Harrys first solo journey across the open moors

Harrys first solo journey across the open moors

A Story by Wild Rose

It was the first day of the summer holiday Harry was setting out on his first lone cycle ride over the Yorkshire Dales moorlands
He was 12 years old; he had joined the cycling club just two months earlier on his birthday. It wasn't a new bike; it was his father's old prewar racing bike. Harry had stripped it down and reassembled it; under his father's strict supervision; he knew how to adjust all the bearings and to mend a puncture. Now following a few day journeys with the club, it was time to go out alone; to enjoy the freedom of the outdoors, the peace and solitude of the open moorlands. He had been there with the club and now was seeking to be alone away from the boys at school, whose only interest was football; chasing a ball around a field for ninety minutes was not for him, a day on the road, seeing new places, new sights, new experiences. He was a traveller, an explorer
  He checked his equipment again: Tool kit; map; watch; sandwiches; water bottle; rain cape; spare dry socks.
It was eight o'clock in the morning; he wanted to be at his lunch spot by mid-day; that was forty miles away; ten miles an hour, the easy riders in the club did twelve miles an hour.
He took the side roads into the city of Bradford, then chose the Manningham Lane route out of town in preference to the more level cobbled Canal Road route, with the small work units and the smelly gas works
He passed the brightly lit shops and now dreary looking Victorian shops built to house the mill managers during the industrial revolution, past the open space of Manningham Park. He turned right at the junction with Airedale Road down the slope through Charlestown; now a suburb of Bradford. Over Chevin Hill, Past Harry Ramsdens wooden chippy, he took the left fork towards Ilkley, from Airedale into Wharfedale.
The scenery changed; instead of houses, shops, work places and factories; there was houses with nice gardens, fields, He could see a wood across the fields and heather covered moorlands. Through Burley Woodhead and Ilkley, the road ran parallel with the River Wharf. He was now going to ride parallel to it all the way to his appointed lunch stop.
After passing through Ilkley he took the right turn < over the stone-built bridge to Bolton Bridge, Crossing the main road onto the Grassington road. Passing the ruins of Bolton Abbey and the Cavendish Memorial; which was erected in memory of the landowners son who died in the Strid when out hunting his dog pulled back to chase a rabbit causing him to fall into the narrow chase where any one unfortunate to fall in could not be rescued; only when the current an eddies changed would the river give them up.
At Barden Towers he turned down the steep hill over another stone bridge across the river Wharfe, he dismounted and went to look over the parapet to watch the water flowing from the nearby hills and valleys Litton Dale; Upper Wharfedale; from the mountain stream that begins at the side of Park Rash Pass which leads into Wensley Dale. He marvelled at the clean water, in stark contrast to the river Calder in Dewsbury, where it was polluted by industrial waste. 
How it sparked in the sunlight, as it flowed over the stones creating swirls and eddies. Flowing endlessly under the bridge, down the valley past the Strid; Bolton Abbey; Ilkley; Otley and on to join the River Ouse near York and on to the sea.
     
Stopping his musing he took his bike from its parking place and began to push it up the steep hill; a welcome rest for his legs, though they were not aching. 
The road was now high up on the hillside. the river now in a valley down below
He could see the alternative main road across and the trees hiding the river, Further on a twist in the road  he could see the bridge at Burnsall and off to the right houses in the village of Appletreewick (Apptrick to the locals)
Turning right at a fork in the road to Skyreholme farm.
Passing Trollersgill, a deep chasm in the cliff with a rocky floor,  where the trolls lived, according to legend ant person entering never returns
His lunch stop was Skyrehome Farm, where he bought a mug of hot tea and ate his lunch sandwiches sitting at the outside bench.
watching the sheep, in the fields cropping the grass; it looked so short he wondered how they found sufficient to eat. How different from the surrounding of home, what his school friends were missing, no amount of football could compensate for views such as this
After lunch he set out again turning right from the farm he was now on a single track road the metalled surface would soon end; through a gate onto the grass of the 'Green Road', an ancient track used by the drovers to drive animals from the dales, Wensley and Swale and further afield, to markets in Leeds and Bradford.
He was now completely alone; no road traffic. He heard a cackling noise. To his young ears it sounded like the witches in the film 'Over the Rainbow'. No witches here; they were in Lancashire, Pendle Hill near Clitheroe. These are Grouse calling to their mates; someone is crossing our land keep out of sight - Go on Mr. grouse shout at me; Yes, I'm going on my way, I mean you no harm,
Part way across Harry just had a thought 'How could he determine his present position? In towns there were landmarks churches, Post Offices on the map to take bearings from what is there here? 
A bend in the river; the curve of a hillside. He set his map. no compass but he was beside a dry-stone wall; that would do to line up with, a compass would have been more realistic, must ignore the wall while I take the bearings. He drew an imaginary line from his chosen landmarks, they intersected close by the wall. Yes, just up the way he could see the top of a signpost and the map showed a junction.
Reaching the junction, he kept straight ahead ignoring the junction and its short cut.
He came out on a country road. Left leading to Stump Cross Caverns and the road between Grassington and Pately Bridge. Right going past Threshfield, where he had once been with the club for lunch. Down Blubberhouses and then Otley. 
At Blubberhouses he crossed the main road, and wheeled his bike up the 1:5 (20%) hill, past Blubberhouses church then across the moors to Otley. Crossing the river Wharfe again.
Then into town and along the main street to the 'Bent Poker' cafe, cyclists and walkers cafe. 
He had a mug of tea and the rest of his sandwiches, saving one in case he got the ‘bonk’ on the way home. He took the Bradford road from Otley rejoining his outwards journey near ‘Harry Ramsdens’.  Diverting from his outward journey, he chose to take the cobbled Canal Road option as this led to a combination of back streets that missed out the city centre. Leaving just the ten miles home, mostly downhill, after the village of Tong.    
Wild Rose
February 2020 

© 2020 Wild Rose


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Added on February 14, 2020
Last Updated on February 15, 2020

Author

Wild Rose
Wild Rose

Lake Disrtict, Cumbria, United Kingdom



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BA (Hons)Management studies Open University Full tech Cert. Marine: Aviation & Industrial Instrumentation and Conrtol Retired engineering lecturer Ex racing cyclist: fell walker: Camper more..

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