An expedition to the North of England…

Not too many photos this time, but given two years of me working in Slough and harping on about how fantastic the North Pennines were, Brian had dragged himself northwards for the weekend, and we planned to take in some of the Tour de France route.

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Parking up in Reeth, we were straight onto the Côte de Grinton Moor for a brutal no-warm-up climb onto the moors. A quick descent to Castle Bolton, and through Wenleydale to Hawes, via Askrigg.

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Refreshment stop in Askrigg.

Plenty of Tour de France bunting and yellow bicycles still out. A coffee stop in Hawes, where Coke and Cake are the order of the day, knowing what is to come. Then we’re off heading up the Côte de Buttertubs. No sportives running this weekend, but plenty of riders out to test themselves on the slopes. We take it easy (or at least as easy as you can), and before long are on the easier higher slopes with the end in sight. A short spin down from the top brings us to the Buttertubs, and we stop to take a look.

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Gareth, just over the summit.
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Brian at the top of Buttertubs

We then have an appointment with gravity to get down into Swaledale, and trying to keep up with Brian, I get my best time on this section.

At this point we have a choice, right and a short ride along Swaledale back to the car, or left up to Keld and onwards to Tan Hill, then back via Arkengarthdale. Brian decides the latter, and we set off. I haven’t ridden this section before, so the numerous steep climbs are soul-destroying and energy-sapping. Eventually, however, the chimneys of the Tan Hill Inn come into view over the horizon, and before you know it we’re sat outside in the heat, pint of Black Sheep Shandy in hand!

Outside the pub we meet another couple of cyclists – Graeme and John. We have a good old chat, and they’re heading down Arkengarthdale before splitting from our route to go up The Stang. We have a nice fast bunch ride down the valley together before parting our ways. From there, not long ‘til we’re back in Reeth, calling in to see Rich at Swaledale Outdoors for a natter, and then on to the Dales Bike Centre for refreshments.

Before Brian headed back south, on Sunday we went for a flat ride around Staindrop. Complaints were made when the hills arrived, and ultimately we did over 300m of climbing. I did point out that this is what counts as a flat ride in these parts…

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A great weekend, and legs feeling well worked out. A few days off now, as we head up to Glasgow for a few days at the Commonwealth Games.

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