May 18, 2012

On Tuesday this week Bankstone honcho Dickon Tysoe and faithful sidekick Davy-Jane McManus completed a full day’s round-Yorkshire sightseeing in the former’s sporty Fiat Panda under the pretext of scoping out the route for this year’s charity monkeybiking extravaganza, Medieval Monkeys 2012.

Tysoe and Panda

There’s good news and bad news. The bad news is the pair had to endure the vilest of all lunchtime vileness having been reduced by desperate hunger to having recourse to fare variously described as Gammon Egg and Chips and a Cheese and Pickle Sandwich (how could that go wrong?! *) at the Downe Arms on the A170 between Pickering and Scarborough.

More importantly, the good news is that this year’s route (which now detours through the scenic Dalby Forest to avoid the aforementioned Downe Arms) is the BEST EVER MM ROUTE, consisting entirely of outrageously scenic scenicity and roads that might have been custom built for the all-round touring satisfaction of middle-aged men riding tiny motorbikes whilst decked out in medieval garb.

Which medievally relevant locations does this peerless itenary encompass, you may wonder. We’re just getting to that…

It begins on the morning of Saturday 7th July amidst the faded former milltown desolation that is Brighouse, but quickly puts such unpleasantness behind it as it speeds towards first stop Skipton Castle.

Castle Gates, Skipton

Next up is new stop Barden Tower, a majestic ruined hunting lodge nestled in the delightful Wharfe Valley near Bolton Abbey.

The famous private shed at Barden Tower

From there the cavalcade rides on to Ripley Castle near Harrogate, whose name derives from its notoriously unevenly constructed walls.

A charming vista

Then it’s off east again – via a sumptuous roadside repast courtesy of the estimable Mrs Tysoe, revered purveyor of coffee and flapjacks to previous monkeybiking charity expeditions – towards the precarious ruins of Sheriff Hutton Castle – location for the famous “lady with some dogs” scene in the MM2011 video on YouTube – where the owners have kindly laid on further (tea time) refreshments and a reception party of local notables and where the monkeybikers will be joined by one of Yorkshire Air Ambulance’s distinctive Yellow Helicopters (provided it is not busy doing its day job of rushing injured persons to hospital).

The famous Lady with some Dogs scene

Replete with tea and cakes, the entourage now remounts and turns North to take in the winding sylvan delights of Dalby forest – the finest imaginable way to reach overnight stop Scarborough whilst bypassing the dread Downe Arms, an establishment whose sparse lunchtime clientele appears to consist almost exclusively of paunchily malodorous snooker-playing trolls.

The gorse is in bloom above Dalby Forest

Taking care to avoid the misleadingly named Grand Hotel, which is probably where the trolls go on holiday, the party will then retire to their various hostelries around the seaside fleshpot that is Scarborough to gird themselves afresh for the evening’s delights – last year it was watching the Haye–Klitschko ‘battle of broken toe’ fiasco in a giant circular Disco Weatherspoons, or something – so pretty much anything could happen.

The dismal Grand Hotel, Scarborough

Scraping their sore-headed selves up from whatever flat surface they’ve collapsed upon the night before, the intrepid riders will start out bright and early on Sunday 8th July with a refreshingly brisk salty-aired zip up the coast to picturesque Whitby Abbey home (briefly) to suave eastern european type Dracula.

Put me down at once!

Turning inland the party next re-enters the North Yorks Moors Nat Park, heading west towards Rosedale Abbey where the staggering spectacle of the famed spiral staircase awaits.

The "famous" spiral staircase - all that remains of Rosedale Abbey

Up on to the moors again now – via gradients of such savage ferocity that no mere monkey bike could ever hope to overcome them without its rider getting off and pushing it the remaining 800 feet up to the next downhill or level bit – then down to Helmsley Castle on the southern fringes of the NYMs.

Gandalf at the Battle of Helmsley

Then just round the corner lies next stop Rievaulx Abbey – so incompletely raised to the ground during the dissolution of the monasteries that Henry VIII should have had somebody’s head for it.

The finest view of Rievaulx Abbey (centre) available from the car park

The finest view of Rievaulx Abbey (centre) available from the car park

Next up Tysoe’s planned a descent from the high moors more scenicly winding and precipitous than on any previous outing as a prelude to the long haul over to hospitable Knaresborough Castle and its surrounding pleasure grounds high above the River Nidd.

An unspoiled Knaresborough Castle and the Nidd

After that it’s all the way back to Brighouse and the final stop at BLD’s gaff by the station.

A minor obstacle (foot-deep ford)

All in all there’s barely a duff 100m on the entire route – and if that doesn’t please all concerned then there’s really no pleasing them.

You know you want this!

Feeling inspired? It’s not too late to enter your team (i.e. volunteer one or more people – yourself, perhaps – to ride a monkeybike round Yorkshire for charity – rather than anything pervy or improper). Simply contact Dickon Tysoe and he’ll sort everything out – including the bike if you haven’t already got one.

An "open road"

* Recipe for inedible cheese and pickle sandwich. Serve pre-grated week-old orange catering cheese between dry so-called brown bread, cut into triangles and serve with a ramikin of rancid pickle on the side and a handful of soggy oven chips, blackened on the outside, soggily uncooked in the middle: the perfect accompaniment to a flat acrid pint pulled from filth-clogged stinking pipes.


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