For one reason or another there were only three of us today, and none of the reasons for not turning out had anything to do with the clocks having gone forward and giving us an hour less in bed!
We set off slightly later than planned (again, nothing to do with the clocks) and headed north west on the road out of the village, keeping left at the junction to Dale Head. At Hill Cottages we turned offroad to the right, up past the farm with all the nice hens. Usually here we keep going up, but this time we turned left past the farm to take the old railway.
We made rapid progress along there, pausing only just long enough to take a couple of photos before dropping down the trail through the trees, off to the left at Sturdy Bank.
Once down at the road by Dale Head Farm we turn left then take the next tarmaced right turn to head down past Moorlands Farm. Here we head offroad once more, through a gate and up the steep and sometimes rocky track on the other side. Mud at the bottom leads to a little pushing and denies any of us a "clean", but once beyond the mud we manage it with relative ease, even safely negotiating a section past a photographer with a camera on a tripod without embarrassing ourselves.
Onto the road near the Lion Inn where we turn right and head off towards Castleton. We're soon passed by a speedy bunch of roadies but soon afterwards turn off right onto tracks where they just can't venture. We take the singletrack that cuts the corner across Rosedale Head to end up at White Cross.
This is very much not-as-advertised, being nowhere near the line on the OS map - just follow the obvious trail instead. It's showing signs of wear here and there, most likely from excessive 4x4 use, with some deep gullies in some of the more peaty sections. On the whole it's a pretty satisfying bit of track though, but all too soon over and we're back on the road once more beside White Cross, or Fat Betty as she's known locally.
There's a tempting bit of singletrack heading off past this, but we're not going that way today. We're off along the road, turning left at the next junction and then pretty soon after turning right to go offroad once more on The Cut Road. We pass Trough House and make good use of the slight downwards incline to speed us along. In the distance, just cresting the hill, we spot two more riders. The chase is on (at least for Graham/Danny and me) and we up our pace, tearing along the descents and powering up the climbs. The track is great fun, especially when ridden flat out, and eventually turns to proper singletrack, cutting a narrow (sometimes almost invisible) ribbon through the heather. At about this point I capture and kill my prey (metaphorically).
A rest by the road while Graham/Danny and I wait for Tony to catch up and then we're off again, turning right onto the tarmac to follow it for 4 gentle kilometers before finally turning offroad once more, to the right. This track was quite tough in the reverse direction a couple of weeks ago and is slightly better this way. It's still not in great condition though, and a quite boggy in places, but its fun and challenging to ride.
It eventually becomes shooting track and we follow this, bearing left, for another 2k until we hit the road. Here we go straight over, onto yet another bit of singletrack that cuts across to Hancow Road. This is real proper moorland singletrack, an almost invisible ribbon of track cutting through heather that potentially hides the odd hazard.
...as Graham finds out when he hits a hidden wheelcatcher at speed and is thrown over the bars bringing nose and visor into close contact.
|It's only a flesh wound|
|You can barely see it!|
Once at the road the fun doesn't end. We quickly duck left again to drop down Hartoft Rigg, another beautiful piece of singletrack
Right on the road and short tarmac stretch to Rock House where we turn right to go offroad once more. This is a tough but rewarding climb climb up through the woods - all that great singletrack has been spoiling us, it's about time we had to pay for it.
At the top of the climb we go straight over and diagonally right onto the woodland doubletrack that is a bit soft in places and feels like riding with the brakes on.
This eventually takes us towards Allotment Farm. This has been bought by townies who didn't like people and bikes passing through their "farmyard" and have had the bridleway diverted. The OS maps still show the old way, so this leads to confusion on trail user's part and shouting on their part. We made the mistake of going the wrong way last time - this time we get it right, though personally I'd be all for going the wrong way again because I hated their attitude last time.
Once that's negotiated we come to the top of a nice woodland decent. It's quite steep and loose, but well within our capabilities and a fun final downhill.
We exit the woods, sprint across the field that declares "Bull In Field" (if he was there, he was hiding), hit the road, turn right and return to our starting point in the village.
What a fabulous ride. The weather has been great, there have only really been two climbs, and there has been singletrack after singletrack. Graham classes it a 5* ride and it's hard to disagree.
We're thankful that Graze O The Green is open again after its winter sojourn and the scones and cheese swirls go down very nicely.
Rosedale Abbey - Dale Head - Rosedale Head - Glaisdale Moor - Hamer House: 21 miles, 1800' of climb in 3'40 of which a whole hour was spent not moving (there were a lot of photo stops).
Full stats and a GPX download are available over at GarminConnect.