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Yorkshire / Pen y Ghent, 1-2 June 2012

June 17, 2012

While I go up to Yorkshire, and there avenge your plight
Soon reports were filtering through to me
The pair were drowning in bliss
I can’t recall having ever been cuckolded quite like this
I gave up hope ironically for Lent
Come see me living in a bivvie
If you’re ever up Pen-y-Ghent

Lord Hereford’s Knob,

We meet up at King’s Cross. We’ve been waiting in different places and part of my pannier has already fallen off on the ride in to town.  A fittingly less than slick start but spirits are high as our train departs from  Platform 0.

Fuelled by Stella Artois and sandwiches from the buffet car, the ride from Skipton station in the evening light goes very well if we do say so ourselves.  However, the welcome we receive at Miresfield Farm is a tad on the frosty side.  The message hasn’t got through to the owner’s son, Chris, that we were going to arrive after ten, and he’s sceptical, bordering on the confrontational:.  “We’d given up on you…If you’d arrived any later, you couldn’t have got in…You couldn’t have ridden from Skipton at this time of night….No you can’t have a pint here.”   We choose the shabbier looking of the two pubs on offer, and listen to a group of Yorkshiremen ranting:  “Having children?  Not worth it.  I look at the people I know who’ve got kids, and none of them have got anything in return for it.  No offence, Sheila.”

Highlight of breakfast is the home-made plum jam (who needs Sylvia Plath?).  As I faff around getting ready, Nick gets another earful from Chris, whose state of mind we’re starting to worry about:  “Still waiting for him, are you?  I know people like that.  Last!  Last!  Always last!”  Nick charitably points out that I run the odd marathon, and don’t always finish last.

We have a look round Malham, which has been livened up by the ‘Jubilee Safari’.  At every turn, we’re greeted by fibreglass animals, constructed by BTEC students, many displaying their support for the monarchy.  Highlights include a panda, apparently displaying his war medals to two young cubs,  a zebra in a straw hat and stripey stockings, a worried looking tiger keeping guard outside Traitor’s Gate, dolphins wearing sunglasses, and best of all the Queen and Prince Philip – as a fox and a badger respectively.

We walk up to Janet’s Foss – or Janet Jackson’s Dental Floss as we hilariously call it – have a quick dip in the pool by the waterfall, and then on to Malham Cove, where the RSPB have set up a bird watching station.  We look through their binoculars and get to see a peregrine falcon roosting above the cove.   Despite the best efforts of the RSPB recruiting sergeant – a  genial type who resembles John Peel – we callously avoid signing direct debits to maintain the existence of Peregrine Falcons, and return to Malham for some tea and cake served by friendly waitresses in union jack T-shirts.

The route out of Malham is hillier than anticipated and involves dismounting quite a lot.  However, by lunchtime we’re at the foot of Pen y Ghent, and about to achieve our first HMHB place name.  Locking our bikes to a signpost to protect them from gangs of delinquent sheep, we begin the ascent.  Attired in cycling gear and trainers, we attract disapproving glances from real walkers, all of whom have sensible footwear, facial hair, and those walking poles that seem to be compulsory these days.  They may have a point – the fog is gathering.  We decide that we’re far enough up Pen Y Ghent to satisfy the Judging Panel’s criteria, and turn round, erring on the side of not breaking our ankles.  One down, several hundred to go.

The next stage of the journey involves a short cut down a rocky track impassable by bicycle.  While I drop behind, grumbling as I wheel my bike, Nick chats with a group of walkers, who turn out to be HMHB enthusiasts, and are naturally impressed by our endeavours.  “Are those Joy Division oven gloves then?” one of them quips appropriately.

Eventually reaching Ribble Head we stop at the Station Inn for pork pies and beer.  We decide to leave before having to sit through England’s friendly against Belgium, and emerge from the pub to discover that it’s suddenly freezing and a fierce wind has arrived from nowhere.  The ride into Dentdale is an unpleasant slog (or an unpleasant slag as Nick reads it in my notes) but we stagger on, spindrift stinging our remaining eyes.

Our stop for the night, the Sportsman in Cowgill, is excellent.  They proudly proclaim that they have   “No jukebox, no Sky TV, no mobile phones, no binge drinking and no trouble.” and describe themselves as  “A traditional country Inn where the art of conversation is still practised.”  [their bold].  Unfortunately, the topic of conversation appears almost entirely to be motorcycle repair.  We amuse ourselves in puerile fashion, purchasing a copy of the Upper Wensleydale Newsletter (recommended donation, 20p) and defacing it in the manner of 13-year old schoolboys.

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