the lanes and following the bridleway, the landscape became flatter and rural.

In the distance we could see Drax Power Station on the other side of the Humber River, our destination where the Son-in-Law lived was a little village in the shadow of the power station. I also worked at the Power Station when the “B” site was being built between 1982 to 1986 and seeing it brought back a lot of memories. Due to the winding nature of the river one minute the power station dominated the landscape the next it looked tiny in the distance. We was now starting to get hungry and looking on Google realised that the best opportunity to get anything without having to make a large detour would be Howden. We stopped at a little café right next to Howden Minster and stuffed our faces before setting off again. We made a executive decision and decided against remaining on the Trans Pennine Trail as the route ahead was not the best and was also taking us out of our way.

We crossed the Humber at Booth over the swing bridge which was used on the Tour de Yorkshire 2019. Traveling through Airmyn, past Snaith and through Carlton, we could almost taste the beers waiting for us. Our finish line this year would be the garden shed pub (the Weesheif) at Emmerson’s parents, where we was rewarded by a bottle of beer each and patted each other on the back. Day one and two had been a real challenge for the pair of us and whilst it was disappointing that we did not complete day three we had made the best decision. We both made a commitment that at some point in the near future we would go back to Whitby so we could ride to Hull and complete the 2020 trip.


Weather Impact:   7.9%, Headwind: 51% @ 16.5-22.7mph, Longest Headwind: 41m 14s, Air Speed: 10.9mph, Temp: 14.7°C, Precipitation: 0% @ 0 Inch/hr. Elapsed Time: 5.49.43hrs. Moving Time: 4.20.51hrs. Distance:  42.39miles. Average Speed: 9.8mph. Max Speed: 21mph. Elevation Gain: 906ft. Maximum Elevation: 170ft. Injury/Incidents/Mechanicals:  none, now that’s a first!!! Highlight Of The Day:  The final pint at the Weeshief, nothing this weekend went down better, job done for 2020, time to start planning for 2021, although we do need to re-visit and complete 2020’s day 3 route Whitby to Hull.


Pub-2-Pub 2020, cycle touring during a pandemic, part 2.

Day 2 (Yarm to Whitby).

Was supposed to have been a short day with only 44 miles to do, but storm ickle baby Kimmie (named for daughter #3) had other ideas as we was to find out. We left Yarm at about 8.30am after a fortifying breakfast into a light drizzle, wind wasn’t too bad, and at least it was a tailwind. The rain soon stopped and we dried out as we followed mostly cycle paths to take us back to the coast, although my Garmin was occasionally being temperamental and we lost our way several times as we passed around Middlesbrough. Bleeding squirrels 🐿 are mad around these parts, as we cycled along they was running out onto the path and playing chicken with us, Emmerson clipped one that was determind to make us swerve out of the way, I swear that when it got up it that it was going to chase Emmerson down and pound him into the dirt. Arriving at Redcar we turned right onto the Coast Road and saw the sea for the first time that day, the wind had been gradually picking up speed all morning and as we crossed onto the Coast Road we was buffeted by a nasty side wind that almost knocked me into Emmerson and into the path of an oncoming vehicle, first brown cycle knicker moment of the day! We spied a little café shack which was open, needing a break to calm my nerves we stopped for a warming coffee and scone each.

We was literally blown out of Redcar, barely had to peddle at all, the tail wind was turning into a bit of a godsend. Following National Cycle Route 1, which was also part of the EuroVelo Route 12, we headed towards Saltburn by the Sea dropping down steep winding hills and being helped back up hills, that we would normally struggle on or even push up, by the tailwind, this was brilliant. We dropped down into Cowbar, stopping at the tiny harbour to take in the view of the rough North Sea pounding the cliffs on either side. We now had about 5 miles of solid climbing ahead of us on steeper hills, which involved a lot of pushing despite the helping tail winds, we eventually reached the summit and was rewarded with a long mostly straight drop to re-join the main road to Whitby. Stopping to check google maps in the shelter of lonely isolated cottage wall, I set my bike on its kick stand and grabbed my water bottle. As I started to drink there was a change in the wind direction which caught my bike sideways on and blew it over with such force my saddle tuned 90 degrees, luckily there was no major damage to my bike and after sorting my saddle we set of again. Emmerson soon spotted a sign for a garden centre with a café, whilst neither of us was particularly hungry we decided to stop for lunch seeing as we was in the middle of nowhere and not certain when we would somewhere else to eat.

After lunch heading over top of the coast road the wind really kicked in and the direction had changed from a tail wind into more of a tailing side wind, couple of times we was blown sideways into the other side of the road, it was that bad even when pushing the bikes we was being blown sideways. The weather forecast had warned us to expect light showers in the afternoon, and we had been quite lucky since the initial shower when we set of that morning. Looking out over the North Sea we saw sinister black clouds, approaching the coast rapidly, large drops of rain soon started to fall, getting heavier and heavier and what with the gusting wind visibility was becoming an issue. Looking down at my Garmin I noted that we only had 5 miles to go to reach our overnight accommodation, looking at Emmerson I shrugged my shoulders and we battled on, the time was now 1pm. We had to reach our accommodation by 3pm as they would be closing to deep clean ahead of the night time opening, ah the joys of Covid-19, 5 miles with 2 hours to get there no problem I thought. The rain was now falling that hard that there was rivers flowing down the steep hills, as we dropped down into Sandsend my brakes was fading out, I was almost sideways on skidding using my foot to act as an anchor, sweat was mixing with the rain running into my eyes I could barely see anything. I swear I saw a hooded skeleton holding a scythe waiting for me at the bottom of that hill checking my name off of his list!!! We pulled over looking for some shelter to re-group, I took the time to phone the accommodation, to say we would be late, the landlady was outstanding, informing us not to worry there would be someone there to let us in when we arrived. Thank god for that otherwise we would have had to find somewhere to lay-up until they re-opened.

