Posted by: brendaintheboro | July 18, 2017

Cycling in the Orkney Isles – part 2

pSaturday started well with a sunnyish morning. To get to the campsite, we had followed the signage which took us around the back of the town, up a lot of hills. However, we found out that cycles can come straight along the lower road , but could not take campervans or caravans, so that is the way we left the town.  It is mostly flagged on each side with cobbles up the middle and locals with cars come along here, if they live in those older houses.

We climbed up from Stromness , on the A965 and then turned eastwards on  a quiet road past the Loch of Stenness and up the B9055  called at the standing stones of Stenness. These are a Neolithic henge and are older then the famous Stonehenge .

These are about 5 miles from Stromness. We then cycled back to the main road and carried on eastwards until we came to a sign posted for Hobbister where we turned south and climbed up through flower filled meadows being grazed by  dark cream coloured cows and calves.

The majority of these animals are farmed for beef and there is only one dairy farm left in the islands. We eventually  reached the summit and could see the sea on the other side.


Part way down the hill, we had a stop in a falling apart bus shelter  with brand new shiny bike racks. We ate 2nd breakfast here and then rode down through Kirkbister and turned east on the A964 along to Kirkwall. The road rolls up and down all the way but I was pleased to be riding well and didn’t have to dismount on any of the hills.

We were in Kirkwall by lunchtime and called to Tourist information for directions to the Pickaquoy centre where the site is. It wasn’t far and we were pitched up by 1.00pm Then the rain started.

It was just then that I realised I had left my tablet plugged in at the Stromness site. What to do? We decided that I would catch the bus, with my bike , so I could ride to the site. I wasn’t too sure it would be there, but phew it was.  So with a quick sprint ( well sprint for me haha) I was back at the bus station and got the bus back.  Cost for return journey was £6.40. I should have bought a return ticket and it would have been a 10% saving.

Near to the bus station, are 3 supermarkets in Kirkwall, so it is easy to pick up food for meals. The campsite also has a fridge and small freezer for use of campers. So we cooked and had our evening meal in the tent and then went to the lounge area and had a pleasant evening chatting with other campers and an archaeology student.

Sunday  9th July 2017

The day dawned rainy but by 8.00am the sun had come out  and we sat enjoying breakfast outside. This was the day we would attend church and on the previous Friday we had met two of the church missionaries  in a supermarket car park. They told us that the members were now meeting in the local Grammar school and not where they had met for many years. Good that we knew but it was up a steep hill from the bottom of St Magnus cathedral. There were lots of tourists.

After the meetings, we had lunch and then went for an exploring ride. We saw a huge cruise liner , so that explained the large number of tourists. Locals told us that these cruise ships, while bringing in tourists are becoming a problem. There are 20,000 residents and some weeks the cruise ships alone bring in 14,000 people which can overwhelm the favourite spots. Now, if you want to visit Maes Howe you have to book in advance and you are bussed up to the site. Having been there previously, our ideas were to visit the smaller islands.


Posted by: brendaintheboro | July 17, 2017

Cycling in the Orkney Isles – part 1

We first cycled on the large island , Orkney Mainland , in 2006.  This was part of our almost 3000 mile trip around the  North Sea Cycle Route (NSCR) and took us 9 weeks. At that time, there were ferries running from Bergen in Norway to Shetland in the far north of Scotland and from there to Orkney.

We have often thought about a return visit to the Orkneys and spurred on by all the archaeological developments in the intervening years , we decided to head north. At first we considered taking the train, but due to  the wildly changing weather conditions combined with the high cost of an open rail ticket, we decided to drive north. DH does not like driving with our Kogas  on the back of the car so we decided, as the cycle distances we would cover would not be great, we would use our folders. We can get both of these and all our camping gear in the back of our medium sized car.

As I didn’t want to arrive worn out, we, well me, decided to split the journey and stay overnight at an affiliate hostel . We chose Slochd Mhor near Carrbridge and it was a lovely quiet stay. The couple who own it, also have cycle hire and cross country ski hire  but said that the snow was very poor last winter. They have a car with its own attached snow plough.

Next morning, after a comfortable  night in a twin bedded room, we were on our way to catch the ferry from Scrabster, near Thurso , over to Stromness. While waiting for the ferry we had a walk around Thurso and saw some people having  instruction in dry stone building.

The crossing takes about 1 1/2 hours but can be longer depending on weather conditions. No problem that day, as it was  very smooth sailing and we arrived at about 3.30 pm.


The ferry passes by the island of Hoy and near to the sea stack  called the Old Man of Hoy.

