Road Ride – Mankinholes, Calderbrook, Blackstone Edge, Hubberton Green

The Jet Stream has been playing up the past couple of weeks! At this time of year it is usually passing north of the UK and keeping bad weather away from us. June was very good, but then the Jet Stream moved south and brought some stormy Atlantic weathers systems with it. July here has so far has been wet and windy, though thankfully not completely awful – there have been some good sunny spells between the showers. I seem to have been pretty poor in my reading of the weather though. Several times, I thought the sunshine would last and put off a ride or walk until later in the day. Then of course, the clouds would roll in and the rest of the day would be a wash-out.

Today was forecast to be the other way round – rain, then showers, then sunny spells. I promised myself a nice little road ride so I started getting ready when the forecast had predicted the improvement in the weather would take place. It was still gloomy and windy but by the time I got my bike out things were improving. I wore some of my spring/autumn cycling kit because it was clear that it would be pretty cool in the wind whenever clouds blocked out the sun.

My route for today was to take me to Blackstone Edge via Littleborough. I've described the other two ways to get up there (via Cragg Vale or up the A-road from the direction of Ripponden) but I don't think I've done it from that side this year so it would make a change.

I let a few P.S.I. out of my tyres because I'd pumped them up a bit too hard for my previous road ride. The road surface between Hebden Bridge and Todmorden is very poor and hard tyres just make the problem worse.

So, I set off along the A646 towards Todmorden. Despite the lower pressures I was still getting too much vibration coming up through the bike frame. I'd be interested in riding a titanium-framed bike on that stretch of road to see if Ti's supposed ‘magic carpet' ride quality is real or not. I suspect that tyre pressure is the single biggest factor and that everything else just makes a small additional difference, but I'd be happy to be proved wrong.

The A646 is a pretty busy road even late on a Sunday afternoon so I'd planned my usual ‘scenic detours' up onto the hills away from traffic wherever possible. After a couple of miles I took a left turn towards Mankinholes and began the steep little climb up through the woods.

Steep climb to Mankinholes
Steep climb to Mankinholes

There were some roadworks halfway up the hill. It looked like subsidence was causing damage to the road where it snaked its way up the edge of the hillside.

I'm still finding gradients like that one hard work, but perfectly rideable, even on the Cannondale's 39/29 bottom gear which is significantly higher than the gear I'd normally use on my triple-chainset-equipped Basso.

I had a headwind as I came out of Mankinholes and headed towards Lumbutts. Still, that would mean that I should get some help climbing up to Blackstone Edge later. Much better that way round!

From Lumbutts I continued to climb up to the Shepherd's Rest pub and then descended round towards Walsden. I prefer to stay on the quiet roads as much as possible so I followed Hollins Road into Walsden rather than immediately dropping down onto the A6033.

Eventually I came out onto the A6033 and set off towards Littleborough. I wasn't staying on the main road all the way though. There is a nice little road through Calderbrook which climbs up from the old turnpike building on the right. This is another road which has suffered recently from landslip. It was closed for a couple of years until the council had it repaired but I'm afraid that it is on the move again! I think that most of the repairs have held but other parts of the road are now in a dangerous state. It is closed to traffic again, though there is still access for pedestrians and cyclists. There was a sign which indicated that there might me more repairs in the offing. It makes sense for the residents of nearby Calderbrook, but I like it the way it is because there is no longer any through traffic. 😉

It's fine going up the little climb on a bike but if you are coming the other way – ** take care **. I did it in the other direction last time I used that road and hit this little beauty at speed… 😯

Landslip on Calderbrook Road

From that picture you can't really see how far the road has fallen away. Let me tell you – I got ‘big air' and nearly lost control when I landed – watch it!

I continued up through Calderbrook and then did a quick descent to Littleborough, turning left at the crossroads by the Caldermoor pub.

At the end of that road, I took another left onto the A58, passed through the traffic lights and began my ascent to Blackstone Edge.

Suddenly there was a hold-up ahead of me. A lorry pulling a trailer was finding it difficult to squeeze between vehicles parked on both sides of the road and a queue of cars was building up behind it. Blow that for a game of soldiers – I felt another scenic detour coming on!

I forked right up the Blackstone Edge Old Road. It's a steeper climb but it's away from the traffic for a while. I was pleased with how my legs felt going up there. I had clear memories of nearly having to dismount on that climb when I first rode it about 18 years ago. Underneath all this fat, I must be getting fitter after all.

The old road rejoins the A58 higher up so I turned right onto that and continued to toil upwards. Higher up, the road curled round to my left and the crosswind became a tailwind and gave me a boost which felt equivalent to about one sprocket on the back.

I'd given myself the option of dropping down through Cragg Vale, but since the weather was okay I decided to continue on the A58 towards Ripponden and turn left down Blue Ball Road following my favourite route back to Mytholmroyd, then the Calder Valley Cycleway back to Hebden Bridge.

Stats: Around 25 miles with about 2,500 ft of hills.

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2 Responses to “Road Ride – Mankinholes, Calderbrook, Blackstone Edge, Hubberton Green”

  1. I’m carefully watching the weather in that general region. I’m riding around there on Thurs, Friday and Sunday. – I bet it rains heavily on at least one of those days!

    I’m also praying my legs survive those hills, fells (or are they mountains?) in that region. Whatever they are, they’re BIG!

  2. I think that you are probably right about the weather! 😕

    There are various options for shortening my ride if it becomes necessary to do so but I’d be disappointed if we had to. I’m looking forward to the area round Malham which I’ve never seen before and the Bowland Knotts/Gisburn Forest road which I’ve only been on once and really liked. I’m more familar with the other parts of the route but they are also very scenic. In fact apart from the little section through Barrowford & Nelson it is scenery all the way!

    Don’t forget to check CycleChat on Saturday evening for ‘breaking news’. If there was a forecast of thunderstorms all day Sunday, it would be pretty foolish to go up on those hills. Scattered showers or a few short spells of heavy rain I could live with.

    Good luck on Thu/Fri and see you Sunday.

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