The last hour felt like 6 hours, we mostly pushed our bikes now due to the combination of the wind, rain and also spray from the idiot drivers speeding along the roads in those conditions. The path we was following ran out and we had to push our bikes on the main road out of Whitby to Aislaby where we as staying that night. We finally arrived like two drowned idiots and had one final hurdle to overcome, we had to manhandle our bikes through the Pub and down the narrow cellar stairs, this job done we was shown to our room. I walked through the door and instantly walloped my head on the low ceiling beam over my bed. The Landlady offered us the use of her tumble drier and whilst Emmerson sorted out drying our clothes, I was sorting out our bags, I forgot about the low ceiling and banged my head again for the second but not the last time that night. Showered and in dry clean clothes we went downstairs for several pints and our dinner, it was time to decide on our options for the next day, the weather was forecasted to be worse with wind speeds up to 30mph and gusts between 40-48mph.

After several beers we started reminiscing on past rides, the funny random ride stories and discussing our bad luck, which we always laugh off and seem to make light of a bad situation. The idea arose, why don’t we record our rides and stories? Our Facebook pages gets a live updates each night to family and friends who follow us on our trips, but that’s not good to look back on and find at a later date…. what would be the best way to record our mis-adventures, that’s easily accessible and we are able to share with others…? Emmerson piped up “I know, what about a blog?” Several more beers later we had fleshed out the basics that we wanted to acheive.


Weather: Headwind: 34% @ 19.3-40mph, Longest Headwind: 49m 19s, Temp: 7.8-12.9°C, Precipitation: damp to monsoon. Elapsed Time: 7.28.45hrs. Moving Time: 5.24.52hrs. Distance:  44.36miles. Average Speed: 8.2mph. Max Speed: 33.6mph. Elevation Gain: 2,497ft. Maximum Elevation: 1,219ft. Injuries/Mechanicals/Incidents:  Williams 4 (scraped leg with peddle, rain water mixing with sweat running into eyes, bike blown over twisted saddle, brake fade due to monsoon conditions), Emmerson 3 (dodgy knee, brakes fading on steeper descents due to monsoon conditions, skidding in the wet due to riding on slick tyres (it’s a tour Emmerson, riding on slicks not a good idea). High Points: tailwind blowing us out of Redcar without having to peddle.  Round of applause from locals on approach to Whitby due to riding in monsoon conditions. Arriving at B&B and shower whilst tumble drying bikes & equipment. More than 1 but less than 10 pints of beer and one of the best steak pies I’ve ever had. Low Points: side winds & storm Kimmie, idiot traffic. Squirrels 🐿 killed: 1 (Emmerson the squirrel 🐿 killer).


That new bike feeling!

Since my Myrtle had bought her e-bike, a Kinesis Range, I have been borrowing it more and more and finally bit the bullet and decided to purchase one for myself. I quite like the Kinesis but it only comes in one colour, and I did not like the idea of us having the same bikes in the same colour scheme. I finally settled on Ribble and their CGR AL-e model, CGR stand for Cross, Gravel and Road, all the reviews raved about of this model. Once I had made my choice of bike to get the next decision was to buy the off the peg model or use Ribble’s bike builder function and customise the bike to my specifications. I choose to use the bike builder option, I decided not to go for a customised colour scheme, (this would add another 80 days to the build) but opted for the Grey/Copper over the red option. Swapped the standard saddle for a Brooks Cambium C15 All Weather Saddle, standard drop handlebars for the flared gravel bars, and after much deliberation decided on the Sram Rival 1 groupset over the Shimano 105 and various other tweaks was made. Satisfied with my choices I pushed the order button and all I has to do now was wait patiently until June, yea waits patiently.. not one of my strong points!

In the meantime, I was still “borrowing” Myrtle’s bike and was taking it for some more adventurous off-road fun, and we also went on our first “Myrtle cycling adventure” of 2021 (see my last blog; It was on the return from this day trip that I received the e-mail from Ribble informing me that my new bike was due to be dispatched within two working days, this being the Easter Bank Holiday Sunday meant that this would be at least four days away, I was like a child waiting for Christmas morning to arrive.

Tuesday came and went, tracking notice still unchanged, waiting for pick up. Wednesday morning status changed to out for delivery, looking out the window expectantly at every van that came around the corner. Finally, at 1.30pm, an unmarked white van pulled up, just as I was in the middle of a virtual meeting (ah the joys of working from home!), I quickly hung up to take delivery and safely put my new baby in the living room, rejoining the meeting I made the old excuse broadband issues. The meeting concluded, enough work for one day I thought to myself time to unbox and meet my new baby! Carefully opening the box I lifted the bike out and proceeded with fitting the handlebars raised the seat, fitted the peddles I had purchased several weeks ago and also the kickstand, no laying my baby on the floor for me! made a quick check of all the bolts to ensure that everything was secure. a quick ride around the block to check everything was working properly and time to put him to bed on charge ready for his maiden ride, which unfortunately would have to wait until Saturday.

