South Dartmoor CTC

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Friday 17 July 1992Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): SpitchwickSunny
8 present: Neil Ault, Tom Fox (11, Totnes), James Gant, Richard Goss, Michael Jones, Chris Platt, Eliot Thomas-Wright, Andrew Watson
With Andrew, James and Tom representing the primary school this evening we were surprised at the good progress we made through Scoriton, Michelcombe and Holne. This proved to be the wrong evening to go to Spitchwick: the Telethon event had set up shop there, and the whole area was swarming with families preparing to camp there for the night. There was non-stop recorded noise coming from the record player, shattering the tranquillity of the whole valley. Riding along the track route to New Bridge felt more like riding in the centre of a seaside resort than on Dartmoor!

We departed with due haste and returned to Buckfastleigh via the relative peace of Hembury Woods.

Sunday 19 July 1992Day ride: Elender Cove (24 mi)Wet start, dry later
7 present: James Allason, Neil Ault, Richard Goss, Harry Hall, Michael Jones, Paul Oakley, Bob Taylor
The weather didn't look too promising for a beach run, so we settled into the cafe near the old Totnes Bus Station just to see whether the rain was going to stop. Four of us ordered tea-cakes, but Paul and James said they could only afford drinks. A little later, when the teacakes were half-eaten, the proprietor arrived with two more for Paul and James - with the compliments of the house! It later transpired that a woman sitting at a nearby table had overheard the boys saying they couldn't afford teacakes and had ordered them at her own expense - anonymously! Now you don't often see that kind of generosity these days. As if this wasn't enough, the proprietor gave us a bag of fresh plums as we left.

A short ride to South Brent and Aish was agreed upon, although we began to question the decision along the Avonwick road as the mist thickened and the drizzle quickened. We enjoyed lunch of sandwiches and plums by the Avon at Shipley, surrounded by dampness, and then returned to Buckfastleigh across the moor. Bob and James, both on touring bikes, weren't too sure what to say about the rough sections of the route, so they tried to sound averagely enthusiastic. The ride just happened to finish at Crofters (how Michael wished that Dave H had been out) so nobody declined the offer of hot tea.

Friday 24 July 1992
2000-2300
Weekend ride: Plymouth / Golant YH Day 1 Avonwick to PlymouthDry
6 present: Neil Ault, Richard Goss, Michael Jones, Paul Oakley, Chris Platt, Eliot Thomas-Wright
Things went wrong for Eliot this weekend. Just after leaving Avonwick he was stung on the tongue by a bee (Michael said he shouldn't talk so much). Then at Plymouth youth hostel he burnt his first piece of toast and dropped the second piece on the floor.

Friday 24 July 1992Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): DiptfordDry
12 present: Neil Ault, Clive Buckland, Richard Burge, James Gant, Richard Goss, Mark Hedges, Martin Hills, Michael Jones, Paul Oakley, Chris Platt, Andrew Steward (Junior, Totnes), Eliot Thomas-Wright
We rode together as far as Avonwick and then separated into two groups: six of us continued to Plymouth for the weekend trip to Plymouth and Golant (see below) while Budgie led the remainder homewards through Diptford.

Saturday 25 July 1992
0800-2300
Weekend ride: Plymouth / Golant YH Day 2 Plymouth to GolantSunny
6 present: Neil Ault, Richard Goss, Michael Jones, Paul Oakley, Chris Platt, Eliot Thomas-Wright
Eliot's bad luck continued today: while descending the rough track near the Monkey Sanctuary at Looe, he fell off just when he was trying to show off his mountain bike skills. Poor Eliot!

Looe was the venue for our afternoon tea stop, where we indulged in huge and extravagant ice-creams. Some of the lads were slow in getting ready to leave, so Michael took Richard around the corner to start him up the long, steep hill out of the town. In those sixty seconds the rest of the gang became ready to leave, couldn't see Michael anywhere and foolishly took a best guess at the route. It was a dead end, and involved them in quite a bit of back-tracking to rejoin Michael. Meanwhile, Richard had come back down the hill to see where Michael was...!

Golant was friendly and welcoming as always. We divided the evening between playing Frisbee on the lawn with another family and practising one of Michael's card leagues in the comfortable top-floor dormitory.

