Saturday, 14 August 2010


Perhaps the most beautiful of all. Up from Kirkby Stephen and across Birkdale Common, then down the most marvelous marvel, Swaledale. Keld, Thwaite, Muker (a drink at The Farmers Arms, which is a very fine pub), then the magnificently named Crackpot and back across the Swale at Low Row.

We lunched in Reeth, dumped out panniers at the Black Bull Inn and cycled up Arkengarthdale, via the somewhat alarming descent and ohshitohshitohshit cycle across the Mill Bottom Ford at 30mph faster than you anticipated.

A pint at the Charles Bathurst Inn (no idea) and then we went to Whaw. Oh Daddy, please don't go to Whaw. It's so pointless. And there's no pub in Booze, either. But the scenery is magnificent.

Back to Reeth for dinner.

Colin weighs up his options.

At this speed, light itself gets distorted.

Birkdale Beck


House prices in the North of England remain depressed.


Colin and I have been on holiday. Some people were aghast when I announced I was going cycling for 5 days and leaving my (very) pregnant wife at home, to which I responded "... er." But Kate was OK with it. Really. And I'll be off for a month after the baby arrives, which will be nice.

So, the holiday. I haven't got a picture of the minicab that took us to Kings Cross, but you can imagine it. Resplendent, glowing and powerful. I think it was a Ford Mondeo. Before we knew it the train has whisked us to Settle.

The Settle to Carlisle railway is one of the most impressive engineering feats of the Victorian age, cutting through some of England's most inhospitable and railwayable terrain. Colin and I opted to celebrate this marvel by getting off the train and travelling (the first part of the route) by bicycle, rather than train.

We can both recommend "Off the rails" cycle hire, at Settle station. If you are in Settle. And want to cycle, of course.

(Incidentally, you may find this a long and unexpectedly boring blog post. Still, unlike Kate you don't have to sit through the entire 3 hour slide show)

The railway runs up Ribblesdale, which turns from torrent to dribble. You will notice, throughout, that the weather in these pictures is ... variable. We had plenty of sun. And plenty of rain, too.

Eventually, you get to the Ribblehead, and you really, really need a beer. Fortunately such eventualities are provided for - The Station Inn is a very fine establishment and England were 71-1 chasing 118 to win (which they would do later that afternoon, by which point we would be in Dentdale)

The main advantage of cycling up Ribblesdale, rather than taking the train, is that you can't really see the viaducts from the train. Ribblehead viaduct is 104 feet high, spans 440 yards and my camera phone is a completely inappropriate device to attempt to capture it on.

The people in this part of the world are incurable optimists. Something to do with the weather, I think.

So Colin and I crossed into Dentdale, found ourselves in Cumbria, had lunch, then headed down to Sedb', up Garsdale and back into Yorkshire. The first site that greets you as you come into God's own county is the Moorcock Inn. A more welcoming sight I can't think of.

Finally, we crossed back into Cumbria and down into the Valley of Eden (not a Dale) and the town of Kirkby Stephen. We were not expecting to find Uther Pendragon's castle at the top if the Eden Valley, but there it was.

Tomorrow you get Swaledale, Arkengarthdale and a picture of Colin crossing a ford!!!

Friday, 13 August 2010

DougStock 2010 (and The Big Society)

DougStock met for the weekend in Oxford. Much fun was had. We are particularly grateful for the work of Tobias Ashmole, and in the spirit of David Cameron's Big Society Colin and The Yak spent the afternoon running the cloakroom.

Next week J-P and Juliet attempt open heart-surgery, with hilarious consequences. Remember! Public services are provided simply becuase good, honest, decent, hardworking people are too lazy to run their own schools, collect their own rubbish and open their own museums.
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