Saturday, 14 August 2010


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!!!

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