Cycling in the Yorkshire Dales is fantastic. The Dales have some fantastic backroads and the scenery makes a great backdrop for adventure cycling. We cycled through quaint villages, rode alongside endless stone walls and found two great wild camping spots. We can’t recommend cycling in the Yorkshire Dales enough, so read on to hear more about our first multi-day cycle touring adventure.
Location: Yorkshire Dales National Park, England.
Time: 28th March 2017. 3 days, 2 nights.
Distance: 151.49 km
Elevation climbed: 2,529 m
Weather: Cloudy with sunny intervals. Daytime high: 12 degrees. Overnight low: 1 degree.
Total money spent: <£30
The second adventure on our new bikes went well as we were riding in pleasant sunshine each day and with a little bit of exploration we found two great places to set up camp.
An old barn to camp behind on the first night and a hollow near Malham Tarn, which had the most perfectly sized flat spot in which to pitch our tent, provided our accommodation each night. Both places had an amazing soundtrack at sunset and sunrise: we heard geese, grouse, little birds and sheep, with not another person in sight. It’s fair to say that this ride was more successful than our first adventure – check out what happened here.
Unlike last time, each day we enjoyed a hot breakfast, dinner and cup of tea cooked on our stove and bought lunch en route. In the Dales we stopped at a small village pub and ordered a warm ciabatta with chips, which was exactly what was needed, especially when a few hundred metres out of the village we started climbing a massively long hill.
On the way home we stopped for lunch at a bakery in Crosshills, locked our bikes around the back and bought a sausage teacake and a caramel shortbread. We sat on the floor next to our bikes, looking exhausted and un-showered, when a lady came out of the flower shop next door and asked if we would like a cup of tea. The kindness of strangers is something that we had read about in other people’s blogs in faraway places but not something that we had expected on our three day Dales adventure. The offer of tea was gratefully accepted and refreshed us, both physically and mentally.
The first trip was a steep learning curve. All of the preparation and research we thought we had done was tested and challenged. We came away from that trip with a lot more questions than when we started and we realised that all of the planning we had done was nothing compared to what we had learnt in those short 24 hours on the bikes. We had two main points from the last trip that we wanted to address before heading out again and these were what we focussed on when planning our second trip: route planning and packing.
Using a combination of OS maps and the maps.me app we were able to quickly plan a rough route for our trip to the Yorkshire Dales. The route would take us out towards Ilkley, heading for Bolton Abbey and from there we would venture further into the Dales proper. We would figure the rest out as we went.
The app started by taking us on a mixture of B roads and back roads, some of which were fairly busy, but as we went further north we rode on quieter backroads and we even had some gravel tracks across Ilkley moor. It was much better than expected following these directions and even though we were riding on roads, it was really fun.
This feeling continued into the Dales where we were often the only folk on the road and after making it to Bolton Abbey on the first day, we felt a great sense of achievement and confidence for the rest of the ride.
We made a few purchases since the last trip and these made a massive difference to our packing arrangement. An Ortleib handlebar roll for our clothes and a plastic box for our stove (plus lighter and waterproof matches) helped to organise our gear more effectively and make the most of the space available.
Additionally, the other packing strategy we used was to keep everything in one place. For example, we both had our own sleeping gear in one pannier then I had the kitchen equipment: stove box, pan set, food and washing up stuff in the other, whilst Ben had the tools and spares, medical kit and wash bag and any other miscellaneous gear in his. This ensured that when we needed something specific, we each knew where it was and how to get it. The hardest thing we found was remembering which pannier was the left and the right!
The second trip: What did we learn?
- Take more water: you always need more than you think for cooking and washing up, as well as for drinking.
- Fry your vegetables after cooking the pasta: they don’t take long to cook on a Whisperlite!
- Cycling in the Yorkshire Dales is great: There is so much open space and you can get away from traffic so easily. Highly recommended!