A ride for fitness.

After 5 days without a ride I was motivated to get out just to maintain my fitness. A bucket in my garden, which was empty last weekend, now has over 6 inches (15cm) of rain water in it. That’s an awful lot of rain in just a week so I thought that riding off road would be a stupid idea!

I chose a road ride that I did at the end of last year. It’s just under 19 miles and has 1600 feet of climbing which, I always prefer to a flat ride. The weather forecast told me that the morning would be dry and it was almost right. I just had light rain in places. I enjoyed the ride. On the road I tend to just keep going rather than stopping at the top of climbs, which I often do when off road. I did stop once to take photos near Horden Stoops. A lovely name. It’s a saddle point on the ridge of the hills. So it’s uphill to the left and right but downhill to the 2 villages at right angles to the ridge.

I rode from home to Rivington where I rode over a dam. The reservoirs were built in the 19th century to serve Liverpool but as a philanthropic act the builder, Lord Leverhulme, also built a large Japanese style garden in the area. It’s good for mountain biking as well as dog walking. It was the site of the mountain biking course in the 2002 Commonwealth games. I was there with my son who was one year old at the time. From Rivington I climbed to Horden Stoops at 1,066 feet above sea level. It was too misty to see the Lake District and the mountains of North Wales today.

We have a lot of history in Britain and in the picture above you can see Lead Mines Clough (valley) to the left, where lead was mined from 1692 to 1837. More impressively on the horizon in the centre, you can see a small bump. This is a man made hill called Round Loaf which is thought to be older than the pyramids of Egypt!

Round Loaf is rather remote and has never been fully explored by archaeologists. Flints have been found at the summit. Flint is not found anywhere in our area so this suggests that in the Bronze Age goods and resources were being traded over considerable distances.

It was then a long downhill to Belmont. Belmont was previously called Horden but when a factory was built (which still makes inks) it was renamed, presumably to make it sound more attractive.

After a short climb through the villages I passed between reservoirs which must have been created to serve the factory. Then an undulating road took me through quite remote countryside, ending in a long downhill to Abbey Village. This was never the site of an abbey, so the origins of the name are unclear. Through the village of Brinscall and then back to Chorley. Chorley is a typical old town where the centre is at the top of a low hill but it doesn’t have a crossroads at the centre. To the east of town is Healy Nab with it’s mini mountain bike trail centre, which is probably why there is no crossroads but a T junction.

I was happy with the time that the ride took me and hope, with improving weather, that I’ll be back off road on Friday.

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