Great Escape pt 1.9

I’m writing this very late Sunday night (and posting it Tuesday night). It seems like the last week has kinda zipped by. I got back from Scotland on Monday afternoon, washed all my gear and cleaned the bike and set off for Yorkshire Thursday midday (not that it took me days to wash my bike of course). I was really grateful for those few days to relax and ground myself before heading out on another little adventure.


Day 18 - Heanor to Harrogate

The sun was shining as I set off, and the forecast looked to be good for the whole day (but the next few days looked rainy with sunny spells). The bike was loaded up with pretty much my previous gear bar having far fewer clothes. I actually had extra space in my panniers (wahoo).

I managed to reach Harrogate just over 2 hours later. It was pretty easy going. I was aiming to stick around 75 to help keep my mpg at a more palatable 55 and for most of the route succeeded. I did get a little lost at one point. When I made it to Harrogate I was in the middle of rush hour, but managed to get to the Airbnb easily enough with just under half a tank of fuel remaining.

Victoria’s home was lovely and I felt immediately at ease. She made me a cup of Yorkshire tea and gave me a slice of homemade lemon drizzle cake (how did she know lemon is my favourite?). Her home had really great decor. A lot of 60’s era furniture, posters and household goods. I particularly loved her Tower scales, which she told me she got from an antique store in Pately bridge (mine I got from ebay).

After dropping some gear off, I set out on the bike for Kettlewell as I planned to climb Greater Whernside, which is a peak 704m high with a prominence around 400m. On the way I passed what looked like a disused fuel station opposite a pub. There were lots of old rusted trucks that looked to be from the 60’s or 70’s. I decided to take a photo on the way back when I could easily find a place to stop, but I never did (rookie error).

The roads on the way were tight and windy, passing through small picturesque villages and over quaint bridges. It was good scenery, the roads reminded me of the Lakes, although the scenery was perhaps more lush and not as dramatic.

The walk itself was nice, but began as a large uphill slog. I followed an old farm track for probably an hour or more, gradually gaining height. As I walked I was joined with strange bird sounds I hadn’t heard before. The walk was mostly over lush ground, some of which was slightly marshy. When I reached the top of the hill, I was too far south and had to walk a little further to actually get to the high point, which was surrounded by a formation of large rocks.

I then walked north and then a little west until I joined a small track road, gradually losing height as I did so.

The road took me right back to Kettlewell, but it took far longer than I thought it would do. I think I underestimated just how far the walk would be, as by the time I did get back to my bike it was 8 and I was exhausted. Despite the late hour, the lighting was also a little flat as the sun was behind a hill and cast the whole valley into twilight.

I made a plan to get some hiking snacks from Aldi and then get fuel from Asda. In the end both tasks ended up taking me much longer as I struggled to find how to get to each one in turn. However when I finally got to the fuel station I was hyped to find petrol at 111.7p. That’s the lowest I’ve seen for a while and with Garth’s mpg much lower than what I was previously used to worrying about petrol is my latest hobby.


Day 19 - Exploring in Ripon and Harrogate pt.1

On Friday morning I was having a bit of a lazy time of it after quite a jam packed day previously I knew my friends would be arriving that night and would want to head out for food and a few drinks so I didn't want to explore Harrogate.

I was originally thinking about doing another hike, perhaps another big one but ultimately I decided against this. I thought to myself “What do I want to do?” and the answer to that was to go exploring and do some riding on my bike. Then before my friends arrived I would be able to do a little bit of ‘life admin’ and catch up on the 36 days of type challenge. My legs were a little tired from the previous day, and I knew we would walk Saturday and be on our feet all day. Planning ahead man!

I chose to ride a little way north to an old town of Ripon. The roads were damp and it did spot a little bit, but nothing I couldn’t handle. The town was pretty damn cool. It had a lot of nice old buildings, and cool little independent shops. There were a lot of cafe’s due to its tourist nature. I did encounter a few great antique shops. Had I been a few years in the future with my own place and the means to transport them home...I would’ve bought something. There were some old metal industrial looking chairs and stools that I absolutely loved. I kinda realised then that with old things; I just really love metal as a material. I do like glassware too, but am certainly not an ornament kind of guy (no figurines bro).

Before heading home. I grabbed some chips from a local chippy. They were good and I remember the server pouring on the salt and vinegar with an expert hand. The chips were a little crispy on the outside but very soft inside. As I’m veggie and very rarely eat fish I’m a bit of a connoisseur of chips. Shortly after two people stopped me enquiring about the location of said chip shop. Afterwards, I spent a bit of time chilling in a small nearby park before heading back to Harrogate. I did some work on my computer whilst waiting for my friends to arrive.

 This florist window was covered in condensation and I think it makes an interesting shot

This florist window was covered in condensation and I think it makes an interesting shot

It was a pretty heartfelt reunion with tight hugs all round. I gave those guys a quick tour and we ended up chatting for hours in the room, bounding from conversation to conversation. It was a realisation that I had missed those guys after we had spent so much time together all the previous months. I miss working with a team and I know that when I’m ready to get another job I will be really ready.

Time flashed by but eventually we set out to find some food and a place to go for a drink. We were recommended a place called Major Tom’s which is known for good pizza. We all love pizza. Pizza is life.

As we got into Harrogate proper, after a few wrong turns, I was surprised to find that it seemed like such a cool place. I had this impression of it being a cute little town, but in actual fact it had some large, trendy bars and restaurants that I really didn’t expect to see. The independent bars were bigger and better executed than many of the ones you could find in Nottingham. I was shocked. I essentially remained in this state of awe and surprise the rest of the trip.

