THE constant element of this column is meant to be a nice pub lunch; but this month circumstances conspired against me. So read on, to learn from my mistakes.

Our start is at Northallerton, the county town of North Yorkshire. I parked the car at Strikes Garden Centre, just north out of town on the A167, where there’s the added advantage of a coffee shop.

A variety of breakfasts too. My first mistake therefore was to think that I’d just have a coffee, it not being too many miles to lunch. I was right about the distance, but not about the lunch.

Turn right out of the car park to follow the A167 north for a few hundred yards, to bear left at a fork signed for Danby Wiske and Streetlam. In just over a mile, there’s a small junction off to the right, but our route curves slightly left and is shared from this point by the course of the coast to coast long distance walk, as far as Danby Wiske village.

Just before the village, the road crosses the main east coast railway line. Pause and have a look over the bridge parapet (left) to see the old station masters house. The actual station building, now long gone, was on the opposite side of the line.

Back in the 1880s a railway employee, Henry Robinson (born at Withernwick near Hull in 1850) and his family, lived-in at the station. We’ll come back to Henry in a moment.

From the railway bridge, continue into Danby Wiske, turning left at the green, signed Yafforth. At the end of the village, turn left up a track by a children’s playground, to find the parish church. If you walk halfway up the path in the churchyard, you’ll find a blue granite gravestone just off to the left.

Here lies John Henry Robinson, son of Henry, who died aged only 10 in 1891. The family history gives the cause of death as brain fever, a common term in Victorian times. My friend Dr Mike tells me that probably was meningitis. I was intrigued by the gravestone, giving as it does, the family address as being the Railway Station.

Continue south out of the village to pass Little Danby Hall (Grade II listed) and shortly afterwards, the entrance to Yafforth Hall Farm.

Here, pause to look half left across the fields where (at about 10 o'clock) you’ll see the raised earthwork which is all that remains of Howe Hill Motte Castle.

Originally there would have been a timber fortification on top of the hill. This example is thought to have been constructed during the reign of King Stephen, between 1135 and 1154. Continue straight on over a staggered junction (unsigned) at Yafforth.

Bear right at T-junction on leaving the village. Cross a railway line and climb slightly to a junction with the A684 Wensleydale road. Cross straight over with care and follow a sign for (and through) Warlaby.

Look out for Solberge Hall Hotel on the right, then watch over the field to the left where you may spot an old railway viaduct over the top of some chicken sheds. This is part of an old Northallerton to Harrogate route and we’ll see the course of the line more closely in another mile or so.

Watch for and take a single track road off to the right (unsigned). There’s a lot of sand and gravel in the middle and some grass growing, just the way I like it. Take care if there’s been any recent rain as this can wash similar debris from the fields.

The road climbs slightly before bending left. Then straight on past two farm entrances off to the right, both of which are better surfaced than the public road.

An old bridge takes the road over a shallow railway cutting and you can view the route as it curves away towards Northallerton.

Keep straight on and bear right into Maunby village where you’ll find the excellent Buck Inn. I’ve been here before. They do lunches.

So here’s my second mistake; I didn’t check before travelling. The chef had left unexpectedly and his replacement didn’t start until the next week. By the time you read this all will be well again.

Fortunately, it wasn’t far to the next pub which does food on a Saturday lunchtime. So I retraced to the edge of the village, curved right (away from the small road on which we arrived) and then left at next Junction, signed Newby Wiske.

On reaching outskirts of Newby Wiske, bear right at a T-junction for South Otterington. The Otterington Shorthorn pub is at the next junction. I arrived at 1.25pm. The blackboard outside informed me lunch was served until 1.30pm.

Now perhaps I should have chanced it and asked. It may have been my next mistake to press on, but that’s what I did.

So continue in the same direction, crossing the A167 with care, now following a sign for Thornton-le-Moor. I paused to view the east coast main line, and the remains of Otterington Station. A convoy of wedding cars passed. I arrived in Thornton-le-Moor to find the wedding party filling the village pub/restaurant. I gave up on any chance of lunch.

It’s not far back to Northallerton. Just after Woody’s Restaurant, and before leaving the village bear left at an unsigned junction. The road rises to pass a bus shelter on your left. Meet the A168 at a T-junction and go left towards Northallerton for about a mile. Then right at junction for Thornton-le-Beans. Beyond village, left at T-junction (unsigned, but opposite direction to Thirsk which does have a sign).

Pass a turning on the right for Nether Silton, but keep straight on for another half mile to see a blue name plate at entrance to Low Crosby Court Farm. Stay on the road here. Do not enter the farm entrance. It just acts as an early warning for the next unsigned track we actually need.

A tree on the left of the road has a sign saying Horses, Slow. Turn right up the track opposite this tree. Bumpy and perhaps some mud at first, the surface improves as you approach the first farm, Crosby Court Grange. Once past the farm you are back on Tarmac again.

In another mile, take an unsigned turn left, by a white rendered house. This single track road gives the best possible run back into Northallerton, with panoramic view over the town. On reaching the houses, left at a T-junction which takes you across a succession of mini roundabouts to pick up signs for the A167 Darlington Road, back out to the garden centre.

Cycle facts

Date of ride: Saturday, August 26, 2017

The map: Ordnance Survey Landranger No.99, Northallerton & Ripon

The cafe: Strikes Garden Centre, Darlington Road, Northallerton, DL6 2PW. Tel: 01609 760970.

The pub: Buck Inn, Maunby, Thirsk, YO7 4HD. Tel. 01845 587777.

The bike: Classic 1971 Jack Taylor, Super Track model, built in Stockton-on-Tees

Distance: 23 miles

Car parking: Unrestricted parking at Strikes Garden Centre (but please patronise their cafe). This ride can readily be started from Northallerton Railway Station, as an alternative to driving