Saturday morning arrived, and what a morning for a maiden ride, time to see what the CGR AL-e could do. I left home with no particular route in mind but I wanted to have a little of everything to put the bike through its paces. For his first challenge, I headed towards Butts Brow Hill, a climb I have never managed to get up before, as I approached the start of the hill I turned on the battery set the IWOC to assist level one and set off. I soon worked my way through assist level two and into level three. I got to the top out of breath, but I had made it! Time for a little off-roading across the top of the Downs heading towards Eastbourne Downs golf course and back onto the A259 and turned left following the signs to Beachy Head and followed Beachy Head Road to Birling Gap and back onto the A259 heading towards Seven Sisters Country Park, crossing the Cuckmere River. I turned left into the Cuckmere Inn car park and followed the alternative NCN 2 signage avoiding the busy A259, happily this turned into another off-road gravel section that I have never ridden before. Joined the tarmac again at Chyngton Way and headed towards Seaford, at the town centre I turned back onto the A259 back towards Eastbourne.
I turned left onto Alfriston Road, assist level three was needed to get over the aptly named High & Over then the fast descent to Alfriston Village and on to Litlington stopping for a coffee and a slice (cake, what else) at Cadence CC next to the Long Man brewery. Took the left turn towards West Dean then followed the byway skirting the bottom of Friston Forest to emerge onto Jevington Road. Followed the road down to Wannock and into Polegate where I turned onto the NCN 21 Cuckoo Trail and travelled towards Hailsham. Leaving the Cuckoo Trail I headed onto Rickney Levels and followed the lanes to Pevensey, stopping first at Chilly’s Farm shop for another coffee (but no cake!). Comfort stop finished it was onwards to Sovereign Harbour and Eastbourne’s seafront, passing the pier up to Hollywell and the official start/end of the South Downs Way, climbing Upper Dukes Road back onto Beachy Head Road and onto the A259 again, for a very fast descent down the 12% hill and home.
50 miles shakedown maiden ride done, the bike is fun to ride, the assist modes are subtle. The bike hides the fact it is an e-bike very well you can barely tell apart from the charging port and IWOC, and then only when you are practically on top of it, and I love to colour scheme, really happy that I chose this bike.

Rye and Romney Marshes (A Myrtle Cycling Adventure)

After last years late summer bank holiday’s debacle of a Myrtle cycling adventure, I thought that the first one for 2021 would have to be a bit flatter as this would be the first longer ride that Myrtle’s new bike Eee-🐝 would be undertaking. Restrictions for COVID-19 lockdown #3 had eased slightly a trip outside of the local area was now possible, although not too far as I still had not got around to buying replacement bike racks, I decided on Rye and Romney Marshes, this would only be an hours train ride in either direction. It was a short 2-mile ride from home to Eastbourne’s train station, and as usual, I had set off earlier than needed, thinking that we could buy our tickets and get a coffee after whilst waiting for the train to arrive, this was the first mistake of the day! The coffee kiosk had gone, even Subway wasn’t open yet it was too early. After a 15 minute wait in the chilly station, we boarded the train and I started reviewing the planned route on Komoot via my smartphone whilst waiting for it to depart.

At Rye we, (by we, I mean me), had to get the bikes up the stairs and over the bridge to get out of the station. Bikes manhandled, Garmins turned on, bum-butter applied, we were ready to start. We rolled out of Rye town towards Appledore on the Royal Military Road, The Royal Military Road starts at Cliff End, to the east of Hastings and runs to Hythe and follows the path of the Royal Military Canal in East Sussex and Kent. The road and its corresponding canal were built in the early 19th century as part of a defence against Napoleon, and runs along what was once the coastline in Roman Britain, before the land to the south was reclaimed in the Middle Ages as Romney Marsh.

It was rather chilly and overcast, nothing like what the weather forecast had promised, the road was long, flat and straight, after a couple of miles Myrtle was complaining that it was boring, this coupled with the numerous speeding motorcycles and boy racers, I was glad when we got to Appledore for a comfort stop and quick snack. We left Appledore following the National Cycle Route 11 and was instantly attacked by swarms of midges, no sooner than we had got through one swarm we hit the next, all I could hear was Myrtle cursing as she rode through the black clouds. Following the signs, we passed through flat countryside occasionally passing other cyclists, as we cycled into Fairfield we spied a solitary building in the field, that looked like something out of a Harry Potter film. A Google and Wikipedia search informed us that this was St Thomas Becket Church, one of the most iconic of all the churches on Romney Marsh, The tiny building dates back to the late 12th century. The Church is locked, but The Romney Marsh Historic Trust website informs that the Key hangs on the wall of the nearby farmhouse towards Appledore, in the yard by the back door.

There was a hint of blue skies ahead of us as we continued on our journey passing through Brookland before leaving the NCN 11 to join our old friend NCN 2. NCN 2 is the long-distance route between Dover in Kent and St Austel in Devon, most of our local rides around Eastbourne takes advantage of route 2. At St Mary in the Marsh, we had one of my usual Garmin fails, where I turned right too soon when the device indicated a right turn ahead, not admitting to Myrtle I had made a mistake I decided to continue on, rather than letting the device re-route us back. The weather was definitely improving more blue sky was replacing the clouds and although the temperature was the same it felt warmer in the sunshine as we pulled into Dymchurch. We stopped for a quick photo at the deserted (due to COVID restrictions) Dymchurch Station, part of the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch miniature steam railway that has been in operation since 1927 and runs for 13.5 miles from Hythe to Dungeness ( We decided that Dymchurch seafront would be a good place to stop for lunch, walking our bikes through the busy street we headed to the sea wall and found an empty bench for our picnic. The easing of some of the COVID restrictions had brought out visitors, the town and seafront whilst not heaving it was busy. We decided to get some chips to go with the food we had brought with us. Whilst we were eating we got to talking to another couple on the next bench who had been admiring Myrtle’s bike, “is that an e-bike?” we were asked, Myrtle started to explain to them about the bike, she is getting quite fanatical since buying the bike on explaining the benefits it has made for her.

