Day 1 - May 14th - Cheadle Hulme to Selby - 70 miles
I managed to get away about 9.15am. The first morning of packing for a bike trip is always a bit of an ordeal, wondering what to take and what to leave behind. Folding clothes so that they fit into my tiny panniers and making sure that everything was secure on the bike.
The day was quite warm a mixture of sun and overcast sky, with a very slight Easterly breeze which tended to cool things a little in exposed places, which was welcome at times.
I took my usual route out to Woodhead. Over Marple Ridge, down Brabyns Brow, through Charlesworth and then, as I dropped into Dinting I turned left to Hadfield in order to pick up the traffic free Longdendale Trail. This was nice and dry, not too dusty and not busy.
The top of the trail spewed me out on the main Woodhead Road, not very pleasant because of traffic, but only about 2 miles before I turned off left to Dunford Bridge. From here, using my O.S. map (for some reason signposts were quite sparse) I kept South of Holmfirth, Denby Dale and Wakefield. This stretch was a bit lumpy, but nearly traffic free, so quite enjoyable.
Eventually a stretch of main road was resorted to in order to pass through Featherstone (of Rovers fame), Pontefract and Nottingley until I turned North onto some more very quiet roads to head for Selby, which seemed a likely spot for my first overnight.
Selby Abbey is still standing! I visited Selby about 20 years ago and all the talk then was about the proposed new Selby Coalfield which, if it came about, could cause a lowering of the water table which could have an effect on the Abbey. It seems that it is built on huge oak foundations due to the boggy terrain on which it stands and it was predicted that a drastic lowering of the water table could have a disastrous effect on the Abbey.
However, the new coalfield was opened and all the prophets of doom were proved wrong. What the prophets did not foresee was that today, some 20 years later, it is the coalfield which is under threat (of closure) and not the Abbey.
I thought that Selby would have been well endowed with B & Bs but that was not the case. The one I eventually stayed in was a rip off at £30 for quite an ordinary room and an indifferent breakfast. I was later to find that for that sum of money in France or Italy I could stay in a good hotel with dinner included. "Rip-off Britain" or is it all due to exchange rates?
Day 2 - May 15th - Selby to Hull - 53 miles
I was met by a repeat of the previous days weather as I left Selby at 9.15am. Perhaps a little warmer than yesterday with more sun, so,before leaving the town, I sat by the "Monday Market" alongside the Abbey and anointed myself with "Factor 15".
After a horribly busy two miles on the A19 I turned off into some very quiet, flat and well surfaced lanes to Howden, another town which is well known for its abbey. A quick nip into a shop in Howden to buy a pen ( I have to forget something!) saw me en route for Beverley which I knew quite well as Joan and I had spent a week there three years ago whilst at the CTC Birthday Rides.
A more rolling ride to Beverley, with lunch to follow in the town square as the weather really hotted up. On leaving I thought I would take a picture of the Minster to add to the ones which I had already taken of Selby and Howden Abbeys. As I got myself in position for the photo I realised how burning the sun was, so I again applied the "Factor 15" and hung my still damp previous nights washing on the back of my panniers. With all this activity I forget to take the picture! (It later transpired that I had not taken any of the pictures but that is another story!)
With time to spare, as I was not due to board the ferry to Zeebrugge until 5pm, and only 10 miles to Hull, I decided to go via Cottingham. This turned out to be a good move, as I picked up all the cycle routes which led from the university into the city centre. I was in Hull by 2.30pm so I had time to look round the place, especially the old part. Having driven through on many occasions whilst heading for the boat I had never looked round. The opportunity which I afforded now was a good example of the benefits of bike travel.
In good time at the ferry terminal, I dived in for a pot of tea, where I met a fellow cyclist, from Halifax, who, like me was heading across Europe for 4 or 5 weeks. He was planning to go down through the French Alps to the Med., where he was hoping to meet up with some friends who would be travelling down later on the European Bike Express (known as the "Bolero")
Total miles to date 123
Intro - Chapter 2