Six Wheelers arrived at Reeth in Swaledale on a Sunday afternoon in July. After the long journey up the A1 we leapt on our bikes and pedalled off towards the highest pub in England. Not so easy ! As we left the green fields full of sheep and entered the moors the headwind increased and the hills stretched out far over the horizon. Finally, after increasing our altitude by 1100 feet we entered the Tan Hill Inn (1700ft) and satisfied our thirst and hunger. The return was miles of high speed freewheeling, the only worry being the cohorts of indecisive sheep around the road.

Monday saw us setting off in the sun over Grinton Moor to Wenslydale and a first stop at Aysgarth Falls for tea and cake at the mill. We then enjoyed the vision of the brown waters of the River Ure cascading over rocky steps for some half a mile. On our way through the woods to the downstream end of the Falls a Marsh Orchid and a Ringlet butterfly were spotted and we were spotted by a warden whilst cycling on the path !   On regaining the road we proceeded up the gorgeous Wenslydale to Askrigg for sustenance. The ham soup plus cheese scone plus cheese of the Dale sent all partakers to sleep in their chairs ! On recovery and in increasingly heavy rain we continued up the Dale before turning northwards over the moors to Swaledale, via the Buttertubs Pass. This route demonstrated that we were all capable of walking up steep bits of road. We rested at the Buttertubs, a series of pot holes in the limestone, and were admonished for our lingering by a rare Ring Ouzel which was nesting on the cliff down one of the holes. This road was used by the Tour de France in 2014 and amazingly the scheduled time from Weslydale to the Cote de Buttertubs, a run of some four miles with an ascent of 925ft, was ten minutes ! Oh well, they may have been quick, but they missed lingering over all those gorgeous views and the peace of the moors was really spoilt by hordes of cheering fans ! The descent to Swaledale on a winding road running with water was taken cautiously and we arrived back at the Buck Hotel with time to change for dinner after a route of some 27 miles with 2000ft of ascent.

On Monday we drove to view Hardraw Force, the highest waterfall in England, which was an amazing sight after the rain of the previous day. We continued on to Dentdale, parked at the station and cycled up the Dale. This area is still populated by Red Squirrels but we missed seeing any. We stopped at the Ribblehead Viaduct, wandered around it and mused at the thought that some thousand workers lived here to build the railway. Leaving Whernside behind, we pedalled down Ribblesdale past Ingleborough to Horton, the home of the third peak, Pen-y-ghent. Here we refreshed with a cream tea before catching the train back to Dent and crossing the famous viaduct. A sunny ride of some 13 miles through delightful countryside. Then, back to reality, the A1 and home, but with ideas of a future visit to explore more.


Tony Catchpole

ideas of a future visit to explore more.