Sunday 26 July 1992
0800-1800
Weekend ride: Plymouth / Golant YH Day 3 Golant to Home (55 mi)Damp
6 present: Neil Ault, Richard Goss, Michael Jones, Paul Oakley, Chris Platt, Eliot Thomas-Wright
Sunday's ride was more of an achievement than a pleasure. We wanted to avoid an expensive train fare from Plymouth to Totnes if we could, so we set our heads into the wind and drizzle and rode for all we were worth along the main roads. Somehow we all covered the 55 miles to Buckfastleigh by 6pm - quite an achievement for Eliot, Paul, Chris and Richard.

Friday 31 July 1992Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Totnes CyclewaySunny
5 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Michael Jones, Paul Oakley, Chris Platt
This was our first chance to try out the almost-completed cycleway from Dartington to Totnes before its official opening next weekend. We were very impressed, and looked forward to the day when it would run all the way to Buckfastleigh.

Sunday 2 August 1992Afternoon ride: Tally HoSunny
6 present: James Allason, Neil Ault, Richard Goss, Eliot Thomas-Wright, Ken Twydell, Julie Twydell-Hobday
This was another quiet meander around the Staverton-Broadhempston lanes.

Friday 7 August 1992Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Destination UnknownWeather unknown
3 present: Michael Jones, Chris Platt, Eliot Thomas-Wright
Report unavailable

Sunday 9 August 1992Day ride: UnderdownDamp
6 present: Neil Ault, Richard Goss, Michael Jones, Chris Platt, Bob Taylor, Eliot Thomas-Wright
In view of the inclement weather we diverted to Bovey Tracey and the warmth of the Brookside Tearooms.

Friday 14 August 1992Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Chalk FordDry
9 present: Neil Ault, Clive Buckland, Richard Goss, Martin Hills, Toby Hopper, Michael Jones, Paul Oakley, Chris Platt, Unknown Rider 1
Toby had turned out on his touring bike hoping for a good road ride, so where did Michael lead us? Up the long, rough track to Lud Gate, down a steep stretch of open moorland to Chalk Ford, through the mud and along a very stony track to Scoriton. Michael had a touring bike and he liked tracks, so I guess he didn't expect Toby to think differently!

Sunday 16 August 1992Day ride: MansandsDry
19 present: James Allason, Neil Ault, Richard Goss, Harry Hall, Steve Harran, Ben Hobday, Karina Hobday, Michael Jones, Paul Oakley, Chris Platt, Kevin Presland, Eliot Thomas-Wright, Ken Twydell, Andrew Walker, Charlie Walker, Robert Walker, Alan Widger, Ben Widger, Tom Widger
This was an excellent ride. From Marldon we took the Westerland Valley route to Collaton St Mary, then the Stoke Gabriel road and back lanes to Northern Telecom and Churston, where Kevin and his friend from Plymouth just happened to meet up with us. There were more back lanes to explore before we stopped for lunch in a grassy park overlooking Brixham harbour and the sea.

Brixham itself was bustling with tourists, so we hastened through the crowded market place and ascended a road which Michael hoped would eventually lead to Mansands. Remarkably, he got it right first time, although a few people (notably Ken) complained a little about the rough nature of the tracks.

We enjoyed a short rest on the beach before setting off for the long journey homewards.

Wednesday 19 August 1992Tour: Yorkshire Dales Day 1 Devon to Slaidburn (20 mi)Sunny & warm
18 present: Neil Ault, Ben Collins (14, Wigan), Matthew Crabtree, Thomas Crabtree, Mark Evans (14, Chesterfield), Paul Evans (12, Chesterfield), Richard Goss, Nicholas Guard, Timothy Guard, Michael Jones, Matthew Muir (12, Lancaster), Matthew Pryer (14, Wigan), Paul Smith, Richard Sudworth, Andrew Walker, Robert Walker, Lukas Wooller (14, Liversedge), Tristan Wooller (12, Liversedge)
This was the major junior tour for 1992, taking us to the Yorkshire Dales. A good way to start any tour write-up is to list the participants in order of age, so here they all are: Andrew Walker (11, Paignton), Tristan Wooller (12, Liversedge), Paul Evans (12, Chesterfield), Matthew Muir (12, Lancaster), Robert Walker (12, Paignton), Richard Goss (13, Buckfastleigh), Timothy Guard (13, Solihull), Ben Collins (14, Wigan), Matthew Pryer (14, Wigan), Mark Evans (14, Chesterfield), Lukas Wooller (14, Liversedge), Richard Sudworth (14, Wigan), Neil Ault (16, Buckfastleigh), Matthew Crabtree (16, Bridgnorth), Thomas Crabtree (16, Bridgnorth), Nicholas Guard (16, Solihull), Paul Smith (17, Basingstoke) and Michael Jones (32, Buckfastleigh).