Myrle has been riding up to this point without her battery turned on, she decides that she will ride the rest of the trip in assist mode and sets of along the sea wall like the proverbial rocket, leaving me behind in her dust! We left the sea wall at New Romney to follow the coast road towards Dungeness, the light wind was getting stronger and I was struggling to keep up, on turning right at the Pilot Inn onto Dungeness the wind direction changes into a nasty headwind. We rode through Lydd picking up NCN 2, leaving the busy road we followed the cycle path onwards to Camber Sands, the headwind wasn’t letting up, Myrle was having problems with the sudden gusts, neither of us was enjoying this it seemed an absolute age getting from Lydd to Camber Sands, where we stopped for a comfort break, we still had about seven miles to go the get back to Rye. We turned of Camber Road at Rye Watersports to follow the off-road path, so that we avoided riding on the A259. The last time that we road this section Myrtle was on her Specialized hybrid bike and whilst it had front suspension did not enjoy the experience, so I was pleasantly surprised when she informed me that it felt a lot better on her gravel bike, having 45mm tyres and riding at a lower tyre pressure. Rejoining the road at the river Rother we pushed our bikes across the bridge and other the road up into Rye town. We had about 50 minutes until the next train back to Eastbourne, buying a takeaway coffee we pushed our bikes to Ypres tower to sit in the sunshine out of the wind. At Rye station, we had about a 10-minute wait for the train to arrive, whilst we were waiting several teenage boys arrived on the bikes riding on the station platform being obnoxious. The train pulled in and several girls got off heading to the boys who blocking the platform would not move for people trying to get past them, I might have muttered a few expletives to them as we pushed our way past them. We ended up getting on the wrong carriageway and had to change at the next station for the carriageway that catered for bikes, where we ended up talking to another couple who had been out on the bikes who again wanted to know more about Myrtle e-bike. All in all, this was not one of our more enjoyable trips Myrtle said and suggested that I do better for the next one!

Myrtle buys an E-bike

Last August during the late summer bank holiday weekend I and the responsible Adult (AKA the Myrtle) had planned one of our usual cycling mini day tours. Which by the time we had finished I was in fear for my life! As usual, we took our inspiration from Jack Thurston’s Lost Lanes: 36 Glorious Bike Rides in Southern England (London and the South-East (Wild Things Publishing Ltd)). The ride we decided on was ride number 3, Between Downs and Weald, starting and finishing at Lingfield rail station car park.
The route was hilly but nothing overly challenging for Myrtle (or so I thought at the time). By the time we had got to our lunch stop at the Foutain Pub at Cowden, I had been sworn at, shouted at and threatened with physical violence. I was that traumatised that I missed seeing the Winged Wheel sign of the Cyclist Touring Club that was on the side of the pub, and I ended up ordering salmon quiche (yuck). After lunch we had one last decent hill to climb and then it was all downhill back to Lingfield, all in all, this was not one of our better adventures.

We got to talking that night about e-bikes and if one would help, as Myrtle’s Rheumatoid Arthritis was getting to the stage that she struggled even on smaller rides. As it happened Cyclist magazines had brought out a new publication “Cycling Electric”, which we picked up the following Saturday. The first article was a review on the Kinesis Range, I had seen these bikes advertised in several other cycling magazines of late, and was impressed how stealthy they were, they did not look like the typical e-bikes that we see on our rides out. Despite the other bikes shown in the magazine, we kept coming back to the Kinesis. Over the next couple of weeks, we researched the different permutations but the Kinesis kept coming out on top. As it happened there was a dealership in Lewes, East Sussex, not too far from where we lived that stocked this bike and others we had been looking at, we got the train over to Lewes, on walking in the shop the first bike in our line of sight was the Kinesis, it was love at first sight for Myrtle. The shop assistant was really friendly and helpful, letting Myrtle try the bike out and explaining how it worked, she was sold. We were expecting to have quite a long wait on our hands but was told that we could purchase the one on display, which was the right size and model, and pick it up the following week, we even blagged some free peddles.

Returning to Lewes on the train the following Saturday to pick up the bike, it was decided that I would be riding it home from Eastbourne’s train station. I took advantage of extending the ride slightly to put the bike through its paces, by the time I got home I had a wide smile on my face, this bike is fantastic to ride, even with the battery turned off! Myrtle had better watch out I may end up borrowing her bike for some longer fun days out on the South Downs for some gravel adventures!

Crabs and Winkles, a Myrtle cycling adventure.

Its July 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions are slowly being relaxed (little did we know at the time that this was not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning!), having a week off work and with the summer weather in full swing we decided to go on a cycling mini-tour day trip. Inspiration for this trip was taken from the book Lost Lanes: 36 Glorious Bike Rides in Southern England (London and the South-East (written by Jack Thurston and published by Wild Things Publishing Ltd)), we chose ride 5 Crab & Winkle, which started and finished in Canterbury.

Leaving Canterbury rail station we had the usual Garmin GPX issues with the sodding device trying to send us in the wrong direction and then re-routing us back to our start point, (should really read the route notes, instead of just trusting Skynet!), we found the start of the route after about five minutes of swearing on my part and soon left the City Centre. Following the cycle path we headed towards the Crab and Winkle line, a reclaimed train line that had been decommissioned in the 1950’s that runs for 6 miles from Canterbury over the hills to Whitstable. Heading up a steep incline Myrtle was as usual struggling and swearing at me, “why, oh why do we have to start off these rides on a hill, you know I need to get my legs going first” she huffed at me, off to a good start, I thought to myself.

It didnt take us to long to arrive in Whitstable, which is one of the gems of the Kent coast and people come from far and wide to sample the famous Whitstable Oysters, there is even a oyster festival held every July. We stopped for a quick socialy distanced coffee next to the shingle beach near to the Fisherman’s huts, most of which have been converted to holiday lets. Passing the harbour we turned and headed towards the beach and the shared foot and cycle promenade heading towards Herne Bay, we was now following the Oyster Bay Trail, passing rows upon rows of brightly coloured beach huts.

We left the promenade and started climbing up to the cliff top and onto Reculver Country Park, we stopped at one of the benches on the path to eat a small picnic we had brought with us whilst watching the ships passing in the distance. Ahead of us was the twin towers of the medieval Reculver church, next to the twin towers is the site of one of the earliest Roman Forts built against Saxon raids, it later became the site of an Anglo-Saxon Monastery before becoming the parish church for Reculver.

