South Dartmoor CTC Album


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Thursday 20 August 1987
Tour: Dales, Pennines & Southern Scotland
Day 1 Devon to Slaidburn
13 Participants: Matthew Burrows, Jeffrey Ellis (15, Barry), Chris Hall, Michael Hall, Brett Jamieson, Gary Johnson, Michael Jones, Graham Moates, Aidan Neary (12, Saxtead), Matthew Nunn (13, Debenham), David Parry, Stephen Parry, Mark Williams
Michael's first ever tour to the Yorkshire Dales got underway at Newton Abbot railway station in Devon where the six from Devon boarded the 11:10 service for Preston. The air conditioning on our carriage was faulty so the journey was very hot. We passed the time enjoyably enough playing Liar Dice.

Jeffery Ellis joined us at Bristol, but then we ran into a slight problem when our engine broke down near Birmingham! We had to wait a considerable time until a following train could push us into Birmingham. When we finally arrived, Stephen Parry was waiting for us. His brother David was too ill to join us for day 1, but he hoped to meet up with us after a few days if he was sufficiently recovered.

We were now considerably delayed, but at least we had an electric train for the final leg of the journey to Preston. Michael and Chris Hall were waiting for us when we arrived - significantly later than the planned 16:45. The ride to Slaidburn via Longridge and Chipping therefore turned out to be something of a mad dash, and even then we arrived after mealtime. Fortunately the warden had held our meals back for us: they were really tasty, with plenty of soup for everyone.

Our dormitory was a Spartan affair, accessed via an outdoor staircase from the courtyard. It really had character though, so the night was enjoyable.

Aidan and Matthew were dropped off at the hostel by their parents during the evening, so now our group was almost complete. Gary was suffering with a bad cold and David was still ill at home, but we hoped for better health as the fresh Yorkshire air took control.
Friday 21 August 1987
Tour: Dales, Pennines & Southern Scotland
Day 2 Slaidburn to Malham
13 Participants: Matthew Burrows, Jeffrey Ellis, Chris Hall, Michael Hall, Brett Jamieson, Gary Johnson, Michael Jones, Graham Moates, Aidan Neary, Matthew Nunn, David Parry, Stephen Parry, Mark Williams
Friday morning dawned with bright sunshine, and we were all looking forward to our first full day of cycling. Graham was waiting around, joking about how funny it would be if he had a puncture - then to his dismay he found he had one!
We set off along the lane leading northwards towards Lamb Hill fell. The scenery was different to anything we had seen before, characterised by dry limestone walls wherever we looked. This was true Dales countryside, exactly what we had come to see.

Just as we were climbing the last hill, near Tatham Fell, disaster struck: Michael Hall managed to break a crank. This was not good news, and a bike shop was needed urgently if the day was to be saved. Jeffery kindly volunteered to push Michael along on the climbs - it was indeed a comical sight - but fortunately it was mainly downhill now to the junction at Forest of Mewith.

Being a local lad, Michael knew of a good cycle shop in the town of Settle, so to avoid delaying the group he set off eastwards along the back lanes to Settle while the rest of us continued northwards to High Bentham, which offered a good selection of shops. Aidan bought some athlete's foot cream from the chemist, then we bought cakes from the bakery and spent some time and money in the cafe - the wealthy ones even bought lunch there.

Three more miles brought us to Ingleton, where another bakery provided lunch, then we rode the mile and a half up the hill to White Scar caves. This was a show cave, very cold inside (like call caves) and very impressive. We were told how the original founder of the caves had struggled through cramped and submerged passageways for months to get as far as we were standing.

When the cave tour was finished we ate lunch outside in the sunshine and then headed back through Ingleton and on to Clapham, where Michael Hall had planned to meet us at 3pm. He wasn't there yet, but we decided not to walk to Ingleborough cave and Gaping Gill (a wide open sinkhole where a river drops into a deep cave) as it was a long walk and there were no potholers around to show us the way.

