A quick spin becomes a perfect trail ride.

I’ve dug a new pond in our garden and am currently laying bricks to support the paving which will surround it. It’s hard physical work and has had a bigger effect on my energy levels than I ever would have expected. On Tuesday and Wednesday I was too tired to go for a bike ride after working on the pond and walking the dog but today I felt a little better. I didn’t think I was up to anything too long with lots of ascent so I set off with the intention of doing an easy trail ride to the top of Healey Nab then downhill back home.

The pond so far. Still a long way to go.

The weather is very similar to the same time last year when we had a long, dry spell in the spring. We haven’t seen significant rain in weeks and the ground is baking hard. With temperatures reaching around 17 celcius it really couldn’t be much better for mountain biking so with the dog at leisure after his walk I set off around 2 pm. I didn’t have an exact route planned but turned down Hogg’s Lane to cross the canal and ride to the hamlet of Limbrick. Back on the road for a short climb and I was passing a trail which follows the river Yarrow and that got me thinking. I could come back via the reservoir to Healey Nab or what about riding to the source of the river at Horden Stoops? That was it. I was feeling fresh enough now I’d got out and it would allow me to ride a trail that really needs these kind of conditions, which are not too common in north west England.

I rode along the river and it was a delightful, though not especially exciting path, but I wasn’t sure of the best way to my objective until I’d climbed out of the valley. It was like when you go into the kitchen for something then forget what you’ve gone there for. You go back to the living room where you’d had the thought and it comes to you straight away. It was as if by seeing Horden Stoops I was back in the room and the route was obvious. Cross the dam between 2 reservoir, climb off road to the Yarrow reservoir then up Lead Mines valley to the long gravel climb up the moor. I stopped to take some pictures.

Horden Stoops is the low point or saddle point on the ridge.
The TV transmitters from the same position.

After the long gravel climb it becomes steeper and more technical and I didn’t know how determined I’d be to get up without stopping. Once underway, though, it seemed critical to do it non stop and on the parched surface I managed it. The dirt is very rutted with plenty of protruding rocks. At the source of the river I spun round and started down. It’s a seriously exciting descent and the rocks now looked like sharks teeth. I dodged the rocks and skipped from rut to rut. It’s one of those situations where you have more speed than you can handle without even pedalling. I was careful but it still thrilled. After the moorland section it was onto the gravel and here speed is king. On the first short climb I could feel the effort of the big climb but recovered as I went further. It’s exhilarating to ride at this pace on a loose, gravelly surface and at the end is the steep, twisty drop back into Lead Mines valley. As it straightened I left the brakes and let it go! Wow! At the bottom of the valley I rode by the Yarrow reservoir and down another twisty downhill.

Now I was back on tarmac and stayed on it apart from where I crossed the canal to Hogg’s Lane. I kept pushing the pace and got some real training in.I’d started out for a quick and relaxing spin but ended with a superb trail ride in ideal conditions.

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