Friday, 18 October 2013

Hidden Lakes

Either side of last weekend's BG dinner Cath and I got some mountain biking done. Even though both routes were within twenty miles of where I grew up a large part of both routes was completely new to me. It just goes to show that different sports can coexist with hardly any contact with each other.

Hmm, Are you sure this is the right way?

Descending from Claife Heights towards Hawkshead

Saturday saw us on a route to the south and west of Ambleside taking in Claife Heights, High Tilberthwaite and Loughrigg. I'd been on Claife Heights before but this was a new route for me - I'd done about five metres of it before - never really technical though there was a great descent down towards Hawkshead that needed a dismount at one point as I got the wrong line. It's often the case in mountain biking that knowing the line helps. Then it was on towards Little Langdale via old lanes.
Mostly these were easy but there was one section that I walked, my bike handling skills aren't good enough to deal with drop offs in to loose blocky ground.

Heading towards High Tilberthwaite

From Little Langdale we took a bridleway that I never knew existed round to Elterwater. It even had a warning sign! I thought this was a bit over the top until we dropped in to the woods and began a long loose rocky descent that had you on your toes all the time. The way to do these is to keep your speed up so that your front wheel pushes rocks out of the way but the last thing you want to do is go fast!

Leaving Little Langdale for Elterwater

A bit of a damp end to the ride!

The last bit of the ride was round Loughrigg Terrace which is mostly straightforward apart from one step and a submerged section through Rydal Water.

Sunday's ride was based on the "other Borrowdale", that is the valley that runs between Tebay Gorge and the A6 main road over Shap. Our intial route finding saw us miss the bridleway on the north side of the valley so we turned round and followed the easy track on the south side of the river. Given that it lies between the A6 and the M6 it is surprisingly secluded and quiet, a real forgotten corner of the area as it lies in the no-man's land between the Lakes and Dales national parks.

A bit of road work towards Tebay then back west saw us in to Bretherdale which I'd never even heard of! The last challenge was to get back over the hill to the head of Borrowdale via a track. Unfortunately most of this was a push as it was steep (10 - 25%) and both loose and rocky, it was hard work simply trying to walk and push the bikes up it. There was some riding at the top as the gradient eased and then we were soon on the descent. A lot of this was just as loose as the ascent and we were forced to walk large sections until we got to the lower reaches. A final crossing of the river then back to the car.

Afterwards I checked Strava to see what the best time for this descent was: just under three minutes, our time was over eleven! I really am rubbish at descending :-)

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