It was on the way to Settle that Brett managed to cause an accident that broke Mark's front forks. We hobbled on towards Settle, meeting Michael Hall on the way. He showed us to the cycle shop, Settle Cycles, which fortunately turned out to be one of the best we had ever seen. We spent hours in there - if only we could have such well equipped shops in Devon! Michael bought a new derailleur and Mark got his new forks fitted for £17. Michael had to drag everyone out when the repairs had been effected, otherwise they would have spent all their money!

The hills from Settle towards Malham were steep and not exactly what we wanted at this time of day. Eventually, however, we reached Malham Tarn, a huge lake from which a stream emerges. The reason for coming this way despite being rather late was to investigate some words on the map: "Water sinks". We followed the stream about 100 metres from the road and, sure enough, the stream just disappeared into the river bed. It was actually going down into the Malham cave system, emerging a few miles away at Airehead Springs. Sink holes are one of the typical features of limestone scenery and we were pleased to have seen one for ourselves, even though some of the youngsters thought it wasn't the most exciting thing they had ever seen!

After our busy day it's not surprising that we were late for supper - again. At least we felt we had some reasonable excuses. David still hadn't joined us so the youngsters were fighting over who would eat his meals!

The evening was passed with some games and a discussion about Mark's forks: the youngsters thought it was unfair that either Mark or Brett should have to pay for them, as it would have left them short of money for the rest of the tour, so they unanimously agreed that everyone would make a contribution! Michael was very impressed.

Some dramatic thunderstorms made an interesting display overnight for those unable to sleep through them.
Saturday 22 August 1987
Tour: Dales, Pennines & Southern Scotland
Day 3 Malham to Aysgarth
Cloudy start, then rain
13 Participants: Matthew Burrows, Jeffrey Ellis, Chris Hall, Michael Hall, Brett Jamieson, Gary Johnson, Michael Jones, Graham Moates, Aidan Neary, Matthew Nunn, David Parry, Stephen Parry, Mark Williams
There was still thunder in the air as we crossed from our annexe dorm to the main building for breakfast, with heavy showers keeping everything wet. It was a little surprising therefore that the youngsters should engage in water fights as they got ready for departure. Jeff made a big mistake when he accidentally got Michael wet!

We weren't going to be deterred from visiting the interesting features of the area by the unpromising weather, so first stop was Malham Cove, a curved crag of limestone formed after the last ice age. Originally a river ran over the edge in a waterfall which, eating away the the centre part more than the sides, led to the curved shape. Now all the water sinks into the cave system farther back and emerges at the base of the cove. The water temperature is four degrees, and for some reason Graham and Matthew competed to see who could stay in the water longest. Judging by the rock climbers we saw, the sheer rock face is ideal for climbing. We noticed that the famous Pennine Way footpath passed right through the cove.

Next on our agenda was Gordale Scar, a dramatic limestone ravine just over a mile from Malham which also boasts two impressive waterfalls. A thunderstorm broke out just as we arrived, forcing us to take shelter under the rocks, and somehow we didn't then feel much like exploring. Matthew N and Aidan were determined to have some fun, however, and went for a dip in the frothing pool at the base of the larger waterfall. Needless to say, they didn't stay in long.

As soon as the rain stopped and the boys had dried off we set off up the hill for Mastiles Lane, a CTC recommended track that crosses Kilnsey moor. It turned out to be a kind of grassy road bounded either side by typical stone walls for much of the way. The overnight rains led to our first obstacle: a flood that stretched right across the path and offered no walking alternative. A number of us got wet feet, including Michael Hall who was even caught on camera. There were a few more boggy sections at the top of the hill, where Graham and Matthew had their usual fun, and the downhill section on the far side was quite rocky, but the views were excellent and all in all the track made a very interesting shortcut.

We reached tarmac again at Kilnsey Crag, a huge limestone cliff that actually overhangs the road. We found this quite interesting - but only for a few minutes: the rain started and showed no signs of wanting to stop. We raced the mile or so to the tiny village of Conistone, looked around desperately for shelter and ended up buying chocolate at the Post Office in order to have an excuse to stay inside. It was all rather pointless however, as the rain was just getting heavier. There was nothing else to do but accept the inevitable and continue with the ride.

