A little exploration and some really good news.

A while ago I explored a very remote trail in wet conditions and thought it would be good to check out the whole length in better weather. It hasn’t rained for around 3 weeks and the ground is nice and dry so I took a road route to the south side of our local hill, Healey Nab. I crossed the gravel road across it’s rear flank and jumped from the water bars on the way down. They are intended to divert water to avoid erosion but make perfect high speed jumps. After this I climbed a steep road hill and turned off to the right, skirting a patch of woodland to my remote trail. It was a tough climb but good training. I had to dig deep to get up the roughly surfaced slope without stopping to push the bike.

The trail in question is clear enough to follow and has a lot of rocks of various sizes protruding from the surface. It’s challenging to keep going but not especially exciting. Although in the picture below you’d imagine that the trail drops into a valley it’s deceptive and actually stays fairly level.

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Once down by Black Brook, which flows from here for several miles and joins the River Yarrow close to home, the riding deteriorated. I found myself only riding for 10 yards before an insurmountable obstacle, usually a rock step. I’ve ridden plenty of times in the opposite direction and as a downhill you can ride the whole way but this was tedious. At least I knew I would join the track from the top of Great Hill about half way down from the summit and I’ve heard it described in glowing terms, a view which I share. In the dry conditions it was a lot of fun though I kept it safe, especially at these difficult times with the health service stressed with the Covid 19 virus. Much of the trail has been badly eroded by the wet winters, and indeed the very wet summer last year, so I took some easier singletrack to the right of the original path. It was a real thrill and I stuck to the right later on to avoid some sizeable rocky drop offs. It’s a twisty track with plenty of descent so speed is available on demand. Just leave those brakes alone and you’ll have your fill!

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The steep sided valley of Black Brook.

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Lead, copper and bismuth have been extracted in the area. Would you dare go into the tunnel?

I haven’t ridden over Healey Nab for a good few weeks because the larch trees have been felled due to a fungal infection. The logs were piled everywhere and twigs obscured the man made trail network. I was delighted to find that the logs have now been moved and it must be some enterprising mountain bikers who’ve cleared quite a lot of trail of twigs. I rode a clear track to the trail head and found that the downhill is now fully rideable. I had to take a combination of red and black graded trails since not all of my favourite red trail was clear of debris but I had a fantastic ride down. I carried on across the fields where I then joined Black Brook again. At this point it’s no longer a stream dancing over rocks in a steep sided valley. It’s a gently flowing small river, much of which has been straightened into a channel.

It’s great news to find that I can ride Healey Nab again since I’d feared the trails would have been destroyed by the forestry work. For my next ride I’ll go back up and try to clear a climb back to the top. Happy days, at last.

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