The main road along the lower ten miles of the valley has begun a three month programme of closures to try and deal with the subsidence it suffers by reason of being built half way up a river bank. The aim is to try to prevent it disappearing into the river altogether. There have been multiple sets of temporary traffic lights on this route for over a year now and everyone is fed up with them and increasingly ignoring them which is a cause of concern for those of us not quite as equipped as some to meet a red light running 4×4 driven by a stout woman in tweeds on equal terms. You would think that folks would welcome the road finally getting fixed but the retired military types and civil servants who at a time in the past not fully pinpointed by the historical record replaced the earlier norse inhabitants of the dale have been up in arms, although fortunately their access to actual arms is limited nowadays, because they might have to drive a different way to resupply on viagra and Guns and Ammo magazine. You’d think they were putting landmines under the road rather than underpinning. It’s quite ironic really as the folks moaning most about their villages being cut off are the ones who moved there in the first place because it was quiet, out of the way and remote. There’s no pleasing some people.
There is a parallel road to the falling down one, a road which runs along the top of the valley. This is the old road, from the times when our ancestors kept to the high ground whilst travelling, avoiding the valley bottoms which were boggy, wooded, devoid of landmarks and full of locals whose first reaction to a stranger passing through their patch was not necessarily to put the kettle on and invite them in for a brew. The ancient tradition of walking the ridgeways is still to be found on this route as coast to coast ramblers spill onto the tarmac for a short stretch, wooden staffs nowadays replaced by those telescopic pointy sticks hikers often swing ineffectually by the wrist straps as they rustle along the road singing The Happy Wanderer. The high road has a bit of a climb at both ends, and also in the middle, but we’re not talking the Gotthard Pass here. The diversion is however a double edged sword for those on bikes as well as it takes away the default bad weather wimp-out option of going up and down the valley avoiding anything steep which might be icy or anything high which might be a bit windy for two wheels but the views can be terrific and let’s face it some of us need the workout.
On a day like today though, with gales and rain adding to closures and diversions and causing the extra effort to make the keenest rider wonder why they should even get out of bed, good reasons are needed to go out the door. Fortunately for those of us not chasing marginal gains and podium places, even if we have the spring classics marked up in our diary as if we were actually competing in them, rainbows can be reasons enough.