We've used the Settle to Carlisle railway before to get to a distant starting point and then ride home. One time we rode back from Kirkby Stephen via Buttertubs and Fleet Moss, another we rode back from Garsdale Head on the Pennine Bridleway.
With Cath away on a weekend's biking in Swaledale I thought I'd get some distance done on the mountain bike so headed down to Skipton to catch the early train. Except I didn't as there were engineering works on the line so a replacement coach service was in place. There were just two of us on the coach and the other lad got off (after we woke him up) at Settle.
My plan was to start from Horton in Ribblesdale and begin by taking the Pennine Bridleway as far as the tops between Stainforth and Settle then work my way to Malham, Kilnsey, a couple of moors and back to Skipton. About 100Km in total.
I started to head in the wrong direction - North - to pick up the route near the new(ish) bridge over the Ribble. Very fancy it is too. Once over the Ribble and across the main road it was a long steady climb on to Sulber Nick. The first part was pretty cut up by the resident cattle but once out of their enclosure it was fast riding over the grass covered limestone to Long Lane. I normally ride up this so it was quite nice to not have to fight upwards through the steps and loose rock. A turn left at the bottom and I was soon in Austwick.
The next few kilometres were a complete contrast to what I'd just done, instead of open views I was riding ancient valley rights of way enclosed between stone walls. A bit of road work to get to Stainforth then the first big hill of the day. Which meant get off and walk as the bottom couple of hundred metres are silly steep. Once the angle eased it was back in the saddle and full gas again. Unfortunately no sooner have you gained height than you have to lose about half of it before climbing again. At the top of this climb I decided a food break was in order as the next few Km were heading directly in to the wind.
Those next kilometres were hard work! and I was quite glad to turn uphill(!) and start to get some help.At the summit the route didn't head towards Malham but away from it, down Stockdale Lane. In dry conditions and with the wind behind me it was pretty quick. I even managed to clean one section that I'd not done before - getting the right line helps as does being able to see where you are going!
Back on tarmac again it was a left turn and over to Kirkby Malham then Malham and another chance to grab some food. Whilst sat on the bench I thought I'd check out a persistent squeak that my drivetrain was making, I thought it was one of the pedals. It turned out that the bearings in the bottom bracket had gone! Effectively the end of the ride so I thought I might as well have a coffee and cake in the cafe before nursing the bike back home.
There were a couple of bikes outside the cafe and it turned out that they belonged to a couple of club members so plenty of time for a chat. Getting home was a matter of taking the roads and taking it easy - I wasn't going to do any damage to the bike itself but I didn't want the bottom bracket fitting totally disintegrating on me.
Despite cutting the route short, I still managed to have done 75Km so not a bad day out. One internet order later and I'd replaced the bottom bracket, which had lasted about 2000Km, with a Hope one.