- The lack of mud
- The lack of hills
- The lack of falling off! Even Slow Bloke stayed on, his fancy new riser bars seeming to give him more stability. Wonders never cease.
An almost U-turn here as we track back about ½k to pick up the track leading onto Rudland Rigg. Broad and fairly smooth it climbs gently up about 70m before finally reaching the Rigg. A right turn along it leads to more easy, steady climbing during which I recall a Sunday in March when we rode this into a 30mph blizzard that stung our eyes & faces. It was nice to be able to actually look up this time and appreciate the scenery here.
I thought too that I might get to enjoy the fabulous downhill off the Rigg that had been a nightmare last time, with the wind, the water and the coldness. But no, that wasn’t in today’s route (it would take us straight back to our start point), instead we were heading further along and down a half stony, half concrete track. This starts off quite gently before dipping sharply and offering the opportunity to fly a bit as you crest the drainage channels that run across it. At the bottom is a gate that shows evidence of at least one person having smacked into it rather heavily – thankfully it was already opened for us when we arrived there.
Left turn now for about 4k along a road that deteriorates in stages, ending up as just a dirt track as it approaches the River Dove. The section just after Spring House, the second of our unridden tracks, was a very pleasant gentle descent across grassy fields and bracken-covered moor. Over half way round now and I had to wonder, where was all the mud this week?
The river is crossed at a ford that looks like it should be rideable but none of us managed it – the rocks on the bottom were too slick.
At the other side we head back south east along Daleside road before reaching a bridleway off to our left just before Esk House. I’m reliably informed that this is a superb downhill. Good news, except that today we’d be going up it, and I can tell you it’s not nearly as much fun going up. Much pushing followed as we worked our way slowly up, the slowness allowing you plenty of time to appreciate just how good it would be to be coming down. Another day, hopefully.
At the crossroad of tracks at the top we turn right, following the dismantled railway that comes from Battersby Incline. Until quite recently this was footpath only, and its upgrading (walkers might call it a downgrading) to bridleway is very welcome. 4½k of easy spinning (though by now with a bit of a gale blowing flakes of snow around, reminding me very much of that Rudland Rigg slog) brings us out on the road just past The Lion Inn. Some of the views from the railway were quite spectacular and would have been more so had there been some sunshine. We shelter from the icy gale behind the wall for a few minutes while we take on some carbs.
Right at the road for a couple of k until we reach our final untried section, a bridleway off to the right that cuts across Low Blakey Moor. Indistinct at first (in fact totally invisible) it had us heather and bracken bashing for a while as we tracked across the moor, trying to head for where we knew we should be going. Eventually we joined up with the footpath, which is more distinct, and eventually got ourselves back on route. The steep descent from Taylor’s Nab starts in a well cut gully that opens out onto grassy bank. It’s our last downhill dash of the day and we make the most of it.
Left at the road for the remaining km back to the start point.
19.5 miles in 3½ hours was pretty good going, faster than of late thanks to the lack of mud and the relatively little climbing.
Only one place to go for afters around here, the tea rooms in Castleton with its 1930’s music and its big chunky scones. They’ve even improved the all-day breakfast with the addition of Quorn™ sausages! So 4 all-day breakfasts and 2 lots of scones it was, to the sounds of “Charleston, Charleston” and other such pre-war hits.
Farndale & Rudland Rigg.
19.5 miles, 2400' of ascent.