All images and text copyright © Will Slater 2019 unless otherwise noted

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.

Lovely view back across the Moors. And blue sky!

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.

Great views; trails not so much. Photo by Joe.

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.

At last, decent singletrack!

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.

The end.

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.

(nb Neither of us took any photos today. We just wanted to get it over with as soon as possible.)

Whilst today was going to be quite long in miles (around 45) it was, compared to the last few days, pretty flat. It was also mostly on roads, with there not being a great deal of interesting off road in the big space between the Dales and the Moors on the map. The advantage of this was that we were in no hurry, so we took the opportunity to get Joe’s spoke fixed, stock up on supplies and even post some kit home to lighten our load a bit.

All this followed a terrific breakfast of cereal and bacon sandwich in the cafe of the bike centre where we had a lovely chat to the other guests, both of whom were doing their own coast to coasts on foot. We also got some useful advice from Stu of the Bike Centre, who recommended skipping most of the off-road sections of the day and sticking to the backroads, as the muddy and indistinct bridleways wouldn't add much to our ride apart from time. He even marked some alternative routes on our map.

As we pedalled out of Fremington on what was probably the biggest climb of the day the weather steadily improved until it was approaching being pleasant. After an unremarkable spin on back roads peppered with occasional double track bridleways we reached the final approach into Richmond. A traverse across some fields led us to a climb through some woods on a mix of single and double track which left us looking down over the valley. A brief moment of excitement as we thought the descent on the other side might be similar was rapidly curtailed as we emerged onto yet another road and descended down into Richmond.

Now Richmond isn't necessarily somewhere I would recommend visiting. It seems like very much a tourist hotspot, and even on the Wednesday we were there it was busy, with the central square being a gauntlet of shuffling pedestrians and aggressive car drivers determined to find a space to park. However, it did have one spectacularly redeeming feature. We decided to stop for lunch, and purchased (amongst other things) a pork pie each from Angus Morton Butchers. Now I've had a few pork pies in my time, from some pretty special places but this one was on a whole 'nother level. It was warm - not something I generally approve of in a pork pie - and had the flakiest pastry combined with the most succulent, juicy pork I think I've ever tasted. I'm actually salivating thinking about it right now. It was definitely a highlight of the day.

Once we were done with lunch, we stocked up and got back on the road. After the crushing disappointment of the climb to nothing on the way in we decided to ignore the suggested route entirely as it contained what looked like a lot of muddy bridleway slogging and came up with a new route on Joe’s touring app, getting us over to Osmotherley as quickly as possible whilst avoiding major roads.

Instead of heading north and dropping down to Osmotherley we stayed South, sticking to the roads and made our way via Northallerton. It was round about this time that we realised just how much difference drafting (like the ‘proper’ roadies do) makes on long, steady bits of road. I was following Joe, watching him plugging away and realised that I was having to freewheel every few cranks just so as not to plough into the back of him. After that we made sure to take turns on the front to give each other a little bit of a rest.

On arrival in Northallerton whilst waiting in traffic we spotted a big Halfords, and decided to stop in to see if they had a mech to replace Joe’s wonky one. Whilst he was sorting that I popped next door to Home Bargains and stocked up on supplies for the next day, which we knew was going to be a big one. I got a bunch of porridge pots so we could actually have an early getaway, as well as the now standard Lucozade and a big slab of malt loaf (which actually made it all the way to the coast, and at the time of writing is sitting in my cupboard at home).

The ride to Osmotherley was equally forgettable, with a couple of exceptions. We stopped in a little village to have a drink, and whilst we were there a lady came out of the house we were outside to ask us if we'd like our bottles refilling, as it was actually getting pretty warm by this point. I'm pretty sure she would have made us sandwiches if we'd asked.

A bit later, almost at Osmotherley, we were on some backroads needing to cross over the A19. We had the choice of a very indistinct looking bridleway that might have linked up with a footpath on the other side, or dropping back onto the main road briefly where there was definitely a way across. We defaulted to the road in the end.

As we arrived into Osmotherley itself I somehow managed to get another puncture. Joe was ahead of me and had disappeared into the distance with tyre levers and spare tube so I decided to pump it up as hard as possible in the hope it would hold out for a couple more miles. Whilst I was pumping a chap came out of a house opposite and asked if I would like a life to Northallerton (I'm not sure why he thought Northallerton as I was pointing in the opposite direction, but still). After politely declining and thanking him profusely I managed to make it to the middle of the village where Joe was sunning himself on a bench, and pump up my tyre again.