I first heard of this sea stack when I was a school girl and we had a visit from climber Chris Bonnington. He talked about climbing it and also about his then unsuccessful attempts on K2 in the Himalayas. I think even back then as a 15 year old, I had adventure in my soul. However, I have no head for heights, so climbing was not for me.


We still had no real idea where we were going to camp and after having a bite to eat half way up the hill out of the town, we decided to return to the Ness campsite. Its very exposed on the headland but has good facilities for cycle tourers with a lounge and kitchen but we were lucky with the weather.

Then in the evening, we had a walk around the headland which also has a golf course.


There were cotton grass and other wild flowers  as well as a number  oyster catchers on the course.


We also saw evidence of these islands involvement in WW2 and how they helped the Brtitsh Navy.


Then out to sea , there was a lighthouse and we could see seals closer in.

Did  you know that there is a society dedicated to lighthouses? I didn’t but we met some people who were on a tour to look at the lighthouses and they were on a very tight schedule to fit them all in.

Posted by: brendaintheboro | July 2, 2017

Four days of Rain

Here in the north of the UK. we can never be sure of the weather. Maybe, that is why weather is such a talking point – Will it be fine, will it be windy? We usually look at the Met Office forecast for the week ahead and then plan accordingly. What I didn’t expect was 4 days of non-stop rain. It is so dreary.

So we had a nice early morning ride on Monday and then by Friday, I was fed up. The winds were high as well as the rain but by Friday the wind had dropped and it was only a very fine light rain. So I put on my rain jacket, no rain over trousers and went out for a short ride. However, by the time I came back , the cloud had descended to kiss the ground and I was soaked through on my legs. Still, I have decided, I must be addicted to cycling LOL. Here are a couple of photos of rainy grass.

Saturday was much better , not sunny but at least dry. We decided we must go riding so headed off across to Yarm and up to Appleton Wiske.  There was some interesting foliage along the way. Giant Hogweed has become a problem and is trying to be eradicated but as you can see, they don’t get at it all.


This wasn’t going to be a long ride but the sun came out. We turned down towards the Rountons and then crossed the A19  on the bridge and then cycled along to Potto. We haven’t been to the village for many years so decided to have a little look around. We ended up in a cul-de-sac as the road no long allows access A172. So we back tracked and rode into Swainby. A couple of weeks ago I bought a new collapsible silicone sided kettle and wanted to try it our before our next trip away. So we sat in the bus shelter and fired up the little gas stove. We were drinking lemon and ginger tea in no time.

I noticed my knees were getting pink and there was a young man unloading his mountain bike from his car, so I took a chance and asked if he had any cream. He did so I covered my knees.

So after that we rode on the A172 for a short distance and then turned towards Carlton in Cleveland. We did actually ride into the village before turning back and then we were in an adventurous mood, and ended up towards Broughton but took another road that said ne heavy traffic. Eventually , we were back on the A172 , just before the turning for Stokesley so went into the High Street. I did buy some sun cream here, because I could see my knees getting very pink. I don’t get the knees out very often.

Because of that, we were able to carry on and rode along the back road to Easby and into Great Ayton. We had a stop near the stream and I noticed a couple of cycle tourists sitting further up. I could not help myself and asked if they needed any help. They were a couple of young men from Utrecht in the Netherlands and they didn’t have a cycle map . They had come up from Rosedale we think, they couldn’t remember the name, and were headed for Newcastle to get the ferry back. So we offered to be their guide to the river crossing. We took them down through the Boro and showed them the Transporter bridge but it wasn’t running so we took them along to the Barrage to cross.


P1000185 I knew we had cycled over 50 miles so we didn’t go any further with them but set them on there way following the NCN1 signage. I do hope they made it to a nice place to camp.


So that was my week. How about yours?

YTD 1812.7   Mileage this week 76.9 miles

Posted by: brendaintheboro | June 25, 2017

Solstice Week

After the heat of last week, it has been much more comfortable here in the NE of England and so with the very long days I have been able to get out  and achieve more than a century this week.

On Monday morning , we got up to wake the birds , well at least the ducks who were sleeping on the cycleway though Albert Park.



As you can see , the geese were awake. The 2 white ones make good guard dogs and squark like mad but don’t wake the ducks. It took me a couple of days to get some decent shots of the rapidly growing goslings who are now nearly as big as their parents. They are loosing the downy feathers and adult plumage is starting to show.



