Thursday, 24 September 2015

An Active Autumn

A 6am start from Sheffield, just before the August Bank Holiday, saw three of us embarking on the 170 mile Way of the Roses which required a minibus ride across the Pennines to Morecambe where in bright and blustery conditions we paid a visit to Eric's bronze statue with the Lakeland Fells as a backdrop after a substantial builders' breakfast in a beachfront caff.
Over the next 3 days we covered around 70 miles a day heading first to Lancaster on an old railway line and then up in to the Yorkshire Dales via quiet lanes and empty byways. The Bank Holiday crowds were largely avoided as we passed through stunning scenery and toiled up long ascents before flying down country lanes to sheltered valleys. We were very fortunate in having dry conditions and an occasional tail wind with comfortable B&B accommodation easing weary muscles. Good pubs restored our energy levels each evening with lunch stops taken on the hoof at such gems as Clapham where we rested by the lively stream. A steep climb out of Settle tested our stamina and the the fast descent at Greenhow Hill our nerve before a night outside Pateley Bridge in a stone farmhouse.
After Brimham Rocks the going became easier as we passed through Ripon and York although new construction work in the latter's centre caused some temporary route finding challenges. We picked up a spare tyre for one bike before heading to Millington near Pocklington for another good night in the local pub and a solid night's sleep. The second puncture of the trip appeared overnight but was soon sorted and before long we were spinning through the delightful Yorkshire Wolds and towards the east coast where as we dropped in to Bridlington we had the first and only rain of the trip  - a short sharp shower - which soon cleared away and allowed us to arrive warm and dry at the B&B having negotiated the BH visitors enjoying the lengthy sea front.
We walked a few miles south on the sandy beach to ease tired muscles and enjoyed a good curry that evening to celebrate three memorable days - a huge thank you to Andy and Mandy for great company, a barrel of laughs and a bagful of memories and also a big thumbs up to Sustrans for a superb and well thought out route that exceeded our expectations.

Back in Shropshire I decided not to tackle the coolant pipe precautionary work on the van as a new part sourced from VW looked as if it wouldn't fit so I will wait until the MOT next week and have it done alongside any required work. 

In early September I spent an enjoyable few days supporting Sarah and Liz as they tackled a four day horse trek - the Brecon and Radnor Loop which started above Talgarth and rather like our Way of the Roses passed through stunning scenery on little used roads and tracks. I assisted at the odd busy road crossing and Crad assisted in a transit through Brecon before the usual team gathered for the pre Brecon Beast preparatory work with signs assembled, the campsite facilities installed, T shirts collected and the water and fruit supplies collated. 
Good weather saw a trio of us heading over the Beacons in rented 4x4's to ensure that the 800+ riders would have a safe and enjoyable day. Warning signs at steep descents, refreshments at the top of steep climbs and signage on the remoter sections to reassure riders visiting this stunning area for the first time all formed part of a well practiced routine.
The actual event passed very smoothly - a large number of marshals around the course, admin teams back at Beast HQ, Brecon Mountain Rescue on the tops and a group of us roaming around the route to provide mechanical assistance, deal with issues as they arose and remove the signage after the last of the riders all worked as efficiently as ever to ensure that everyone was accounted for and a substantial amount raised for local charities. I would like to thank Dale as usual and Chris for his first year of involvement as both worked hard at a a variety of tasks and gave considerable support to this very worthwhile event.

Later that week I traveled back to Shropshire to share a family day in memory of Dad who passed away two years ago - as always Mum amazed us with her fortitude and determination to enjoy to the full her new life and opportunities despite the sad event that triggered off so many changes.
 
More recently I met an old friend in mid Wales for a couple of days of mountain biking which included a visit to our bothy (Moel Prysgau) on the Towy that for once was in immaculate condition although frustratingly only the very next day another irresponsible group of off roaders drove in and left large amounts of litter, churned up the ground and yet again caused damage and destruction.
We will try and get in and clean up again soon but consideration needs to be given to more serious deterrents as otherwise we may lose the use of this very special place.
I was impressed by Greg's T4 camper - very similar to my venerable beast but with a quarter of the mileage - which he picked up for a very good price and we managed to shoot some good Go Pro footage as I now have faith in the suction mount that I purchased recently.
On our journey across the Cambrian Mountains we caught up two well laden BMW bikes with strange but familiar plates - Marco and Ursala were from Wellington New Zealand and were at the end of a 6 month European tour that had begun with shipping the bikes to Dubai for a trip through Iran, Turkey and then north - their blog here is well worth a browse and will keep me amused and inspired for some time.



I am currently looking after a smallholding near Brecon where a few of us gathered for a long walk on a section of the Epynt Way and a good mountain bike ride over local hills to Brechfa pond followed by a walk in blustery conditions around the Usk reservoir neat Trecastle.
Reroofing one of the old barns awaits the last of the materials to complete the job which should soon be done so meanwhile the scaffolding offers a unique opportunity to photograph the house and fields and the airy barn will allow me to check over the van before the MOT early next week. 
 The outcome of this will dictate my activities for a week or two but I hope to head north in early October for a few days, return via the motorhome show at the NEC and hopefully gather with friends for a few days before we head to South America in late October. A visit to the Practice Nurse today saw the last of my inoculations so a mild dose of Yellow Fever is possible over the weekend - but at least they are all done so it is now a matter of arranging some travel insurance and funds prior to departure.

Piccies sit here and where I sit sits here - an update will follow in early October.