If you've been counting, that makes a total of eighteen - a good size for a tour. Seven were completely new to CTC tours ... but enough of the statistics: you're probably dying to know what happened!

Our first problem, in the tradition of all junior tours, was British Rail. Only four bikes are allowed on each train from Devon to the north, so poor Neil had to travel on his own to Birmingham, incurring additional costs. We tried to persuade BR that there was enough space for five, but they insisted that the rules should not be broken. Neil took the 0705 train to Birmingham, where he met up with Paul Smith and the twins for the last leg of the journey. Meanwhile Michael, Richard and Co had to wait an hour for the 0805. At least the trains were on time, so everyone finally met at Preston at the agreed time of 1315.

The traffic in Preston was nowhere near as bad as we expect in Torquay at this time of year, so we quickly found the road to Longridge. We had been cycling for several miles when Tim and Nick manoeuvred to the front and asked Michael when we'd be stopping for lunch. Of course, everyone else had eaten lunch on the train or at the station. Conveniently, there was a problem with Matthew Muir's mudguard within five minutes, so while Paul and Neil fixed the mudguard Nick and Tim ate lunch near Gibbon Bridge.

As we approached Dunsop Bridge we found ourselves behind a herd of cattle, driven along by an elderly farmer on a Quad (four-wheeled motorbike). We were so early, however, that we still had time for a detour to the Trough of Bowland. Michael had some repairs to attend to along the way, so the leading bunch reached the top first. Instead of waiting, like any other sensible tour members, they turned about and set off down the hill again to rejoin those who had waited at the bottom. They passed Michael so fast that he didn't even have time to say "Stop". Just around the corner, Tim ran out of road and found himself half-way down a stony bank with some nice grazes on his face and arms. At last they realised why Michael always leads down hills and why he never takes any notice when they ask him to go faster.

We hobbled back to Dunsop Bridge and onwards to the primitive hostel in the pretty village of Slaidburn. Here there were no carpets or bedside lamps. There were also no showers, so everyone had to wash in the sinks.

Supper was adequate, and relatively uneventful except for Andy's questionable table manners. The rest of the evening was spent on the opening stages of our marathon 18-player whist league, played on the nine bunks in our dormitory with all partners changing every five minutes or so. Michael has spent a lot of time working out sheets that told him how to arrange all the pairs for each heat so that all possible combinations were played in the minimum number of heats. It certainly got us all talking to each other.

Poor Tim suffered a bit during the night, as his arm had sustained a friction burn in addition to a graze: groans of relief rose up out of the darkness every so often as he dipped his arm into a pan of icy water he had brought up from the kitchen!

Thursday 20 August 1992
0800-2300
Tour: Yorkshire Dales Day 2 Slaidburn to Malham (37 mi)Misty start, sunny later
18 present: Neil Ault, Ben Collins (14, Wigan), Matthew Crabtree, Thomas Crabtree, Mark Evans (14, Chesterfield), Paul Evans (12, Chesterfield), Richard Goss, Nicholas Guard, Timothy Guard, Michael Jones, Matthew Muir (12, Lancaster), Matthew Pryer (14, Wigan), Paul Smith, Richard Sudworth, Andrew Walker, Robert Walker, Lukas Wooller (14, Liversedge), Tristan Wooller (12, Liversedge)
Tim Guard, closely followed by Matthew Pryer, crossing Burn Moor
Front to Back: Richard Sudworth, Ben Collins & Matthew Pryer on our dorm steps at Slaidburn YH
Tristan Wooller, Paul Evans & Matthew Muir
Stopping for a break on Burn Moor
Typical Dales scenery
Heading for White Scar Caves
The final climb towards Malham
A woodland path excursion
Our attempts to make an early start failed miserably. Somehow we managed the long, hilly road over Burn Moor to Clapham and up to White Scar caves in time for a late lunch at 1315. Matthew P broke his rear derailleur along the way, pushed the last two miles up to the caves and then had to race back to retrieve his helmet from the site of the mishap.

