The weather was just on the turn, summer into autumn, and I found myself on a bike ride with no biking chums for the weekend. What`s a gal to do but don her leathers and get the funk out, solo style!
I decided to treat myself to my favourite dales ride, with the intention of taking the `teashop challenge`, and playing Russian Roulette with my bladder as a result. There are some great watering holes around on my chosen route (Settle, Hawes, Sedbergh, Otley), however, there I was, 40 miles down the road with my phone, map and purse still sitting on the kitchen table!
I`d gone up the A65 through Ilkley to Gargrave and then on to the back roads to Malham, doubling back into Settle. I passed through small hamlets with the sun glinting off the road, neatly avoiding farm animals (2 ducks, 3 chickens, 1 dog and a ginger cat to be precise), I`d skirted up Cove Road passing Malham Cove, the fabulous Yorkshire limestone pavement, stopping only to open farm gates on that single track road into Settle. It felt good to be alive (if only I could have got rid of that flippin` song Dancing Queen, like an earworm it had burrowed deep into my brain agghhh, I wasn’t feeling the beat of the tambourine or the beat of my tea purse).
Tea, tea everywhere but not a drop to drink…….but was that a devil on the bridge?
After not stopping for my first cuppa in Settle, I carried onto Devils Bridge (Kirby Lonsdale) to see if I could get a fellow biker to buy me a brew, but to no avail. So many bikers, but not one of them did I recognise, although I did have a brief chat with an elderly gent on a Goldwing. I walked onto the Bridge to see how deep the river was and passed a half naked chap with goose pimples standing atop. He was ready to plunge himself headlong into the cool waters below, and, just as I turned my head to listen to a passerby tell me a chap had been fined earlier in the week for doing the self same thing, we heard a whoah followed by `splash`…..Thirsty work I thought, time to move on. So with a dry throat, but a song in my heart, the road to Hawes via Sedburgh beckoned.
The Bike Show……. in Hawes
I`ve always thought of Hawes as the biker tea Mecca of the Dales. It was so busy that I couldn`t easily find a place to park. It was like a bikeshow, every type of moto-machine on show. Each of their owners clad in expensive leathers, I felt quite overwhelmed, and under labelled by it all. So without stopping and obviously missing out on another teashop, I took my favourite line towards home. That back road from Hawes over `the tops` to Kettlewell has to be one my favourite roads in the Dales; the vista coming down the dale with Inglebrough hovering in the background. It was catching the hazy sunshine. It’s always quite stupendous, and this particular day didn`t disappoint. There was a big sky. All the peaks were layered behind each other like a decoupage greetings card.
I continued on until I passed Bolton Abbey. A12th-century Priory overlooking the River Wharfe, nestled in the lands of the Duke of Devonshire. Another cracking beauty spot with more enticing teashops…but none for me.
So, nearly home now, and I was parched. I was a husk, a shadow, a dehydrated shrunken skull inside a helmet in desperate need of a kettle. Thank goodness the homestead was in sight.
Next time, I`m heading out with the Lippy Ladies, a fabulous all female motorcycle ride out group; bet they won`t let me down on the tea run!