So most of the riding has been our usual river rides or nearby home  and the profusion of wild flowers is a delight. I don’t get time to photograph as many as I would like but I see that in Albert park, the hill with cowslips has now got these blue beauties growing instead .

I also managed to get a couple of photographs of these gulls. When I stopped to get the shot, they went further away across the field but I could use the zoom to snap them. One had darker wings than the other.

Yesterday , with 60 miles on the clock, I was out to do another 40 . We set off for Darlington but saw a chap that looked like a cycle tourist and then a short while later saw him again. He was lost in the Teesside conurbation. So we changed our plans and rode with him up to NCN route 1 at Thorpe Thewles and set him on his way. He was an interesting chap, originally from Germany but cycling around , the last place being Columbia in South America. He teaches English and was on his way up to Edinburgh to teach French youth for a month and then come back south for another stint teaching Italian youngsters. He works about 6 months of the year.

Once we had left him, we headed through Carlton and picked up the way through Redmarshall and Bishopton and rode to see Rosie at Cozy Coffee. She seems to know all her customers by name and said ” the usual, 2 hot chocolates?”  of course and we had some of her delicious ginger cake too.

Then we rode down into Darlington and I went fabric shopping. Eventually I want to try making my own swimsuit, and they had a lovely purple and white paisley. I wont get it done before our next trip, but it will be there for winter time sewing.

We came back through the Whinneys nature reserve and I did get nettled as the paths are so overgrown. Its like being in the jungle . Stopping in Elton for a short break, I snapped the lovely bus stop complete with seating.


We then took the longer way home along the river and this is my attempt at a panoramic photo.


It was very blowy but fortunately on our way home we had the wind on our backs. I do hope we get a few more weeks of summer. The forecast for yesterday , didn’t show this sunshine , so we got lucky. .

This week 106.2 miles  1735.8 YTD

Posted by: brendaintheboro | June 17, 2017

I got my wish

What was I wishing for? Sunshine? Well we got some this week whoopee!!

I have managed to ride almost every day this week. Mostly just near home, along the river or the long way to Albert Park. Still that added up to a tidy 60miles. There are flowers blooming all around and young birds are fledging everywhere. I can photograph the flowers but the birds are a bit more difficult.


This is the mass of daisies blooming along the banks of the local beck. It is humming with bees but I didn’t really get to catch one on the flowers.

Along the river, there are lots of seabirds including the black headed gulls and the larger Herring gulls. However, I cant find a photo of one of those that I took.


Today, Saturday, was very warm even at 8.00am. We decided to not go too far but I had in mind to get in 40 miles to make a nice round 100 for the week.

We headed off up through Great Ayton and then along to Easby. It was really starting to heat up and there were some lovely clear views of the Cleveland hills which we kept in sight of but didn’t climb today. I took photos of Roseberry Topping and Captain Cooke’s monument.

Captain Cook, he who sailed to Australia, New Zealand and never returned from Hawaii, was  a local boy  who went to school in Great Ayton.


I do like how I can zoom in with this new camera but I still keep forgetting how to use it.  I tried to take some panoramic shots but couldn’t remember how to do them.

We rode around through Battersby and along to Ingleby Greenhow. We had a short break and DH donned his hat under his helmet . This was liberally doused with water to keep him cool. I already had a hat on and was going to water it, but it was already soaked with sweat. DH hardly sweats at all, me I was drenched.

We carried on though Great Broughton and in to Stokesley . I phoned a friend who has a farm on the other side of the A19 but she wasn’t home. We decided not to go quite as far over and  rode along through Skutterskelf ( I do like that name) and into the outskirts of Hutton Rudby. where we turned on to NCN52 which undulated across the countryside to Seamer. As it was now 11.30am , we decided to stop under the shade of a large sycamore tree and eat. We were wondering about the age of the tree and DH thinks it could be as old as 400 years , judging by the  girth of the tree.


We rode down through Hilton and Ingleby Barwick  and down to the Tees and into Stockton before finishing off our usual riverside route. Success 40.3 miles today.

The weekly total was 100.6miles  and YTD is 1629.6 miles.

Hope you can view this record on Ride with GPS.

Posted by: brendaintheboro | June 11, 2017

Flaming June – I wish

What a week it’s been here in the NE of the UK. The weather has been more like autumn than summer with high winds and heavy rain, indeed  there has been twice the normal rainfall in about 36 hours . This is a long winded way of saying I haven’t been out cycling much,

I have had a few early morning rides but it hasn’t added up to much. As the rain pelted down and the winds blew the trees all over the place, we stayed home on Saturday and got our stuff organised for our next trip away. We hope to drive up to the north of Scotland and then get across to the islands with our folding bikes and camping gear. Its meant altering our pannier attachments from the Koga settings and DH will tow my trailer. We had a practice pack and then had a short ride to see how we rolled. Seems fine and everything will go in the back of the car, so roll on next month.

