A relaxed ambiance enveloped the village of Summerbridge on a fine-weathered midweek visit but a hint of the more high octane atmosphere to come in a fortnight’s time was offered by decorations that flapped gently above street level in the spring breeze.
Bedecked in white rose Yorkshire flags and blue, yellow and white bunting, this attractive, hillside nook of glorious Nidderdale is gearing up as a host community for the forthcoming 2017 Tour de Yorkshire.
Summerbridge features as part of the race on Saturday, April 29 during the second stage of the event, when the cyclists pedal between Ripley and Pateley Bridge.
The Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a grand setting for a cycle race. If outsiders think of this part of the world and immediately think only of the neighbouring Yorkshire Dales National Park, then they are missing out. Nidderdale’s countryside and welcoming villages are as worthy a visit as anywhere else in God’s Own Country.
Summerbridge lies on a much used B road between Harrogate and Pateley Bridge. It may lack the tourist appeal of those nearby towns but it is a village with a sense of community, comprising of a butchers, a village shop, a primary school, a church, a post office and a hardware shop.
On race day, the church, school and Flying Dutchman pub will be serving hot drinks and food.
James Thornton, 31, runs Summerbridge Store, the village shop at the heart of the community, with his parents Sue and Barry. They took on the premises 22 years. The building was once a corn mill.
James, a keen cyclist himself, is looking forward to next weekend.
“We’ll be open as usual and we’re hoping lots of people will come along to see the race. We’ll have some chairs outside and there’s a lot going on in the village. Everyone is really on board.”
Summerbridge Methodist Church also plays a central role in village life. There is a programme of Easter services this weekend, including a “prayer labyrinth” today. It also has a day of family-friendly activities planned to coincide with the cycling.
The church hall essentially operates as the village hall and its rooms are regularly used for parish council meetings and choir rehearsals. The church also hosts a playgroup three days a week and monthly games afternoons, lunches and coffees for older members of the community.
Rose Gosling, who moved to Yorkshire from Kent about 12 years ago, is the church’s senior steward.
“It’s a very warm and caring community where people support each other, particularly through times of difficulty,” she said.
“We have a lot of older people who can often be on their own but there are a lot of caring people around who visit each other.”
Located in the Harrogate district of North Yorkshire, Summerbridge lies along the River Nidd and is found 2.5 miles from Pateley Bridge.
For the first time, Summerbridge Methodist Church will be opening its door with an exhibition as part of the Nidderdale-wide Nidd Art Trail on August 19-29.
Summerbridge is the nearest village to Brimham Rocks, which is just two miles away.