Monday, 30 May 2016

Bikepacking 2: Kettlewell Trip

This is a slightly belated blog from the other weekend's bikepacking adventures. Chris put a shout out on Facebook for anyone wanting to join in on a trip up to Kettlewell, a camp over and a ride back the next morning. Jonny was keen, fabricating a bracket to fit a rear rack to his old Raleigh and Adam packed his panniers with samosas. Having a free evening, I jumped at the chance as I wanted to try out my new bikepacking bags from Alpkit. We met at Steeton train station on the Friday afternoon, ready for off.

Jenny loaded up with camping things. Bloody Alpkit fanboy...
It was a very pleasant spin up through Cononley into the back of Skipton and then out on the Grassington road, light sunshine and cloud. Traffic wasn't too heavy and was mostly respectful and well driven. It was good fun riding in convoy and with everyone loaded differently we looked like a proper travelling circus.

We took the road through Linton to Grassington and then the back road all the way up through Conistone to Kettlewell, this last bit proving especially quiet which allowed us to ride side by side and chat.

Tim (Full Of Win) had pointed us to the campsite in Kettlewell just behind the church on the back road, saying it had the poshest toilets he'd ever seen on a campsite. He wasn't wrong; nice sinks, underfloor heating and in very good condition! For the princely sum of £7 each we had a pitch for the night at the top of the field.

The Travelling Circus: Chris, Jonny, me, Adam
We knew it was forecast rain later so Chris and I took some time setting up our tarp properly. We were quite happy with the results too.

Tarp for two.
What did it look like inside? Have a look!

We meandered off to the Blue Bell (on another hot tip from Tim) in the search of pies of legendary status. We found them.

The meat and potato pie, which we all ordered, was marvellous. As were the pints of local ale, even the one we liked the least was pretty good. No room for pudding afterwards

It was drizzling outside so, tired and full, we quickly settled down and fell asleep, our tents and tarps resounding to the various sound effects that accompany a big tea and a few pints...

The rain kept me awake a far bit through the night, and I occasionally had to push the tarp to remove the accumulated puddle to stop it pressing on me. I got a the odd splat in the face which wakes you up very suddenly!

Adam left early to meet his family for his daughters first birthday, I unashamedly pulled my buff over my eyes and got a another hour's kip ;) It wasn't long before Chris and I roused ourselves, packed up, then stood around whilst Jonny faffed around a bit (plus ca change...) before we headed into Grassington to find a cafe for breakfast.

The roads were still damp but it was warming up and drying off quickly.

Grassington furnished us with a small bakery with some fab looking cakes but a bacon butty and tea was high on the agenda. We sat in the square, squeaky styrofoam cups of life giving tea, rustling paper bags with baked goodness inside, swallows singing on wires.

The ride back to Keighley was punctuated (ha!) by a shard of glass from a broken mirror by the roadside making it's way through my rather underinflated Conti Gatorskin tires. New tube, a higher pressure and we were off rolling again, back through Skippy town and down to Keighley.

We stopped in the cafe by the bus station for toasties where I bade Jonny and Chris farewell for their return leg to Huddersfield. I headed home, unpacked and promptly fell fast asleep on the sofa for a couple of hours, the lack of sleep the night before taking it's toll. Louise tried to rouse me to no avail, the cup of tea and apple went untouched!

A most enjoyable adventure.

Bikepacking Lessons Learned

  • The tarp needs to be tensioned enough on the edges to ensure it sheds water and doesn't accumulate a massive puddle. By the time it was wet the tarp weighed about twice as much
  • Try the bivvy bag outside of sleeping mat so I can sleep on my side, I cant sleep properly on my back!
  • Tire pressures, make sure you've got enough in there youth!
  • The Alpkit Koala setapack does woble around a bit unless you pack it super tightly and cinch the straps up really well. Once packed properly and strapped down firmly it's brilliant.
  • Packing the sleeping bag inside the bivvy bag, whilst very easy to get everything out and set up, makes for a larger pack size. Sort it.
  • Smaller tarp for solo adventures would be a good purchase.
  • As would a comfier saddle for longer adventures, the stock Genesis one is a little hard on one's posterior


  1. Nice write up James. How many people have you told about the pie? I'm still raving about it.

    When's the next trip?

  2. The pies at the Riverside in Ilkley are a thing of wonder. Seriously good short-crust. Decent beer too