Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Commuter hell...

It's not just the hiking around here that rocks, it's the commuting too.  On Tuesday I spent the day working in Burnley - Townley Park to be precise, and very pretty it is too.  I have 2 routes home available to me from there, I can either follow the M65 back to the M6 and zoom north at high speed, or I can drive home along the A682 through the Yorkshire Dales.  During the winter the M65/ M6 usually wins for purely practical reasons, but as soon as the evenings lighten up a little, there really is no contest.  As it is not only impractical, but also highly illegal for me to try and take photos of this amazing route as I tootle along, I shall invite you to make use of Google Maps.  Open a new tab and locate "Blacko" on Google Maps then drag the little orange man into Street View on the A682 and follow me as I head home.

Blacko itself is fairly high up so the route starts with this amazing sense of space and freedom as you head onto the Dales.  There's no dual carriageway along this entire route so patience is called for if you find yourself behind someone a little slower than yourself - but who wants to speed past these amazing views?  Plenty of people actually, so although I stick to a steady 50mph I find I'm regularly pulling over to let those with more pressing engagements zoom past.  The weather isn't always as glorious as it appears to be on the day Google took their pics, but by the time I was heading home on Tuesday there was a breathtaking sunset in progress and it's a wonder I didn't end up embedded in a dry stone wall as I tried to take it all in.

I spent a lot of my life commuting around the M25, specifically the "always rammed with traffic" section between the M40 and the M3 and I'm sure it won't come as any surprise at all to hear I don't miss it one little bit.  Even the M6 is blissful by comparison, especially once you're north of the M55.

Devil's Bridge, Kirkby Lonsdale
Pretty soon you drop down into Gisburn - which always makes me think of Robin Hood - is this where Guy of Gisburn was from?  Or was that something dreamed up by Kevin Costner?  A quick right/ left over the A59 and you're on your way again.  Incidentally, I've just noticed that on Street View you get to journey through all the seasons along this route - I promise you it won't really take you that long!  By the time you reach Long Preston and the A65 Summer has clearly arrived bringing with it rather more traffic.  Well, more traffic for this route anyway, which is nothing when compared with 8 lanes of stationary vehicles on the M25; the worst we get is the occasional tractor, but they soon pull off into a field or farmyard.

Next up is Settle and, if you're on this route for the first time, then I'm going to insist you take a diversion and visit this lovely little town.  It has an absolutely gorgeous little town square and a very handy petrol station and car park - so there's no excuse not to visit!  Many's the time I've stopped and bought an impromptu picnic from here ready for an alfresco dinner later on along the route.  Plus it's right next to Giggleswick, a place name that can't fail to bring a smile.

Back on the A65 and it's not long before you spot Ingleborough looming large and flat in the distance.  The village of Clapham at its base is another reminder of the rush hour chaos we left behind in the South East.  This Clapham does have a station, but it's a little less busy than Clapham Junction and a whole lot prettier.

Kent Estuary from Grange
Pressing onwards and soon Kirkby Lonsdale appears and with it the perfect opportunity to scoff the picnic dinner I bought in Settle.  Devil's Bridge is very popular with motorcyclists at the weekends, but on a weekday evening it's the perfect spot to unwind after a busy day in the office.

After that it's just a hop, skip and a jump along the A65 to the M6 and over it on to the A590 which soon has me back home in lovely Grange.  There was a time when the journey home was more stressful than a day in the office, but not any more, and for that I shall be eternally grateful.