Well that’s all gone rather well. Yesterday I spent all evening watching TV, eating and drinking. (For one week at least, Tuesday night was the new Friday night…) I kept staring at the rug in my living room where I normally assembly a pile of cycling kit prior to setting off on an escape into the unknown (well, not quite but…) in the forlorn hope of doing so again. But in the end I didn’t bother. Mañana… Instead, after the Bake Off, I embarked upon an epic two-part documentary about North Korea on BBC Four (which I highly recommend). It was the documentary equivalent of a James Bond movie. The upshot was that no kit preparation took place until this morning. When this morning arrived, I managed to do the job rather swiftly. Perhaps the secret is not to be intent on taking an organised picture of your kit and just pile it up on the floor regardless at the last minute.
Panniers packed, I gave Wanda a quick once over and… Mmm… I haven’t actually ridden her for three weeks and the back tyre was surprisingly deflated. Far from flat but I do wonder if I might have a very slow puncture in the rear tube. Something to keep an eye on. Once reinflated I was ready to go and so I did.
Despite only being away for three nights, there is little that I haven’t brought with me today that I didn’t take with me in the summer on the round-Britain tour. No tent this time, of course, as I’m in a YHA ‘camping pod’ (more of that in a moment) but enough to make use of four panniers although not quite to fill them to the brim.
Via coffee in Halifax and a train via Bradford to Skipton, I arrived in the latter shortly after midday. I am intent on not doing anything at speed in the next four days so was in no rush to head off in the direction of Malham. Instead I pushed the bike through the town and sheltered under the arched entrance of the castle as a passing shower did its business.
I had only looked at the map to investigate route options whilst on the train and was delighted to discover that the Leeds-Liverpool Canal links Skipton to Gargrave allowing me to stay clear of the main road. A lovely bit of canal cycling it was too. Lots of pauses to take photos, video etc… You may have to wait a few weeks for the results. There will also be a podcast, I hope.
Gargrave offered another opportunity to wander. Who would have known it had Roman origins? Well, I do now after spending 5 minutes reading the information board outside the public toilets that told me so…
…Then onto the backroads to Airton and Malham. Hilly but hardly strenuous. I chatted at length with a retired financial consultant who was cycling his Moulton bike near the beautiful Friar Hall. He’d been all over on the diminutive design-classic glory and he gave me a fascinating run down of the technical side of things. I understood about 10% which, for me, is good going.
Then into the familiar village of Airton – unchanged since I cycled through in 2009 – and onwards to Kirby Malham…
…a celebratory pint at The Buck Inn and the youth hostel ‘camping pod’. Although it is lacking a decent view, it is compact, bijoux and a darn site warmer than a tent:
I may not be in a tent but some camping traditions are hard to discard. Guess what it was for dinner…?
Tomorrow? Who knows? A bit of cycling, pottering, procrastinating, investigating, peering, staring, stopping, sketching, photographing, videoing, podcasting…
And here’s a bit of history: