It's all down hill from here

North Pennine’s to Wetherby

A torrential downpour in the dead of night ensured a few anxious moments having complacently neglected to tension my guide ropes when I pitched the tent. This meant water reached my inner threatening to soak any limb I brushed against it.

A little morning contortion saw me successfully slip into my cycling shorts etc. without soaking myself overly and I emerged, relieved, to little more than a damp drizzle.
Packing away a camp in the rain is a pain at the best of times. For a novice like me it was a certainly finicky process requiring lots of to-ing and fro-ing from bike to kit. All this meant I didn't leave until 08:30 despite waking at dawn.

With a salute and a ring of my bell to my new Friend Dennis and his menagerie I was off. Before returning 2 minutes later to retrieve my helmet which I had left hanging from a tree branch…

Underway, after that momentary hiccup, the rain cleared and I could get a good look at the dramatic peaks confronting me. Toiling up on my fully loaded bike was hard work and I was soon switching between pushing the bike and riding - but I had all day and my spirits were high.

As I climbed (1693 ft) the climate changed and I enjoyed my first taste of snow and high winds.

Water soon entered my shoes through the cleat ingress as I tramped along the roadside. But knowing I would be stopping for a pot of tea and some breakfast at the next town I reached meant I was unconcerned and the wonderful views more than compensated for any momentary discomfort.

Having crested my second Pennine I freewheeled into Stanhope and made good the promise to myself with a nice omelette at the Durham Dales Center  The sun was high and I considered drying my tent while I sipped my tea but with many miles to cover if I was to reach Wetherby I couldn't dawdle. I also needed flatter terrain, so with a little reluctance but thankful thighs, I followed the river Tees out of the North Pennines heading for Bishop Auckland (seat of the Prince Bishops of Durham) before turning south towards that most important of Medieval northern cities – York.

The miles fell away as I found my rhythm and as the sun began to sink I found myself turning east towards Wetherby as heavy flurries of wet snow began to fall. Knowing a home cooked dinner, shower and bed awaited me ensured I enjoyed the weather rather than cursing it. I learnt a useful lesson regarding the short comings of my glasses which are not exactly great for the conditions - every 20 minutes I needed to pull over and dry them off as my visibility neared zero. Fortunately it never quite did or I might have missed the sun piercing the clouds illuminating my destination.

Graham and Sarah ensured my day dreams of good food and lots of it were more than matched and a thoroughly enjoyable (and comfortable!) evening capped off an encouraging day.

Thanks for being such wonderful hosts and have a wonderful wedding!!!

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