Middlethorpe-Tadcaster-Collingham-Harewood-Otley-Ilkley-Skyreholme. 50 miles.
Click here for a map of the route.
It was an excellent stay at Middlethorpe Hall, very cycle-friendly with locked storage for the bike and not even a hair turned at our lycra-clad arrival. Our courtyard room was lovely, and we had an excellent meal in the dining room. It’s a William III house, once turned into a night-club but now restored to its former glory. It’s quite close to the A64 (and to York Racecourse), but we couldn’t hear any road noise from our room or from the dining room.
We decided to come back on a different route, partly for variety, and partly to avoid having to come up the hill from Pateley Bridge, to be honest. It started on quiet flat roads, with a nasty headwind and a little rain, but we remembered to shout ‘Bum rest’ at each other every so often (see yesterday….). We were soon at Tadcaster, where we joined the main Wetherby Road. Not a good choice – like so many A-roads it was very busy, which is fine if cars give you enough room, but there are always one or two who get closer than you’d like. Our planned LEJOG route avoids A-roads as far as possible, and the Wetherby Road reminded us why. The first rolling hills started to appear before we got to Boston Spa (humming Kaiser Chiefs’ ‘High Royds’ to ourselves), and then it was a long steady climb up past East Keswick and down the other side to Harewood. It seemed to take ages to get to Otley, not helped by indecisive road signs (13 miles, no 10 miles, no 12….), but the sky had brightened considerably and a lunch stop at Ikley was now in sight.
It’s a lovely quiet rolling ride from Otley to Ikley through Weston and Askwith, following the River Wharfe as we had done pretty much since leaving York. We’d made good time, and braved the Easter holiday hoardes at Pizza Express for lunch. After a quick provisioning stop at Tesco (and a chat with a lady who remembered her parents riding tandems for years and was delighted to see that it was still popular), we rode past the golf club, down through Nesfield and on to Bolton Abbey. After a slight knee-twang at East Keswick, the power from the stoker at the back was a little diminished, but we made it up through the Strid and on home.
On this trip, we’d hardly felt the weight of the panniers, although we were only carrying overnight gear, and we’d made very good time. Perhaps it’s not so bad after all, this flat terrain. Not much of it on the Land’s End to John o’Groats route though…!