Kettlewell looked like the kind of place that would have lots of cafes, and it was on our route, so we sped along the back lanes through the strengthening rain and scoured the village to find the best cafe for lunch. There was in fact only one, so we dived in, removed wet coats and settled down, feeling rather pleased with ourselves. When we came to order however we were informed that they don't serve meals on Saturdays! Great! And so it was that we spent an hour in the cafe eating nothing but toasted teacakes and crumpets. It was better than being outside in the rain though - and the hot chocolate was actually very good value for money.

We had planned to take the lane route to Aysgarth through Horsehouse, but in view of the appalling weather we opted for the main road, which was reasonably flat. Graham tried being clever by pushing Brett along while riding but ended up knocking them both off. What they couldn't understand was how Michael seemed to know about it even though he wasn't near them at the time! Fortunately, Michael has his spies in the group!

When we had climbed the final hill to the village we saw the hostel immediately. It didn't look much, located as it was right beside the main road, but it was excellent inside, with good showers and small dorms.

After a good meal there were, incredibly, more water fights, although this time Jeff seemed the main target. We then walked down to Aysgarth Falls during the evening. They were indeed spectacular today, more because of the huge volume of water than the depth of fall. The water was a kind of brown colour, but we couldn't understand why.

On return to the hostel Michael was not at all pleased when the hostel phone took 53p of his money without once connecting his call. And the youngsters argued over what David would be having for breakfast (he still hadn't joined us).
Sunday 23 August 1987
Tour: Dales, Pennines & Southern Scotland
Day 4 Aysgarth to Dentdale
Wet start, gradually clearing by late afternoon
13 Participants: Matthew Burrows, Jeffrey Ellis, Chris Hall, Michael Hall, Brett Jamieson, Gary Johnson, Michael Jones, Graham Moates, Aidan Neary, Matthew Nunn, David Parry, Stephen Parry, Mark Williams
The information centre at Aysgarth is not far from the falls, and since the rain was falling again we thought that a browse around its interesting posters, information sheets and postcards would not be a bad idea. Matthew bought several posters and the staff kindly packed them into a waterproof tube with several layers of polythene bags - he looked quite funny cycling along with the tube on his bike!

We followed quiet (but wet) lanes along Wensleydale to Askrigg with the intention of stopping at a cafe, and were rewarded with the best cafe of the tour. Just the descriptions on the menu were mouth-watering: "Toasted waffles oozing with thick syrup and topped with fresh whipped cream" for example! The decor was pleasing and prices very reasonable. When we emerged the rain had turned more showery but was still not ideal for cycling, so the shop next door to the cafe provided further entertainment. Matthew saw maps for sale at lower prices than he'd previously seen, and Brett bought himself some fluffy toy creature. But then, Brett buys a fluffy toy creature on every tour!

Another few miles of riding brought us to Hawes, and since it was still raining we went in search of cafes again for lunch. We ended up splitting across two cafes. Matthew felt pleased with himself when he ordered three sandwiches and was brought three platefuls of sandwiches. He wasn't quite so happy when he got the bill though - £3.50!

Hardraw Force waterfall, just a couple of miles from Hawes, was to be our main attraction today. Entrance was just 10p and it turned out to be very impressive despite the slight drizzle. Well of course there was twice as much drizzle near the falls, so the weather didn't really matter at all. We could actually walk behind this waterfall, allowing us to fully appreciate the huge power of the water - which was still a funny colour by the way. On the way back we had plenty of fun on the tarzan rope, swinging out over the raging river!

On the way back to Hawes we passed a delightful riverside spot at Appersett that for some reason proved too tempting for some members of our group, determined to have a swim even if the weather wasn't that great. We pointed out the colour of the river, reminded them that it was called the river Ure and that it got here through Widdle-Dale (Widdale actually, but our version sounded more appropriate), but still they went in. The sensible ones watched from the bank with great amusement.