We put this trifling matter to one side for the next eighty minutes and enjoyed a discounted tour of the caves. They really are quite impressive, with real streams running through most of their length and an enormous cavern as large as a small cathedral at the innermost point of the tour.

Michael remembered the last time he led a tour to this area, in 1987. On that occasion, one of the participants broke a crank at Clapham and had to push the twelve miles to the bike shop at Settle. Today it was Matthew's turn, ably assisted by Paul and Neil who pushed him from either side up the hills. They had a fifteen minute start on the rest of us, and we did have a few minor mechanical problems along the way, but we were still amazed when they actually got there first!

Michael was so impressed with Settle Cycles at his last visit that he had ordered many items from them during the subsequent years. Now they had new premises adjacent to the station, so we appreciated Mark's local knowledge in locating it. Michael bought a new cycle meter cable to replace the one Neil had broken when he unpacked the bikes at Newton Abbot, and Matthew bought and fitted an expensive Shimano derailleur, thanks to some financial assistance from Michael and some technical assistance from Paul.

Some long climbs awaited us on the last leg to the hostel. We eventually arrived (as usual) just as the meals were being served, having forfeited our right to a menu selection. Richard S, who is on a gluten-free diet, was quick to voice his displeasure at the fruit juice, salad and yoghurt that the warden had selected for him: he wanted something hot, and he did his best to make sure that nobody else enjoyed their soup, pizza or sponge pudding!

When everyone had showered we completed the Whist League. The victor on this occasion was Lukas Wooller Esquire - sheer luck of course!

Friday 21 August 1992
0800-2300
Tour: Yorkshire Dales Day 3 Malham to Aysgarth (28 mi)Cold start, sunny later
18 present: Neil Ault, Ben Collins (14, Wigan), Matthew Crabtree, Thomas Crabtree, Mark Evans (14, Chesterfield), Paul Evans (12, Chesterfield), Richard Goss, Nicholas Guard, Timothy Guard, Michael Jones, Matthew Muir (12, Lancaster), Matthew Pryer (14, Wigan), Paul Smith, Richard Sudworth, Andrew Walker, Robert Walker, Lukas Wooller (14, Liversedge), Tristan Wooller (12, Liversedge)
The walk to Malham Cove
Preparing to leave Malham YH
Ben Collins leads the climb of Gordale Scar
Tim Guard sandwiched between the Crabtree twins at Malham Cove
Mastiles Lane
The climb to Mastiles Lane
The road to Aysgarth
Mastiles Lane
There are lots of interesting limestone features around Malham, so when Michael had fitted his new cycle meter cable we set about inspecting Malham Cove, where a river emerges from the base of an 80m cliff face. The feature was originally formed by the river when it flowed over the top and dissolved away the valley back as far as the present cliff, but then the river found a way through the rock itself, carving out a system of caverns deep underground.

Next stop was Gordale Scar, formed by rapid waterfall retreat during the ice age. There should have been some water left there today, but it was bone dry. When Paul reached for his camera he remembered with horror that he had asked Andy to look after it at the cove. Did Andy have it now? No, he'd left it on the grass by the river. So Paul had to go back for his camera while the rest of us enjoyed some rock climbing.

Mastiles Lane was a long, steep climb. The ford that Michael remembered at the top had dried up completely, an indication perhaps of the general drought in the area this summer. The top seemed like a good place for lunch: the long, stone walls which lined the lane offered a little protection from the chill wind that was blowing across Kilnsey Moor. There wasn't much to eat, just the bread left over from breakfast and a few other items that we'd managed to buy from Malham post Office that morning.

There was an equally steep but rocky descent on the other side of the moor, which tempted Robert to demonstrate his mountain-biking expertise to the rest of the group. His breakneck descent ended abruptly when his pannier hook became entangled with his wheel. Nick had lost a mudguard bolt, so the ride was temporarily suspended while repairs were effected.

At last the sun was emerging. A mobile cafe by the road near Kilnsey Crag looked quite tempting, although Robert was nearly knocked flat by two speeding motorcyclists as he blindly followed Michael across the road. Closer inspection revealed that the cafe sold nothing but soggy white sandwiches and fizzy drinks, so we pressed on to the cafe and ice-cream parlour in Kettlewell.