The cycle route we was following turned us inland thorough the villages of Marshside and Chislet, we crossed the river Stour and decided that the pub next to the river was an ideal spot for lunch and a pint of Spitfire Ale. After lunch we continued on the lanes heading towards Fordwich, according to the Lost Lanes book inside the church at Fordwich there is an 1,000 year old sarcophagus which is part of a shrine to St Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury.

We turned off the road onto a gravel path following the river and through the woods heading back to Canterbury, the path started of good and wide but soon it started narrowing and nettles was overgrowing into the path, it wasn’t long before we started getting stung. We was soon out of the woods and onto busier roads winding our way through the streets back into the city, we passed the Marlow Theatre and through the city gates back to the train station.

A White island but no red squirrels, a Myrtle cycling adventure.

Seeing as we have run out of historic Pub-2-Pub cycling mis-adventures this months blog is about my Myrtle, AKA the better half and also the designated responsible adult in our relationship. Being the Myrtle is not just an affectionate nickname but is a calling that few have chosen to take up the mantel. Myrtle has been cycling with me since 2017, her first bike was a step through Trek Navigator, that earned the name “Brambles”, as the bike and Myrtle spent most of their time arguing with vegetation of all types. Even Myrtle will admit that she is not the most confident rider and has balance issues, even to this day! Her next bike was what she called her first big girls bike, a Specialized Arial Hybrid named Sally, the bike used on this adventure. She has progressed to her first drop handlebar gravel e-bike, but this is a story for a future blog.

This year,(2019), the Son-in-law #2 (probationary) and myself would be undertaking our third Pub-2-Pub mis-adventure in the July, which that year was to be self-supported carrying our own luggage. I had purchased a new bike packing seatpost bag for the trip to go with the handlebar bag that I had bought in 2017 for our first P2P, and was wanting to have a trial run fully loaded to fine tune what I would be comfortable carrying and to see how the bike handled. Although the bike used for the test run would not the bike used on the P2P this I was still waiting to buy.

Myrtle and myself had started going on longer joint cycling trips and on Bank Holidays, if the weather is good we have full day cycling tour. It was the Easter weekend and what a weekend it would turn out to be, we Left Eastbourne at 5am in the car loaded for Southampton to get the ferry over to the Isle of Wight Arriving fairly early we parked the car up in a long stay car park near the ferry terminal where it would be staying for the day. It was a short five minute ride from the carpark to the ticket counter, which was closed! Luckily there was an automated ticket machine. Tickets bought we debated coffee now or wait until we board.

Whilst we was waiting for the ferry to dock and unload several other cyclist arrived and it soon turned into a bit of a lycra-fest! Once boarded and bikes parked we trouped up to the passenger deck to queue for breakfast, which turned out to be surprisingly good and value for money. Stomachs full we went to watch the Island grow larger and soon Cowes harbour came into sight. Returning to the car deck I set up the Garmins and finding the GPX route that I had plotted the night before, the boat docked, walking down the gangway we pulled to the kerbside to wait for all the vehicles to depart, and we was off.

Now when I planned this trip I knew there would be hills involved but for some reason I have never associated the Isle of Wight with being particular hilly, boy was I wrong. I had decided to get the hills out of the way in the first half of the ride because Myrtle has an intense hatred of hills! and struggles on them. Turning left out of the ferry terminal we headed towards Wootton, straight into a long climb, Myrtle stopped suddenly in front of me took one look at the hill ahead and promptly swore at me, “why is there a hill this early into the trip, I need to warm my legs up” she huffed at me and rode on. We soon passed the entrance to Osbourne House, the holiday home of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert designed the house himself in the style of an Italian Renaissance palazzo. The builder was Thomas Cubitt, the London architect and builder whose company built the main facade of Buckingham Palace.

Dropping down to Wootton Bridge we paused to take a couple of photos of Wootton Creek, before turning right just after the bridge onto Firestone Copse Road which is a much quieter road than the one we started on. We carried on climbing and in places Myrtle had to get off and push her bike, the looks she was giving me, I was starting to fear for my life! We stopped at the top of another hill to have a drink and catch our breath, the views over the countryside was spectacular, Myrtle asked if I had a snack bar as she was getting peckish. As I fumbled in my tube bag I felt the cold hand of death grip the back of my neck, I had left the snack bars on the kitchen counter at home! I’m going to die out here I thought and they are never going to find the body.

We rode on heading towards Bembridge, pulling into the North Quay to look for a snack shop or a café to no avail,this is going well I thought as I was getting the “look”, we took some phots instead and set off again. Following the road that skirted the harbour we passed houseboat upon houseboat, some were for rental as well, would love to have a stay in one, something to think about for the future. We was still climbing and the hills was getting steeper, we passed Bembridge Airport down to Yaverland and finally dropped onto the flat and Sandown Beach, time for a coffee and cake stop.

Leaving Sandown we pushed our bikes back up the hill and found the signage for the Red Squirrel Trail, as soon as we had joined it we came across the Peddallers Café, if I had known this was here we wouldn’t have stopped in Sandown. It was nice to get off the roads onto the traffic free cycle route and we was looking forward to seeing some of the famous red squirrels! (nope, not a sign, narda, none etc…). We crossed several roads fought our way past a crowed of locals watching a plastic duck race, passed loads of sculptures and plaques informing of what wildlife you could expect to see. The cycle route was well kept and very popular and we was soon approaching Newport, we decided to go into the town for some lunch. We found ourselves in front of the Minster, which the original late 12th-century church was dedicated to St Thomas of Canterbury (Thomas Becket) (1118–1170). Later, under the rule of King Henry VIII of England(1509–1547), when Becket was declared to have been a traitor, the Canterbury part of the name was dropped. Finding a café in the shadow of the Minster we sat outside in the hot sunshine people watching whilst waiting for our food to be delivered, following lunch we had a short wander around the square window shopping.