Returning to Hawes, Michael H bought his tube of travel laundry-washing cream and then we set off up the B-road through Widdale. This was a long drag and took us past several spooky-looking deserted houses, but at least the rain seemed to have cleared up. We took the right turn at the top of the hill for Dentdale and quickly found ourselves confronted with an impressive viaduct that now forms part of the Settle to Carlisle steam railway. There was a train enthusiast poised with his camera so Steve and Michael J, who both like trains, decided to wait as well. It wasn't long before the anticipated train arrived and we all got a photo of it on the viaduct. It was only a diesel today, but it still made an impressive sight.

Dentdale itself is generally considered the most unspoilt of all the dales, and it certainly felt very special as we descended through tree-lined lanes to the hostel. Perhaps it wasn't surprising therefore that Dentdale youth hostel turned out to be the best of the tour in almost every respect: it was in a quiet, secluded location with its own grounds, there was a 2-metre waterfall nearby, the meals were excellent and our dormitory was very cosy. When the youngsters had finished playing in the waterfall we settled into our dormitory for some enjoyable games of liar dice.

David was finally feeling well enough to join the tour, and he arrived during the evening with his father. Now at last our group was complete. We kept our dorm window wide open during the night: the strong wind outside ensured that everyone slept soundly.
Monday 24 August 1987
Tour: Dales, Pennines & Southern Scotland
Day 5 Dentdale to Keld
Mainly sunny, but windy
13 Participants: Matthew Burrows, Jeffrey Ellis, Chris Hall, Michael Hall, Brett Jamieson, Gary Johnson, Michael Jones, Graham Moates, Aidan Neary, Matthew Nunn, David Parry, Stephen Parry, Mark Williams
Today's mileage was not at all high so we allowed ourselves a leisurely start at our favourite hostel before heading on down through Dentdale towards Cowgill and Dent village. Along the way we stopped to explore the small river that runs past the hostel and right down the dale beside the road. The riverbed had an interesting limestone bed that just seemed to be begging us to walk across.

At Dent we discovered another excellent cafe (Stone Close) hidden in a seventeenth century building complete with flagstone floor, exposed beams and home baking. It was situated off a delightful cobbled street in a village that had character and charm. Once again we were in no hurry to leave, but when the youngsters' now traditional water fight began to get a little out of hand Michael decided it was time to go.

We returned to Cowgill in brilliant sunshine using the parallel lane on the other side of the river, then Michael Hall and Jeff returned to the hostel to collect their shorts and socks while the rest of us started the climb past Dent station. We were reunited by the time we reached the top at Galloway Gate, and here, at a height of 537m, there was a strong wind. The descent into Garsdale was followed by a small climb, bringing us back to .. Hawes again! The youngsters are getting to know it quite well now.

It was here that Gary's tyre burst. Michael patched it up and fitted a new inner tube, and then we just couldn't resist another visit to that fabulous cafe. This was certainly a leisurely day!

The ascent to Buttertubs Pass was not so leisurely, and when we finally reached the top the youngsters rested by having a mud fight! Unfortunately Steve got in the way and as a result his camera was broken. He wasn't too happy, but hopefully everyone realised that their games were getting a little too rough.

An interesting group of fluted limestone potholes known as Buttertubs lies a little way down the other side. Michael did tell the leading riders about them, but they were so excited by the downhill that they flew straight past them by mistake. The rest of us spent a good ten minutes investigating their dark and dangerous depths and took great pleasure telling the others later what they had missed. According to the locals, the correct way to pronounce the name is "Boowta-Toowbs".

The descent quickly brought us into Swaledale. We turned left towards the head of the dale and soon found the remote Keld youth hostel. It didn't look too brilliant from the outside, being a bit on the tatty side, and it wasn't exactly fabulous inside either. But the wardens were very friendly and prepared good meals for us.

During the meal, which was served in the flat-roof extension at the front of the hostel, we were surprised to find what looked like a large fluffy cat wandering around under the table. Closer investigation revealed to our amazement that it was in fact a very large rabbit! The wardens told us that he was called Henry and was fully house-trained. Naturally we all fell in love with him immediately - especially Brett, who, as we all know, loves cuddly creatures.

