Saturday, 24 January 2009


Having had 10 of us out on our last ride we were back down to the hardcore of 4 again for this one. I do hope the extreme weather of the last ride hadn’t put anyone off.

Departing from The Green in Glaisdale the ride starts with a nice easy downhill road section that leads through the village and down towards the railway bridge. Turn right before the railway bridge to cross the stream via a footbridge and realise that the downhill start isn’t the good news that it was cracked up to be. You now have to go back up, up a steep, muddy, horse-churned track that would be rideable in summer but is only 50/50 in winter. It gets more rideable nearer the top, though not really any less steep and eventually reaches a road where we stop to check the map.

Turning right onto the road it’s still steep for a few hundred meters before thankfully levelling out a bit. 4k of roadwork eventually brings us to a bridleway off to the right, past Wintergill. This largely level piece of doubletrack eventually comes to a gate in a wall after which some fun begins.

From the wall onwards the track plummets down the hillside, at first in a narrow rocky ravine, it eventually opens out onto a fast, grassy track down to Mountain Ash Farm. Unfortunately this section of hillside was well shaded from the sun and there was quite a bit of ice around. I hit an icy section right at the bottom which sent me tumbling, right in front of the waiting camera. Only my pride was damaged.

You lose over 150m of descent on that downhill but you have to make it all back up again (and then some) at the other side. What followed was the longest consistently steep climb I think I’ve ever done. It just never levels out, even for a few meters.

Not even half way up yet!
It goes up and up and up, climbing 200m in 2k, the only good point being that at least it’s on tarmac and not slippery mud. It took us about 20 minutes to do the climb and for the first time ever I saw Rob stop part way up a hill!

Finally there!
Turning right at the junction at the top of the hill we went along the road for about 700m to the point where the Cut Road bridleway joins the road. Here there’s another bridleway that heads off at about 90 degrees to the Cut Path which none of us had ever done before. Another journey of discovery then, no doubt into an unrideable bog or another muddy field. But wait, what’s this? A lovely bit of singletrack, half hidden by heather and bracken and rarely used by the look of it.

It starts off gentle enough but evolves into a full on plummet across some steep contour lines, losing about 80m in 400m of travel. Too hairy in places for most of us, not helped by the mud and ice, but damned good fun and one for a drier day.

The descent ends, after a gate, with a blast down a track that was doubling up as a stream, to eventually come out at the road again. 15 minutes of really good fun.

Right at the road and then first left takes us onto a gentle downhill road section that passes many a farm, including those of Wood End, Slidney Beck and Fryup Hall. Eventually, at Stonebeck Gate Farm we end up missing our turning and going along the wrong bridleway. Thankfully the back-tracking doesn’t involve us having to do any steep muddy climbs or there’d have been a mutiny form at least one of us! Taking the bridleway that starts BEFORE Stonebeck Gate Farm we’re once again soon pushing up a muddy bank before levelling off and following the contours along the hillside.

A bit of “right to roam” ensues just past Walker's Plantation as we follow a path on the ground that isn’t on any map, which eventually leads us around the top of Crag Wood and a nice, but fairly slow (was it icy again?) descent which eventually hits the road. At this point “slow bloke at the back” switched bikes with “young pup at the front” and underwent some kind of transformation. Slow bloke no more, we were soon struggling to keep up. I hope he never buys a bike like that one!

Almost 4k of roadwork then takes us straight back to Glaisdale where, with the end in sight (in fact past the sign saying “Welcome To Glaisdale”) we somehow turn right onto yet another muddy uphill slog that adds 2k onto our final distance and gives us a lovely fast downhill road finish that ends literally beside our cars. Perfect.

No tea rooms in Glaisdale (how can that be?) so we stop at Beck View in Lealholm instead. Scones not up to scratch, no all-day breakfasts and crumpets not as tasty as some other places. At least the tea was wet.

Glaisdale - Egton High Moor - Great Fryup Dale
16 miles, 2700' of ascent in 4 hours dead, of which 1½ was spent admiring the views, taking photos and eating bananas.

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