Monday, 27 March 2017

3 Days Out... Friends, Bikes and Sunshine

So another weekend, another multi day trip planned... 

This time Geoff & I decided to get out on our bikes with a plan to test out some new kit, check out some new lanes and just go for a ride around the Northern Counties. It was a little bit of a repeat of the 4 day trip I did a few month's back, but with a day knocked off and a load of new B roads and lanes to see where they took us.

We loaded up the bikes, both of us trying out new pannier systems for the trail bikes. Me with the Giant Loop Coyote, bought from Adventure Spec and Geoff with his Ortlieb motorcycle panniers. Space wise both of these were fine for these kind of multi day routes, both sat well on the bikes and never moved, no matter how bouncy or raggy the riding got. Geoff's are easier to pack as they are a simple shape and although on this trip we never saw a drop of rain, they are supposed to be fully water proof. He picked them up off Ebay for £80 as a second hand pair, so a bargain!

The Coyote's sit really well on the bike and remove the need for straps across the seat as their horseshoe shape means they don't go anywhere anyway. Again very solid on the bike, a bit more of a pain to pack, with a little bit of wasted space, but as this was first time using them, we'll see whether that changes. In cold weather the fabric is stiff which makes the zip a pig to do up!

We had decided to go to Danny's at Haggs Bank Bunkhouse to catch up and have a gossip, so we rode a few lanes to get there, settling in really and all on familiar ground for both of us. We found Danny in a digger flattening loads of ground for a new caravan, so after a cuppa, we pitched our tents and headed out onto the local lanes to enjoy the sunshine!

Spring lambs were playing about everywhere, the farmers were hard at work, buzzards were flying around and rabbits were dodging their many predators whilst trying to fill their bellies as fast as they can. March is often a fabulous weather time in the UK, sunshine and cold but clear days and this was an especially pristine few days of wall to wall sunshine with heavy frost overnight.

Once the day was done, we headed into Alston for some fish and chips from the new chippy, bought some beers and headed back to Haggs Bank to spend the evening relating tales of biking stories from all round the globe! That night was pretty cold and a lad from Hartlepool on a Triumph Tiger 800 XC was camping over, no mat, just a sleeping bag, so he had a chilly night!

Alston Chippy

Early morning views!

Great camp spot

looking up the valley
We said our goodbyes to Danny and with a Triumph and it's rider, Mike, in tow we set off for the next day of our trip. Loads of flowing lanes followed as we headed over towards Hexham. One hairy moment was when Mike drowned his Triumph in a river, much to our delight but not his!

On the whole, Mike could handle his bike well on the rougher stuff and although he seemed to have Duracell batteries in his jaw whenever we stopped, he was a nice guy and a pleasure to ride with...

Mike left us just south of Hexham to head back as we'd killed him off energy wise, so we continued on our way playing on the lanes and enjoying the fabulous views unfolding around us. We dipped into a valley on a winding tarmac road that was just stunning, Muggleswick is a village in the northern part of County Durham and it was stunning, a real backwater, with lots of history by the looks of some of the ruins in the bottom of the gorge. Well worth a revisit I reckon.

We traversed a north to south route of County Durham, calling in at Barnard Castle for some fuel. We saw an old grey bearded guy here on his Armstrong, a 'proper' old army bike that had clearly seen a lot of use. it had Land Rover stickers on the tank too! We also saw the Bowes Musuem, a really impressive building and grounds, along with the Egglestone Abbey ruins where we stopped for a bit to just enjoy the atmosphere.

We rolled into Reeth around 5pm, passing a mountain rescue team who were heading upto the edge above Reeth to rescue someone who had collapsed. We also passed a group of guys in 4x4's climbing to the top. they looked to be having fun despite the fact that the guy in the oldest Landy was a bit of a grumpy old git to me!

We spent the evening changing tyres for John, so he could come out with us the next day on his lovely KTM 690 Rally and in the pub having dinner and a beer or two!

Toilet with free toiletries and flowers!

Our final day was through the Dales and back to the Lakes, another perfect blue sky day. John showed us a load of lanes local to him, many of which I'd not ridden before. We lost Geoff at one point as he did his usual brilliant navigation and ended up heading to Hawes, where we met him again!

We bumped into a bunch of lads from both Northumbria and the Teeside TRF groups, so a good gossip was had there all round. They ended up with a poorly Suzuki at one point so never made the cafe in time for a proper catch up, which was a shame.

Our final part of the day was meeting Lucy, she had taken her bike out and followed our route until she bumped into us, then we all headed off on a few lanes not on the planned route but winding steadily homeward. A few fords, some good chat and a load more lanes ridden to complete the 3 days.

Some fabulous riding, some great banter and a lot of new places explored, some of the many good reasons to go trail riding!