MTB Ride – Shackleton, Edge Lane

It was another nice sunny day, though it turned out to be windier than expected. My road bikes are currently out of action awaiting replacement wheel bearings (and probably new cones) so it was a good opportunity to ride my MTB again. I haven’t been doing enough off-road riding this past couple of years. I didn’t want to be out for too long so I decided to do my favourite short local MTB ride.

I went up the Keighley Road, turned off for Midgehole, then climbed up from the car parks at Hardcastle Crags, through the woods to Shackleton. It felt much harder than it should do, confirmation (as if I needed it!) that my weight is up and my fitness is down. I used to ride up that climb easily on my middle chainring but today I was firmly in the little ring all the way up

I did the same route about this time last year and as I got to the top of the climb then, I was greeted by the sound of scores of sheep and lambs baa-ing in a field to my left. This time round, the sheep were there again in great numbers, but there wasn’t a sound from them. Even the ones startled by me taking the photograph below, just upped and ran off without making a sound – spooky!

Shackleton sheep

I wasn’t feeling super-fit and there was a strong headwind as I made my way round to the Widdop Road so I just tootled along enjoying the scenery and being away from the computer for a couple of hours. I didn’t bother trying to much of an effort except on the climbs.

I took my usual route back – up past Lower Gorple reservoir and over to Edge Lane. We’ve not had a lot of rain so far this year and the water levels in the reservoirs are starting to drop. There aren’t shortages yet, but if we continue with this warm, dry summer we could have hosepipe bans by the autumn, I reckon.

Lower water at Lower Gorple
Lower water at Lower Gorple

I rode to the end of Edge Lane turned right, descended to Jack Bridge, then climbed back up to Blackshaw Head on the road. A left turn down Badger Lane took me to the right turn down the Pennine Bridleway. I don’t take that all the way down to the valley – it is too technical for me. I prefer the twisty, turny bridleway down to Turret Hall.

I think I’ve lost my nerve on the MTB, descending with more braking than usual. As a result my Hope disk brakes overheated and the front brake locked on at the bottom of the descent! I had to stop for a couple of minutes to take a drink while it cooled off again. They are very effective brakes, but they do tend to suffer from this problem. There are rotary controls above the levers which allow the pads to be ‘backed off’ as the brakes heat up but there is only so much that can be done. After that, an enforced braking break is needed.

I didn’t have time to add any of the possible variations to the end of the ride, so I just rode back into town on the A646.

A nice little MTB ride, but I felt some stiffness in my arms and legs afterwards. That’s not what I’m used to on rides less than 2 hours and is a reminder that I need to get out more, even if the rides are only short ones.

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10 Responses to “MTB Ride – Shackleton, Edge Lane”

  1. i believe that we will have a hosepipe ban in two weeks, the paperwork is being done at the moment!

  2. Somebody on CycleChat said that his dad works for one of the water companies and he reckoned there was plenty of water in Yorkshire but the water levels in our local reservoirs are definitely getting lower by the day!

  3. Ho ho – I just had my first insulting Spam comment! It makes a change because most of them are ridiculously ego-flattering – “Reading your blog has brought me back from the black gates of Hell. I didn’t think life was worth living until I read your scintillating description of a big sheep standing in a field! Now devour the Hot babes at” I assume that they just blitz blogs and eventually find unmoderated ones, or people whose egos are so desperately in need of a boost that they will let that kind of thing stand! 😉

  4. Colin,
    I’m just researching a bike ride I intend to do in the next few weeks and I came across your blog. Now I’ll have to change my plans as I’ve been so inspired by your route descriptions in the Hebden Bridge area. I used to live in Oldham and rode around that area when I was a kid, now I want to see if I can ride Cragg Vale 40 years later! I think 15 stone and full touring gear might make it more of a challenge.

  5. Hi Dave.

    I wish I’d grown up in this area rather than in the Midlands – I’d have carried on cycling rather than giving it up as a teenager and not riding again for 20 years!

    I’m sure you will manage the Cragg Vale climb okay if you have the right gears and take your time – I’m back over 15 stone now (so much for ‘Slimmer and Fitter’! 😉 ) but I still ride the local hills fairly regularly. There is a short, steepish section halfway up the CV climb but the average gradient of the climb is only about 3.3%. I find the main problem is that there is often a cross-headwind coming from the right across the open moorland higher up and that can make it really hard work.

