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Crankdown - September 30th
Report by Mike Humphreys

This year I at least managed to get to the Crank Down for one of the weekend runs but not in my Jeep. I had previously scrounged a lift with Chris Smyth and his wife Val who were travelling in their Ford Jeep. A big thank you to them. Those hardy types who braved the distance, and in part the weather, were treated to a cornucopia of terrain and views across part of North Yorkshire. The route was planned and recced by our Area Secretary, Brian, and for me, at least, covered over 50 miles of previously undiscovered leafy lanes, open road, deep valleys, moorland, some steep climbs, fords and continually changing panoramas.

The 13 vehicle convoy left the damp campsite at Nawton, outside Helmsley at about 10.45am and headed for Rivieulx Abbey. On the turn off the main B1257 down to the Abbey we encountered the first of what turned out to be hundreds of cyclists of all shapes, sizes and ages participating in an extremely strenuous event called the Wiggle-Ay-Up which offered the riders a choice of 32, 56 or 93 gruelling miles! 

See https://www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/wiggle-ay-up-yorkshire-sportive/

Our day was somewhat less challenging! At times the lanes proved just a little too narrow for us going one way and the riders the other. After passing the Abbey we headed to the small hamlet of Old Byland and then to Caydale Mill. Here we came across a ford that ran the same way as the road curving to our right as we entered the 6” or so of water. Most unusual, and beneficial as it washed off some of the mud acquired earlier. After passing through Hawnby with it’s round millstone village sign we went gingerly down a 25% slope ( 1 in 4 to us older motorists ) and on to pass over the Grade2 listed 18th century Laskill Bridge which spans the River Seph. A few hundred yards further on we re- joined the B1257 on a lovely open stretch heading towards Stokesley. More Cyclists!

The strangely named hamlet of Chop Gate, pronounced 'Chop Yat' came next. ( The name comes from the Old English 'ceap', meaning a pedlar, suggesting that the village was once a centre for trading. The same root word gives us place names like Cheapside in London ). Over the moors next for a welcome stop at the busy, but very smart subterranean Lord Stones café for the call of nature and a cuppa, although some decided to have lunch as, by then, it was 12.00 noon.
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Suitably rested we turned right out of the car park and up to the ridge at Carlton Bank to take in the vast panorama of Middlesbrough, the Cleveland plain, Roseberry Topping and Cook’s Monument. Truly some view! Descending the bank to pass through the well kept village of Carlton and on to Great Busby, Kirkby, Ingleby Greenhow and Easby. From here on to Commondale and Castleton junction seeing Station signs en route, but not passing one to my knowledge. The Esk valley railway from Middlesborough to Whitby winds its way through the moors here.

This stretch was a long run and about an hour after leaving the café we pulled into the ancient Lion Inn’s Car Park on a particularly bleak stretch of moorland and boy was it cold. At 1325ft it must be one of the highest pubs in England. The pub’s atmospheric dark interior was packed with diners and after a bit of hassle initially being denied vacant tables in the restaurant the landlord succumbed and tables were offered. Chris and I tucked into a huge portion of steak pie with chips and carrots. I think that was the best steak pie I have ever had(don’t tell the wife) and it was so filling that neither of us ate for the rest of the day! Good food certainly gets the punters in.

Suitably wrapped up we could only go downhill from here, and another steep slope of 1 in 5 took us through Church Houses and Low Mill before climbing again to Gillamoor , Fadmoor and crossing another ford before joining the A170 Pickering to Helmsley Road. Rain had set in rather later than forecast fortunately so we were lucky having enjoyed a bright and sunny day for most of the 60 mile run.

The last couple of miles on the A170 took us back to the campsite at Nawton. Many thanks must go to Brian for planning and organising the event and, also leading the way on what turned out to be a superb route exploring this beautiful part of ‘God’s Own County’ A great day out and a chance to catch up with old friends. The true adventurers had brought their jeeps whilst the nesh types had the comfort of heated Land Rovers! ( Only Joking!! )

Mike Humphreys

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