We woke up around 6 to a glorious morning, but once again a tent wet inside and out. The moisture on the outside I'd put down to dew; the wet inner I guess was due to two strapping men breathing heavily for a good few hours on a chilly night with probably not enough ventilation. Still, we were dry and warm, so it wasn't the end of the world. Whilst we were packing up our kit and loading the bikes I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket.
Shortly after I'd spoken to Jess on the phone the previous evening she had had a bit of a health scare, and had to enlist the help of friends to give her a lift to an emergency appointment at our local health centre. It had all turned out to be nothing, though she had a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon just to double check. She stressed in the message that everything was fine and there was nothing to worry about, but obviously I did, and started panicking about where the nearest station would be to get me home. Once I'd calmed down a bit we finished loading up the bikes and headed up the hill to where we should have a phone signal.
Jess picked up immediately when I called and was fine, if a bit shaken up. She'd taken the day off work and had an appointment to see the doctor that afternoon but the staff at the walk in the night before had reassured her that this wasn't because they thought anything was wrong, it was just a precautionary measure. She told me not to be silly when I suggested coming home straight away, and although I felt bad not getting back as soon as possible she convinced me that it would be silly to get this far and not finish for the sake of getting home a day earlier.
In the end I didn't mention trying to get all the way to Scarborough in a day as we weren't sure how long it would take, but I was pretty set on getting home that night, even if it was going to be quite late. So we set off on the road on what would turn out to be a pretty epic day.
There was a fairly steady warm up as we were quite high up already, including a sketchy descent down some steps on the Cleveland way before we hit the bottom of the first climb of the day and a few cows scattered across the road. After letting a chap at the next house we saw know that they were loose (turns out it happens quite often) we pushed on steadily climbing on the road, before turning off onto a decent farm track. Most of it was rideable bar a short section and it was followed by a great descent, starting out with open moorland singletrack then diving into the trees for a plunge down a gully and back to the road. It's not an area of the Moors that I know too well, but I'll definitely be revisiting and trying to work out some loops in the future.
Back on the road we cut out a detour up on to Cold Moor from Chop Gate just to save a bit of time, as it would have added on a climb and descent that we could easily bypass. We then had a long climb up onto Urra Moor, most of which was rideable again bar a horrid steep section that wouldn't even have been much fun coming down. Once at the top we had a short break to eat some scotch eggs (which weren't a patch on the pork pies from the previous day) then ploughed on along well surfaced drover’s roads and shooting tracks.
If we hadn't been in such a hurry to make progress I would have definitely planned a more interesting route across the Moors than this. Whilst the miles flew by and the views were great the wide 4x4 tracks really weren't a patch on the fun twisty singletrack that - for me - is what characterises the Moors. I believe that an older version of the route went over to Rudland Rigg and down the brilliant descent to Low Mill, which is one of my favourites in the area (even if it does involve a horrendous climb back up to Blakey Ridge) but this has been removed on the current website version seemingly in favour of a lap of Dalby Forest.
Anyway after a pleasant if unexciting whizz across what felt like about 30 miles of tracks, slowing only to have a chat with the groups of walkers we were passing, we arrived at Blakey Bank, near to the Lion Inn. The route at this point heads north on the road, cutting off a corner on bridleway (which is decent if unspectacular) before some more road followed by a bridleway down to Dale Head Farm, and boring tracks and roads down the valley to Rosedale. I’ve not ridden the track from the road down to the railway, but this seemed like a fairly unexciting route (the track to Dale Head Farm is fun but short) so I decided to go a different way.
We followed the old railway all the way along to the top of Rosedale Chimney, enjoying the views down over the valley, then crossed the road over to Ana Cross for a sandwich in the sun and a chat with some ladies who were out for a walk. We then followed the track a bit further and dropped onto one of the various singletracks that drops down into the valley. There are a few of these, and I still haven’t tried them all but this one was great - narrow and fast, with just enough technical interest to keep us on our toes. We then doubled back at Hollins Farm follow the stream all the way along the bottom of the valley to Lower Askew. This doesn’t look like much on the map, but is actually a brilliant piece of singletrack - there may not be much elevation, but put in a bit of effort and you can have a whale of a time twisting and winding through the rocks and the heather.
Back onto the road at Lower Askew and it was a fairly steady spin on roads and tracks to Dalby, with the exception of a truly horrendous climb up a valley to the Fox and Rabbit pub, which had us both off and pushing. We even managed to get on the wrong side of an electric fence and had to lift our bikes over to get to the gate. We then crossed over the A169 and rolled down into Dalby and the (extremely busy) visitor centre, where we treated ourselves to a bit of a rest and an ice cream. The contrast between this and the abandoned, rainy VC at Grizedale all those days ago was stark - the place was absolutely rammed with families enjoying the sun and mountain bikers riding the trails, and once we were refreshed we headed up into the woods on forest roads, declining the opportunity of a lap of the red route.
Once through the forest we picked up the Moors to Sea route, which was well signposted from Dalby all the way to Scarborough. Barring one very fast, steep descent (which would NOT have been fun going the other way) it was pretty steady going all the way over to the coast, mainly on quiet roads and good tracks. We rolled into Scarborough and navigated our way to the beach for about half past five - 221 miles and around 7,000 metres of climbing from where we’d set off, not to mention 52 miles from where we’d left that morning. In a way it felt a bit like an anticlimax; we’d been so used to arriving somewhere already planning what we needed to get done before setting off again there was no time to relax for long, and now we’d made it; it was over.
We checked train times and decided that though we might just make the 17.58 train home if we sprinted through town, actually we were bloody starving and we really ought to get something to eat first. So we wandered along the front until we found a chip shop with some outdoor seating where we could sit with the bikes and eat, and enjoyed what turned out to be a pretty good fish and chips. Then all that was left was to wander up through town to the station, buy our tickets and wait for the train to arrive. Fortunately this one was both on time and stress free, and we were soon on our way back to Hull.