Washing up took a little longer than usual when Matthew broke some plates. It wasn't really his fault though - too many cooks break the plates! Eventually we set off for our short evening walk to the Catrake Force waterfall on the river Swale. The path was a bit muddy after all the recent rains but the waterfall was quite good.
Tuesday 25 August 1987
Tour: Dales, Pennines & Southern Scotland
Day 6 Keld to Langdon Beck
13 Participants: Matthew Burrows, Jeffrey Ellis, Chris Hall, Michael Hall, Brett Jamieson, Gary Johnson, Michael Jones, Graham Moates, Aidan Neary, Matthew Nunn, David Parry, Stephen Parry, Mark Williams
Our longest day dawned grey and overcast. When Henry had posed for several photographs we walked along another path from the hostel that leads to Kisdon Force waterfall. At one point there was a huge rock overhanging the path. The falls turned out to be a very scenic spot and kept us amused for a considerable time. Some swam (the water was very deep under the falls) and others took photographs but everyone enjoyed the visit.

Returning to the bikes for a rather late start we rode through Swaledale, passing Muker along the way, a village that is used in the TV series All Creatures Great and Small. We didn't have time for any cafe stops so we pressed on up the steep climb over Feetham pasture and an interesting ford to Arkengarthdale.

The village of Langthwaite had a shop where we bought various cans and packets and ate lunch outside in the chilly air. Then we were off again up another northwards climb that took us out of the Yorkshire Dales national park and onwards to the market town of Barnard Castle. Here we found a kind of bike shop come toy shop where Gary bought a new tyre, Aidan fixed his mudguard and others bought various bits and pieces.

Tonight we would be self-catering for the first time, as the hostel did not provide meals, so after a major purchase of food supplies from the excellent range of shops we pressed on through Teesdale, which took a good deal longer than we had expected. The ride was made more tedious by Matthew's blow-out and Gary and Matthew's first gear games, but eventually we reached our final attraction of the day: High Force waterfall. This was very spectacular, possibly one of the best in England with a 21m drop and a very respectable volume of water. We could even walk on top, although Michael insisted that nobody got anywhere near the edge of course.

A final few miles brought us to Langdon Beck hostel. It was located in a perfect setting, near the head of Teesdale where the valley becomes flatter. The hostel was modern inside with a nice warden and good dormitories. There was much mayhem in the kitchens on our first evening of self-catering.

Highlight of the evening was David fighting off Brett, Matthew and Gary in a play fight in the dorm!
Wednesday 26 August 1987
Tour: Dales, Pennines & Southern Scotland
Day 7 Langdon Beck to Ninebanks
Heavy rain all day
13 Participants: Matthew Burrows, Jeffrey Ellis, Chris Hall, Michael Hall, Brett Jamieson, Gary Johnson, Michael Jones, Graham Moates, Aidan Neary, Matthew Nunn, David Parry, Stephen Parry, Mark Williams
We awoke this morning to the sound of heavy rain beating down outside our dormitory window. The prospect of riding in such weather was not pleasant, so there was a subdued atmosphere amongst the group as we dragged out our breakfast for as long as possible. Eventually all our hostel chores were completed with our usual efficiency and the time came to set off. Waterproofs were applied and then we were off, heading for the top of the dale.

The top was just a few miles away and 220m higher, but this was almost the worst cycling conditions Michael had ever experienced with a group. There was cold, driving rain all the way to the top and right down the other side - they don't call it Windy Brow for nothing! We had to pedal downhill on some occasions. Our brave youngsters endured it all somehow and eventually we reached the town of Alston.

The chip cafe seemed like the best bet for hungry youngsters: it was very cold, but at least it was dry and the meals were reasonably good value. Not surprisingly we stayed in Alston for some time, taking it in turns to use the hot air hand driers in the public toilets to keep ourselves warm. We made a pitiful sight!

Michael was irritated that he had to buy a phonecard to use the public telephone, which wouldn't accept coins. Anyway, he made a quick call to the next hostel and obtained permission for us to arrive early - the warden said it was a simple hostel and we could make ourselves at home! With this encouraging news we stocked up with some basic provisions and set off once more with the rain still pouring down. After a while Michael J realised he had left his waterproof shoe covers (spatts) back at Alston, but there was no way he was going back for them now.

