Author Topic: North of England Tour  (Read 649 times)

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Offline Becksy

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North of England Tour
on: August 04, 2021, 03:57:42 PM
I have just returned from a tour of the North of England on the good old XR. Did about 900 miles overall, had planned to do a bit more but cut one day short in the Lakes as was knackered and another short in the Dales as the rain was torrential. Here is a summary of the overall route. I actually live in Warwickshire so the journey started and finished there, but the “tour” started in Clitheroe and ended in Ashbourne:-



 

Day 1, Home to Ambleside. I headed up to Ambleside via the M6 and headed for Clitheroe to cross the Forest of Bowland. This was a nice ride along a virtually empty road, decent scenery, mainly moors and mostly straight, most of the road is indicated on maps as single track but easily wide enough for a car and bike to pass each other comfortably. Hardly anyone around as well which is a bonus. Then I headed along the A65 and joined all the traffic heading into the Lakes, heading for the quieter southern Lakes for a couple of introductory loops before arriving at my B&B ahead of the main day on the Lakes on Day 2. Route:- 




Day 2, a big day in the Lakes, Ambleside loop. I headed off nice and early to avoid any traffic as was heading straight for the challenging passes first, headed directly from Ambleside to Wrynose Pass. After crossing Wrynose Pass imagine my alarm as the bike’s dash started flashing and the bike cut out a couple of hundred yards before the bridge over the stream at Cockley Beck. It would not start for a short while. This was not what I needed when I was psyching myself up to go over Hardknott Pass! The bike wouldn’t start, no mobile signal obviously and quite possibly the most isolated point in England, imagine trying to get breakdown recovery over to me.... It was also light drizzle and damp roads with a fair amount of low cloud over Hardknott, but I could see the odd car descending and it looked like they were driving down vertically (gradients up to 33%). 

Lo and behold, after about 10 minutes the bike decided to start again and I cracked on towards Hardknott, stopped at the bottom and had a chat with a cyclist who was attempting to cycle up it. I remember driving over Hardknott when in my 20s, and that it was quite challenging in a car. It was tricky, the visibility didn’t help, but got to the top with no dramas. Descending on the other side was also not easy, due to a very poor road surface (I was actually happy I wasn't ascending from the west). I stopped about half way down to enjoy the views and be entertained by others going up. It was early though so not much in the way of traffic, only saw one other biker going up on my way down on something Scrambler style, gunning it and really concentrating, so barely saw me wave to him. 

After that I headed to Wastwater which was dramatic with Illgill Head running along the south eastern edge of the lake. It was relatively calm, lots of people heading there as it is a main start point for the hike up Sca Fell Pike. From there it was to Calder Bridge then over the moors to Ennerdale at which point I joined another two bikers as we headed to Buttermere and Honister Pass on the B5289. This was a very twisty & enjoyable road spoilt by sh*t loads of car traffic creeping along at 25-30mph. As I was dropping into Buttermere the bike cut out again, but immediately started again, was also getting a bit low on petrol by this point, so was starting to feel a bit twitchy. Over Honister Pass and headed to Keswick at which point finally came across a petrol station. Both me, and my two accidental wingmen dived into the petrol station. The bike failed to start again after filling up, seat off and a check revealed  a loose battery connection. With that tightened up and a full tank, felt good about the rest of the day. 

The plan next was to head up to Bassenthwaite, and loop round on to Whinlater Pass, but I decided to just loop back down the A66 which was a mistake in hindsight, wish I’d gone through Whinlater Forest Park. Once back in Keswick, it was over to Troutbeck, dropping down to Ullswater for a cuppa in Glenridding. From there I went over the Kirkstone Pass, returning to Ambleside on the road known as The Struggle which is the right turn by the pub at the top of Kirkstone Pass. 

