Friday, 29 July 2011

Cycle trip 2: Bradford-Haworth-Wycoller-Oakworth-Keighley

Date: 29th July 2011
Length of route: 30.4 miles/49.0km
Route: Bradford-Haworth-Wycoller-Oakworth-Keighley
Difficult level: Medium-Hard

Started today's cycle trip at Bradford Interchange railway station. Taking a left out of the station onto the main Hall Ings road, follow round onto the B6145, cutting up the steep Hollings road as a shortcut onto the B6144 - the road leading directly to Haworth, the first stop on today's journey. The road up to Haworth is very scenic, and it only takes 5-10 minutes steady cycling to get of the city and out into the open air of the countryside. The ride is a steady climb in several places, but is not as taxing as some of the other climbs that were to be encountered later on. Come off the B6145 onto Brow road, and the first real view of Haworth - picturesque stone houses and former factories that identify this area as one of the key players during the industrial revolution - Brow road is a very steep downhill ride, and you may want to get off and walk down unless you have extremely good brakes, I would say this is a test for most riders. The alternative is to turn right off the B6145 onto Hebden Road, although this lengthens the journey time a little.

Heading over the railway bridge off Brow road, I leave my bike at the Bronte Parsonage Museum car park and have a brief look around the main street and tourist information office for any information about the onward journey to Wycoller. Haworth is one of England's premier tourist attractions and it's not difficult to see why - full of character and blasts from the past, yet still managing to feel largely untainted by tourism. After eating lunch in the Bronte Parsonage Museum gardens, continue along the country lanes to Wycoller, bypassing two reservoirs along the way. Compared to Haworth, Wycoller really is in the middle of nowhere and it's possible to find parts of the route where you can't even hear any noise at all, just pure escapism from modern life. A point to mention here is that your GPS may lead you onto a left turn thinking it's a road when really it's an offroad track that actually leads onto a hiking trail - I ended up walking through a field full of cows and sheep and feeling rather nervous! Wycoller itself is a picture postcard little village, with iconic stone bridges and old ruins that feels totally secluded.

Leaving Wycoller by the main road instead of attempting the cow fields again, I take the Keighley road up to the Laneshaw Bridge. Ask at a local B&B to see which is the less hilly route to Keighley - the main road A6068 or back through the country lanes via Oakworth. Choose the country lanes, and what a nasty climb that was. However, this brings you back onto the same road back to Haworth. I take the fork up into Oakworth and find it to be one of the smoothest roads I have ever had the pleasure of riding on - either it's been recently surfaced (unlikely, given the location) or it's very little used. Either way, the steady climb up then down into Oakworth is a real pleasure. Take a brief detour in Oakworth to see the station featured in the film The Railway Children, but that's also a pretty nasty climb back up and I find myself walking. Thanks to this, I miss the train that would have been my connection at Leeds, but manage to get on the train with my bike anyway. All in all I would have to say today's cycle has been pretty challenging, but the scenery is one of a kind and Bronte country really is a terrific place to cycle if you try and avoid the hillier routes.

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