David, who was still not 100% fit after his illness, struggled up the hill, but at least it wasn't too far to Ninebanks. Never were so many cyclists so pleased to see the hostel, even though it was very basic. There was a single common room with an open fireplace, so the first task was to get a fire going. Once this had been done the place felt very cosy and we started the long process of drying all our clothes. Some of our less intelligent members clearly weren't too familiar with open fires and left their trainers too close. Several pairs of trainers melted that night!

Our dormitories were unfortunately in the annexe, situated on a bank behind the hostel: they were a bit cold, but at least there was an electric heater there that we could use. When we came to the warden for our pre-ordered milk he looked aghast, checked his records and admitted he hadn't noticed our order until now. He then proceeded to scurry around the hostel in search of dried milk which he reconstituted for us. He looked pleased with himself as he handed over several jug-fulls, clearly thinking he had solved the problem for us, but whilst we were grateful for his efforts, the stuff he had made up really wasn't a good substitute for fresh milk.

Shortly after that the gas ran out so he had to scurry around again to find a new gas cylinder. Then we discovered that his "shop", which was actually little more than a small cupboard, was virtually empty, so the basic provisions we had brought with us had to suffice for supper. To add to the other problems, David and Matthew succeeded in breaking a hostel mirror at one point during their horseplay, but they offered to pay for the damage so the warden wasn't too unhappy.

Despite all these difficulties the atmosphere in the common room was fabulous during the evening. We almost had the whole hostel to ourselves and spent the time playing various games by the fire. After one of the roughest cycling days we had ever experienced it was great to be tucked up warm and dry at last. We hoped that tomorrow would bring better weather, but this evening we didn't really care.
Thursday 27 August 1987
Tour: Dales, Pennines & Southern Scotland
Day 8 Ninebanks to Bellingham
13 Participants: Matthew Burrows, Jeffrey Ellis, Chris Hall, Michael Hall, Brett Jamieson, Gary Johnson, Michael Jones, Graham Moates, Aidan Neary, Matthew Nunn, David Parry, Stephen Parry, Mark Williams
Thursday morning dawned sunny and warm. It was indeed a lovely day, but we probably deserved it. Tidying the hostel took quite a while as it had to be left as we had found it, and we had taken the warden at his word when he told us to make ourselves at home! Graham, who was old enough to know better, was one of those with melted trainers, and he had to file the insides to make the comfortable enough to wear.

We joined the main road as far as Bearsbridge, stopping at the post office and general stores where Michael drew out some much-needed cash and everyone restocked on chocolate. From there we climbed the back road hill to the ridge where a long, straight roman road was characterised by the delightful smell of pine forest. Soon we had arrived at Haltwhistle where there was an excellent bakery that sold good pasties. There was a park opposite where we were able to sit in peace to eat our lunch.

In view of the problems with the milk and bread last night Michael tried to ring all the remaining hostels to make quite sure they had actually written down our orders, as we really couldn't do without milk and bread again. Annoyingly, however, only Snoot hostel answered.

When we had visited the grocery stores to get our next evening meal and breakfast we climbed the short hill to Hadrian's Wall and then rode a short distance westwards to the information centre near Once Brewed. Here we discovered that the wall was originally twenty two feet high! Some of our youngsters wasted their money on some chemical-filled drinks from a silly machine in the centre before we went to look at the wall itself.

There was an archaeological dig taking place on part of the wall near the centre which showed just how much had been buried under the soil. We were struck by the technical accuracy of the construction, made from rectangular stones, but the remains of the wall were now only a few feet high so it wasn't as impressive as we had imagined. We were all able to walk along part of the wall for a while, just so we could say we had.

We split into two groups to ride the 2½ miles to Houseteads fort, some taking the track along the wall and others taking the road. The road lot got there quicker but didn't have half as much 'fun' as the trackies who had numerous gates and stiles to negotiate. The fort itself, being the best preserved along the length of the wall, was very interesting, but nowhere near as 'free' as the sign at the bottom had indicated: on arrival we were asked to pay some exorbitant fee for entry. We politely declined and returned to the fort information centre, where we browsed the bookshop and got ripped off by the refreshments tent!