The final leg of the journey to Aysgarth along the B6160 was all flat according to Michael. It was certainly flat through Starbottom and Buckden, but he'd forgotten the little bump called Cragdale Moor. He wasn't too popular for a while, so he tried to change the subject by pointing out the dried-up stream beds and waterfalls, and a miniature version of Malham Cove.

Aysgarth hostel is a comfortable four-storey mansion situated in the centre of the small village, boasting hot showers, an enormous dining room and good food. We made the most of the dry evening by walking around Aysgarth Falls, famous in recent times as the location of an incident in the film Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves. A few enthusiasts walked the half mile or so down stream to view the middle and lower falls, thinking up rhyming nick-names for other members of the group: Tristan won easily with his slanderous jingle about his brother!

Friday 21 August 1992Evening ride (Buckfastleigh): Destination UnknownWeather unknown
2 present: Clive Buckland, Martin Hills
Report unavailable

Saturday 22 August 1992
0800-2300
Tour: Yorkshire Dales Day 4 Aysgarth to Dentdale (23 mi)Dry start, wet afternoon
18 present: Neil Ault, Ben Collins (14, Wigan), Matthew Crabtree, Thomas Crabtree, Mark Evans (14, Chesterfield), Paul Evans (12, Chesterfield), Richard Goss, Nicholas Guard, Timothy Guard, Michael Jones, Matthew Muir (12, Lancaster), Matthew Pryer (14, Wigan), Paul Smith, Richard Sudworth, Andrew Walker, Robert Walker, Lukas Wooller (14, Liversedge), Tristan Wooller (12, Liversedge)
Tristan Wooler, Mark Evans & Lukas Wooler at Aysgarth YH
Ben Collins & Matthew Pryer at the back of Aysgarth YH
Matthew Muir & Richard Goss at the front of Aysgarth YH
Robert Walker at Aysgarth YH
The Dentdale viaduct, on a very wet afternoon
Paul Smith & Mark Evans outside Skeldale House, Askrigg, used in the tv series 'All Creatures Great & Small'
Michael woke up to a pleasant surprise this morning. Another hosteller, who had been observing the group the previous evening and during the preparation of breakfast, went out of her way to say how impressed she was with the youngsters' good behaviour! This was definitely going to be a good day.

First stop was to be the Information Centre, just around the corner from the falls. As we rounded the corner Richard S realised he had left his water bottle at the hostel, so he and Paul dropped off the back to fetch it. Sadly they didn't inform Michael, and they didn't see the rest of us turn into the Information Centre. It was ten minutes later when Michael realised they weren't there, and guessed that they were probably hurtling along the road at top speed trying to catch us.

We set off in leisurely pursuit, confident that they would have stopped at the first junction. But they hadn't. It was Askrigg before we found them, bewildered and exhausted.

Mark (the fountain of local knowledge) pointed out that the nearby house was called Skeldale House - the same Skeldale used in All Creatures Great and Small. While we were taking photographs, the owner opened the door and asked us if we'd like to look inside. He didn't tell us that the only part of the inside we'd be allowed to see was the entrance hall, and he didn't tell us about the large, eye-catching donation box: clearly this was a well-rehearsed routine.

The CTC-recommended cafe situated just down the road from Skeldale was a real treat. It was laid out like a village farmhouse and offered a small range of delicious home-baked scones, cakes and fruit pies. Service was slow, but the delicious smell wafting out of the kitchen held us firmly in our seats until the orders had been delivered. While we were waiting, Lukas spent ten minutes trying to follow the simple directions to the lavatory: "...the sliding door on the right at the top of the stairs".

The weather deteriorated quickly as we sped on to Hawes. Here we discovered that Andy had no money left: it seemed that he had spent £30 on sweets and Kendal Mint Cake! We bought lunch (mainly from the nearby chip shop) and then tried to decide where to eat it. Mark suggested a grassy riverside meadow on the outskirts of the village (this boy seems to know everything about the Dales), so that's where we headed.

We had a good deal of fun despite the rain. Michael showed Robert the Triffid-like plants that grew thickly in the river bed and told him, in the straightest voice he could muster, that they were dangerous and would grab hold of anything that touched them. Robert then proceeded to test the theory by gingerly prodding the plants with a long stick - to Michael's extreme delight!

