Sheep in England
Sheep sprinkle the brilliant green landscapes that layer the Yorkshire Dales National Park.©Motorcyclist

A thicket of clouds rested low on the landscape. We crossed the old stone archway into the dirt parking lot behind the Green Dragon, our pub and inn for the evening. It revealed a brilliant green field stretching up to the top of a steep hill on its other side. Dense trees covered the horizon to the left, apparently hiding a small campground and further back, a waterfall. We would find that later. The bikes made such a pleasant racket the resident sheep ran in packs to the gate ogling us and baa-ing obscenities. Sheep. They're everywhere here. And goddamn it if their incessant stuttered yelps don't give the Royal Enfields a run for their money. With the engines off, there was an eerie serene sort of quiet in the area, despite the sheep. Actually, the bleating added to the ambiance. So did the gentle mist that we came to expect from the North.

Stone walls in England
The aging stone walls that crisscross the entirety of Yorkshire require regular upkeep by the local farmers.©Motorcyclist
English countryside
Riding through the walled corridors of the countryside was like playing a live-action Pac-Man.©Motorcyclist

We hadn’t booked a room ahead. Justin and I have become used to rolling into a town unannounced, but elsewhere there would at least be a second and third option for room and board. This town, Hardraw, was much less a ‘town’ then a narrow street with some ancient buildings clumped together for a few hundred meters wedged between the hilly expanses of farmland. We were lucky tonight, and suspected as much since the cool, dimly lit common rooms were empty. A room was readily available. We’d been riding for hours since York. It was wet. Not sopping, but wet nonetheless. Backroads were the only stipulation for our travels. It would take a few extra hours and with a light rain holding its ground between us and our destination, some effort was necessary to stay motivated. But the extra work paid off, and we were rewarded generously not just in the miles upon miles of corkscrewed roadways, but in the views. The mesmerizing views.

Riding on the left in England
Riding on the left side of the road is becoming second nature by now.©Motorcyclist
Sheep everywhere in Britain
When we say there are sheep everywhere in Britain, we weren’t kidding!©Motorcyclist

"These lands aren't suitable for crops… Too many rocks. Too many hills. And the crops wouldn't ripen in this weather." He had sheep, lamb and beef. Now cows; he called them by their destiny. Clearly a long-time local, I struck a conversation with this man – or he struck one with me, rather – while buying a second round of cider from the barkeep-slash-concierge with an oddly placed accent. The farmer's accent was strong, so much that my comprehension of his sentences lagged like the focus of a sleepy baby. I never caught up. "It was dying off as well," he said, "our Yorkshire accent." Too many foreigners coming in, too many locals going out and no one left to pass a farm, home or even an accent to. He asked me what we were doing there. I explained that we wrote stories mostly about motorcycles and traveling. We were circumnavigating England in search of something new amongst something old. That we had arrived on a Continental GT and a Bullet 500, and like everyone else we've met, he knew someone who had owned a Royal Enfield.

Keeping warm in England
Kyra sits on her hands to keep warm in the cold, damp “North.”©Motorcyclist
Royal Enfield Continental GT
Cherry red looks pretty good against a bright green backdrop. Also, sheep.©Motorcyclist

The barkeep came back with the ciders, and the farmer told me that he, everyone working there in fact, was Romanian. They bought up the Green Dragon some years ago and kept it up to good standard, English meals, et al. The men were friendly likely from the farmer being a patron of the bar. I rejoined Justin when the conversation became a little stale, and the ciders started getting too warm. He was planning our trip to the Lake District the next day, but I urged him to stroll the grounds before dark. We swallowed the last of our ciders and then explored the length of town.

Waterfall in England
We call this “Water falling from above.”©Motorcyclist

It had been a fun ride. By then, I’d gotten used to my single-cylinder steed and Justin to his. We took corners – the blind ones, the long sweeping ones, the banked ones and rutted ones – much faster than I had suspected my tires could handle. My heart would jump right out of my throat when a car would fly just as recklessly around from the other direction, and I’d swallow it back down as silently as I could over the Sena’s. Didn’t want Justin to slow down just ‘cuz he’s concerned I’ll get into trouble. So I kept it to myself. I tried to keep pace. The road to York was fast and light, full throttle on the A and an M or two. Our path to Yorkshire’s left shoulder was satisfyingly slow in comparison, curvy as all hell, challenging on a few different levels and beautiful beyond belief. Whatever reservations I had about England were made up for, as it was every time, when we rode through the countryside. Justin bobbed in and out of site through the trees, up and down massive bulbous hills.

Small English village
We perused the small village, peaking into unknown parts when we could.©Motorcyclist
Strong British cider
A hearty fire and strong cider were the perfect combination to fight the cold.©Motorcyclist

At the edge of Hardraw, we turned back and began walking toward the Green Dragon. There was a waterfall hidden somewhere that I was determined to find. No one stopped us when we walked past the open fence and into the virtually empty park behind the outcropping of woods. The trail to the falls was simple, easy and surrounded by the lush British forest I dreamed up from ancestral stories and fairytales. The waterfall was much more than we’d expected. The cliff was staggering, and we craned to get a good look of the top. Where the water fell, there was a pool - perfectly round, outlined in slippery stones with single-track walkway forming the outer perimeter. Signs urged us to keep back, but…you know. A slim flight of steps led to one side of the path. From the top, it wound gently though no less dangerously behind the falls. We followed it.

Kyra Sacdalan
Without Kyra’s bright red moleskin button-up, Justin would have lost her in the woods.©Motorcyclist
The waterfall wasn’t the only place we weren’t supposed to go.©Motorcyclist

We were still full from the superb dinner and stood by the warm fire blazing from within an iron oven. We observed a child dining with his grandfather. He bellied up to the bar with the rest of the visitors, ate cheerfully and grilled everyone who would listen unabashedly, trying not to interrupt the answers despite his excitement with each new question. It’s a shame that my hometowns are a little stricter with their absurd liquor laws, because how else could this very sincere and, likely, lasting moment happen for a child? Anyhow, it was nice to relax. To walk a little, with little expectation, little excitement and little noise. Hardraw was a sleepy town in a beautiful region. The Green Dragon was an old establishment with new ownership. The waterfall was a paid attraction that we saw for free. And we were on an adventure, looking to do not much of anything, at least that night.

Green Dragon Inn in Hardraw
For a clean room, classic English meal and eerie quiet with a dash of history, stay at the Green Dragon in Hardraw.©Motorcyclist

In the morning after breakfast and coffee, we replaced the utter silence, save for the sheep, with roaring and spattering from our exhausts. We road under the same stone archway atop unsteady ground traveling from a place so still and quiet we should hardly have noticed it. And yet its features, friendly faces and warm foods were so colorful and rich that I couldn’t imagine our adventure without it.