Back in May, when the sun was beating down and the temperatures slowing rising (not sure what happened there…), I discussed some tentative plans to take Wanda (that’s the new bike, Wanda WorldTraveller of course – keep up!) for her first proper ‘adventure’ along the coast of Yorkshire. This is what I wrote at the time:
As you know, I did pick up the new bike in June – a week earlier than planned – and I did start to look into the logistics of the trip to the Yorkshire. The east coast / EuroVelo 12 in Yorkshire is blessed with some handily-located Youth Hostels, in Beverley, Scarborough, Boggle Hole and Whitby so, as a card-carrying member of the YHA but also someone who doesn’t make use of youth hostels half as much as he should, it was by far the best option for accommodation. However… when I initially looked into the possibility of booking myself into three of above-mentioned hostels on three consecutive nights in July or August, it sent my biological algorithms into overdrive and after many attempts and many minutes on the YHA website, I put the planning aside for another day. It did appear that it simply wasn’t feasible due to beds in shared dorms being fully-booked.
One evening this week, tired after a long day at work, I tried again and, much to my surprise and delight, I managed to do what I had so successfully failed at doing in early June. Within a matter of a few minutes, I had booked accommodation in dorm rooms on three consecutive nights in Beverley, Scarborough and Whitby for Tuesday 6th, Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th of August. How does that work?! Such is my scepticism that something that had once seemed an impossibility had become such an easy possibility, I’ve consulted the confirmation email once again and checked. Yep. I did it! How strange…
With train tickets from Huddersfield to Hull and from Middlesbrough back home booked for the Tuesday morning and Friday evening, I have myself a mini-adventure of four days of cycling. Now I’m not usually one to plan in too much detail. So much can and does go ‘wrong’ (often in a good way) that takes you away from your well intentioned plan. That’s certainly true if you are cycling across a continent and the best policy is just to wing the whole thing. I think four days along the Yorkshire coast does, however, afford a little scope for some forward planning. I’ve already done that with the accommodation and the trains so let’s see what I can come up with in terms of the cycling….
Basically, I’ll be following the route of the EuroVelo 12, otherwise known as the North Sea Cycle Route. Probably one of the less glamorous of the EuroVelos, but, passing as it does through Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and the UK, it certainly doesn’t lack cycling credentials. The aforementioned countries – with the lamentable and obvious exception of the UK – would be in most people’s top ten easiest places to cycle in the world so a cycle route linking them together is not to be sniffed at.
In the UK the route piggybacks upon the National Cycle Route 1. Here’s what Sustrans has to say about it:
“Route 1 is an incredible long-distance cycle adventure stretching 1,695 miles from Dover to the Shetland Islands, through some of the UK’s most stunning scenery. If you’re looking for an inspirational long-distance cycle route then look no further.”Sustrans.org.uk
I have actually cycled parts of the route before. Back in 2010, en route to southern Italy – see Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie for the full story – I tried to cycle the section of route 1 from London in the direction of Canterbury but only with moderate success as the signs sent me on a rather jumbled and confusing route through the back streets of Kent in an attempt to avoid the pencil-straight A2 road. In Rochester I remember risking my liberty by deviating through the cycling-prohibited Rochester Tunnel. I’m probably still a wanted man in the eyes of the Kent Constabulary. I have heard more positive things about that section of the route since 2010 so I’m hopeful that things has improved.
At the other end of the country, I also cycled a portion of route 1 in the north of Scotland in 2014. In those parts the cycle path followed the much quieter coastal roads of Caithness and Sutherland and, despite some fearsome weather, it was a memorable place to be travelling on two wheels…
You can read the full account of that Scottish trip on this page of CyclingEurope.org. But back to the Yorkshire coast and August 2019:
Day 1: Tuesday 6th August – The Humber Bridge to Beverly
The logistics of getting a train from West Yorkshire to a point south of the Humber Bridge – where the EuroVelo 12 enters Yorkshire – defeated me. There is a train station at a small place called Barton-Upon-Humber on the south side of the Humber Estuary but to get there would require a tortuous journey with three changes so I have taken the easy (and surprisingly cheap) option of going directly to Hull. In a way this is quite nice as it was Hull station through which I passed in the final stages of my long return journey from Nordkapp back in 2015…
…and I shall now be back at Hull station at 9:45am on Tuesday 6th August albeit on a different bike. There’s a good chance the train itself won’t have received a similar transformation.
