Early Sunday morning is generally a lazy time for us but when we are travelling, Sunday is much like any other day. We rose early and packed up. Jane kindly got up to see us off, but this is not a time on a Sunday which works well for her – so thanks for the effort!
The first few km were through the Bradford suburbs, with houses getting larger and the number and size of the cars increasing as we headed away from the city centre. The road ambled up and down, and then we descended towards Shipley, near where we were yesterday. Then up and out onto a farmland area with the moors in the distance. The pictures speak for themselves, but it was stunning country.
After about 15km we came to Ikley, which was just setting up for what looked to be a brilliant food festival – almost as good as the ones we have in Bewdley. There were stalls selling hot and cold food, cheese, wine and pastries. If it had been 15km further on we would have stopped and indulged, but we felt we had only just got going and it was too early to stop. So with a heavy heart, we cycled past all the stalls without stopping. Possibly a mistake? We will never know.
Then we joined a quiet, undulating road towards Bolton Abbey. It was quiet of cars but busy with MAMILS – middle aged men in lycra on expensive cycles, going much faster than us. Some were in ‘trains’ where everyone was wearing the same kit! About 95% men and all fully kitted out, strava was no doubt engaged and heads down. I hope we did not lower the tone too much but there is no doubt ‘Yorkshire cycles’ – we must have seen several hundred cyclists over the morning.
We reached the impressive remains of Bolton Abbey after 30km, and stopped for a bacon and egg buttie and coffee – totally fit the bill. Then we ambled around the site for an hour, but could not go in the church because there was a service going on.
The Abbey must have been magnificent and a rival for the more famous Fountains Abbey (on the other side of the Dales) in its heyday. It was dissolved by Henry VIII in the dissolution of the monasteries in 1519. Once we saw how powerful it must have been, we understood why Henry felt he had to remove this alternative source of power in his country.
Then we ambled through the Dales for the rest of the day. Pictures are better than words at this point, but it was the end of half term and, as we followed the Wharfe valley, families were everywhere having fun in the river, cycling, walking and lazing in the sun. The Dales felt like a playground for the surrounding towns – well used and much loved.
Our route took us up a steep climb but, after seeing a sign which warned of 25% gradients, we decided to take a longer but less challenging route which took us up and into Wensleydale. We searched for Cranberries but saw none – a joke for Pippa.
We finally got to the campsite about 5. Once we had set up we went for a walk and spent 15 minutes watching a group of curlews, flying around, screeching to each other in their distinct call and generally (we assume) protecting their nests in the long grass from intruders (and they may have thought we were in that category). Their flight was low, fast and accurate. It was a total privilege to observe them, but we moved on in case we were the cause of their angst.
A long day but brilliant one which we will always remember for the views of the Dales.