A great day, was only about 120 miles, but lots of slow hard riding and I took plenty of breaks. Cars were frustrating on slow twisty roads in many places. Day 2 route:-

 

 

Day 3, Ambleside to Whitby. I started the day with a short loop of Langdale, which is a stunning valley, although central it seems quite isolated from the surrounding areas, a good place to get away from the busier parts of the Lakes. Was almost caught out by a surprisingly steep exit of the valley with a few tight hairpins (thought I had done all those the day before!). Here’s the bike at the top of the valley looking back to Langdale:- 



 

From Langdale I headed back up the Struggle and down Kirkstone pass, along Ullswater and up to Penrith. My route then took me up the A686 to Alston. Who knew there were such amazing empty roads in this part of the country? Not me that’s for sure. This road took me up Gamblesby Fell to a height of almost 600m. I just couldn’t get over the emptiness and brilliance of the roads, some tight sections, and long sweeping bends with lots of visibility and views back all the way to the Lakes. From Alston I then took the B6277 down into Teesdale and toward Barnard Castle. Another great road, nothing but sheep farms along a beautiful valley. A really great road on which to test one’s eyesight. 

After lunch upon entering County Durham, the route took me towards the North York Moors via Middlesbrough. I lived in the north east for 4 years, so it was great to pass through again, even if I only clipped Country Durham, lovely to hear the accents in the petrol station. It was even good to see Middlesbrough and the transporter bridge from a distance. 

Into the Moors, I crossed the North York Moors twice, firstly on the B1257 and then on the A169. After nearly being taken out by a boy racer on the wrong side of the road, I stopped at Riveaulx Abbey ruins, also stopping at the Hole of Horcum on the A169. It was then off to Whitby for my overnight stop, some fish & chips and photos of another abbey. I also stumbled across the small Whitby Brewery on my walk back to the hotel, which is just by the Abbey – recommended. Day 3 route (about 200 miles) :- 

 


 

 

Day 4, Whitby to Skipton via the Moors and Dales. The objective for the start of the day was to cover some of the roads in the Moors that I didn’t ride the date before. The day started with a ride down the A171, quite a rapid road. At one point as I was approaching a long straight, a number of other vehicles, mainly vans & lorries, started to indicate to me that there may be something ahead that I should not speed up for. I was well below the speed limit, but didn’t pass the cars in front. A couple of GS’s passed as well, but they gave no indication that there was a camera van up ahead (come on GS riders, play your part!). 

Then it was back along the A170 where I hung a right at Kirbymoorside looking for the road to Castleton. Well, I missed that road, but sometimes it’s good to get lost. Found myself in the heart of the Moors, middle of nowhere, on some tight, twisty and scenic roads, eventually finding my way to Stokesley. From here a purely functional ride over to Richmond to head into the Dales. 

The main objectives for the Dales were Tan Hill and Buttertubs Pass. The ride to Tan Hill started at Richmond, heading through the lovely village of Reeth before up onto the windswept moors of the northern Yorkshire Dales. Very little in the way of traffic, and heading up to the Tan Hill Inn, was expecting a quiet empty pub. But no; busy, music, barking dogs and roaring fires. Believe me the fires were needed on this July day up in the Dales. 

After a quick refreshment, I took a loop via Kirby Stephen to Buttertubs Pass, which was unfortunately covered in low cloud, so no nice views as I gingerly made my way up and over in the wet. 

Following that, it was to Kirkby Lonsdale, Ingleton and then Ribblehead Viaduct. Now the rain closed in very heavily. I did plan to head up to Malham and loop round to Bolton Abbey, but the rain by this point was miserable, and discretion was the better part of valor, so took the direct route to the hotel in Skipton. 

Day 4 route, about 210 miles: 

 

 

Day 5, the final day dawned clear and sunny. Not really, it was hammering it down, and this was to be the least fun day I have ever had on the bike. The plan was to head directly south to Holmfirth and head through the Peak District. The rain was heavy as I rode the urban areas of Yorkshire. As I approached Halifax, I recalled that I had heard about The Piece Hall, an 18th century cloth market. I headed there to warm up with a cup of tea or two. An impressive location, looking like a plaza you’d find in southern Europe, and definitely worth a visit if you are passing. I am sure that if it was in a more renowned place we’d all know about it. 

After Halifax, I went via Holmfirth over Woodhead Pass to Glossop and over Snake Pass. Conditions were poor going over both, with limited visibility. As I headed in to the Hope Valley, things cleared up a bit. Up Winnats Pass to Buxton. After heading out of Buxton, I took what turned out to be a very narrow road down to a small village called Longnor, lots of gravel and mud, not really XR territory. After that, the torrential rain returned and quickly became too much, therefore took a direct route to Ashbourne and then back home to Warwickshire, I was only missing out the Cat and Fiddle which has been ruined by the 50mph limit and average speed cameras so no big loss. 

