What a day of contrasts Sunday was! We got up, looked out of the window and saw the beginnings of a beautiful day
We donned our winter kit ( a wise move as it happens ) got MISTRESS MABLE out and rode across to West Yorkshire, picking up Mark and Jeanette and their trike before riding off to the M62 westward to the A1 intersection then turned north. It was quite cold but very clear, the azure blue sky made one feel quite warm in spite of the true temperature outside our bike kit.
The plan was to zip up the A1 as far as Bedale; from there we would begin to explore the juicy back roads of The Yorkshire Dales. Our quick flight was unimpeded by the light Sunday morning traffic, Mark had just had the trike serviced so the exercise would make sure the new fluids would reach all moving parts quickly Our silver steed purred steadily at the usual low revs and cut a wave no slower than 70mph and made short work of the first boring seventy miles.
I brought Mistress Garmin alive as we let the A1 at Bedale, she had been sat dormant in the drawer during the winter month, she was on as a “just in case” and to exercise the electric circuits, her vocal cords and the several software updates. The slip road had been re vamped and re routed so It was no wonder then that she didn’t know her ass from her elbow for a couple of minutes.
Bedale was extremely quiet, we passed through and sat on the ass of an old enemy….a white campervan! I hoped we wouldn’t be seeing many of these things today! Seconds later I was by, we waited a moment or two for Mark to catch up, their trike needs just a bit more empty road than we do, in less than half a mile we are together again and surging onwards to Leyburn. The undulating hills, green field’s low tan coloured stone walls old solid stone dwellings with colourful well tended gardens, budding trees and shrubs reminded us again how beautiful England can be! It was great to be off the main trunk roads and onto our favourite country roads, granted one doesn’t chalk up the miles but hey such scenery!
From a sleepy Leyburn we turned north and towards the old tank road. This morning we saw plenty of soldiers on the ranges, to our left on the small arms range a female soldier turned to watch us pass as her comrades banged away with pistols. The large “live firing” flags were looking the worse for wear, the winds cracked and snapped the red cloth relentlessly, as we bounced along the narrow tarmac we braced ourselves for the northern wind as we crested the rise, I dropped my visor and wound my neck in as we hit the winds, I knew it was cold but felt nothing as my winter bike kit protected me, Julie was the same though we both felt the icy blast across our faces as it blew under our visors. Mark and Jeanette had full face helmets so probably felt nothing and anyway it’s such a great view from here that one didn’t really mind the cold winds. Both Julie and Jeanette became airborne along this road as we bounced along and one or two little dips caught them out!
We soon came across Reeth and turned right heading up higher onto the moors passing the CB Inn turning right soon after onto an old dilapidated narrow strip of tar that dipped and climbed across the moors. Northumberland lay ahead, the weather was turning a little grey now and in the far off distance I could see snow on the hills, Brrrrr! I was so glad I had my winter kit on! We crossed the A66 and rode on the five miles or so to Barnard Castle, cold it was but at least it wasn’t raining so I was quite happy.
I saw the white bits in the distance.
Mistress Garmin was over her stuttering start and was doing OK though I wasn’t taking much notice of her comments after all we had come this way often behind us Mark was getting to grips with his and was amused to inform us how high up we were and what direction we were travelling, the gadget is full if information as well as a loud voice!
Today we missed out Middleton-in-Teesdale and rode instead along the B6278 towards Stanhope, to our right we could now see the beginnings of low cloud with the dreaded white stuff falling beneath it. I willed and double willed the road to turn away and head into the brighter stuff. But the dice was against us today and we hurtled headlong into the white stuff, I squished my ass further into the heated seat and would my neck in a further inch. It seems there is no cover at all in Northumberland not a single tree of house to shelter under, just vast rolling moorland with rocks sheep and holes in the ground. It’s usually so fantastic up in these parts, empty of crowds and vehicles in summer but quite barren and inhospitable today.
Stanhope lay below us at the edge of the snows, we crossed the railway bridge and turned towards Alston, we turned off the main road onto another little white road with no name or number, the snow had eased we climbed up and down into another valley, another village came into view this was Rookhope, it had a pub and it was open!
Tea and scones around the open log fire was just the ticket, apart from some old boy we were the only people in the pub so boots came off and toes warmed…then came “Fluffy” she was the owners dog and thought humans were the best things in the world to play with. She fussed over us then got up at the pool table and waited for the game to begin!
Meanwhile the snow had finally blown through it wasn’t a gentle flurry, settling kind of snow, it was more like an “Ice Station Zebra” gale force kind of snow, It left the road a bit wet but nothing more, the sun was with us again as was the cold, but freshly fortified with coffee and scones we were ready for some more exploring, we left old “Fluffy” to ambush the next customers and rode out of the village.
We rode through the villages of Allenheads and Dirt Pot. On one of the finest bike roads I have ever rode on. It’s the B6295 from Cowshill to Langley, do it guys! I have obtained warp speed with a fellow explorer in the past, it was fast and great fun and not for the fainthearted..Nor is it much fun for the passenger and they would spend most of the quick blast airborne!
Langley castle was to our left and seemingly empty of visitors of weddings today. It’s well worth a visit, tea and scones in a castle is something everyone should experience at least once, you can stay there overnight too, we have never stayed because we don’t possess silly money, we just have the hard earned kind of stuff! Maybe we will have a go at it when I retire?
Clear blue skies and the cold wind returned as we passed through Haydon Bridge and head up and over the hill to Hadrian’s Wall and our destination of the day.
If you want a good look around I would recommend Housesteads Fort (National Trust) on the B6318 about ten miles east of Haltwhistle. Its sign posted well, just don’t go too fast, the road is a lovely roller coaster of a road with blind summits and steep drops, it’s full of gawping dithering tourist both on foot and in cars.
It was late afternoon now and time to heads back south. We rode on towards Corbridge turning of onto the A68 and head towards Castleside and Tow Law, further on we passed Witton Castle and home to the September M.A.G bikers party known as “Stormin the Castle”. I’ve had some fun there I can tell you! Bishop Auckland was off to our left as we came closer to the A1, we joined it just above Scotch Corner. I indicated left for our last tea stop of the day. We sat munching Sunday tea and watched a brunette get her yellow Triumph recovered into a trailer just outside the window.
It had a been a great day out in a proper mixed bag of weather, we all felt good, Julie and I in particular had glowing cheeks the wind and snow had cleansed our faces, the flip visors doesn’t stop everything I really don’t mind because I can’t be doing with full face lids.
We had an uneventful blast back down the A1 and had a last LAST tea stop at Marks, before the last leg in the calm twilight, it was warmer now, the winds had gone and the snows long forgotten!
Looking at the back of Mistress Mable and her dirty ass!
We had covered about 300 miles today, two thirds on lovely English back roads. The bike is now resting in the garage and waiting for my next rest day to get a good wash, Mistress Garmin is sat in her pouch in the draw she has been exorcised and exercised and is ready for the next adventure.
So until the next time…………….