‘bent over the Pennines Day 3 – Castle Bolton to Salterforth – 45 miles

IMG_6412The start of the day took me along Wensleydale; fast riding with gentle undulations. Soon however, the climb up into Coverdale began along with the wonderful views which this affords. For most of the ride up this Dale the gradients are gentle, but you know you are heading ever upwards. Finally the string of settlements come to an end and the real climbing, up the Flank of Great Whernside, begins. Once above the treeline, the views stretch a long way and you really feel a sense of exhilarating isolation. The final stretch of climb saw me walking on two occasions, but thanks to a quick prayer, the clouds depositing their blessings into the next valley and not onto me. A climb like this, in summer, in Goretex would have been very warm indeed. The view from Park Rash Pass made me feel I was looking down on the whole of the Dales.

The descent towards Kettlewell was steep and winding, the 25% sections reminding me why I’ve always ridden this from NE to SW and not in reverse. Descending a 25% gradient on a recumbent is an odd sensation as it almost feels as if you are standing upright.

I was feeling tired as I headed along Wharfedale towards Grassington and glad to be following the valley floor. Lunchtime would see me all but on the edge of the Dales and about to leave Yorkshire for Lancashire. My support crew met me Hetton for lunch and I was able to shelter from the lunchtime shower in the van, Barm cake in hand.

I was now back on familiar ground with my route criss-crossing the Leeds to Liverpool Canal through Gargrave and Barnoldswick and finishing in Salterforth. I was now on the route I took when I first took the Metabike out for a long ride. Finishing mid-afternoon gave time for Nathan to enjoy an a bath ‘al fresco…


…and then for the whole family to take a walk along the canal, albeit in the rain which I had managed to miss seeing close up all day.

An afternoon in Littondale


The cloud was hovering over the peaks, probably around 2000’ but it was the first dry day in the week, so a walk was called for.  Something high enough above the river, yet low enough below the cloud to be dry from both above and below.  Setting off from Litton we walked to the head of Pen-y-ghent Gill.  It was clear why Littondale had been a favourite of my wife’s  grandfather, Lionel.   The head of the gill was a particular highlight – called ‘The Giants Cave’ according to our guide.  Wonderful limestone formations.  That limestone being the secret behind our dry passage.


ImageAnd upon return to Litton another very pleasant surprise – the Queens Arms had re-opened.  Litton is a very satisfyingly peaceful place, and the Queens Arms an excellent compliment.  With a very welcoming landlady, three good beers on tap (Thwaits, Black Sheep plus one other) and being ready to brew up a pot of tea for Mrs W it was a great place.  I noticed it has much going on in the evenings, and even offers accommodation for travellers.  Another interesting feature is the micro brewery attached to the pub.  It is not operational at the moment but is due to start brewing again in the late Spring of 2013.

The road from Settle into Litton looked truly fabulous for a cycle ride – so with this potential and the charming Queens Arms as hostelry  we are already keen to return via a days cycle ride across the Fells of Bowland and the Dales.  A quick look on a cycle route planning map clearly identifies a fine route out and different route of equal potential on the way home.  Roll on the Spring!