Road Ride – ‘Barlick Bash’

I had been planning to do an imperial century ride (100 miles or 161 km) out to Malham in the Yorkshire Dales this summer but I had a bit of a reality check and decided that I wasn't really fit enough to enjoy a ride of that severity. It had about 10,000 feet of climbing (3,000 m), some of it very steep. I'll save the ‘Malham Meander' for next year.

A few days ago, fellow CycleChat rider Alun sent me a message requesting that I organise another scenic ride in this area. I obliged by taking the aforementioned Malham route and cutting it down to a much more manageable 62 miles (100 km) with ‘only' about 6,600 feet of climbing (2,000 m)…

The route: Hebden Bridge, Cock Hill, Oxenhope, Penistone Hill, Stanbury, Scar Top, Oakworth, Slippery Ford, Sutton Moor, Lane Ends, Glusburn Moor, Carleton Moor, Elslack, Broughton, Gargrave (Dalesman cafe), West Marton, Barnoldswick (‘Barlick' to the locals), Stocks House, Twiston, Twiston Moor, Rough Lee, Barrowford, Nelson, Coldwell Activity Centre (cafe), Thursden, Widdop, Slack, Lee Wood, Hebden Bridge.

'Barlick Bash' route
‘Barlick Bash' route

I posted a thread about it in the CycleChat forum and started trying to get a few more riders to come along. Then Alun got in touch with me again to tell me that he was busy and couldn't make it… You got me there Alun! 😉

Buddy Bill said that he might come along if he managed to fit his new compact chainset in time. PaulB, another CycleChat member I know said that he would come along together with his son Liam. Paul lives partway round the route so I arranged to meet him and Liam at Lane Ends on the A6068.

I woke up this morning and the weather wasn't looking super. It was overcast, breezy and not particularly warm. I did a final check of the forecast and it was that things would stay like that until early afternoon, then the clouds would thicken, the wind would pick up and it would get drizzly, finally turning to rain. Not great, but not too bad either. Game on!

Bill came round at 07:45 to use my tools to change his chainset over while I got ready for the ride. He completed the work just in time and we set off from here at 09:05. Bill only got as far as Pecket Well – he's been ill for over a week, and he had to do a 60 mile round trip on his bike yesterday to pick up a new bottom bracket from Manchester so his legs were a bit tired. He decided to ride off and visit a friend instead. Probably a wise move considering the severity of what was to come…

It is a pretty lumpy 19 miles (30 km) over to Lane Ends so it took me 1 hr 45 mins to get there. A bit slow, but I'm still too big to climb quickly.

Paul and Liam were waiting for me on the A6068 as planned. We set off together on what was to be a fairly tiring trip over some nice Yorkshire and Lancashire hills.

We stopped at the Dalesman cafe at Gargrave but didn't hang about too long. I just had a can of Coca Cola and a cereal bar, and refilled one of my bottles.

I wasn't feeling super and my gears were playing up so I was getting a bit flustered. I kept struggling to get the chain down onto the little chainring so I spent too much time climbing in the middle ring struggling with a higher gear than I wanted to use. Eventually, I got sick of it on the nice little hilly lanes just to the north of ‘Barlick' and stopped to find out what was wrong. Since the endstop didn't seem to be the problem, I concluded that I needed to rotate the front derailleur a few degrees to pull the chain across more and encourage it to peel off the middle ring. I used to have it set up like that but Bill had set the derailleur parallel to the rings when he worked on the bike a couple of weeks ago. It might be right like that in theory, but it wasn't working in practice, possibly because the derailleur is about 10 years old and has some play in it? The adjustment did the trick and the shifts between the bottom two rings were working properly again. I discovered later on that the change had made it hard to get the chain up onto the big chainring – aaaaaaargh! 😥 I must have another look at it…

I suddenly realised that I'd forgotten to take any photos. To be honest, the light wasn't great and it was getting gloomier as the clouds started to thicken. Still, Pendle Hill was looming into view and I don't have many pictures of it so I stopped to take some while Paul and Liam went on ahead.

Gloomy view of Pendle Hill
Gloomy view of Pendle Hill

I caught up with the lads on Twiston Moor, in the foothills of Pendle. Paul was telling us how his running club used to do fell races over Pendle Hill – it would be bad enough running up it, but I've no idea how how you could run down it without either falling and breaking your neck, or just wreaking havoc on your ankles, knees and hips! 😯 I can't even walk down steep hills like that without my knees playing up.

