Scamblesby to York

by Carol Hague


In the summer of 1999 we went to stay with Rob's parents for a fortnight. The weekend in the middle of the fortnight was the York Rally, and we had decided to ride the GTT up to York on the Friday, a distance of 85 miles or so. We had a couple of practice rides in the week before this trip, including a ride out to Skegness and back.

Do not let anyone tell you that Lincolnshire is flat....It may have more level ground than some counties I could name, but it's by no means devoid of hills, and we found one or two of them that week as we engaged in the traditional cycling activities of Getting Lost, Getting a Puncture and Shouting at the Stoker.

Nevertheless on the Friday we set off in warm(ish) sunshine with our two-wheeled Columbus trailer with all our camping gear rolling along behind us and thankfully no longer acting like a drag brake since it had its axle transplants. We toddled up and down the Lincolnshire hills rather slowly nevertheless and were dropping behind schedule within the first hour or so.

We left Scamblesby on a minor road, following a Viking route as far as Donington-on-Bain and then turning left across the River Bain and heading across to join the B1225 for several miles. At Caistor we joined the A1173 briefly, skimming the edge of the town and then dropping back on to a minor road to pass through Cabourne High Woods where we were joined by an upright cyclist for a while. From here was a nice view and a good downhill run for a change, after which we joined the B1211 at Brockleby.

Around eleven in the morning, we came to Ulceby which had a pub. They weren't serving food yet, but kindly provided us with a Ploughman's lunch anyway.We were very grateful as this was our last prospect of a proper lunch before tackling the Humber Bridge.

Lunch disposed of (and large lumps of cheese frugally stowed away for later) we set off on the A1077 towards Barton-upon Humber. We had a bit of difficulty locating the start of the Humber Bridge cycle path, but after a brief tour of the back streets of Barton-upon-Humber, we tracked it down and up we went. This is the point where I confess my appalling cowardice...I loathe heights, and crossing the Humber Bridge was a horrible experience for me. From a distance, I can admire the thing as a superb piece of engineering, but put me on it and I'm reduced to gibbering in terror. Rob puts up with the gibbering, provided I continue to pedal.

While I'm not amongst those who believe in separating cyclists from other traffic at every opportunity, I was grateful for the Humber Bridge cycle path as cars were packed pretty solid on the bridge, which was down to one lane in at least one direction, so mingling with them wouldn't have been an awful lot of fun. Coming down from the bridge was a huge relief, but led to more confusion as to how to get back to the road. Signposting at both ends of the path could be substantially improved, although it is at least wide enough to take the GTT without causing inconvenience to cyclists travelling in the opposite direction.

We had tried to avoid large, busy roads as far as possible when planning our route, simply because riding in heavy traffic is not particularly enjoyable, but at this point we had little choice but to take the A63(T) for a while, as unless we wanted to take an enormous detour, it was the only road going in the right direction. After a rather hairy roundabout we escaped on to the back road through North Ferriby, where we stopped at a newsagents for a cold drink (we had a camelbak each, but water gets rather dull after a while). I bought a can of energy drink there, just in case.

We then rejoined the A road again for a while, before escaping again at Welton. While we actually wanted to turn left here, it was one of those peculiar junctions where you have to turn right and then circle round. Remarkably, when we signalled to pull into the right hand lane, both lanes of traffic stopped to let us manoeuvre....We were astonished, but grateful.

We then set off across the blessedly flat roads of Walling Fen, past enormous greenhouses near Ellerker. We were getting tired by this point and were pleased to find a garden centre on our route, where we stopped for an ice lolly and to use the "facilities". Refreshed, we set off once again, although it wasn't long before my feet began to trouble me. I get numb feet riding with SPDs - the more I ride, the longer it takes for it to set in, but we'd done about 60 miles by this point, and every few miles we'd have to stop and let me unclip to wriggle some life back into my toes.

The roads here reminded us of the moor roads near our former home in Wells and we were almost sorry to turn away from them onto the B1230 towards Gilberdyke. Despite being a B road this was quite large and busy through the town and we were glad to get past the inhabited parts. Somewhere past Gilberdyke we really began to flag and we pulled over and drank the energy drink. It might not have quite given us wings as promised in the ads, but it did somewhat revive our tired legs and give us impetus to set off again.

At Howden, despite not changing in any obvious way, the road becomes the A63(T) again, though fortunately not nearly as busy as it is near the Humber Bridge. We followed it across the River Derwent to Hemingbrough and Cliffe and finally to Barlby, a rather bleak looking place, where we played a vastly amusing game of Hunt the Cyclepath Entrance.

Finally we located the York-Selby Cyclepath and relaxed somewhat, as this was the last lap. We had ridden the path before so it had the comforting feel that belongs to roads you know. By this point my feet seemed to have emigrated to Australia without me, and we stopped at the first convenient point to try to persuade them to come back. A bit later on, we could hardly believe our eyes when we found a set of roadworks on the cyclepath....we had to lift the tandem around them, which didn't go down too well, tired as we were. Finally we conquered the last few miles and rolled wearily onto the Knavesmire. Probably the longest, hardest day we've ever done on the tandem, certainly the most miles. I wasn't too sorry that we being collected after the Rally and wouldn't have to do the return trip.....