Wednesday, 7 May 2014

I seem to be running behind a bit with what I've been up to. This blog is about a mountain bike ride that I'd read about a while ago on UK Climbing but hadn't got round to doing it.

Rather than go S to N we decided to get the train to Garsdale and ride back home. Slightly more committing in that you can't decide to cut the journey short so easily. In order to get back home on bridleways we had a different route planned once we got to Horton in Ribblesdale heading via Mastiles Lane, Airton and Gargrave. We actually only decided to head out at about 9:30 on Good Friday and had missed the early train so had to get the 11:20 which meant that we only got to Garsdale after midday. Good planning!

The day felt like the first day of spring, actually it was pretty hot (we forgot sunscreen - oops!), and with recent dry weather the trails were drier than I expected. It was only going through fords where we got wet.

An unfortunate side effect of setting off from Garsdale is that the first bit is climbing the Coal Road. This is one of the steepest roads in the Dales (it's actually steeper coming up from the Dent side) so was quite a shock to the system. I'd done it before on the Etape du Dales but it was Cath's first time on it. Once at the summit the route leaves the tarmac and head off on a track that contours round the side of Great Knoutberry Hill, it's not flat but there are no real climbs on it. Some great views though. Eventually the track drops down to the head of Arten Gill before a short steep pull up on to Wold Fell. The descent from here to the road is long and fast.

On the bridleway above Dent station

The next bit from Newby Head to Cam High Road was new to both of us. It's a long steady climb with one short steep bit. At times you feel like you are heading in the wrong direction but eventually we reached the road head at the top. This was the highest point of the ride. From here it is pretty much all downhill to Horton, the first bit follows the old Roman Road before cutting off at Cam End to head towards Ling Gill. Just after here at Old Ing, the official route goes down to the Ribble to cross that by a new bridge before heading over Sulber Nick. We cut eastwards to join the track over from Oughtershaw. A bit of up and down then it was a long blast in to Horton, though the section with large rocks was somewhat slower. Time for a cafe break.

Descending the Cam Road, Ribblehead viaduct ahead

After a bit of road from Horton to Helwith Bridge it was back on to bridleways and a big climb up Moor Head Lane. A little loose but all rideable if you chose your line. The only way from here to Mastiles is on the road which begins with a steep descent in to and climb back out of Tongue Gill. We were both tiring at this point having been in the sun for most of the afternoon. Mastiles is much pleasanter these days now that off-roaders have been restricted from (mis)using it, apart from the crossing of Goredale Beck even all of this was dry.

The climb up from Helwith Bridge.

There's a cut through to Lee Gate farm though we had to stop to disentangle a ewe from the wire fence - she'd got really stuck with each horn through two different squares. The climb up to Weets Top was the last hard climb of the day (well off-road) then we just had a long blast down in to Calton. I'd never been down this track having always come up it, the top bit is good fun though.

A little more road to get to Airton then bridleway down to Bell Busk and then over to Gargrave. By now we were both pretty tired so rather than our original plan of going round by a longer route on the canal bank to get to Elslack we took the road and then headed up hill and home.

Reaching Weets Top

Well worth doing, especially if you get such good weather as we had. There's the section north to Kirkby Stephen to do now:-) There's a full set of images on my website. Next up is what is meant to be the best singletrack in England - Bowderdale in the Howgills.

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