Now the rain was falling in earnest, so we began the long climb through Widdale to the deserted houses near the top. One didn't look quite as deserted as Michael remembered it: the windows were still boarded up, but there was a notice on the padlocked door about junk mail! Paul E was all for enticing them out but we managed to restrain him and made a hasty departure before he had any more bright ideas.

It would have been very obliging if a steam train had decided to use the viaduct at the head of Dentdale while we waited there. This is part of the famous Settle-Carlisle railway, and very popular with train enthusiasts. We gave up after ten minutes in the rain, and set off down the hill for the final mile to the hostel. As we arrived we heard a train cross the viaduct.

We were over an hour early, and fully prepared to set off again for an hour-long detour. The wardens were in the grounds, however, and took pity on us. Thus began a very comfortable evening of luxury in this secluded country house. There were hot showers, comfortable dormitories, and the warmest, cosiest common room you could wish to find. The rain beating against the windows made it all the more welcome.

Every hostel has to have its bad points I suppose, and the problem at Dentdale was the meals. The other problem on this particular night was the small group of adults who shared the second dorm with our older teenagers: they insisted on having lights out at 10.30 (which of course they have no right to do) and even had the cheek to complain to Dorm 1 at 1045 for making too much noise! Michael was ready for them if they came back again, but they didn't - which was rather a shame really!

Sunday 23 August 1992
0800-2300
Tour: Yorkshire Dales Day 5 Dentdale to Keld (20 mi)Dry but windy
18 present: Neil Ault, Ben Collins (14, Wigan), Matthew Crabtree, Thomas Crabtree, Mark Evans (14, Chesterfield), Paul Evans (12, Chesterfield), Richard Goss, Nicholas Guard, Timothy Guard, Michael Jones, Matthew Muir (12, Lancaster), Matthew Pryer (14, Wigan), Paul Smith, Richard Sudworth, Andrew Walker, Robert Walker, Lukas Wooller (14, Liversedge), Tristan Wooller (12, Liversedge)
Dent stores
Dentdale YH
Paul Evans, outside the Dent restaurant
The restaurant in Dent
Richard Goss completes the climb out of the secluded Dentdale
Mark Evans, Paul Evans and Matthew Muir, in Dent
Buttertubs
Lunch near Garsdale Head
The day began with a ride to the picturesque village of Dent, about five miles down the dale. Here we were surprised to receive another compliment, this time from the local shopkeeper who thought we were "a lovely, well-behaved bunch of lads" or something to that effect. There was time for refreshments in the local restaurant before we had to leave the cobbled streets and cycle back towards the hostel on the other side of the river.

Our road out of Dentdale started a couple of miles before the hostel. Paul and Nick had kindly volunteered to speed ahead to the hostel and collect the bread and margarine that we'd left on the tree stump. Now we met up with them again near the station at Garsdale Head. Here was another opportunity to see a steam train, but the timetable outside the station informed us that we'd have to wait two hours for the next train. There was a strong, chilly wind, so we left as soon as we'd finished our lunch.

When we had reached the top of the hill and were just ready to set off, young Tristan fell off his bike and cut the palm of his hand rather badly. It was clear that it would need stitching, but getting NHS treatment seemed rather difficult. The ambulance service suggested ringing the doctor at Sedburgh, and the best he could suggest was that Tristan cycle the 9 miles to Sedburgh health centre to meet him. Michael tried to get a taxi from the town, but he and Tristan had cycled all the way into Sedburgh before it even left.

The doctor was very good: he provided Tristan with a knotted handkerchief for his mouth and tied him to the table while the operation was performed. Actually that wasn't quite true, but Tristan did find it rather painful. While we were there, Tristan's parents just happened to drive past the health centre and just happened to spot their son's bike - quite a coincidence.

Meanwhile the rest of the group had cycled back to Hawes, looked at the waterfall and climbed the long, hard ascent to Buttertubs. They waited there for a while, but set off for Keld at the agreed time. Michael and Tristan caught them up at the hostel after taking a taxi as far as Buttertubs.

The main feature of this hostel used to be an incredibly cuddly long-haired rabbit called Henry who wandered around the dining room, cat-style, during the consumption of meals. The hostel now has new wardens. When asked about the rabbit they related the story of the Public Health inspector who reputedly had Henry shot for leaving dung on the dining room floor.

The evening was spent with everyone engaged in various debates and water fights - the "watching Star Trek Videos" option which Michael had offered seemed to be a non-starter in the absence of a VTR.