In view of the time we decided to take the road route to Bellingham rather than the shortcut track through Wark Forest. The first section was a flat roman road following the wall, then there was a downhill lane through the quiet lanes of Northumberland national park at Simonburn. From there we joined the B road northwards to Bellingham, which wasn't too bad as climbs go as it followed the North Tyne river.

We found the hostel quickly, a wooden hut at the top of the town in pleasant surroundings. When we got to reception, guess what? The warden hadn't noticed our milk & bread order 'until it was too late'! This really was unbelievable. She apologised, but we couldn't use her apologies on our corn flakes! She rang the milkman who agreed to bring eight pints by 8.30 tomorrow morning. Meanwhile she gave us a small white loaf to keep us going for the evening, and another hosteller donated two pints of milk to us. The only snag with this was that the milk was frozen! Aidan spent half an hour thawing it out in a saucepan.

The hostel store turned out to be the usual cupboard, but at least it had a few items for sale this time. On a more positive note, we had the dorm normally reserved for women all to ourselves - and as everyone knows, only the most comfortable dorms are reserved for women! There were even showers here, which was an unexpected surprise for such a simple hostel. There was no telephone however, so some members of the group went down to the village to use the public telephone during the evening.
Friday 28 August 1987
Tour: Dales, Pennines & Southern Scotland
Day 9 Bellingham to Kirk Yetholm
13 Participants: Matthew Burrows, Jeffrey Ellis, Chris Hall, Michael Hall, Brett Jamieson, Gary Johnson, Michael Jones, Graham Moates, Aidan Neary, Matthew Nunn, David Parry, Stephen Parry, Mark Williams
Incredibly, the milk saga continued this morning. Michael and Jeff went down to the local shop to buy bread, but when they returned they still couldn't have breakfast because the milk hadn't arrived by 8.30! It still wasn't there by 9, so Michael went down to the shop again, only to discover that they had only a single pint of fresh milk in stock! He bought that and five cartons of UHT milk, then one minute after he got back to the hostel the milkman arrived! All of this made us late on a morning when we really didn't want to be late at all.

Our planned route today was ambitious: taking a very long track over the Cheviot hills. There was a road alternative that was hilly and uninteresting, but we wanted to do the track if the weather was going to be favourable. As we were about to leave Bellingham the weather looked uncertain, so we kept our options open by heading through some pleasant lanes to Elsdon. Gary managed to break both his toe-straps on the way within a very short space of time.

The skies were still overcast but there had been no sign of rain yet. A vote resulted in a clear decision to go with the track, so to make sure we survived the ordeal we raided the local store of most of its chocolate stocks! David tried riding over a ditch and ended up bending his front forks - clever boy!

Then we were off, riding away from the main road towards Hepple on a long and straight road that climbed gently, continued flat for a while and then descended on the far side. The scenery was delightful (apart from the dead badger), and as we reached the left turn for Alwinton a huge hill covered with blue heather made a magnificent backdrop.

There were some phone boxes at Alwinton so Michael thought it would be sensible to ring the hostel so that we could be certain of our milk for one night. Well there were two phone boxes: one was dead and the other was '999 calls only'. So that was the end of that idea. a few specks of drizzle got us just a little concerned, but we pushed on up the narrowing road to Windyhaugh, a remote hamlet that for some strange reason actually had a school!

Now we turned right onto the bridleway that would take us over the top. It was tarmac at the start, but turned into a rough track at Trow. David was using too high a gear on the climb and snapped his chain, so there was a small delay while Michael carried out repairs.

The weather was dry again now, although there was no sign of sunshine, and we generally felt we had made the right decision. The scenery up here was wild and desolate - quite different to anything we had seen before, as there was now no sign of human activity anywhere. Soon the track turned grassy and yet remained well-defined. It continued like this to the top, at a height of 600m, so in fact the climb was fairly easy.

