MTB ride – Lower Gorple, Blackshaw Head

I'd intended to do a road ride, but I left it a bit late and the traffic was building up so I decided to go out on the MTB instead. To be honest, I keep forgetting that it is available again after a long period of time when it was out of action awaiting new parts. I used to average about one MTB ride to every two road rides but I'll be way down on that this year.

The sun was shining when I went out and I took two bottles, intending to ride for about 3.5 hours. I set off to Hardcastle Crags and climbed up through the woods and followed the farm track round to Walshaw. It was already starting to cloud over and it looked like it might rain. With the sun hidden, it began to feel quite cool in a stiff breeze. I wasn't feeling that good – definitely not one of those days where it easy to spin the pedals round…

In fact, I felt distinctly lacking in ‘oomph' so I made a snap decision to reduce this to a 1-bottle ride. I'd just meander round my local MTB loop past Lower Gorple, over to Edge Lane, up to Blackshaw Head, down to Turret Hall and back along the A646.

Bridge over Alcomden Water
Like a Bridge over Alcomden Water…

Sometimes it's nice to be a bit lazy and not push yourself. Laziness is relative of course… Hauling well over 200 pounds of man and bike over the local hills for a couple of hours isn't lazy by couch potato standards. Doing it slowly, just once or twice a week is, by athletic standards, and those are the ones that I aspire to! Just not today… 😉

When I'd ridden round to the dip below the New Delight, I decided that I'd ride up the steep bridleway known as Bow Lane (on the official Pennine Bridleway/Mary Towneley Loop route) rather than staying on the road and doing it the easy way.

I've ‘cleaned' Bow Lane before now but it is littered with small stones these days which makes it a rather tough climb. I'm not strong enough to climb something that steep fast enough to bounce over loose rock; my back wheel slides all over the place and I lose my balance. Once stopped it is almost impossible to get going again. I managed to get 1/3 of the way up and then lost it. I took a couple of pictures before walking up to where the gradient eased again and remounting.

View down Bow Lane
View down Bow Lane

View up Bow Lane
View up Bow Lane

I think that the powers-that-be sanitised the bridleway some time back with pieces of rock compacted into sandy soil. The trouble is that water runs very quickly down a slope like that when it is raining heavily, and soon the surface gets eroded away. Still, it's better than it was when it was very muddy.

I stopped off on the descent to Turret Hall to take some more pictures across the valley (carefully avoiding including the busy A646 and the local sewerage works!)

Edge End Moor and Stoodley Pike
Edge End Moor and Stoodley Pike

Callis Wood
Callis Wood

A quick dash along the A646 in evening traffic and I was home. Not quite the ride I'd had in mind when I set off, but it was pleasant enough and a welcome break from staring at my computer screen.

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