Road Ride – Trawden Loop

It was a lovely spring day today so I decided that it was time to do one of my favourite local rides, one which I traditionally call ‘The Trauma of Trawden‘ after a particularly unpleasant experience the first time that I rode it. I’ll be posting an account of that ride at a later date, but for now let me just say that it reduced me to a wobbly-legged grovel and it took me 6 hours.

These days, the loop takes me ┬ájust over 2 hours when I’m fit (my official P.B. is 2 hours 11 minutes but I didn’t time myself when I was last really fit). Currently I’d be taking about 2 hours 30 minutes if I rode hard.

The loop is only about 29 miles in length but it is very hilly. Some of the hills are very steep and some are very long. Some are moderately steep and moderately long. It’s pretty hard work!

I set off at at 15:30, a bit late really because I only caught the tail-end of the sunshine. A cold wind was starting to pick up later in the ride and cloud cover started to develop. Still – it was my first ride this year in a short-sleeved jersey and minus a wind-top. Even though I had a gilet (sleeveless jacket) on, I started to feet slightly chilled in the last few miles.

I wasn’t in a hurry – we changed over to British Summer Time at the weekend so there is an extra hour of daylight in the evenings. I stopped several times to take photographs and sat on a roadside bench for a while, just taking in the sunshine.

The countryside was looking lovely, and  spring lambs were frolicking about in the fields. Life felt good.

Spring lambs

I passed through Trawden and got onto the last leg of my loop when the peace of the countryside was shattered by the sound of a low-flying helicopter. I looked up and saw that it was hovering over a nearby field in which there was a mechanical digger and a big pile of gravel and another pile containing large pieces of stone. There was a large metal container hanging from a cable below the helicopter and it was being filled with stone and gravel by a crew operating the digger. After that the chopper flew off over in the direction of Thursden pasture.


I soon arrived at Thursden and saw that a team of men were working on a new path of some sort snaking up the steep hillside. The helicopter was supplying them with the materials. I stopped to take a picture of the nasty Thursden climb that I was about to go up. You can see the new path behind the white vehicle.

Steep climb at Thursden

The road goes up over a cattlegrid and then rears up to about 25% as it curls round to the left. After that it drops down a little and then kicks back up again to over 20%. That was the way that I was heading!

A couple of men came out of that white vehicle just as I was winching my way up the road and I asked them what they were doing. They told me that they were constructing a new bridleway over the hillside. (For non-UK readers, that is an offroad trail open to walkers, horse-riders and cyclists.) I’ll have to go and check it out once my MTB has been repaired.

I must be getting fitter because I got up that steep hill without too much of a problem, even though there was a bit of a headwind going up there. A cold wind it was too, so I stopped at the summit to don my arm-warmers. It is a quick run back to Hebden Bridge from up there and I didn’t want to get too chilled.

I took a few quick photographs of Widdop reservoir in passing. I’d definitely missed the best part of the afternoon and the light was starting to fade as the sun was sinking behind the hills.

Widdop reservoir

I eventually got home just after 18:30 so even with all the photo-stops, I’d only taken 3 hours and I felt really fresh. And very satisfied.

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