The early morning rides have seen us dodging showers but it was lovely to see just how the goslings are growing. They are obviously used to people bringing food because as soon as I stopped , they came waddling towards me at speed.  Comical to see when I didn’t have food. They looked dejected.

Anyway, my mileage this week is a measly 26 miles so that is 1529 YTD. Still it could have been worse – I might not have cycled at all. Hope next week is better.




Posted by: brendaintheboro | June 4, 2017

Mileage update



some of the wildlife we  saw last week. This week I haven’t ridden more than 22 miles in one go, mostly short 5 miles to town and back. To be honest I was tired after Tuesday’s ride and its taken a bit of recovery time. I have to remember I am not 16 anymore, even if my spirit still is.

So YTD total is 1503 miles . Not as much as this time last year but then I had the whole year and wasn’t injured .

Posted by: brendaintheboro | June 2, 2017

Missing Photos

Aldwark Church




Tents at the Festival


DH getting ready to leave the festival


It would appear that if I caption the photos,then they are not visible to some people on some devices. I really don’t know why  but I wont caption in future

Posted by: brendaintheboro | June 1, 2017

Cycle Touring Festival 2017 Part 3

Friday 26th May 2017

Another beautiful morning for our ride to Clitheroe and we didn’t have a very early start as we didn’t need to be at Waddow Hall until 4.00pm. This was a route , I rode last year with others who were going to the festival, so I had checked it out. We had ridden into town the previous evening so I could make sure that I wasn’t taking us off on a wild goose chase. It is strange though how memory can be distorted and you can think that a particular item is on one side of the road and then there it is on the other. This was the case with me, as I thought the canal would be on the right when in fact it was on the left.

There was a relatively flat ride along to Bank Newton before climbing and then a fast run down to the A682 as there is a 14% hill. The A682 isnt too busy but there were a few large agrivehicles  that past by quite closely. However, fortunately it is only about 1 mile along here before turning onto the Helifield Road and crossing a bridge over the river Ribble. Then there is a long climb but as long as descent into Bolton by Bowland.


Last year the weather was hot and so we stopped at the same small tea rooms and had a sandwich and a sit. Then it was the last bit and I knew we should go through Waddington but we missed the turning and ended up going through Sawley and on to the A59. Now that would be really scary to ride but there is a short cycle track section that takes you off the road and on into Chatburn. Another ice cream stop was called for and DH wasn’t about to offer any resistance.

Off again, we were soon into Clitheroe where we called into Lid! and bought salad for our evening meal as this meal isnt catered for. Once at Waddow Hall it was only about 2.30pm so we got our chairs out and positioned ourselves under the shade of the trees.  A new cycle tourist turned up having ridden on the A59 and nearly got wiped out. Over the weekend I believe he learned a lot about using the quieter roads.  Then what should have been a familiar face turned up but I couldn’t see it with all its face fuzz from 2 weeks away on the Outer Hebrides.

Nearer to 4.00pm Laura and Tim Moss and family  came along and told us where to pitch our tents. I have to tell you about these two. A few years ago , they went off on a round the world 13000 miles trip but when they came back wanted to do something to promote cycle touring. This was born the Cycle Touring Festival. What is different, is that it is all done by volunteers everyone donating their time for the pure love of it. NO ONE gets paid anything. So unlike other festivals that I am aware of. Sharon , Laura’s mum organises all the catering and the whole family and friends work so very hard to provide wonderful food  all day Saturday and Sunday. They deserve so much praise for this selfless service. They will be blessed. (Mosiah2:17)



Ribble lodge at tea time



the smallest tent on the site

There was so much choice in the way of speakers – again all doing it for the love of it – even paying their fees just like any other cyclist. It was impossible to go to every talk that I would have liked to. The range was from cycling with children in the Scottish Islands and Japan to a  wheel building workshop with Ghyllside cycles that went on most of the weekend and needed to be prebooked.  My favourite was by Thomas Ivor Jones , a nearly 9 year old who talked about his attempt to climb and cycle between the highest mountains in Wales, England  and Scotland. He didn’t quite make it but did clime Hardknott and Wynose passes in the Lake district. My cap off to him and his lovely family. I got to play aunty to the two little girls and loved every minute of it.