The drizzle had started, as forecast, the skies were getting blacker and it didn't look like the rain would hold off for long.

Paul and Liam kept getting ahead of me so I wasn't able to show them the shortcut through Barrowford which cuts out a length of busy A-road on the way round to Nelson. I met them at the foot of the hill.

They both come from round there and were reluctant to go via Nelson, but I was following my GPS and I persuaded them to follow me. I agree that the centre of Nelson is pretty unappealing but we soon climbed out of that into the nicer fringes of the town on the way up to Coldwell Activity Centre.

The climb to Coldwell starts off quite gentle but gets tougher as you ascend, so much so that Paul and Liam got out of sight and I thought that they might have missed the right turn halfway up. They hadn't – I eventually found Paul waiting for me at the centre, but Liam had managed to drop him and disappear. I waited at Coldwell while Paul went in search of him, and soon returned with son following.

We had a nice stop at the cafe at Coldwell, but soon it was time to be heading home. I was turning left towards Widdop, and Paul and Liam were going right for Colne.

I'd been dreading the nasty climb at Thursden and soon I could see it snaking up the hillside in front of me towards Widdop.

Steep Thursden climb
Steep Thursden climb

No rest for the wicked; especially the overweight wicked! 😉

I paced myself up the first part of the climb which is very severe, but fortunately it eases off for a while and allows you to get your breath back before tackling the second part which is longer but slightly easier.

Second half of Thursden climb
Second half of Thursden climb

Hey, I made it up the hill without collapsing! A rather gloomy view of Widdop Reservoir lay before me, but it was still worth stopping to take a few pictures – I don't want to give the impression that we only have good weather in these parts.

Gloomy view of Widdop Reservoir
Gloomy view of Widdop Reservoir

I was tired but the great thing about going home that way is that the rest of the ride home is very easy. Apart from one little drag up from Blake Dean, it is mainly flat or downhill for over 6 miles (10km). It wasn't long before I was back in Hebden Bridge, at which point it finally started raining. That persuaded me not to bother with the extra 1.5 km circuit I'd planned to make the ride up to exactly 100km; I settled for 61.1 miles (98.5 km).

So… it had been an enjoyable ride, half of it spent in good company, and half done as a solo effort. Tiringly lumpy as you can see from the profile below (click it to get the full profile).

'Barlick Bash' route profile
‘Barlick Bash' route profile

(I've split the profile into 3 parts – the middle section being what I did with Paul and Liam.)

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6 Responses to “Road Ride – ‘Barlick Bash’”

  1. I can remember pulling my little (but rather heavy) trailer along that road. The scenery just made it all worth while.

    I turned off down the Pennine Bridleway someone around that last photo and the views just got even better.

  2. It is very nice up there. The scenery in the Widdop area reminds me of some parts of Scotland.

    As you can see, the weather wasn’t great that day. From Pendle Hill onwards there was a steady light drizzle which got heavier as I passed Widdop Reservoir and headed back to Hebden Bridge. I can’t complain though – it didn’t actually start raining until I got back to town! 😉

    I’m pretty impressed that you were dragging a trailer up over some of those hills!

  3. Hi,

    Are your photos copyright? I would like, if possible, to use one of the Pendle Hill pix on the front cover of my e-book. I’m a pensioner so cannot pay anything.



  4. Hi Gerard.

    I do assert the copyright to my photos which is why I put a small ‘watermark’ on each one but I don’t mind if you use the photo if you leave the watermark visible. Alternatively, you could crop out the watermark but then it would be nice if you acknowledged my copyright somewhere in the small print of your ebook e.g. Photo of Pendle Hill copyright ColinJ,

    I assume you spotted that there is a larger version of the picture available if you click on the small one?

    Is your ebook about the Pendle Witches?

  5. Hi Colin,

    Thanks for your reply and I do apologise for this belated effort! I have decided not to use the picture of PH after all. But I do want to thank you for your kindness. If in the future I do use it I will of course follow your instructions to the letter and inform you of the publication.

    My book is not about the witches but about the Quakers.

    Yours most sincerely,

    Gerard Guiton

  6. That’s okay Gerard – good luck with your book!

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