Cleveland Hills - Eastern England - CycleBlaze

June 9, 2018

Cleveland Hills

south to York via Sutton Bank

The fairly new back door of the B&B is made of oak and the owner asks me how much I think it cost to get made and fitted and I have no idea, so he let's me know it was 1,400 quid and adds for emphasis that the first house he bought in the village cost a lot less than that.

It's 9:30 when I freewheel past Osmotherley's small village green and ride south on a quiet road, enjoying the downhill for a while. Trees overhang the tarmac and it's cool and gloomy, with the sky overcast again.

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The road comes to a decent ford and it seems wise to ride over the small wooden bridge next to it as no doubt the surface of the algae-covered concrete is slippery. After a while and a slight incline I reach the edge of a village called Thimbleby and get my map out only to see that I've missed a left branch way back, on the edge of Osmotherley,so I turn around. It's hard to believe my silly mistake.

The road curves and reaches a point where a few cars are parked and the tarmac continues to the left and in front of me is a wooden gate, behind which a rough track goes more or less straight up a slow hill, veering past a rounded peak. A sign points the way as a national cycle route.

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It's gentle at first, but very bumpy and quite hard work pedalling on the loose stones. Clicking into my lowest gear, the chain comes off again and wedges in the space between the spokes and the sprocket, but thankfully it's easy to dislodge it. Walking seems like a good idea as its not really much slower. The humidity is high and I sweat, making my yellow cotton cycling cap damp so it comes off. 

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Voices that have a sense of excitement to them herald the top and I find a couple of mountain bikers enjoying a rest and we chat for a second and they tell me I'm carrying a lot of gear. Their bikes are light and expensive looking, with huge tyres that are ideal for this terrain. It's true. Low heather covers the Moors and our view is one of unspoilt countryside that seems endless and they tell me about a cafe called Paradise, which is about five miles away. That's my next goal.

The track wiggling ahead is quite easy going as it's pretty level with a compact surface and it's OK to pedal away at a decent speed and while the sky is overcast, it doesn't look like it'll rain. That's good as there's no shelter at all up here - not even a tree, apart from a handful of firs way off  the route.

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I pass a track leading down to a remote farm and a sign confirms I'm on the Cleveland Way and heading to Sutton Bank. Soon after a few mountain bikers ride along going the other way  and my speed increases on a long gradual descent and although the trail is just a narrow walking path, I can maintain a decent speed. My bike rattles with the panniers and other stuff clipped on it.

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A group of around 10 mountain bikers watch me speed down towards them and once I brake they tell me the right way to Sutton Bank is a small trail to the right. After asking about the Paradise cafe, they tell me the best place is at a flying club that serves tea and toast for just a quid. That's my new goal. It's hard to believe you can get tea and toast for a quid.

At the junction with the A170 is a building with loads of bikes outside, so I go to check it out and find it's the park's centre at Sutton Bank. There's a cafe and I can't resist and order a soup and sit inside and chill out for a while. There are about 10 tables and most are full. This must be the Paradise cafe.

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The road drops steeply and I know the White Horse is nearby and want to get a view of it similar to the one Frank Patterson drew. The road takes me to a village and I check my map to see that I've missed a turning and when I glance behind, the White Horse is on a hillside, so I turn around and eventually find a spot to take a snap. It's not the same as the sketch, but it'll do.

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I've another Patterson drawing to replicate and the one of Byland Abbey won't involve riding too many more miles. The ruined arch over the road is the same, but a tree has grown next to it and now obscures the Abbey. It's frustrating. Nevertheless, I place the camera and tripod beside the road and take a self-timed shot and then take a look at the main building before heading towards Coxwold.

It's 1.30 when I get the crossroads at Coxwold - a pretty village where I should go left, but I impulsively decide to have a look around as there's a pub and a B&B here, but the old house I saw on Streetview doesn't have a sign outside now and the pub opposite is clearly closed and in need of renovation.

I go in the village post office/shop and get a drink and the lady behind the counter tells me the B&B stopped doing business a while ago and although the pub was scheduled to be re-opened, the deal fell through. She confirms the next possible bed is near Castle Howard.

There's a pub 50m up the road, so I go there and order a pint of lemonade and sit outside and check my map. There's only one place to stay near Castle Howard and it'll probably be full with it being a Friday.

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It's 4:20 when I get to Castle Howard and the car park is full and there are tourists from around the world. The ticket is 12 quid and the place closes soon so I don't bother paying and ride back past the cars and head towards the gate marking the southern entry. It, like the rest of the place, was built to impress and I take a snap of myself riding through it's stone arch.

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There are virtually no places to sleep now until York, which seems strange in such a touristy area. As I pedal along, a guy on a road bike comes up behind me. He's from York and knows these roads well, which saves me checking my map. 

This guy's speed is fast and we go along at 25 km/hr most of the time, with my computer reading over 30 at times. He eventually leads me to a cycle path and we weave along and head towards the city center before bidding me farewell and I go in search of a central hotel.

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The first place doesn't have vacancies and the hotel across the road quotes me 190 for a single, and the next place is almost as much. Apparently it's Gay Pride weekend and York is crammed, so it seems best to just get back to Dave's and I ride to the train station and buy a ticket for the next departure, which leaves at 7:30 PM.

I gulp down two bottles of drink and scoff a couple of energy bars bought from the W H Smiths on Platform 1 and wonder where to go next.

Today's ride: 92 km (57 miles)
Total: 429 km (266 miles)

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Comment on this entry Comment 2
Scott AndersonI’ve wanted to make it to Yorkshire for years now. It looks like a magical place. Maybe later this summer, if travel is possible again by then. Soon though, in any case.
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3 years ago
Graham FinchYou'll really enjoy it, Scott. I've explored the place a few times. Just make sure you have some low gears!
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3 years ago