Over the hills and far away – coast to coast by day 3
And so 6 o’clock arrived with all gathered at school. Somewhat bleary eyed, the vans were skilfully loaded with little room to spare; the bikes were snuggly stacked. To the west coast and the picturesque little seaside village of Arnside was our destination. We band of committed riders had collected our pebbles from the shore, snapped the cord of our helmets tight and slowly began turning the pedals – we were off.
The sun shone brightly. Never had the west side of the Pennines look so bright and lush but it wasn’t before long these rolling Cumbrian hills started to bite. Through the pretty chocolate box town that is Kirby Lonsdale and over the top to Dent for a well-earned spot of lunch. The ride out of Dentdale was fantastic – both the ascent and the sun raising the temperature – but with views of the Three Peaks to die for. This was followed by a long off-road section over the tops on the Roman road. It was here that we reached the highest point of the whole ride – whoa – downhill for 10 miles – from Fleet Moss to more chocy box villages including Kettlewell. The campsite was perfect with the weather to match.
Day two. Following a superb breakfast prepared by the elite catering corps – Park Rash. Not for the faint hearted. This is considered one of the hardest climbs on a bike in the whole of Yorkshire. Yes it was slow but well worth the effort. Again, absolutely stunning views – God’s own country was living up to it’s billing. And now down – through Coverdale to the King’s own castle at Middleham and into the flatlands of the Vale of Mowbary. Finally, to the hospitable Ampleforth Abbey and College. Once again, Ampleforth camping had views to die for and all cyclists were now enjoying the feast put on by parents. The great thing about cycling is you can eat sin free; and when the fayre is as good as mum’s own – get stuck in! For those who still had the energy, the beautifully manicured lawns of Ampleforth College laid host to an impromptu game of footy – I was never off-side!
The final day was relatively short – only 45 miles! But no avoiding of the hills –absolutely not – we seek them out. Kirby Mills to Rosedale Abbey and then up the 33% climb to Egton. All groups lunched in here followed by a procession into Robin Hood’s Bay where we were greeted by parents and friends. Cheering and jubilation – with pebbles from the west coast to launch into the North Sea. This is the 8th time Bedale High School has taken on the Coast to Coast challenge and it is our aim to remove all the pebbles from west coast and deposit them in God’s Own Country. As said before, it is the author’s view that this is more worthy of saving from the ravaging sea!
I would really like to thank all the parents and staff of Bedale High School without whom this adventure would not be possible. It is true that cycling is good for your health – but it’s not just the fresh air and the exercise. Cycling is good for your mental state of mind – it brings people together to struggle and share the highs and lows, the ups and downs. It helps communities build together and it strengthens friendships. Go on – get on your bike! Hills hurt – the sofa kills.