SCC Away Day 23rd April 2022

Let’s face it, however creative you are, there’s a finite number of cycling routes you can plot when they all start and finish at the top of Skipton High Street.  So, to dodge the monotony of “Oh, no… not another 50 mile bike ride through the spectacular Yorkshire Dales”; 20 club members decamped to Harrogate on Saturday 23 April where they convened to explore a 40-odd mile route taking in four of North Yorkshire’s most famous tourist hotspots.

A planned start time of 10:00 at Park View car park in Harrogate gave everyone sufficient time to arrive either by car or, in the case of 5 ultra athletes: by cycling in from as far afield as Skipton, Baildon and Earby adding another 50 – 60 miles to their day’s outing.  Easy!

The first section of the route took us to the riverside at Knaresborough via the Beryl Burton Cycleway which offered intimate, traffic free views of the Nidd Gorge. Beryl Burton (MBE, OBE) rode for Knaresborough Cycling Club during her five decade career. She held 7 world titles, won over 90 UK championships and was Britain’s best all-rounder for 25 consecutive years.  She became the only woman to beat a men’s competition record by riding 227.25 miles (446.2km) in 12 hours.
Knaresborough riverside offered ample time and space to regroup and enjoy the views (and take a natural break!).   Phase 2 of the ride saw us split into two groups to negotiate Knaresborough High Street.
       The route then headed north through gently undulating farmland and through such delightful villages as Farnham, Burton Leonard and Littlethorpe to eventually arrive at the foot of Ripon’s famous Cathedral.      

Founded as a Benedictine monastery in 672, it became the cathedral for the Diocese of Ripon in 1836, and is particularly noted for its gothic west front – where, of course, we foregathered for a group photo.

A short spin around Ripon Market Square led us to our lunch stop at The Sun Parlour café in the town’s old spar gardens where Tracy and her colleagues went out of their way to rustle up hot sandwiches and beans on toast for the ravenous multitude.

Rested and replete we then bade farewell to Ripon and cycled off via the tiny village of Studley Roger to traverse Studley Royal – the extensive grounds surrounding Fountains Abbey.     A long, steady climb ensued which led us up towards our penultimate goal of Brimham Rocks.  Formed from coarse sandstone deposited over 300 million years ago, the rocks have been weathered into a multitude of fascinating shapes.
Then it was, pretty much, all downhill until, about 5 miles from Harrogate, we joined the Nidderdale Greenway and completed our journey on this delightful, traffic free cycle route via Ripley Castle and the spectacular crossing of the Nidd Gorge back to our starting point in Harrogate.  The homeward drive was punctuated by a refreshing ice cream stop at the farm shop in Fewston.  Those who cycled home missed the ice cream but chalked up another 25 miles.  

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