Sunday, 23 January 2011

Low Mill Loop

It's been a while since we rode from Low Mills and while for half of our 6 strong group this was treading over old ground (see this blog entry), for the other three it was largely all new.

I won't go into too much detail, since the route is the same as shown in that other blog entry. We left Low Mill and headed south on the road towards Hutton-Le-Hole before turning off right, into the darkness and through the trees down Lund Road.

Despite the fact we've done this before, we still missed the turning off it at the bottom and had to backtrack a little. The field crossing was less muddy than last time, a surprise considering the rain and melt water that must be around. We crossed the "unsuitable for horses" bridge and climbed out of the woods on the other side of the river where we have to stop for Neil to fix a puncture. His comment of "that'll be enough air" when checking his pressures back at the car park prove to be incorrect!

Another road section takes us up to Aldergate Bank, a gentle gradient, but nonetheless an unforgiving slog over the dragging surface and with a stiff breeze in our faces. Soon enough we're at the top of Rollgate Bank, a nice bit of downhill at last, but inevitably this leads us on to the mud and dolomite hell of Little Roll Gate. It's so severely rutted by 4x4s now that alternative bits of track have begun to spring up to the sides of it where people (walkers and bikers) have had to avoid the damaged original trail.

On reaching the old quarry pond we bear right and head towards Stork House. Conscious of our having missed the bridleway turn-off last t(there's a more obvious, unmarked, track that goes straight ahead) we take more care this time. We spot the bridleway marker and peel ff to the left for a nice bit of downhill into Stork House.

This is quite an impressive ruined farm, probably the most impressive on the moors, but not all of us are impressed by tumble-down masonry.

We continue out by the corner of the farmhouse and down towards the crossing of Hodge Beck. A steep road climb out the other side followed by another grinding slog takes us off road once more onto Shaw Ridge. The grind continues, and even though our track eventually loops almost 180 degrees round to join Westside Road (Rudland Rigg) the stiff breeze seems to be constantly in our face. I'm starting to tire (mentally, not physically) of of these constant drags and so it's with a great deal of relief that we eventually reach the top of the Moor's best bit of downhill singletrack.

2km long and losing 140m it has a bit of everything (though no large drop-offs) and flows really well. Neil contrives to fall off in the first 100m before it even gets challenging, but makes up for it and is off again and flying. This is the kind of descent you want to do again and again, but without the hell involved in getting to the top!

A bit of a muddy track from the end of the descent back to the road where we turn right for the final few hundred meters back to the car park.
Afters is at Castleton where I enjoy a veggie full English and the other lads go for the famous scones. The staff have changed since last time we visited, but the exquisite taste in 1940's music hasn't.

Low Mill (Farndale) - Gillamoor - Rollgate Bank - Stork House - Rudland Rigg 19.5 miles, 2400' of ascent in 4hours, with 1 hour of standing around (exactly the same stats as last time - we're nothing if not consistent).

Full stats and GPX download available on GarminConnect.

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