From there it was a short climb up to the campsite, which was attached to a youth hostel - handy for food. We booked our pitch and got the tent up, feeling a little bit dwarfed by the surrounding motorhomes and enormo-tents, then whilst Joe swapped his mech over for the new one I popped back up to the shop and bought supplies to make sandwiches for the next day. Bread cakes with huge slabs of cheese may not be the most refined of meals, but they’re certainly effective when you're hungry. After showering we headed on up to the YHA restaurant that opened at 6 to get some food and have a look at some maps for tomorrow.

We'd already discussed not heading up to Ravenscar as since we'd not made it to Ravenglass for the start the symmetry wouldn't be there anyway, and whilst going to Ravenscar wasn't much further than Scarborough in itself we'd then have to ride back down to get the train, adding on another 10 miles of coastal path. Joe had workshops at Hamsterley on Sunday and was keen to get back sooner than later, so we toyed with the idea of keeping straight on after Dalby rather than camping over and cutting out a day of riding. It was about this point that the pizzas we had ordered arrived, and we agreed that we'd see how we were feeling when we got across the Moors.

We weren't sure what to expect from the meat feast pizzas we'd ordered, but we were in no way disappointed. Almost as tall as they were wide, and smothered in cheese these were not authentic Italian style pizzas - they were the filthiest, most calorific, artery clogging monstrosities you could ever hope to see. After chomping our way through them we elected to skip pudding and head back to the tent.

Everywhere else we'd stayed I had enough of a phone signal to keep in touch with my wife, Jess, by text. In Osmotherley though neither of us had enough signal strength to send a text, so I rooted through my pockets to find some bits of change and called Jess from the pay phone at the site (I did have to get her to call me back as it was expensive to call out, and I didn't have much change). It was nice to have a chat and after I rung off it wasn't long before I brushed my teeth and crawled into the tent, hoping to get an early night. Not for the first time I found myself wishing that I'd popped in some earphones to drown out the noise of children having fun but it wasn't long until I drifted off.

Predictably once again we completely failed to get away early. By the time we’d eaten the (admittedly pretty magnificent) cooked breakfast, packed and loaded everything we’d left in the drying room, popped down to the local bike shop to try and get some spares for Joe’s bike (they didn’t have anything suitable) and stocked up on supplies it was near enough ten o’clock.

It was a pleasant enough morning, and we wove our way through the back streets of Hawes and onto a nice steady farm track climb. As we crested a rise to descent briefly I glanced at the horrendous looking road climb off to the side and foolishly said something along the lines of ‘crikey! I hope we’re not going up there.’ Joe duly checked his GPS, looked up at the road and checked again. Perhaps inevitably that very road climb was to be the next stage of our trip.

Doesn't look so bad from the top. Photo by Joe.

Following the brief respite of a short doubletrack descent we were cast into the purgatory of a road climb just the right (or wrong) side of rideable, and began to winch our way upwards. Joe, to his credit, managed to make it to the top but about three quarters of the way up I was forced to admit defeat and stop for a drink. I maintain that with a bladder (or even a bottle cage) I would have made it, but I was absolutely parched and didn’t trust myself to get a bottle out of my pocket without collapsing in the middle of the road. With the loss of momentum the rest of the climb was a mix of pushing and pedalling before we doubled back across Common Allotments on well surfaced doubletrack.

The trail soon started to point downwards and we rapidly picked up speed, slowing to pass a couple with a brace of dogs that appeared to be walking them, rather than the other way around. Shortly after this Joe called a halt. A check of the GPS revealed that actually we should have turned right at a gate where the pack of dogs were, and we’d have to climb back up. Oh well.

Sadly this didn't last too long before turning to tarmac.

Once back on the correct track we followed a fairly indistinct trail across the grass with a magnificent view of the valley we were about to descend into on our right. After bumping into a couple of walkers with accents we couldn’t place who were heading back over to Hawes and passing through a gate the trail started to descend, and for a while it was magnificent - a great mix of grass, rocks and singletrack all with that view of the drop to come on our right. Sadly it was all over too soon as we popped out onto a singletrack road and descended what felt like most of the way we’d climbed into the valley on tarmac.

After a brief snack stop to watch a young man faff with his drone (I’m sure the faff / fly ratio of a drone is even worse than the faff / ride ratio of a mountain bike) we set off on the road which soon began to tilt upwards on the opposite side of the valley. Whether it was because our legs were warmed up or it just wasn’t quite so steep I’m not sure (I suspect the latter) but this climb seemed to pass a lot more quickly than the last one. We turned off onto another well surfaced doubletrack in no time, which in turn levelled out then began to head downwards towards Aysgarth.