Hull itself is not on the EuroVelo 12 as you can see in the map below…
…and it’s at this point I mention an email that arrived this week from Liv Denne at Sustrans under the banner ‘National Cycle Network paths launched on OS Maps‘:
“We have joined forces to provide detailed, user-friendly and accurate information on the Network’s 16,575-miles of traffic-free and quiet on-road cycling and walking routes spanning the whole of the UK. This information will be available as a free layer on the OS Maps website and will help more people to discover routes in their local area and plan weekend trips away.”Sustrans press release
And it’s from that online map that I have taken the mapping screenshots in this post. Very useful and all credit to Sustrans and the Ordnance Survey for getting together and making such a tool available.
However, there is no way that I am going to Hull with my bicycle and not crossing the Humber Bridge. As the cycle from the Humber Bridge to Beverley along the EuroVelo 12 is only around 25 km I have plenty of time to make the crossing twice; first south and then back north to make a ‘proper’ start to the journey. I might even have time to pay a visit to Barton-Upon-Humber train station and reprimand someone for not have the foresight to be more directly connected to the train network.
I remember the Humber Bridge being built during the 1970s. Growing up in Yorkshire, it was a decade during which three things dominated the local news bulletins; the search for the Yorkshire Ripper, the goings-on at Yorkshire County Cricket Club (the Wikipedia entry for the club’s 1971-2000 period starts ominously ‘There followed a long-running current of unrest in the club…‘) and the construction of the Humber Bridge. Of the three, it was the only one which gave us a sense of pride, its 2,220 metres making it the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world, an accolade it kept hold of until 1998 when the pesky Japanese came along the whipped the title away. It is currently the 10th longest such bridge in the world, the equally pesky Chinese, Danes, Turks and South Koreans having also donned their hard hats and started building.
So, with an added 5km back and forth across the bridge and another 10km pootling from Hull to the bridge itself, we are looking at a ride of perhaps 40km in total on that first day of the four. That should leave me a little time to explore Beverley. I’ve never been there before but my Rough Guide to Yorkshire sings its praises noting its medieval layout and Georgian charms. The YHA youth hostel itself, located within an ancient friary, is probably worth a visit to the town on its own.
Day 2: Wednesday 7th August – Beverley to Scarborough
Beverley is about 20km from the coast but the EuroVelo 12 heads north rather than east out of the town in the direction of first Drifield before lurching north east towards Bridlington where, for the first time, the crystal blue shimmer of the North Sea can be glimpsed. [Are you sure about that?] It will be a challenge to fight the temptation of stripping down to my Speedos and diving in to soak up the sun and search out the coral reefs. [Mmm…]
The last time I was in Bridlington was when I was a student in York back in the late 80s. I went there as a member of the University Parachute Club which has, I note, now been renamed the University of York Skydiving Club which sounds far sexier. I also note that my Google Chrome browser tells me that the site is ‘not secure’ so I’m not sure I’d sign up again if I were a student today. They also appear to have abandoned Bridlington but the ‘skydiving’ centre is still there:
If GoPros and YouTube had existed in 1988 we might have been able to watch my efforts in the sky. My jumps were solo static-line affairs with the ‘line’ being attached to the pilot’s seat. If the rip cord didn’t rip as I was being pushed out of the doorless Cessna at 3,000 feet, either the pilot was coming with me or I was going to be left dangling on the underside of his plane. That didn’t happen but, somewhat curiously, all three of my jumps ended a little off-target in the same field of carrots.
From Bridlington the cycle route continues north within ear shot of the coast although never actually following the cliff edge. Perhaps that was a conscious decision by Sustrans in an attempt to future-proof their hard work as this stretch of coastline is notorious for being one of the fasting eroding places in Britain. If time permits, however (and I’m pretty sure it will), I will deviate slightly to Flamborough Head, the destination of choice for most geography field trips from schools across the north of England, including mine. We went there in the early 80s on a windswept day from hell (I remember asking my teacher if it was an example of a ‘hostile environment‘ and received a withering look in return) and they are still going today:
The pulling power of Filey might be easier to quell but Scarborough, with its dramatic, photogenic setting should be a highlight of the trip and the final destination of day two of the ride. YHA Scarborough is just north of the town centre. Overall it will probably be a ride of around 60km.
