So there I am prepping the bike for the Sunday jaunt out to get muddy somewhere when my mate calls to confirm the route, pick up time (crack of dawn) and that the weather is set fair to be a beautiful day. Of course as soon as he said this I thought to myself he’s cursed it. So when the alarm clock went off at some ridiculous hour all I could hear was my fence outside creaking badly in the howling wind and rain pinging against the window – great. It’s at this point when your brain will often go why on earth would I get up and go outside in this when you could just send apologies and roll over back to sleep under the duvet. There is though something that is so restorative about being outside and away from it all, especially in the middle of January in Britain. So I loaded up the bike, cranked up the tunes and the heater and headed over to pick him up.
The whole drive up into the dales was wet but as we pulled into the car park at just after 8 the rain ceased. Needless to say we were the only people about so quickly got the bikes ready and headed out before getting too cold. Of course there was no need to worry about the cold as a lung busting climb right at the start got the blood flowing and once we had climbed out of the tree line the rough plan of where we were heading took shape
We were heading off into the distance (of the photo below) before looping back round and ending up on the escarpment to the left before heading back down. Cloudy, wet and wild but not actually raining.
The route contains several of these stone bridges as it criss crossed various streams. I have a mental block riding over these, if you taped the width of it on the floor I could ride between it no problem but raise it and put it over water especially and my brain sends out warning signals galore.
So I bottled it and pushed across
I really didn’t fancy a dip in the icy January waters but I’ve made a promise to myself to ride it again in the summer and try to go for it. To be honest walking across it was tricky enough as the wet smooth stone was like ice. Emerged dry at the other side (albeit looking like some kind of wild man!)
The route we were taking runs up between Pen Y Ghent and Ingleborough and after climbing up through some great single track Pen Y Ghent could be seen in the distance. I always think that it looks like the head of a whale and can’t help but say to myself “there she blows” as soon as the mountain hoves into view.
More great single track before the next river crossing and there was no way I was riding across this bubbling beauty.
and finally we end up at the highest point of the ride (the escarpment back in the first photo). It’s the 3rd time I’ve ridden this route and the previous times have resulted in getting lost on the top in driving rain and this proved no exception. Truely amazing up there though which turned into a right adventure, bikes slung onto shoulders to carry them across the incredible limestone paving. If you’ve seen Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Part 1 there is a section where Harry and Hermione are camping on top of a hill with a strange rock formation. This was filmed a couple of miles from where we were so you can imagine it’s quite tricky to traverse with a bike ! Once we found the trail again though, the rain eased, the views were staggering and the duvet seemed a long way away.
Happily I managed to negotiate my way down the rocky path, slowly and carefully without falling off to emerge tired, wet and muddy back at the car park.
Needless to say the pint and roaring fire in the bunk house before heading for home were just what was needed. So although the duvet and sofa saw some action as I snoozed the afternoon away I was so glad I resisted their charms in the morning. It’s good to be out.