Returning back to NCN 23 we headed towards Cowes, our plan was a side trip into Cowes Town for some cake and a coffee before getting the ferry back to the mainland. But not reading the signs correctly we missed the turning to the town and ended up at the Cowes Chain Ferry. We decided to cross and find a café on the other side, wrong, there isn’t any!! We saw the ferry arriving it was now 4pm and we decided to get this ferry. Taking the time to get out of our sweat soaked cycling clothes and with the judicial use of wet wipes to clean the chamois cream off we changed into the clothes I had in the saddle bag, and then devoured a chocolate cupcake each washed down with a coffee.

Bikes re-loaded onto the car, we left Southampton for the long journey back home, listening to the presenter on Radio 2 we lost count of how many times we was informed that this hottest day of the year, so far. All in all this had been a very good day trip, which we decided we would have to revisit the island again in the future with the bikes.

Pub-2-Pub 2020, cycle touring during a pandemic, part 1.

We had planned for a slightly different agenda for 2020’s annual pub-2-pub trip, this year we was going to walk the 3 peaks and cycle the Fat Lad at the Back ( sportive over the early May bank holiday weekend. Little did we know that the Covid-19 pandemic was going to put pay to everything!

Lockdown #1 came and finished and life as we knew it was re-starting although in a limited fashion, we had been talking for a few weeks about trying to get a short trip, and set about thinking what we should undertake. Talk turned to creating our own trip instead of following established well known routes, we settled on starting in Newcastle and riding the coast back to the Son-in-Laws house, for some strange reason we have a penchant for our trips to include Newcastle. Working out the logistics we settled on 4 days with overnight stops in Yarm, Whitby and Hull. Left my better half with the job of organising our accommodation (we would end up regretting this and the new P-2-P travel agent would end up being merrily scolded). A week before we was to set off the pandemic was starting a second phase, areas of the North and North East was seeing a spike in cases, the government was talking about new restrictions, our trip was starting to look uncertain. Luckily the new restrictions would not bother us that much, but the weather was our next concern. On the run up to the trip I was keeping a close eye on the long range forcast, it looked like we was going that have a storm on days 1 and 2.

Day 1 (Newcastle to Yarm)

We rose early loaded our bikes and luggage then left to pickup the son-in-laws mother who would be bring his car back home for him and set off for York train station. on arriving at York we was presented with 2 personalised hand sanitiser bottles made by my Daughter, who has a little cottage craft business to make some pocket money, and also according to the son-in-law to keep her out of mischief and spending his hard earned on her shopping sprees. We struggled up and down the stairs over to our platform, now Emmerson works for Network rail and knows York station like the back of his hand, so why was it that he made me carry my bike up and down these stairs when there is a perfectly good ramp on the other side, grrrrr. The temperature was on the chilly side, we had only brought our summer cycling kit with us, but also had arm warmers as well, as we waited fro the train to arrive I decided to put these on. We had pre-booked to bikes onto the train to ensure that we did not have any issues, the train we got on had hanging hooks for cycles, these are not the best to get fully loaded bikes onto and back off again, i ended up giving up and propped Clywd up against the wall.

When we arrived in Newcastle the weather had improved slightly, and the sun was out making it feel warmer, so far so good but I knew that the weather was going to turn at some point during the day. Getting from the train station down onto the quay side and our official start point next to the Millennium bridge proved to be a bit of a trek. First skynet (my Garmin 830) was sending us around in circles, we gave up and ignored it and followed our noses. Emmerson spotted a sign for the quay which turned out to be a thousand step climb down lugging fully loaded bikes, after what seemed to be forever we finally made it, at the bottom I looked to my right and saw the road that we had been following before taking the alleged short cut, cue more grrrr’s. We took a starting picture framing in both the Millennium and Tyne bridges and set off. We had had no breakfast before we set of this morning, our plan was to stop at a cycle cafe a mile or so from our start, this proved a bit of a disapointment, due to Covid-19 the cafe was only serving a very limited menu, did take advantage of the tame cycling mechanic who sorted out my front derailleur cable, I was struggling to change into my big chain ring. One of the deciding factors for ridding on the wrong side of the Tyne river was that both of us wanted to cycle the Tyne foot and cycle tunnel, this was something that we was excited about on the ride out of Newcastle. The route out was like an old friend this would be the 3rd time that we had ridden this way on our pub-2-pub trips and it didn’t take long before we was at the tunnel entrance, as luck had it the lifts was working, no carrying the bikes down more stairs today for us. To say that the tunnel was a little disappointment would be an understatement, no sooner had we set of we arrived at the other end, anticlimax after all the hype! The tunnel we rode in Edinburgh two years earlier was better, and what made that one even better was we didn’t know it was there so came as a complete surprise.

Leaving Newcastle behind us it started to drizzle lightly, we cycled on a mixture of roads and cycle paths, the rain was getting steadily heavier and by the time we got to Seaburn we was both cold, wet and hungry, a lunch stop was needed. Finding a place for lunch turned out to be a bit of a chore, the track-and-trace app had finally been released and we hadn’t downloaded it, we finally got in to a cafe for a much needed fry-up. I’ve got to say the first half of this day was disappointing we was ridding through built up areas with not a lot to look at, Sunderland was horrible, we was glad when we tuned onto the coast road which we followed to Seaham. There is a statue at Seaham called Tommy that I had read about when researching our trip, it is of a first world war soldier and is very impressive and well worth a visit. The rain was on and off the rest of the afternoon as soon as we had managed to dry off it started raining again. We rode into Hartlepool, the last time I was there about 10 years ago it was very run down, Im glad to say that its starting to improve thanks to the regeneration of the area.