Day 3: Thursday 8th August – Scarborough to Whitby
On Thursday morning I’ll be heading to the Scarborough branch of Sainsbury’s…
…for it is here, in this illustrious supermarket car park, that the Cinder Track starts. I’ll be making use of this off-road route for the entire day, all the way to Whitby:
If you followed the link to my post from May at the top of this post, you’ll already know much about the Cinder Track. If you didn’t, OK… here it is again. First up, the official description courtesy of Scarborough Borough Council:
“From 1885 until it’s closure in 1965 the old railway line from Scarborough to Whitby took goods and passengers up and down the North Yorkshire coast. Now that it’s an off road route through the North York Moors National Park for walkers, horse riders and cyclists, where will it take you? You might decide to make a slight detour and visit one of the quiet bays such as Crook Ness, Cloughton Wyke, Hayburn Wyke, Stoupe Beck Sands or Maw Wyke Hole, or make a circular walk of it by taking in part of the Cleveland Way. You may prefer to stop for a pint at the Hayburn Wyke Hotel or for afternoon tea at the old station in Cloughton or the café in Ravenscar. You could hire a bike from “Trailways” at Hawsker. You can explore our early industrial heritage at the Peak Alum Works – the birthplace of the British chemical industry – where locally mined rock was combined with human urine, brought up by barge from London, to make Alum – which helps fix dye to cloth – for the emerging UK textile industry. You’ll be confounded by the town that never quite was at Ravenscar. You can stop to wonder at the 13 spans of the 120 feet (36.5 metre) high Larpool Viaduct over the River Esk in Whitby. Or you may simply want to take a bit of time to enjoy the numerous sights and pleasures of Whitby, Scarborough or Robin Hoods Bay. In an act of great foresight, Scarborough Borough Council bought the line shortly after it closed. Because the track ballast was made from cinders rather that crushed stone, many locals call it the “cinder track”. It now forms 21 miles (34.4 kms) of Route 1 of the National Cycle Network and the Friends of the Old Railway (www.friendsoftheoldrailway.org) are grateful for the support given by Sustrans, Scarborough Borough Council, the Groundwork Trust and the Big Lottery Fund.”http://www.scarborough.gov.uk
And here’s the map that is available to download from the Scarborough Council website:
I even have some photographs to show you that were sent to me by one of my neighbours after she cycled part of the route with her family earlier in the year:
I’m very much looking forward to arriving in Whitby. I have been before but it was many, many years ago and have forgotten most of its gothic nooks and crannies. With the Cinder Track only being around 35km long, I should have plenty of time upon arrival in Whitby to have a good old explore. The magnificently appointed youth hostel in Whitby just beside the ruins of the abbey will make for fun if creepy late-night cycle without the panniers around the headland. If I dare…
Day 4: Friday 9th August – Whitby to Middlesbrough
The final day of the short trip to the far east is much more east-west than south-north as I head in the direction of the train station at Middlesbrough, the most northerly town in Yorkshire. The Sustrans / OS map below makes no mention of Middlesbrough on the scale that includes the whole of the route from Whitby and the Rough Guide to Yorkshire ignores it completely which all seems a bit harsh so I’ve zoomed for a second screenshot:
There is actually a missing link in the EuroVelo 12 / NCN Route 1 just north of Whitby as you can see here:
And it’s something I spoke to Rupert Douglas about back in April 2018 for The Cycling Europe Podcast when I was starting to think about cycling around Yorkshire using the National Cycle Network (it’s still a work in progress…). He is the Network Development Manager for Sustrans in Yorkshire and this is what he had to say:
It will be interesting to see if I can continue to cycle along the coast from Whitby. Watch this space. Whitby to Middlesbrough via route 165 along the Esk Valley would be at least 60km. Along the coast – my preferred route – a few kilometres less.
Wanda and I are booked on the 17:55 from Middlesbrough back to Huddersfield that evening having an hour and a half to reflect upon what will hopefully have been an interesting few days on the bike. You will, of course, find out how I’m getting along right here at CyclingEurope.org.
Perhaps one day, I’ll complete the whole EuroVelo 12 / North Sea Cycle Route thing… Links and more information can be found on this page of CyclingEurope.org.