Day 2 dawned bright and early, where we rose around half past 8 in the morning for an early breakfast and a brief review of the route we would be taking that day. Our destination for the second day would be Thornton-le-dale, our first 'real' stop in North Yorkshire and where we would get some taste of the countryside to come. Today would break us in gently to the climbing to come, with a relatively flat route for the first 10 miles, then a few hills to test us in the middle part, before another fairly gentle ride into the village we would call home for the next 24 hours.
We set off from our hostel just before 10, ploughing through a housing estate with a very convenient tarmacked cycle path on the central reservation, which brought us out a roundabout. Veering right, we would be aiming for Strensall to the north of York, then basically following a zig zag pattern. As always seems to be the case when leaving urban areas, we got slightly lost in the maze that was the housing estate, but soon found our way out again with (fortunately) a link-up that would lead us back on to the B road we would be following for a good 5 miles or so.
Once on the B-road we were sailing through fairly flat foresty areas with trees overhead and a few golf course and a shooting range to our right. We could hear the guns being fired for quite some way before the sound finally died out, and we could breathe a sigh of relief that no bullets found themselves in our sides. After around 5 miles we came out at an old railway crossing. Rather curiously, it was the old-fashioned type where you have to press a bell for attention to cross, or in the case of bikes, just stroll through the gates. The road on the other side was more remote than previously, and was not really the best terrain for road bikes. Fortunately, it eventually petered out and we found ourselves on a pleasantly tarmacked downhill that marked our entrance proper to the start of the Howardian Hills.
Sadly, the downhill was not to last. Stettenham Hill lay before us with a beastly 20% gradient. Having first headed sharply downhill and, having lost all our momentum, decided to give up the ghost and walk up, as there was no way we could get a decent foot (or pedal) up that hill easily. Having passed through the village of Bulmer, we turned left at Wellburn for a brief yet soggy downhill towards Castle Howard before upping the pace for a brief uphill into the castle car park, where we would stop for lunch.
After a pleasant lunch in a nice cafe, and with us by far the youngest and least sophisticated of the bunch in our sodden cycle clothes, we had a brief walk around the castle grounds and into the shops before hopping back on the bikes for our next big test of the day as we approached Hepton Hill to our right. Fortunately, this one was not too bad and we managed to remain on our bikes until the left turn towards Amotherby, where we enjoyed a wonderful view before veering sharply downhill into the village and crossing straight over the crossroads for a downhill once more into Habton.
Turning off once more we headed towards Kirby Misperton, following which we would reach the A169 which leads directly to Whitby. However, to reach our destination we had to turn sharply back on ourselves to head south before making the turn-off necessary to get a straight run into Thornton-le-dale. With no more hills to taunt us, we ended up having our first taste of the wind for a miles as we were buffeted and swayed along the fairly quiet A road until we blissfully reached our turn-off. We arrived at our B&B in good time to allow us to have a little wander around the village, and to relax in some comfort.
We had decided to go somewhere a little more comfortable and homely for our last two nights, and we had certainly chosen well. Warrington Guest House comes highly recommended and with a good breakfast to boot. Modern yet cosy, there is secure cycle storage and it is well-equipped for the weary travelling with a reading room and evening meals and packed lunches available if necessary. After nipping out for some pleasant dinner in the restaurant area of the nearby pub, we turned in for the night ready for what would be our most gruelling day to come tomorrow as headed towards our final destination - Whitby.