Friday 14th September 2007
Kirklington to Pierce Bridge
When I planned today's ride I was unsure about the best route. We needed to keep fairly close to the A1 and of course at the same time avoid it, as it is a very busy road. The route I had chosen followed the River Swale crossing over the A1 just north of Scotch Corner and then aiming due north for Pierce Bridge. Talking to the owner of the B&B this morning he suggested a route further to the west which would take in the parkland surrounding Hornby Castle and then travelling through Catterick Camp and Richmond to Pierce Bridge. He assured us that this route was fairly flat even though we seemed to be crossing the rivers rather than following their course. My route didn't have many places of interest along the way - the new route seemed to offer more things to look at. Fortunately we had brought extra maps with us so a late change of route would not present a problem.
So off we set through Carthorpe and Bedale, along a short section of the busy A684, but soon turning off at Crakehall through the village of Langthorne on our way to Hornby Castle. Some kind person had rotated the road sign as we approached Hornby - it was pointing north instead of west - but fortunately I was watching the map at the time and managed to take the right road. The parkland surrounding the castle contains a lot of cattle and also various species of deer and it made a pleasant break to have elevenses here on a tree trunk which had been conveniently cut down for us to sit on.
It wasn't long before we were off again, passing the army camp at Catterick Garrison and then finding a Tesco supermarket where we bought our lunch and drank cups of tea. Another bit of busy road here as we cycled through Hipswell and into Richmond but fortunatley there were quite a few cycle lanes marked on the road which provided extra safety. We sat eating our lunch in a park overlooking the River Swale in Richmond - the wind had been quite fresh - but here in the park we were sheltered from the wind and it was relaxing sitting in the early afternoon sun.
Venturing into the town of Richmond we happen across the Georgian Theatre with guided tours on the hour - it is now 1pm. We are not allowed to leave the Tandem outside in the street - it is given a parking space in the museum which is attached to the theatre - and we spend the next hour on a conducted tour of Britain's most complete Georgian Theatre. The theatre was built in 1788, went out of use in 1848 and became an auction room and was rediscovered in the 1960s. It has been used as a theatre again since 1963 and has recently undergone another major refurbishment. The main stage and auditorium remains substantially as it was over 200 years ago. Use this link to find out more about the theatre - http://www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk
Before leaving the town, we have a look round the large market square (actually round!) and then head off northwards in the direction of Pierce Bridge. Along the way we ride through the lovely village of Aldbrough St John and pause to take photos of the flowers in the gardens. Not much further to Pierce Bridge from here along the path of the old Roman road known as Dere Street which runs from York to Scotland. At Pierce Bridge we find the remains of a large Roman encampment, some of which has been excavated alongside the river Tees and then it's time to find the B&B, just round the corner in a lovely large farmhouse about a mile outside the town, where we are fed with tea and chocolate biscuits as soon as we arrive.
Mileage today 35.2 miles Total mileage so far 550.6 miles