Here’s a few things you probably didn’t know about Richmond (the Yorkshire town, and not the leafy Thames side suburb of south west London).
- It has England’s largest cobblestone farmers market square
- It has England’s smallest Georgian theatre
- Its castle was built by the French
- Our accommodation at the French Gate Guest House was so named ….. yes you guessed right … because it was located at the entrance gate to the village built by the French
- Just 1.5 miles south lies Catterick Garrison. Home to Europe’s largest garrison of army personnel. - If you’re on a bicycle try and avoid the southern exit from the village. Yes the crossing over the bridge is pleasant however the ensuing climb is not.
Couldn‘t fault our hosts for the night and if you ever find yourself in Richmond I’d strongly recommend the French Gate Guesthouse.
The views from the dining room weren’t too shabby. With panoramic views over the Swale River and out towards the village church and beyond.
Our cycling day had a rude awakening once we’d left the confines of the village itself and crossed over the Swale. The views back towards the village were lovely. The 20% gradient climb not so much. To put that into perspective for non cyclists there aren’t too many cars that would be able to tackle that steepness in anything except first gear. Crossing the Swale and looking back to the French built castle.
Having conquered the brute of a climb out of the village on another cloudless and warm morning we then battled our way up a 4km stretch of road that averaged 10% in gradient.
As we climbed I had started to think that perhaps today wasn’t going to be as easy as I had thought .
Another unique road sign detracted me from the pain, even if momentarily.
However once the initial 10km was done we enjoyed what can best be described as a fantastic day of riding. A slight tail wind, undulating hills but nothing overly sharp or painful, quiet Yorkshire farm lanes, shade strewn roads, and beautiful English countryside sights.
Given the warmth even my bike had to lie down and take a rest at one point.
The Tour De France cycle race started in York back in 2014 and the pride of hosting the first few days is still very evident in local signage.
We decided we liked the town of Ripon with its large market square and cobblestone streets and I will definitely be back. In a car.
Ripon Town Hall
Just outside of Ripon is one of England’s few remaining private bridges. Toll is 40p for a car according to ”Gordon” the toll collector. He also informed me that the bridge was built in the 1700’s after the local land owner who owned the land both sides of the River Ouse got fed up with ferrying people on his boat and so built a bridge.
Cyclists, horse drawn carriages and pedestrians are allowed to cross free of charge.
Shortly thereafter we came across Beningbrough Hall. A Georgian styled house of some stature built in 1716. Pageantry and grand houses. Two things the English do VERY well.
Our lunchtime goal had always been York. Which given the terrain had now flattened out after leaving Yorkshire Dales meant we arrived in good time.
When in York there’s really only one sight you need to see. And it’s not that bearded chap ruining the photo of the impressive Minster.
Leaving York the route to Selby some 10 miles away is along a disused train line that has now being transformed into a cycle and pedestrian pathway. Until 1980 it was the route used by trains heading north/south including the famous Flying Scotsman. However the heavy coal mining in and around Selby threatened the solidity of the earth upon which the rail line sat so a decision was made to move it (the rail line) further to the west. In one quick swipe of a pen the livelihoods of hundreds of small business was wiped out.
One benefit of the old rail line was the foliage that made a marked difference in temperature from those parts of ride now almost “hot” under a blazing mid afternoon sun.
About an hour after lunch we stopped in a small village to buy an ice cream. “Just get me an ice popsicle” was the request from Brent. Never in the history of “Ice Snapper“ production history has a grown man struggled so much with the technique required to eat aforementioned strawberry flavoured ice. After watching him labour for 5 mins as to how to unseal and eat it I suggested he ask two young lads who had just left the same shop. His pride prevented him from doing so, and a further 5 mins later he was still struggling. Bizarrely it was one of the highlights of the afternoon ride.
What would a ride through the English countryside be without this quintessential English view?
Finally, after 132km of cycling we found ourselves at Snaith and took accommodation at the Pig Inn.
Yesterday was always going to be hard to beat. Unless of course we’d headed straight back to the Isle of Arran.
The initial climb out of Richmond gave way to a relatively flat ride to York and beyond.
I cannot recall where I sourced the route from but I intend to find out and send them a congratulatory email for devising a truly wonderful cycle route that on the whole was on quiet lanes with only the occasional dalliance with busy roads and traffic.
Yes, we have been lucky with the weather. However the route itself is a delight and if anyone reading this should ever want to copy or ride any part of it I am more than happy to share the routing file with you. Thoughts and stats for the day
Number of locusts that met a sudden death on my sunglasses - 1
Number of close calls with close passing vehicles going at some speed - 2
Number of times I thought “This cycle route is lovely “ - 201
Number of people in York centre on a sunny warm July day - 400 billion (what pandemic?)
The tattoo industry is thriving in York.