THE WAY OF THE ROSES
coast to coast
Morecambe - Lancaster - Settle - Malham - York - Bridlington
In an attempt to make the most of the end of summer after a long period of recovery from my broken elbow. Myself and good buddy Elliott set out on the 175mile coast to coast route from Morecambe to Bridlington over 3 days. The route spans the northern counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire, and is known as The Way of the Roses. Referring to Lancashire's red rose and Yorkshire's white. Lancashire is my home county, but I also have an equal love for Yorkshire (I'm not really into the rivalry) and I love the tea. Myself and Elliott both met at university in Leeds West Yorkshire, but rarely got out into the countryside, so this was a good opportunity to make up for lost time.
We began our journey at Morecambe sea front, on a wet and windy day typical of the northern english summertime. Keen to warm up, we shot the obligatory start photos and pedalled onward to Lancaster.
Above: crossing the river lune as we pass through Lancaster.
After a short pedal along the sea front we where soon off the road and onto a cycle path which would take us directly into Lancaster and where we would then join the scenic Lune river cycle path. Before long we where out into the rolling green hills of Lancashire, and onto the quiet country roads.
Above: Our first stop - That barn was a perfect excuse to stop for a snack and take some pictures of our laden steeds.
The route transition from Lancashire into Yorkshire took us on some pretty epic roads and rolling hills. The moody skies and glossy greens, accentuated the iconic fields, hills, and stone that make this area unique. It some how looks 'right' when it's wet and cloudy.
Arriving in clapham we stop at our first cafe. Probably a popular stop off as its right on the route. Inside it was an unusual looking setup; pretty much someones front room with a few extra tables coupled with a healthy dose of eccentricity and classical music?
All the small settlements and villages along the way of the roses where gloriously picturesque, and a reminder of the simple rural life that many of us forget still exist outside our towns and cities. Settle, one of the larger villages on the route has an unmatched Flat cap Yorkshire'ism about it: the fields, the sheep, the rocks, the maze of guinells leading in an around houses to back doors and shops. All proudly presented with plants, weathered stone, and old wood. It was hard not to be overcome by a nostalgic love for the features and character of these villages. Places where everyone knows everyone. With a distinct desire to keep it as it is.
Maybe they should have used settle as the template for modern Britain.
I think settle wins the award for the best sign I've ever seen for a place anywhere.
Being a finishing point for the 'Tour De Yorkshire 2016', Settle certainly made the effort to decorate the town, as did many of the other small villages along the route. The E.T painting was particularly brilliant on the side of the 'Old naked man' where we stopped for our lunch.
After binging on a sandwich, a coffee and a few beers we found the local supermarket to stock up on supplies for the evening. Red Wine and Chilli con carne with Rice was our chosen dish.
Now heavy laden we set off out of Settle upward on a cobbled path that later became tarmac and ascended steeply... A climb noted on the map to be significant, which we certainly underestimated. Of course this was made easier by our pre-climb prep: of a belly full of beer and food.
Before long the climb levelled out and we caught our breath. Taking a slight detour we headed off route ditching our bikes in a field behind a drystone wall. Seeking out Scalebar force. Yes, for some reason waterfalls have really awesome names. The path down to the waterfall was nothing short of steep, and the days rain certainly made it slippery. Which in our cycling shoes certainly made for an entertaining decent. The water was icey but we still managed to get a quick splash under the falls, before eventually clambering back up the path and continuing on toward Malham cove.
THAT BLACKBURN CAGE IS JUST FINE FOR YOUR RED WINE
Malham cove - A 230ft vertical limestone wall. The remnant of a waterfall carrying meltwater from glaciers over 12,000 years ago.
Our planned camp spot at Malham cove turned out to be way more touristic than I had initially assumed, but I guess it's not really surprising when you see it. It's pretty damn spectacular. Here we enjoyed a few tasty stubbys from Beaver town brewery that we purchased earlier, (not exactly local but, small enough to carry) enjoyed the surroundings, and proceeded to ponder where we could pitch up for the night...
Above: "hmm what about up there?"
Above: UP THERE!
We eventually decided to climb up to the top of the cove, in the hope of a good camp spot and 'greener grass'. After we trudged through much sheep excrement, carried the bikes over numerous obstacles, up steps, and some small rocky traverses, we finally found a suitable spot. Flat, green and hopefully out of sight.
We had our much earned grub, polished off the red wine, and enjoyed the last few hours of light. With our tents set up facing east we went to bed with high hopes of a good sunrise. Eagerly I awoke early to greet the new day, I unzipped my tent with excitment to find a disappointingly overcast sky. Never mind.
With slightly more distance to cover today after our fairly 'steady' first day we had to really get a move on and crunch some miles. We've already done all the big hills anyway, right?
Breakfast: Elliott cooked the oats on his new jet powered stove and I put a brew of coffee on. In no time we where caffeinated and shovelling down our burnt oats to minimise any taste being left in our mouths. Simmer next time!
