A weekend in the Yorkshire Dales

I had planned on a 2 month fitness improvement plan. I had planned on getting out a lot more. But the weekend of riding in the Yorkshire Dales arrived just ahead of my fitness.

Its easy to blame the long damp, muddy winter – so I will.

I struggled. Enjoyed myself but struggled for the first time in a while, maybe working at home and having too many biscuits with each cup of tea was taking its toll, or I’d simply been a fair weather biker!

Anyway – it was a cracking weekend…  Thanks to Tom @ MTB Guiding for organising and for Stu @ Dales Bike Centre for guiding Saturday and Sunday.

I made a detour to one of my sort of bucket list locations before meeting the gang on Friday to Malham Cove. It had featured on the ITV programme about Great British walks and I still need to go back for a “walk”.

We met in Horton-in-Ribblesdale and Tom and Steph took us on a trip around Pen-y-Ghent, the smallest of the dales 3 peaks. I’m not sure what it means but its sounds Welsh and I think could mean either “head of winds” or  “hill on the border” – who knows.  It was a great circular route completely circumnavigating the peak and set us up for the weekend.

It rained a little, but mostly we had to navigate wet spongy ground in between grassy slopes. Stunning scenery. Why have I never been to the Dales before?

Friday and Saturday nights we stayed at the Dales Bike Centre in Fremington.  If you’ve done one of the Ard Rock Enduro’s you’ll be familiar with the location and the terrain.

We were in for a big weekend.

Saturday it rained. And then it rained some more. And a little bit more on top. The weather was miserable, but the riding was immense.  Yes we slipped around all over the place, yes the rocks were dangerous, yes we got cold and yes I took a BIG tumble which no one photographed (cameras and phones stayed out of the rain mostly).

But we had a great time!


Sunday the weather was more cooperative and the trails on the opposite side of the valley were also drier. We gained some height very quickly and continued to do so, which meant we could spend most the afternoon coming down hill.


We did have a few hike a bike spots and but were also treated some of the best trails of the day, some sweet single track and some of us even got down to  just our t shirts as the sun tried to join us.

3 biggish rides mean the body and bike took a battering over the 3 days.

The numbers:
Distance ridden – circa 90km
Height gained – circa 2500m
Tea drunk – 20 cups
Pints of Guinness – maybe 10
Food eaten – loads!
Cake devoured – not as much as I expected…

I need to get back to the Dales, oh wait I’m booked on to the Ard Rock Marathon in August!  Better start that training now!


Tea and Cake

tea and cake stop
A Brew with a View

We became a total cycling cliche today.

After about 30km of riding and thinking it was time to track back we came across a new trail feature on one of our local routes.

We haven’t been out locally as a group on a Sunday morning for a while and this was the first time we had ridden to Beckhampton on ride in a good few weeks.

It’s not that far from home really and its never really a highlight on our rides other than the a few little rooty features that we have a little play on from time to time. However today we all stopped and were very excited to see a little trailer selling tea and cake!

It’s pathetic really but the novelty factor of it suddenly appearing as if it were some sort of oasis in a desert meant we all had to partake in the tea and cake…

What a cliche, but who cares, let a just hope they keep it up and are there for the rest of the summer.

Last Weekend

Calne MTB

I briefly talked about our Calne MTB inaugural ride in a previous post but I thought I would record the ride for the sake of a blog post 🙂

We met at the Ivy Inn in Heddington and 10 of us set off promptly at 9.30am.  The benefit of being local riders, was that no one had t o unpack a bike from a car, test brakes, bounce forks, change clothes, put a coat on, brush their hair (maybe not that bit) etc – in other words there was no faffing about. All this had been done at home and the ride started smoothly.

We climbed out of the pub car park and up the Hampsley Road climb. Its a 100m elevation gain over 1 mile and is quite testing as it gradually gets steeper as you climb. I got a Personal Record on Strava that morning and was pretty pleased with the result – though I was gasping for breath at the top of the climb.  I really must use this hill to train for next Summer’s French trip to Bike Village again.

Hamplsey RoadFrom here we headed over to Roundway Hill and through the woods. This is a nice bit of singletrack and could have some of the best downhill in the area if it wasn’t a conservation wood! Then it was off to the “plantation” for some whoops in the woods – not as much fun in the wet and mud as it is in the summer.

Another short sharp climb up the side of Roundway Hill above the White Horse, finds us at the back of Roundway Down and on the firetrack along part of the Wessex Ridgeway, then crossing the road we them follow a rutted farm track. Its the kid of track where you have to take take as every 10 metres or so its becomes too deep for your pedals to do a full rotation or you come to a puddle of unknown depth and contents. The flints around this part of Wiltshire can cause all sorts of punctures so extra need to be taken and if speed permits, a manual or better a little bunny hop over is the best option.  Crossing over the Wansdyke and again picking up the Wessex Ridgeway we climb up to the Cherhill  / Lansdowne Monument and descend on to Cherhill Down.

By now we have done most of our climbing for the ride and while its only around 300m, the cold, mud and wet conditions make it feel a few hundred more.  The last 100m climb in particular is on slippery, muddy grassy tracks that require twice the effort of a hard packed surface.

Cherhill Monument and White Horse
Cherhill Monument and White Horse

We then follow the “old Bath road”, a 2km stretch of single track that runs parallel to the new Bath Road or A4. This is great fun in all weathers with some bombholes and ruts to navigate along the way to Knoll Down woods at Beckhampton.  From here its pretty plain sailing (or pedalling) past a small clay pigeon shoot – we always slow down to make sure they have seen us – and then we pick up the National Cycle Route that takes us through Yatesbury, into Cherhill village and the Divine Cafe.

Eveyone has ridden about 25km (with about 5-10km ride home for most) by now which isn’t too far but was a good measure of everyone. We had one guy that hadn’t been on a bike in 2 years so much further would have been a little unfair!

The Divine Cafe (Tel 01249 817348) serves up a great slice of cake or chocolate brownie and nice cup of tea for £3.50 and we sat and had a chat and plotted next weeks ride…

Some Strava stats for me on this ride:

  • 32km ridden
  • 390m climbed
  • 2 hours moving
  • 8 Strava Medals including 5 PR (personsal records)

So not a huge ride by any stretch but a good one with some good company.

I wore some Endura Overshoes for the first time on this ride. Read my feedback over on The Gear Factor.