HEADWINDS & HILLS IN THE DALES
The Brompton strikes out into the beautiful Dales of Lancashire and Yorkshire, and climbs the famous Cragg Vale on the way home. With it went Mark Jacobson, who tells the tale.
The RSPB Reserve at Leighton Moss is best remembered for the breakfast the Cafe served me on opening at 09:30: I had been up since 05:30 to catch an early train! The roads from there to Dent, via Kirkby Lonsdale and Barbon are a delight, slow up and fast down. Complacency is shattered over the cobbles in the centre of Dent! Small wheels do not enjoy bumpy cobbles, and take it out on the rider, leaving him shaken.
Dent and Wensley Dales
The long ascent of Dentdale is best taken leisurely, especially when glimpses of the Dentdale Viaduct top the horizon; pity too far away when the train crosses. Once under this enormous structure its size becomes overwhelmingly evident. Pillars reaching to the sky, evidence of much labour and ingenuity.
The descent to Hawes is long, and in parts, quite steep: rather too fast when combined with a tail wind, the last for some days. Judicious braking, not to overheat the small wheels and burst a tyre, make it a little difficult to keep the speed below 30 mph! Very glad to safely arrive at the chosen Hardraw campsite, erect the tent, and have a snooze; it has been a long day.
Early morning sunshine and Wensleydale glows green. Stone walls, white sheep, green grass and trees. Askrigg at 08:30, and the bakery is open and has a cafe! Cannot refuse a second breakfast! Enough to energise the coming 25% gradient over Askrigg Moor to Swaledale. Despite a navigation error, the descent to Swaledale, although bare moorland, is of a beauty not often seen.
Once into the dale bottom it's to turn into the headwind. A deviation to ride through Crackpot is called for, after which come Gunnerside, Muker and Thwaite: then only another 6 miles to the highest pub in Britain, the Tan Hill Inn. Just a half of a very smooth but strong brew and it's back into the wind to retrace to Thwaite, then up and over Buttertubs Pass, pausing to study the depth of a Buttertub hole.
Next day, a long climb (and push) back to Newby Head against that persistent headwind. 6 Miles in the first hour, but why does the cycle computer show a maximum speed of 41.9 mph? The only explanation that occurs is that it was next to my watch in the tent overnight. The descent towards the Ribblehead Viaduct is no faster, that persistent wind side on but creeping ahead. It is only after the turn by the viaduct that we have a tail wind again.
Settle down now
If you want to settle in Settle then do so at the station, where you can settle up or settle down on one of the Settle station settles! Oh! And you can find the answer to a Cycle Quest here, too!
A lane leads to Wigglesworth and then on to Slaidburn. Lunch at the Riverside Cafe. Continuation of the ride along the Trough of Bowland, through Whitewell to Chipping. Much to be seen in the way of wild flowers, particularly the wooded area with its carpet of bluebells in bloom. Elsewhere have been displays of wild garlic, forget-me-nots, dandelions, hawkbit and, possibly, even wild tulip and slender speedwell. Difficult to identify positively when cycling by.
Clitheroe town and a ride over the slope of Pendle Hill. Far hillier sections through Newchurch and Roughlee, where a steel statue of Alice Nutter stands at the roadside, part of the Witches' Trail. Colne and lunch: Google App shows a cycle route out to Lancashire Moor Lane, but this is misleading as it deteriorates to barely a path leading to a very narrow single-plank bridge with high sides and steep stones steps beyond, definitely not for cycles!
Lancashire Moor Lane and that dratted wind! Even when pushing it sometimes brings one to a standstill! Descent into Lane End marred by road closure signs but fortunately workmen have finished for the day, so camp site at Ponden Mill reached without detour. No phone signal!
Climb to Stanbury, descent and climb to Oxenhope, climb and descent to Hebden Bridge. Second breakfast at Watergate Cafe. Easy run to Mytholmroyd: sign at bottom of Cragg Vale, only a 970 foot rise in 5.5 miles! Easy pedalling despite full load on board, takes only 45 minutes, include some photo stops. (Next weekend: Brompton Hill climb here, best time 27 minutes, others up to 37 minutes, unladen.)
Descent to Littleborough: sun out, getting rather warm. Day-trippers everywhere! After the freshness of the hills and headwinds, the fumes from traffic are very strong. Train through Manchester to Parbold, then cycling once more, taking lanes to Burscough for the last camping night. Next day, riding to Wigan and train home. A wonderful break, despite that wind!
PUBLISHED OCTOBER 2018