We moved away from the coastline after Hartlepool, and finally the rain ceased the rest of the day would be dry, when we got to Egglescliffe we stoped at a Shell garage for a quick snack as time was getting on. Finally we saw signage for Yarm, 5 Miles it said, next sign 6 miles? WTF are we going backwards. Eventually we dropped down a long steep hill into the Town, It looked lovely, now to find our accommodation, we rode out of town and kept going and going, again WTF, after what felt like 10 miles, but was in reality 2 miles we found our overnight stay, this wasn’t Yarm but a one horse village with no name. Our accommodation wasn’t serving food that night, they told us about the local pub, as the time was 8pm we had no choice, we had wanted to try Yarm but the new restriction in place required pub’s and restaurants to close at 10pm. The local pub was a lovely looking place, we wandered in sat down, as it was table service only (another of the new restrictions) and got our phones out, the barman quickly came over and told us it was a “dry” pub no electronic devices allowed. We asked if we could take a quick photo first and was refused, we was also told that they only accepted cash? I mean in the middle of this pandemic where cashless and contacts payment was encouraged. We looked at each other checked our pockets for cash and managed to scrape £20 together which luckily managed to pay for our beer and food. Emmerson went outside to make a quick phone call to say goodnight to the misses and kiddlies and was accosted again, this time for not sitting down outside, by this time it was throwing it down and all the seats was soaking wet. We quickly eat our food and left, it was a shame the beer and food was really good, pity about the attitude, there was no signs anywhere informing of the ban on electronics, and I saw several locals in the smoking area using theirs. 

Stats for day 1

Distance: 63.49 miles. Elapsed Time: 9hrs 35mins 15secs. Moving Time: 7hrs 06mins 57secs. Weather Impact:  2.9%, Headwind: 54% @ 9-17.6mph, Longest Headwind: 01h 18m 23s, Air Speed: 8.8mph, Temp: 9.6-9.7°C, Precip: 40% @ 0.53 Inch/hr. Average Speed: 8.9mph. Max Speed: 29.1mph. Elevation Gain: 2,182ft. Maximum Elevation: 329ft.  Injures/mechanicals: Emmerson 3 (front derailleur not engaging big ring, Garmin turned itself of at 19 miles & smart watch battery died ). Williams 2 (jarred neck due to potholes, front derailleur cable slippage. High points: Tyne tunnel (although shorter than expected), Tommy the soldier sculpture at Seaham, reaching BB and first pint. Low points: Riding through Sunderland (signage poor) the rain, the rain & the sodding rain, attitude of staff at pub. 

Way of The Roses (Pub-2-Pub 2019)

Following on from two successful and enjoyable credit card multi-day cycling tours using a dedicated company to book the accommodation, transfer the luggage from accommodation to accommodation and to provide the planning of the route. We decided that this year we would do all the planning etc… ourselves. 

The route this year would be another iconic coast to coast route, The Way of the Roses (Morecambe to Bridlington), but in true Pub-2-Pub fashion we decided to do this in reverse. When researching the route and asking questions on several of the Facebook cycling groups we was informed that we would be mad doing this in reverse as the prevailing winds was west to east. But the deciding factor was transportation logistics to get to the start and back from the finish off the route. We again decided on late July for the trip to maximise the daylight hours and also for the weather, as it happened the date we decided on was the same weekend as the years before trip. 

For this years trip we had both decided on upgrading our bikes from hybrids to gravel bikes, Emmerson bought a second hand Frome Hooklaw. Whilst I wanted to get a Specialized Diverge, mainly for the future shock suspension system. But when I went in to my Local Bike Shop I was told that this and every other gravel bike was out of stock and would be for some time due to the high demand. As it happened they had a  Cannondale Touring 2 on display that was the right frame size, also was reduced in price by several hundred pounds, so I bought it there and then on the spot. Additionally this year we would be ridding with our luggage using bike packing bags, this was another expense but was offset by the choice of accommodation. 

I was in charge of planning the route and booking the accommodation, for the route planing I had heard about Komoot from the cycling groups on Facebook. There is a free version where you get a “region” of your choice or for a £35 one of fee you get the world. Accommodation wise would be Youth Hostels at York and Malham on the trip with the Premier Inn at Bridlington.

I arrived at the Son-in-Law #2 (Probationary) at 4pm of Thursday 19th July, unloaded from my car and proceeded to attach the handelbar, frame and seat post bags to my bike, whilst waiting for Emmerson to get home from work. We would be ridding from Camblesforth in North Yorkshire to get the train at Goole  over to Bridlignton,so that we could get in an early start the next morning.

Day 1 (Bridlignton to York)

Sunny start with some occasional scattered showers for the first part of the day, following the obligartory photos at the Way of The Roses marker on the seafront we set off, the route took us through Bridligton old town out into the Yorkshire Wolds on quite undulating roads and lanes. About 10 miles prior to Pocklington the sky’s turned black, hail and heavy rain fell soaking us to the bone.

We stoped for lunch in Pocklington to dry off and to let the rain clear, once we had cleared the town on our re-start I managed to get myself stung by what I thought was nettles, but must have been some other plant, lower leg stung the rest of the day and night. Weather gradually got better in the late afternoon and we was on track for getting into York in fairly early. We was supposed to be meeting up with some friends of Emmerson’s in York for a night on the tiles, unfortunately this was cancelled a qiuck change of plans was decided, we would be meeting up with Daughter #3 with Grandchilds #3 and #5 of 6 for a meal and a few drinks. The hardest part of day one was finding the YHA in York, my Garmin had thrown a hissy fit and was sending us all other the place. We almost rode past it as the bleeding machine was trying to send us back to the point we had deviated from the route, (Skynet does not like us finding our own way, and was adamant that we would ride back and pick up the route it wanted us to take!). Luckily I happened to look to my left to check for traffic before turning onto the road and happened to see the sign for the YHA.

