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 Crank Down
Pictures by Mike Scorer & Others, Report by Stuart Passey

Following a fabulous Crankdown weekend in the Yorkshire Dales last year, it was decided to repeat the idea but this time in the Yorkshire Moors and up into The Cleveland Hills – what a lucky lot we are around here. So our intrepid leader, Brian Slingsby and his support troops in the guise of Simon Roberts and Gary Docherty armed themselves with maps and Simon’s Rangerover and went ferreting about to find us a worthy route, and find it they did!

crankdown1.jpg (41340 bytes) A number of hardy souls met at Harrogate for a Friday night camp, some rendezvous’d at the Royal Oak Inn the next morning, but as the route came pretty close to my place later in the morning, I wimped out and joined them as they passed my lay-by on the Ripon Bypass nr Sharrow. It was a fine sight, as usual, to see the convoy approaching, flanked by our 3 matchless despatch riders/ traffic managers on their Matchless motorbikes.

The forecast was not too good and there was some promise of rain and cold winds, so everyone had their hoods up and many had their side screens and doors on too. Why didn’t I? cos I feel claustrophobic if I do, and so I risked it ‘al fresco’.

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So off from Sharow, following various signs to Dishforth, Dalton and Sessay, on towards Hutton Sessay, Carlton Husthwaite and heading for Coxwold. Quaint names for quaint villages, but only a means really to get us up into the small roads and green lanes in the hills. It always amazes me that you can put some vintage green army vehicles into a little changed village setting and – hey presto, instant wartime views, as though nothing had ever changed.

Once we were approaching Coxwold, we were up into the beautiful countryside of the North Yorks Moors with its winding lanes and priceless views and here we turned off the tarmac, through a couple of gates and onto a track close to Newburgh Priory – as was. Because we in the MVT are such an unusual sight, we never fail to get waves and smiles from people we pass and so it was here, walkers and horse riders were all in the best of humour and many waves and hearty hellos were exchanged.

crankdown3.jpg (45731 bytes) crankdown4.jpg (54438 bytes) This was how the day progressed, through towns like Helmsley and Sproxton, on roads, lanes and tracks to our lunch stop at The Royal Oak at Gilamoor. Which is where we met up with some of the guys from the North East MV Club, such as Phil Web and Tom Cunningham, who had come out to meet us.
After dining on a communal spread of sandwiches and chips, we were off again to Fadmoor and then onto an extensive green lane signed to Sleightholme Dale. This tested our little green machines, but it tested our intrepid trio on their two wheeled beasts more. Our route planners had to admit with collective grins that the lane was a lot drier when they had recc’ed it in Simon's Rangerover, but rain had changed all that and the steep inclines and the ruts made by farm vehicles and us, gave our bikers something to think about.
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Something had to give and Colin Dixon’s bike slid from under him, pinning one leg to the ground, his son Craig came to assist on his Matchless and proceeded to pull the leg until Colin said something like ‘ no you daft b….r, it’s the one UNDER the bike that’s the problem’. Anyway, no harm done and with a little help, laughter and assistance in lifting the bike from Mick Edmundson, the third biker, everyone was off again.

I’m envious of these guys on bikes, as they have the ‘brass neck’ to ride out into the middle of road junctions, station themselves in commanding positions and stop the ‘civilian’ traffic so that our convoy can get through – how cheeky is that! And the ‘civvies’ usually go along with it in good humour because we’re such an odd sight.

crankdown8.jpg (64380 bytes)  By this time, we were up in the Cleveland Hills and despite a pathetic try once or twice, the rain had held off. We were up in the Stokesley area and headed off onto a little road at Chop Gate towards Carlton in Cleveland . Along this lane was our stop for the night at ‘Lordstones’, a camp site set almost as high up and as exposed as you can get around here, just when that rain was starting to threaten properly and the wind was thinking about getting up too. The views were pretty impressive though.

So it was out with the tents for nearly everyone, but there were some that had other ideas and I for one had made other arrangements with my caring and lovely wife. Whilst others were erecting tents in the most advantageous positions as they saw it, I dumped my load of firewood (for the common good) and parked up my jeep, hooked the hood onto the windscreen and tied down the rest over the seats, securely as that wind was threatening a little more. 

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Once done, I checked to see if I could be of any help elsewhere and was extremely relieved to find that nobody wanted me – so I headed for the bar/canteen on site, where everyone was headed. I just managed a pint before my charming chauffeuse arrived and whisked me off for a pub meal an open fire and a warm bed at home. I did have mixed feelings about leaving the guys to their fate, but hey, we are talking about a pub meal, an open fire and a warm bed!
crankdown10.jpg (32780 bytes) Arriving back next morning, everyone was busy striking their damp tents and packing up. I could tell by the pool of water lying on my roof/seat cover that it had not been a dry night and my hardy colleagues reinforced that observation, but they are a tough breed and were not fazed or dispirited. 

I think the fixed menu of mincemeat pie, chips & peas together with copious quantities of hand pulled beer in the canteen had helped the night along, together with the bonfire that hey had managed to get going despite the wet weather. I removed my jeep covering and folded it into the back seat, a little choke and a push on the starter and we were back in business. Falling naturally back into convoy, we left Lordstones and headed off for the day.

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Retracing our steps towards Chop Gate, we headed off towards Helmsley but turned off on a narrow track towards Hawnby and some steep lanes upwards eventually took us past Arden Hall and across Moor Top which was a rutted track with gates – you never know how deep those puddles are until you see the guy in front!

Being high up, the views were again spectacular before we started heading down again through Kepwick village and on to Kirby Knowle. Pushing on through the narrow lanes to Felixkirk and Sutton under Whitestonecliff, our target was The Bagby Inn at, yes, Bagby for a spot of lunch. But, as they say, the best laid plans – and all that, there was no room at the inn!

Bagby Inn it seems is a popular spot for Sunday Lunch and the car park was full with little chance that the pub could accommodate a dozen or so of us on spec. Most of the campers were not hungry anyway, such was the quality and quantity of the breakfast meted out at the Lordstones canteen and so it was decided to press on to Whixley and find sustenance there. 

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As we were back once more in my territory and relatively close to my home, I declined the drive south through the lanes and Aldwark bridge to Whixley and instead bid my farewells and headed off towards Ripon.

Torn by mixed feelings of leaving early and not seeing the trip to its natural conclusion, I learned later, with a little sigh of relief that the pub at Whixley was likewise too full to take our merry band and so the trip broke up there. So I had not missed out on a final bite and drink in company with my cohorts, and let that be a lesson to us all, next year we’ll have to find that quiet pub as a final destination – mind you, if it will welcome and accommodate us lot, will it be any good?