A circular ride today, Aysgarth – Bishopdale – Coverdale – Aysgarth, involving racehorses, Richard III, a grand castle, and Britain’s weirdest attraction.
I breezed through some Bishopdale villages, including the comparatively metropolitan West Burton, with its fine green and friendly pubs and shops (most miraculously still going).
It also has a lovely hidden waterfall I hadn’t seen before, which looks ideal for a hot-day skinny dip. Today was not a hot day.
The racehorse town of Middleham is dubbed the ‘Newmarket of the North’. Morning is a good time to visit, as that’s when you’ll likely see the nags and their riders commuting between the gallops and stables. Middleham’s square is, typically for Britain, a fine public space ruined by having blooming cars parked everywhere. They should make it horse- and bike-only if you ask me.
Middleham’s castle is an impressive ruin, and apparently Richard III’s favourite place to live, and it’s certainly better than the Leicester car park he ended up in.
A few miles away, up Coverdale, is the Forbidden Corner, a bizarre folly-maze that started as a private whim and is now a very popular attraction. Certainly the families who were going round with me today were having a great time, with excited kids shouting in appealingly geordie accents that this was the best place they’d ever been.
An exciting bridleway over the moortop took me back down to Wensleydale. I was pleased to ride along a fabulous little side-lane I’d not done before, between Wensley and Castle Bolton,. This is home of Bolton Castle, a very extensive half-derelict half-restored, medieval gem with sweeping views over the valley from the top.
And views over my bike, parked down below, though I couldn’t have done too much about it if I’d seen anyone investigating my panniers.
En route back to the campsite I got a good view of the actual Aysgarth Falls this time, not the eponymous beer. But all that flowing liquid did give me a bit of a thirst.