Major Tom’s was rammed, so we ended up eating burrito’s in The Pit and enjoying Rekorderlig on tap. It was a great place with some cool, slightly retro music. We were treated to the antics of a few drunken revellers and had a few classic laughs.

At one point a lot of young men all wearing white shirts, ties and smart trousers came in. India said “They look like they’ve come from work”. It was about 10 and she quickly corrected herself with “Well, not literally…” I interjected with “Oh yeah, they must work at UNiDAYS”. We laughed till we cried (well almost). Joke of the weekend. Hey, I’m not bitter but I do like a laugh and everything is fair game.

I also got a chance to try the new Jack Daniel’s Cider. It was an interesting taste. I quite liked it, but for a 330ml bottle I didn’t like that price tag (it was nearly £5). Afterwards we headed home to get ready for the next day's’ adventure.


Day 20 - Malham and Harrogate pt.2

We woke up at a fairly respectable time of half 8. Gradually got ourselves sorted and fed, and left for Malham about 10. The sun was shining against the odds and the forecast. It was shaping up to be a beautiful day. But things can change quickly in hilly parts, so we left with a cautionary warning from our hosts.

The plan was to have a really nice scenic walk with dramatic views, but not one that would wipe us out. I’d heard great things about Malham, so we opted to climb Gibson’s spout and walk around and come back down Malham cove.

We paid for parking as we were too late to get the free layby parking. Fair play. We set off through the town, slightly shaken still after a close call on the windy Yorkshire lanes minutes earlier. There’s definitely scope for accidents when confident locals and uncertain visitors meet. Which is why I enjoy windy roads on a bike as people tend to throw their vehicles around the corners never thinking who might be there (tut).

As we got close to the spout, the valley began to open up to dramatic views and around a bend suddenly the waterfall emerged. My instant thought was “Oh, that is quite steep”. But as we got closer I watched people carefully climbing up, and others precariously climb down I felt that our party would be able to make it.

The climb up the waterfall was only a few meters high. But it was a literal climb finding handholds and footholds on parts of the rock face that the water skirted around and ignored. Once up the first bit, there were a few stepping stones then it was a typical rocky hill ascent to the top of the valley and some great views. It was a cool place to walk up and felt like a lot of fun. Plenty of good selfie ops too.

As we began to make ground across the limestone pavement, it began to spot with rain. When we reached the road it was beginning to rain a little more consistently. We briefly visited the Malham tarn; it looked pretty wet. At this point I put on an extra layer against the cold.

We began making our way back to Malham via Malham cove; on a path that was sometimes rocky as it wound its way through a valley. The hillsides slowly rising above us. Before you get to the cove there are quite a few descents and each time I was thinking “Oh, maybe this is it”. As it was getting progressively wet, the last bit was probably the most challenging. Above the cover is a swathe of smooth limestone, cracked into a strange sections that reminds me of stripes or animal markings. There were a few slips but fortunately a lot less than there could have been. All in all a really great hike. The weather doesn’t bother me too much but as this might have been the worst weather of my trip it was a good reminder to keep an eye out for a quality light jacket.

On the way back we needed to head to Aldi to buy some supplies. We got back to the house and made an awesome pasta bake that took a lot less time with three people. It was a lot of fun cooking with friends and we had a an awesome and cheap lunch.

Later that night we headed out again into Harrogate to check out more bars. We had a drink at Major Tom’s, which reminded me a lot of Suede bar back in Nottingham. After that we headed to Foundry Project which had a very modern vibe and seemed like the trendy (expensive) place to go. Before heading home we had a little dance in Revolucion de Cuba. I think one of the highlights of the night was the pasta bake we had when we got back to the Airbnb. The night was a lot of fun overall. Harrogate is a cool place and it was great fun checking out new bars, people watching and discussing plans for the coming weeks and months for LemonPickle.

Day 21 - Harrogate and home

The next day we wanted to check out Harrogate ‘properly’. In the daylight at least. We headed into town and went exploring on foot. It’s definitely got enough architectural gems to impress. Another thing is that it has lots of green spaces, big and small. That gives the place a real quaint feel, and in the main town area all the houses are nice and old styled. There’s very little to ruin the impression of a quaint and wealthy town (other than all the youths outside the McDonalds perhaps).

Harrogate has a lot of high end shops that I expect to see in big cities but not in a town of 80,000. My friends and I kept saying how cool it would be to come back, or how nice it might be to live here. And I think it really would be. I’ve often thought of living in Yorkshire (but more southern, near Sheffield). Harrogate seems to have everything you could want.

After exploring and getting ice cream from McDonald's, we ended up having pizza at Major Tom’s social. It actually has this awesome antiques store beneath it so I was in my element. I was also kinda surprised that you could get Deliveroo in Harrogate; and seeing the couriers buzzing about on their little bikes made me think about my own ideas of trying out Deliveroo.

Obviously it’s not a wealthy job. It’s £7.50 an hour plus tips and something for petrol. But if it works for you it might give someone the freedom they’re looking for. Freedom is one of those things I’m exploring the idea of more and more. It’s also one of those things that has a different definition for each person so I find it an interesting topic.

After pizza (which was really great), my friends dropped me off to collect my bike and I made my way home. The weather was sunny and the wind had died down. It was a comfortable ride back. No need to refuel, no need to stop and rest. I was home by about half 4.

I had an ace time in Harrogate. Whilst I’ve been away with friends before, I realised this was one of the first times I had done so in a small, tight knit group, and also the first time I had lead in terms of deciding the location. Definitely something to do again.

Now I’m looking forwards to a week of getting shit done.