We hadn’t covered a huge amount of miles by this point, but they had been pretty slow miles and it was starting to get quite late in the day so we were keen to get down to Aysgarth and some proper food. This made the prospect of yet another long, fast doubletrack slightly more appealing, though by this point in the ride we were both starting to yearn for some singletrack, or at least some corners. This made it all the worse when part way down I managed to get a puncture.

Despite the look on my face this wasn't the first time I'd ever had a puncture. Photo by Joe.

At first I thought it was a pinch flat (though I wasn’t sure what I’d managed to pinch on), but when I checked the tyre and rim it turned out that actually I'd run over what looked and felt roughly like a cat’s tooth. Which was a little bit odd. I patched the tube with one of those little sticker patches (rather than a proper repair kit) and on a test inflate it wasn't quite holding air properly. I decided to chance it (despite Joe’s better judgement) that the pressure would hold it against the inside of the tyre and get us down to Aysgarth, where we could repair it after lunch.

Of course about 100 yards later it was as flat as a pancake again. One of the reasons I hadn't just stuck another tube straight in was that both of my spares were held to the back of my saddle with a sizeable amount of gaffer tape and strapping, with the theory that the gaffer tape could be removed in an emergency and reused. Of course by now most of the tape was so filthy as to be completely useless, and anything that wasn't was far too well stuck to be any use at all. So once I'd extracted the spare tubes and replaced the punctured one I was left with a ball of filthy gaffer tape to stuff into my pocket. Still, at least it was warm and not raining.

At the bottom of track (which didn't get any more exciting) we had a short section of road down into Aysgarth. The first cafe we came to was closed, the first pub we tried wasn't serving food until six and - somehow - it was already four in the afternoon. Fortunately as we continued down towards Aysgarth Falls we came across a cafe serving rather splendid (if somewhat expensive) cheese and ham toasties, and promptly wolfed down too each, followed swiftly by a gingerbread man and washed down with Coke. Since we still had a long old trek to get to the Dales Bike Centre where we were staying that night we didn't hang around for too long.

We followed the road down and past the falls, then up to a village called Caperby where we turned off onto a nice stony climb where we made good time. Soon after we turned again onto what soon became yet another horrible indistinct tussocks climb that seemed to go on forever, and get steeper as it went on. The best bit about this was the vast amount of rabbits that had made it their home, swarming across the grass making it look as if the ground was moving.

Maybe and old barn or somesuch? Photo by Joe.

Barring a short, mildly diverting bit of descent this slog lasted until the track levelled off near an interesting rock shelter and wove through the heather, following the contour of the valley. On a better day I might have enjoyed this, but by this point I was getting pretty tired and struggling to summon up the energy to concentrate on picking lines and pedal over obstacles at the same time. This track deposited is on a singletrack road where, once again, we lost what felt like at least half the elevation we'd gained on Tarmac. I appreciate that a point to point route can't always take in the best descents, but it was starting to feel like we were doing this the wrong way around.

This actually took us to a bit of Swaledale that I knew - the first time since Grizedale that I’d been on familiar territory, apart from a couple of farm tracks I’d ridden in the opposite direction before near Staveley. It was part of a loop I’ve ridden a few times from the Dales Bike Centre (where we were headed) and I knew contained some great singletrack descending over peaty moorland. A check of the map showed that actually the route we were following took us beneath this, cutting out some climbing and getting us to Fremington quicker. Since time was really starting to get the better of us by this point we decided to stick to this and hope that it took us down some fun hills.

The steady doubletrack climb was a familiar one and we winched ourselves upwards with little hint of drama. Rather than carry on straight to Apedale Head we bore left onto more doubletrack, before happening across a big old hut on the side of the hill complete with two sizeable dining rooms, replete with open fires and log piles but oddly no sleeping facilities. We trundled on along the wide, well surfaced doubletrack until it began to point downwards and speeds escalated once again. In fairness there were a couple of short stretches of nice singletrack, but on the whole we lost almost all of the elevation we had struggled to gain on yet more doubletrack. It must be difficult to put together a route like this, and it could have changed a lot in the years since it was made but it was hard not to feel a little bit short changed.

Either way, it was a relief to roll down the short stretch of road into Fremington and towards the welcoming lights of the Bike Centre, especially as it was now almost 8pm. After quickly dropping off our kit and letting know Stu that we had arrived safely we hot footed it to the local pub to make sure we were there in time to order food. I had a rather splendid chicken and bacon burger, and I believe Joe had an equally tasty beef burger. Chatting to the young lad waiting it turned out that he was originally from Hull, and supported Hull City.

After eating we headed back to the bike centre to sort out some washing and drying and have a quick shower, then turned in for the night. I was pretty well spent from the long day riding and dropped off almost immediately.