    Where will you be starting your ride from, and where else will you be going? If you want help to plot a local route, just let me know – I have all the UK OS maps at 1:50,000 scale on my PC.

    I had intended logging all my rides with my GPS but never got round to it. If I can find a way of embedding route maps on the site, I’ll do it.

    Enjoy your ride!

    PS That spurred me on, and I’ve just discovered that I can embed Bikely route maps on my blog so I’ll start doing that in future. I’ll go back to one of my earlier posts and give it a go.

  6. I have to be in Leeds for my daughter’s graduation on 13th July and then I have to be in Oldham on the Friday evening. So I have 3 days to get from Leeds to Oldham. My original plan was Castleford to Kilnsey/Grassington, then to Settle and head south via Colne/Hebden Bridge. But now I’m thinking I might do a more direct route towards HB on the Wednesday and ride around from there on Thursday and head for Oldham on Friday. Can you recommend a campsite in the area?
    The next part is to ride from Oldham towards Plymouth starting on Sunday.

    PS The other thing that I liked about your blog is that I’m also struggling to get down from 15st8lbs. Now down to 14st10 due to commuting by bike 70 miles a week. Also heading slowly to 12st8lbs one day, perhaps.

    Dave S.

  7. Oh, if you’re doing those kinds of rides then Cragg Vale will seem easy!

    It is nice out Grassington way, but if you are going for the more direct route, you could follow the southern half of the West Yorkshire Cycle Route from Castleford. I did that in 2006. It goes through some very nice countryside. The first part of that is easy but it gets increasingly challenging after Holmbridge with really brutal climbs up from Marsden and Deanhead (by Scammonden Water) which you might prefer to walk up! Alternatively, you could avoid them by following some pretty busy roads and going the long way round.

    Funny you mention campsites – I don’t know of many in the immediate area, but I happened to notice that there were a lot of tents in front of the New Delight Inn at Jack Bridge when I did the above MTB ride. It is a fair old climb up from Hebden Bridge but it is in a very nice location. Contact details.

    Jerusalem Farm is another one well worth a look. Another great location up another steep hill, about 5 miles from Hebden Bridge!

    In Hebden Bridge itself, I’ve just discovered a new hostel which might be of interest. It’s a few hundred yards up a steep climb from the town centre.

    Alternatively, the Mankinholes Youth Hostel is only a couple of miles down the road towards Todmorden (and then a steep climb up the south side of the valley).

    I managed to get down to 12 st 10 lbs at the end of 2006 but the last 3 poor summers scuppered me. I usually put about 7 or 8 pounds on in the winter and get them back off again in the summer but in 2007/2008/2009 the weight just kept piling on (apart from a short period in early 2009 when the motivation of the early days of this blog spurred me on). In my case, it is the beer:riding ratio that decides it. If I ride more, I drink less and vice versa, with the obvious results!

    It’ll be a good old ride down to Plymouth from up here!

  8. Colin,
    Many thanks for that.
    I camped near the New Delight on the Pennine Way many years ago, and Mankinholes was always a favourite destination for a bunch of scruffy kids walking over from Denshaw. We also used to camp or bivouac at Blackstone Edge.
    Dave S.

  9. Colin,
    I passed through Hebden Bridge on Friday, 16th July after a very windy night camping at Trawden, and headwinds all the way over Widdop. I recognised one of the climbs from one of your photos, and had to get off to walk for a while, just to stretch my legs, you understand. The descent from Slack was excellent, but I decided some brake adjustment was needed before the next downhill, but I could just be getting soft in my old age. I also broke 2 spokes in my back wheel, but had them fixed in a couple of minutes in the bike shop at the bottom of Cragg Vale.The climb took 50 minutes, which was OK for the conditions and the laden bike.
    I am back in Plymouth now, having ridden 340 miles, mostly into the wind. I know now why everyone rides up to Scotland from down here!
    Best wishes,

    Dave S.

  10. Blimey – 340 miles into a headwind – I’d be knackered after 34 – good effort!

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