We took the opportunity to unload some kit from our luggage to lighten our loads, overpacking seams to be our thing!! This was handed over to my daughter when we met her in York City Centre. The weather was bright and sunny when we left the YHA, should have taken our rain coats, it was bucketing it down when we left the restaurant and we had a long walk back. Two drowned rats arrived back for a final beer before retiring for another hot shower and to get the wet cloths dried. 

Statistics for day

Distance: 63.65 miles. Riding time: 5hrs 55mins. Rain: Biblical. School Children almost ran over; 1.322 (school out rambling the Yorkshire Wolds). Exotic animals: 1, baby giraffe (according to Emmerson). Toffees awarded: 4 each. Pints drunk: Several each Guinness (Emmerson) and speckled  hen (Williams). Incidents/Ouches: Emmerson 3, mounting bike, dismounting bike and skidding on gravel. Williams 2, stung by exotic plant, leg still stinging at 8.15pm, hit pot hole and jared poorly arm.

Day 2 (York to Malham)

Left York after a rather greasy breakfast at the YHA (what would you expect for £5 for the pair of us), followed the River Ouse out of the City, today would be another day of two halves, first half flat and fast to Ripon where we stopped for lunch near to the Cathedral. Had to pop into Boots in Rippon to get some medication form my leg, which was still stinging from yesterday. Ripon would also be the last of the flat easy riding. We was following the Way of the Roses official cycling route which took us through the grounds of Fountains Abbey which had a long climb through the grounds. as soon as we left the Abbey ground the hills started as did a rather nasty sidewind. Arrived in Pateley Bridge in a decent enough time, we should have taken the time to have a snack stop. little did we know of the hellish hill climbs to come all the way to Malham.  We did find a rather remote cafe at Stumps Cross Caverns, Emmerson had the right idea and had a snack, whilst I was still not hungry.

The wind speed had picked up and was gusting quite badly every time we passed an opening in the drystone wall that was on either side of the road. I’ve got to admit that the scenery was outstanding which didnt help when my mind wandered from controling the bike. We dropped down into the Yorkshire Dales national park, through chocolate box villages and over old stone bridges spanning rivers and past full campsites. If it was not for the wind it would be glorious. The last 15 miles seemed to take forever, I swear mile 56 lasted for 10 miles in itself! As we was halfway up another of the endless climbs my phone went off, it was an old school friend who I had rang earlier in the day to wish happy birthday. He must have thought I was having an heart attack when I answered the phone trying to catch my breath.

We finally arrived at Malham and the YHA at 7pm almost 11hrs after leaving York, knackered and almost on our last legs. Luckily Malham is a tiny place with only 2 pubs to choose from, several pints latter and after stuffing our faces with food we fell into our beds. Although sleep was no sound due to the presence of a very loud group of Irish guests staying at the gimping pods on the grounds of the YHA. I suffered for a couple of hours, but eventually had enough, getting up at 1am and  bellowing at the top of my voice for them to F off to bed!

Statistics for day

Distance: 67.82 miles. Riding time: 7hrs 32mins (total elapsed time: 11hrs 28mins). Weather: a wee bit blustery!!!  Exotic animals encountered: Horse-cows (ask Grandchild #5 of 6!!!), a spiky thing 9hedgehog), gazelles (Williams hallucinating again) and 1 dragon hatching 3 eggs. Dead X-men’s graves: 1 (Wolverine). Toffees awarded: quite a few. Incidents/ouchies: Emmerson 2, bike fell over, gouged leg (attacked by pedal). Williams 3, bike fell over twice and damaged front light on second time bike fell over. Pints drunk: several each, Hetton’s dark horse pale ale.

Day 3 (Malham to Morecambe)

Our legs was like jelly following yesterday’s epic (for us) ride. Had another rather disappointing breakfast, would rather had porridge and fruit than the greasy fry up on offer. Loading up our bikes after breakfast we left not looking forward to retracing our steps for about 5 mile uphill back to where we left the cycle route yesterday. 

We was heading to Settle and whilst the climbs today would not be as bad as yesterdays they was still long and steep. The one saving grace was that we would be descending down to Settle and not climbing out of it, we passed some dejected looking cycle tourists struggling with fully laden bikes going the opposite direction uphill, I lost my bottle and had to push my bike down the last quarter. into Settle. 

Arriving at Clapham we had to stop at the village shop to pick up some indigestion tablets, that breakfast was repeating, we decided to also have a short break and a snack stop. Leaving Clapham behind us we skirted the outside of the Forest of Bowland, climbing until we had reached our last hill, we dropped down into the Lune Valley.

Following the river Lune cycle path we made up quite a bit of our loss time on the flat fast path into Lancaster and onwards to our finish at Morecambe. But Skynet had one last try at making our trip longer than it should have been by trying to send us down a busy dual carriageway. Rejoining the cycle path we passed through a industrialised landscape until we rounded a corner to spy the seafront and the Way of the Roses marker. As we was taking the pictures of the end of the route, Emmerson’s father came around the roundabout, now that’s timing! We had two last things to do the first was to find Eric Morecambe’s statue for more photo’s and the second was to have the obligatory last beer of the trip before the journey back to North Yorkshire.

On the car journey back I reminisced on our trip, I was glad the we did this journey in reverse, I think I would have given up by the time we got to Pateley Bridge. Yorkshire hills are underestimated, they should be reclassified as mountains!!

Statistics for day

Distance: 44.19 miles, Riding time: 4hrs 47mins (6hr 06mins (total elapsed)). Hills: many (enough said!), Weather: not as blustery as yesterday! Exotic animals: more horsecows and clouds with legs. Toffees awarded: 2 each. Pints drank: 1 each (Doombar).


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