We decided to exit our campsite via a neighbouring field, with the hope of a speedier getaway. Unfortunately it turned out to be much longer, much more hassle and yes we got covered in even more sheep shit. We at least got a nice descent back down to Malham village, whilst attempting to dodge the flying faeces spraying off our tyres and into our faces.
We most certainly underestimated the amount of hills there where after Malham it was a continually up and down affair for most of the day. After a fairly lengthy yet scenic ascent we also hit the highest point of the ride at 404m. Which was followed by the notoriously steep and dangerous decent into Pately bridge. Which was great fun! Although, I would advise checking your brakes prior to descending.
Above: Typical of the Yorkshire dales; green rolling hills, drystone walls, and cloud followed by spells of 'liquid sunshine'.
After Pately bridge the climbs began to ease and we took a detour to the noted landmark: "Brimham Rocks". Which all be it an amazing and unique formation of weathered stone turned out to be a huge disappointment due to the unbelievable amount of people that where there. I can't even describe how busy it was. Maybe one stop to avoid on a Sunday in the midst of summer.
Unfortunately by the time we got there we were pretty tired and in need of fuel. So we joined the masses and queued for some food. Fortunately the food didn't dissapoint.
We got out of there as soon as possible, not before Elliott decided to fall over in front of a large group of people. As the day progressed we left the hills and gradients behind us and our progress to York improved.
We arrived at our big milestone for the day; the historic city of York, with the sun now shining we weaved our way into the city centre via a scenic cycle path, following the river Ouse. Further into town tired and weary we sought out a decent spot in the sunshine for our victory pint. To our surprise for a centrally located pub in a scenic spot the pints where two pounds fifty'ish. It would have been rude not to have a few whilst enjoying the evening sun.
Eventually we had to make our way out of York and onward to find a 'campsite'. Well 'oiled', we clambered back on to our steeds and set off to gather a fresh supply of food for the evening. Pasta, crisps, another bottle of red, and we where on our way.
Just a few miles out of York and we where back in the countryside enjoying the dwindling evening light, as we searched for 'Hagg wood' the woodland we planned to camp in.
After a brief reconnaissance of the wood we chose a suitable spot, just in time to enjoy the evening light as it shone over the fields and through the trees. We set up our tents on a patch of dry leaves. This provided multiple inconveniances:
- Loud crispy noises at any slight movement
- If you happened to drop anything it seemed to disappear completely
- Anything that didn't have leaves in before is now full of leaves.
Hungry we proceeded to cook the pasta before building the obligatory fire as we supped the wine into the night.
HOME IS WHERE YOU PARK IT
Today we were up early and conscious of our mileage for the day. The train back to Lancaster was a 4hour gruel, and Elliott had to drive home that evening. Arriving in Bridlington in good time was essential.
Honing his new stove and exploring its simmering capabilities we ate a fine bowl of un-burnt oats.
Deviating from the path and "wild camping" meant we found this woodland. It was a great place to camp, and consequently we enjoyed some all be it short but sweet off road single track. A welcome change from the tarmac.
I'm a big fan of detours. Especially on well trodden routes such as this. It really allows for a healthy dose of spontaneity and uncertainty that really makes the experience. Often you come across tracks and trails that look inviting, and its often a good idea to go and check them out.
As good as Ell's make shift setup was (most of the time) it was slightly out of its depth when hitting a few roots and ruts. He also completely tipped over whilst turning round for the picture above: falling and disappearing into the ferns.
THE YORKSHIRE WOLDS
Flat, fields, postcard villages and more fields
The Wolds was not really an area I'd ever heard of or thought of going to, but I guess thats the beauty of this medium of travel: you see so many things that aren't mentioned on maps, or you even think exist.
Well we did come across some hills, and a great section of riding for the day. Plus we were blessed with some warm weather.
SEEDS AND PEAS
As we neared our destination we began to climb again, and on the high ground we could even see the sea. Like a watched pot we never seemed to actually get there despite being able to see our destination. Usually we would have happily continued enjoying the ride, but our impeding train time was looming and we wanted a chance for a breather and a beer on arrival. After some intensive pedalling we soon realised we where fighting a losing battle, and not enjoying the last stage of our ride. As a result we opted to get a later train so we could enjoy the last section of the ride.
Bridlington: Ending in style and feeling triumphant we had just enough time to strip off for a quick dip, before navigating our way to the train station. Fortunately for us the station had its own pub so we also got our victory pint and a brief moment to unwind just before our train arrived.
I'd highly recommend this route to anyone, Its a great way to see some amazing scenery and experience everything Lancashire and Yorkshire have to offer. Thanks to Sustrans for their easy to follow map and well thought out route. You can find more information on this route and many more across the UK at the Sustrans site
Thanks to Elliott for his additional photos and you can find this trip and many more documented over at his site: See Outside
Above: As typical as it gets.