Cuban fibre tent


The weather started to deteriorate on Saturday afternoon with a thunderstorm  booming down the valley bringing some intermittent  rain. There is also a place to swim in the river and after the final session on Sunday, I had a dip in the river.  I really need a new swimming costume as my old one has finally had it. Its in the bin now so I will have to buy a new one.


Sunday night brought a lot of rain. When I had been in Malham I got a time table for a local railway , the Bentham Line running from Morcambe to Leeds and so we decided to see it we could use it to get back across east.



DH packing up and putting on rain gear – the advantage of a larger tent



So we got packed early and almost retraced our way back to Gargrave. DH pulled my trailer  and we made it back to Gargrave where there is a railway station. On the train , I found that we could buy a ticket through to Selby so that’s what we did.  Mind you, Leeds station is large with many platforms and so we spent about an hour playing musical platforms up and down lifts until we could finally board a train with room for the bikes.

Once in Selby, rain still falling, we rode up to Riccall and camped for the night. We had hoped to get B&B but Peggy and Rod were full up. Peggy was so concerned that we would be warm enough but fortunately we have good equipment and it not a problem. We also hatched a plan.

Tuesday 30th May 2017

At 6.30am DS1 turned up with his car and loaded all bags and the trailer so that we didn’t have to carry them. The morning was overcast but warm , an ideal cycling day. So it was off up the planet track and through York.



I was going really well and we stopped by in Linton to see if our friends were at home. Unfortunately not, so we sat on the doorstep and had a bite to eat. Just as we were leaving we heard a familiar laugh and who should come around the corner but our dear friend M. She was very busy but did let me use her bathroom.

In the garden were some lovely aliums and poppies and some wild bees too.


Ii is surprising how you can notice something new on every trip. This is the church in Aldwark and I have never notice the brick/stone work. It reminds me of the churches in Norfolk.

Off again and up our usual route with another stop at Asenby to refuel. In Northallerton , we met another couple who were cycle touring riding from London to Edinburgh in aid of the local air ambulance. They were really packing in the miles but didn’t have much gear relying on finding a B&B each time they stopped. Braver and fitter than me.

When we got home I found that I had ridden 74 miles in 6.75 hours which I was really pleased with.

Posted by: brendaintheboro | June 1, 2017

Cycle Touring Festival 2017 There and Back Part 2


The campsite we use in Gargrave, is right next to the Leeds Liverpool canal and a good place to stay, in an enclosed  field without car access, so is mostly used by cyclists and walkers.

There was one other cycle tourer and a walker , on the field so not crowded.


chatting in the touring field

Thursday  25th May 2017

We awoke to a misty morning.




The fog soon lifted as the sun rose and we decided to have a short ride up to Malham Cove. We  knew we had more hills to climb but without all the camping gear it was much easier and the views are wonderful.


Very soon we were in Malham and continued to climb up to the cove but were defeated by the sharp rise in the steepness of the road and the unaccustomed heat. Nevertheless, we continued walking along a foot path and then DH told me he would wait with the bikes, while I continued on. I took his photo and a lady took a shot of us both.


Not the most flattering i know but a very good record for us.

Malham Cove is limestone country and is 230ft high I believe. Once there would have been a waterfall but now a stream comes out at the bottom.



As you look around you can see the hillsides divided up with skilfully constructed drystone walls. These are hundreds of years old and a testament to using what you have. Recently, they have started courses to pass on the art of construction in this way , as the younger generations need education on the process, so that this can continue.



Once back in the village we called in to a café well used by cyclists and had apple pie and ice cream. There is also a very nice visitor centre with a full car park, which was interesting. Setting off for Gargrave, I got the gearing wrong and had to walk up the hill, the first time during the day, but then it was largely a descent. However, we passed another café and had more ice cream. It was just too hot!!!

Back in Gargrave , we sat in the shadow of the wall to get some relief from the heat.


Relaxing in the only shade we could find

I am so glad we bought these Helinox chairs years ago. I noticed others have them at the festival, or cheap Chinese copies. Whatever, they are small and light and easily packable and so comfortable.

In the evening we watched these little birds – I think a wagtale of some sort – please help TP.  They were flying into a nest hidden in the wall.


A yellow and grey bird

Then we watched harvesting by these new machines. It was like watching formation dancing as they hurtled up and down the fields, reaping for silage making.

I also did some hand washing and used this ancient mangle to wring out the clothes but didn’t put anything with a zip through. I had the sense to know , it would ruin buttons or zips.


So another successful day and a call into JD Tandems who are now based just across the canal. Only looking and drooling though.

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