THE BROMPTON SIPS THE SUMMER WINE
No crowd cheered Mark Jacobson as his Brompton crested the summit of Holme Moss, but he did get a cup of tea at Ivy's.
Travelling to Sheffield by train, I was back on my Brompton. Leaving the city centre should be easy, with NCN6 signs in profusion: I intended switching to NCN627, so turned off when sighting that sign. Unfortunately I did not see another one! Eventually, after an hour and a half, I reached rural bliss just 9 miles on; not quite on the route anticipated!
Taking a journey through South Yorkshire eventually brought me to a camp site on Rockley Abbey Farm, near Worsbrough. Next morning I set off early, first for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near West Bretton. The Sculpture Park is somewhere one could spends days, with many large art works to enjoy in park-like surroundings, and some changes being made to the less permanent exhibition areas. Although there is a good restaurant here, I decided to find my refreshments elsewhere. Returning to High Hoyland via the bridleway, I then rode for a camp site south of Huddersfield, at Ingbirchworth, from where I had a view of the power plants at Drax and Ferrybridge on the horizon, and the wind turbine array on Spicer Hill behind me!
After a good nights' sleep I made an unladen ride to the Holme Valley, scene of Last of the Summer Wine. Woodhouse Lane dropping down to Holmbridge is very steep: I wouldn't want to try cycling up it! Passing in a rush I spied the Holmfirth Vinyard, leaves just starting to unfurl from the buds. Here is now the 'Last of the Summer Wine' in fact!
The logical thing to do from Holmbridge, with the valley bottom at 182m elevation, is to ride to the summit of Holme Moss, at a mere 524m (1719 ft), which has such a strong reputation as a severe climb. Off I went, soon catching up to a fireman riding a road bike. The initial ascent is 13% but this drops to a more gentle 10%, with just a short 15% in the middle somewhere. I did not find it particularly difficult but then my bottom gear is 27”. The view from the summit can be spectacular if the air is clear. Today there was only a slight haze so it was good enough, almost from west to east coasts. Near here the University Of Huddersfield staff were supervising engineers installing a steel frame on a tripod, which I assumed would be similar to the Victorian practice of framing the landscape. However, this is one of a series due to be installed together with art work to be included, by a local artist Ashley Jackson who specialises in landscape watercolours, and as seen written into the frame: 'Many people look but only a few see.'
The return descent is fabulous and the pub at Holme, where the road levels out a bit, has diversified to include a shop, butcher, baker and CAFÉ. A good place for a rest. I finally rode in to Holmfirth, a busy place tightly girt within the narrow valley and milling with tourists entranced by the 'Summer Wine' scenario. Apart from Nora's house now being a holiday cottage, and Compo's the Wrinkled Stocking Tea Room upstairs while below is now a souvenir shop and exhibition centre, Ivy's Café is now known as Sid's Café, where the staff are very polite and welcoming, nothing at all like meeting Ivy's astringent tongue! Within the café the main counter has been moved and a new kitchen area opened up but the flat actor stands suit the place, looking so very realistic.
If one is minded to locate all the country scenes used in the filming, there is a coach tour available, while Compo's (Bill Owen's) resting place will be found in St John's Church, Upperthong. The pub used in the filming is in Jackson Bridge. I am afraid that I did little more than pay my respects in Sid's Café before leaving the busy-ness and making the hilly ride back to my tranquil tent.
The attraction of the Holme Valley lies in its beauty and depth, the depth meaning also that any lane across the grain of the land is very steep. The main roads run along the valley but that over the summit of Holme Moss is not heavily trafficked, so can be enjoyed. I had been told of some more interesting climbs in the immediate vicinity, shorter and steeper than the A6024, for anyone enjoying the challenge of ascents but this was not quite my intention this day.
ART OF COARSE CYCLING
The next day I moved on, using the direct A629 into Huddersfield, a busy but not excessively so, ridable road, other than the fact that the surface is rather dire in places and my rear bag needed re-arranging at times as it slid off the rack, especially when descending at speed over the coarse tarmac.
PUBLISHED AUGUST 2016