Monday 24 August 1992
0800-2300
Tour: Yorkshire Dales Day 6 Keld to Langdon Beck (35 mi)Dry
18 present: Neil Ault, Ben Collins (14, Wigan), Matthew Crabtree, Thomas Crabtree, Mark Evans (14, Chesterfield), Paul Evans (12, Chesterfield), Richard Goss, Nicholas Guard, Timothy Guard, Michael Jones, Matthew Muir (12, Lancaster), Matthew Pryer (14, Wigan), Paul Smith, Richard Sudworth, Andrew Walker, Robert Walker, Lukas Wooller (14, Liversedge), Tristan Wooller (12, Liversedge)
Keld YH
Keld YH
Lukas Wooller, immersing himself in typical Dales scenery
Dales scenery in Swaledale
Ben Collins experiences High Force waterfall
Richard Goss and Paul Smith, heading out of the Dales
Andrew Walker, Neil Ault and Matthew Muir view High Force waterfall from above - with great care!
This was destined to be a long ride, so we set off early for the first leg to Muker, along the beautiful Swaledale. Along the way, Lukas managed to fall off (not to be outdone by his brother), and Ben broke his pannier rack.

We climbed over Reeth Moor, enjoyed the descent into Arkengarthdale and then set about another strenuous climb to Hope Moor. Here was the end of the Dales national park, although the scenery didn't change that much as we crossed the line.

After a few more miles of exhilarating downhill and flat roads we found ourselves in Barnard Castle for what should have been a brief lunch stop. By the time we had visited the bike shop, purchased a new rack for Ben and fitted it to his bike, however, it was late afternoon and we were well behind schedule.

Next stop was High Force waterfall, situated in Teesdale. It was well worth the short walk, although several opted to wait by the bikes and missed the whole spectacle.

We crawled into Langdon Beck hostel, high up the valley, just as the delicious evening meal was being served. The hostel was just as comfortable as Dentdale with even better dormitories. Our second debate continued into the hours of darkness.

Tuesday 25 August 1992
0800-2300
Tour: Yorkshire Dales Day 7 Langdon Beck to Greenhead (32 mi)Very windy but dry
18 present: Neil Ault, Ben Collins (14, Wigan), Matthew Crabtree, Thomas Crabtree, Mark Evans (14, Chesterfield), Paul Evans (12, Chesterfield), Richard Goss, Nicholas Guard, Timothy Guard, Michael Jones, Matthew Muir (12, Lancaster), Matthew Pryer (14, Wigan), Paul Smith, Richard Sudworth, Andrew Walker, Robert Walker, Lukas Wooller (14, Liversedge), Tristan Wooller (12, Liversedge)
Lukas Wooller performs while the rest shelter from the wind
Langdon Beck YH
The long climb
Lukas Wooller on the telephone box, sampling the wind
Matthew Muir & Tristan Woolder explore Hadrian's Wall
Mark Evans shelters from the wind
A headwind can be a major problem if it is strong enough, and this morning we had a real beauty all the way to Alston. The first three miles to the head of the valley took more than two hours and left some of our younger riders rather demoralised. Even strong and experienced riders were being blown off the road or stopped in their tracks. A telephone box and numerous grassy ditches by the road offered brief respites from the elements, but it was lunch time before we found ourselves in Alston village square eating hot food from the nearby Chip shop.

The going was a good deal easier after lunch as we veered northwards in the shelter of the valley of the river South Tyne. Paul E went so fast at one point that he fell off and grazed his knee. Once he had been patched we made good progress, and soon found ourselves looking at the sections of Hadrian's Wall near Haltwhistle. Conditions were still grey, windy and cold, so we quickly headed westwards to Greenhead, the location of our last hostel.

Greenhead is unlike many other simple hostels in that it is unappealing. The dormitories are dismal as a result of the poor lighting, and the common room / dining room is just too large to be cosy. Neil thought the overall effect was that of a cell block! We wouldn't have stayed here if we'd had a choice, but we needed to be within easy reach of Carlisle for tomorrow's train, and Greenhead was in the best position.

After an unexciting meal (particularly unexciting for Michael whose specially-ordered vegetarian pie had been taken by another hosteller) we managed to squeeze everyone into the largest of the dorms for the traditional end-of-tour chat.

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