The worst moment of the tour came on the way home as I hopped on to the A38 briefly at Alrewas to Lichfield. The rain was torrential, I merged on to the dual carriageway between 2 lorries and at that point saw a third lorry overtaking the second lorry, I was about to be boxed in on 3 sides by HGVs, do I stay or apply some throttle to escape? If I had held, the spray plus the rain would have meant I could see nothing, I decided to apply some throttle and escape on to clear road before the 3rd HGV pulled alongside. It was a dangerous situation and I don’t particularly like to think back about it. The slip road was short and flat, I had little choice to merge where I did, no room to accelerate ahead of the first lorry and at that point I couldn’t see the 3rd HGV. Had I known it was there I would have stopped on the slip road and waited. Day 5 route from Holmfirth to Ashbourne (though started in Skipton and finished in Warks) 





 

Overall a fantastic tour, even though Day 5 was awful, the previous days were great fun, rode some great roads, and saw parts of the country that I had never seen before. The North Pennines AONB was a revelation, I must return to that area and also head a bit further north up to the borders in the future (ticking off Whinlater Pass on the way). I saw more of the North York Moors than I had seen before, and also the Lakes. Though, top tip for the Lakes, even though I was there mid-week, avoid school holidays, it was seriously busy and hard to get away from the traffic. I recommend everyone ride Wrynose and Hardknott at least once. 

As for the bike, it performed really well aside from the loose battery connection which was my fault (from installing heated gear wire harness). The only negative was that I would perhaps have preferred something slightly lighter on the most tight hairpins, did nearly tip it over once on one of them in the Dales. Having ridden the new XR, felt that would have been slightly more nimble in those situations, but not worth the cost to change, maybe the F900XR.... 

One thing I learnt is to take some waterproof over trousers. I wore my Dainese D-Stormer trousers that are great for the occasional shower but not suitable for torrential rain hour after hour. Jacket (Rukka) and lace up boots (TCX) were good and kept the water out, though the Rukka jacket was a bit too hot at the beginning of the week (at the tail end of the recent heatwave). In summary, all good but ended the fifth day with a wet backside. 

 
Last Edit: September 29, 2021, 08:57:32 AM by Becksy

#1

Offline sipaldi

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Re: North of England Tour
Reply #1 on: August 04, 2021, 04:06:03 PM
Excellent, glad you enjoyed it, nice write up  :062:

#2

Online wessie

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Re: North of England Tour
Reply #2 on: August 04, 2021, 04:27:40 PM
Yes, lots of nice roads up there. I did a few of them on the way up to Dumfries & Galloway a few weeks ago.

Forest of Bowland is great fun and usually very quiet. I am always amused by the name of the moor just south of Bentham: Moor Cock.

https://goo.gl/maps/FhrByACxWjWtvrFL8

#3

Offline jakebake

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Re: North of England Tour
Reply #3 on: August 04, 2021, 06:33:22 PM
There’s a place in Ireland called "ballylickey" on the beara peninsula that’s always makes me smile when pronounced in a the same way as “ball”.

My choice would be to stay in “Ballylickey” rather than “moor cock” !!

If anyone is going on tour in this area, let me know as I know some great very remote tracks over  mountains

#4

Online wessie

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Re: North of England Tour
Reply #4 on: August 04, 2021, 07:22:59 PM
*Originally Posted by jakebake [+]

My choice would be to stay in “Ballylickey” rather than “moor cock” !!


I'm easy. I could give or take both :164:

#5

Offline Becksy

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Re: North of England Tour
Reply #5 on: September 29, 2021, 08:58:55 AM
The village of Shatton in the Peak District always makes me smile.

#6

Offline Antares

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Re: North of England Tour
Reply #6 on: September 29, 2021, 07:28:01 PM
*Originally Posted by Becksy [+]
The village of Shatton in the Peak District always makes me smile.

I always ride through Cocking when I go down south near Loomies  :821: