Dales Way

Day Zero – 6th April 2012: Home to Ilkley

We awoke ready and raring to go. We didn’t have to panic as our train didn’t leave until 10.18am. So, it was a leisurely breakfast and then a bit of a clear up, so at least Dave, our son, had a fighting chance of keeping the house in order while we were away.

We packed our back packs, which weighed in at around 20lbs, Rachel’s being slightly lighter and mine slightly heavier, but we had less water than we would be normally carrying. We said our goodbyes to son and cat, hoisted our packs onto shoulders and started the walk to the train station about a mile and a half away. All went well and we were soon on board the first of our 4 trains northwards. We had decided to get a slightly earlier train than we really needed as the extra time would act as a buffer getting across London, with it being Good Friday. We managed to get seats together and fortunately the luggage rack was free. We soon reached London Bridge and set off underground to find the Northern Line which would take us to London Kings Cross. The underground was quite busy, as we had expected, but it was only a few stops and we soon reappeared above ground and found ourselves on the newly refurbished concourse.

We took the opportunity to get a coffee and have something to eat while we waited for the Leeds train to arrive. As we were slurping our coffees, Oz Clarke the wine buff walked by and then as quickly as he appeared he was gone. We found Harry Potters Platform 9 ¾ and took the obligatory photograph, especially for our daughter-in-law, Emma, but then our train was announced, and so we set off at speed as we wanted to beat everyone else to the luggage rack.

Platform 9 and three quarters Kings Cross

We had reserved seats but judging by the amount of cases being pulled along, storage space was going to be at a premium. We found our seats and a free luggage rack but then realised that our packs would just about fit in the overhead racks so we moved then to be directly above us. As I was sorting out the packs, Rachel saw Oz walk by, having missed him earlier, so it was one all, in our celeb spotting game! The journey was uneventful, we took the opportunity to eat and drink a bit more. The rain had kept at bay but at times there were a few ominous spots on the train windows, perhaps a sign of things to come.

We eventually trundled into Leeds and we set about trying to find our connecting train. We were a little confused by the platform numbering system as we had to find 11b. Bearing in mind that we had only a couple of hours earlier left London Kings Cross where there is a Platform 9 ¾ we wondered if it was a wind up. It wasn’t. There were platforms ‘B’ and ‘C’ everywhere which was a first for us, but we did manage to find the right platform and our connection to Ilkley. The train was very busy and our packs didn’t fit in the luggage racks, so for half an hour we had them on our laps, which wasn’t great. As we chugged along we began to see the remnants of snow on higher ground that had been left over from the recent cold snap. We arrived at Ilkley station, which was the end of the line, and then had to find our way to our bed for the night, the Riverside Hotel.

Riverside Hotel Ilkley

We immediately went wrong but soon realised our mistake and back tracked. We took the opportunity to check out possible places to eat, grocery stores and supermarkets before making our way to the Hotel. We found it quite easily and after making our way to reception we were shown to our room. Others have remarked that reception is accessed via the bar area at the back, not by the obvious front door. It is strange, especially when the bar is full of blokes watching the football. It would have been almost impossible to get through if we had cases but having packs made it a lot easier. The reason, we worked out later, is that each room key also has a front door key, so once booked in, guests come and go by the front door, even after hours. With reception not being permanently manned it is a security issue as well, so understandable.

The room was good with everything we needed and plenty of space. We dumped our stuff, had a cup of coffee and then headed out to get our supplies. We decided to take another route back to the town, up a residential side street and within about 200 yards from the Hotel we stumbled across a small Morrisons. Not wanting to have to go there the next morning before starting the walk, we bought everything we needed and then returned to the Hotel, rather than explore anymore, as it had started to rain.

After a while we decided that we would have our evening meal even though it was only just after 5pm. The meal was good, my half chicken and chips tasted just like it had been cooked at a chip shop, which in one way it had. The Hotel also has a separate kiosk, which faces onto the river, which is also open to non residents, to buy chip shop type food. My meal had obviously been cooked there, which was a nice surprise and they tasted great. After washing it all down with some Tetleys, we went back to our room and started to prepare for the first days’ walking. Breakfast was, according to the hotel information, served between 7.30-8.30am which was ideal as we had 16 miles to do, so we had an early night.


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