At the summit, called Windy Gyle, there was a fence and a wooden gate. Careful inspection of the map revealed that this was all that marked the boundary between England and Scotland. It was a bit of an anti-climax really: no border patrols, no CCTV cameras, just a wooden gate!

Now came the fun bit: going down the other side. It was fun for most of us, although it was a little boggy in places which didn't amuse Mark at all. Aidan fell off, then Gary fell off too, but nobody was hurt and anyway it was all part of the fun.

At Cocklawfoot we found tarmac again, and a ford. Here David conveniently got a puncture, so while repairs were effected the others had time to wash their bikes in the ford. Our youngsters could be seen standing in the water with their bikes, water up to their knees and trainers still on! Will they ever learn?! There were more fords down the road, and then David had another puncture - he probably forgot to remove the thorn the first time!

It felt really nice to be in Scotland, although we might have been influenced by the fact that it was downhill all the way to Kirk Yetholm. The hostel is part of the SYHA network, and when we found the warden we were confident that in Scotland at least they would have reserved our milk and bread as requested - we depended on it. It's hard to find words to describe how we felt, therefore, when she told us that she hadn't seen our milk order on our booking!

In fact it didn't turn out so bad, since for some unknown reason the milkman comes in the evening here and we were able to get our 13 pints from him. We would be able to get bread next morning, and we still had a few slices left from our earlier shopping visits that would help us get through supper.

The dormitories were nice, there was a TV room and there was a shower! The only down side was that there was a queue for the shower, and you had to pay 40p to use it! The only other noteworthy incident was that Gary managed to cut his finger somehow. But it's all in a day's hostelling.
Saturday 29 August 1987
Tour: Dales, Pennines & Southern Scotland
Day 10 Kirk Yetholm to Snoot
13 Participants: Matthew Burrows, Jeffrey Ellis, Chris Hall, Michael Hall, Brett Jamieson, Gary Johnson, Michael Jones, Graham Moates, Aidan Neary, Matthew Nunn, David Parry, Stephen Parry, Mark Williams
There were some major repairs to be carried out before we could leave the hostel this morning: Gary's front hub had to be re-greased, and Mark's tyre needed repairs when it exploded! Then we had to use the shops in Town Yetholm (close to the hostel), so it was rather late when we finally set off.

Michael needed some cash from a Post Office so we set off with all haste to ride the eight miles to the market town of Kelso before it closed. After all our efforts, however, we arrived three minutes after it closed, and of course they were totally unwilling to open the doors for us. This left Michael short of cash, but somehow we would have to manage.

Kelso was one of the most charming and quaint towns in the area, with cobbled streets, Georgian houses and a French-styled cobbled square. Shopping for our lunch in the town was very pleasant in the late morning sunshine. We had planned to visit Floors Castle, an impressive 18th century country house, but typical of our luck it was closed on Saturdays, so instead we headed to the river Tweed for lunch. Here we found a huge park lining the riverbank which provided a perfect grassy play area for lunch. Needless to say there were several water fights once lunch had been eaten.

Taking the back lanes through Nisbet our next stop was the Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre near Ancrum. Here the avenues of trees looked delightful in the sunshine. We took advantage of the excellent cafe, which charged very reasonable prices, but skipped the woodland walks as they were muddy and we were late. We did play briefly in the adventure playground however before setting off once again along the main road to Hawick and Roberton.

The lane from Roberton to Snoot hostel was delightful with trees on either side. A left turn just a mile from the village took us over a narrow footbridge into a meadow, where the hostel was a converted chapel. This was one of the simplest hostels in Scotland, so we weren't too surprised to fine the insides lacking in creature comforts. Our dorm had no ceiling, instead having a cavernous space up to the roof, and the shower was rather primitive. More worryingly, there were no real windows in our dorm, so we wondered what we would do in the event of a fire.

The warden had got our milk for us after Michael's phone call a few days earlier and had guarded it vigilantly from other hostellers who tried to buy it! During the evening we met a Rough Stuff cyclist whom some had met three years earlier at Nant-y-Dernol hostel (shortly to close I hear). He hadn't even heard of our track over the Cheviots, so we felt quite pleased with ourselves!
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