Exploring again.

On my last ride on Sunday I used a high level route over Redmond’s Edge and commented that I needed to have a look at some downhills which I haven’t ridden in many years. Now we have the very best type of conditions for exploration because the ground is almost totally dry so I would experience unfamiliar riding at it’s best. In the past I used to be tempted to try different sections because the weather wasn’t going to bring the best out of the familiar but this is a mistake. I disregarded some good riding because I hadn’t liked it in the wet then later discovered that a section was really worthwhile when the ground was drier.

I didn’t actually set off with the plan to explore and instead thought I’d ride the same way as last time as far as the high point on Redmond’s Edge and take a superb downhill from Hordern Stoops, where the source of the River Yarrow is, into Lead Mines Valley. There’s some undulations but in general it’s one of our longer drops. I started to ride towards the hills, crossing the reservoirs and using an off road climb to reach Lead Mines. As I was riding I remembered my idea to try a different downhill so took an earlier climb to the ridge. It’s rather straight but makes you chose the best line to avoid rocks and clods of earth so it needs concentration and I thought it would be fun to ride it down as well, rather than diverting to Hordern Stoops for my original descent. I managed to keep it going up until the final steep section where I could perhaps have made it but decided not to push myself to the limit. I know Saturday is 3 days away but it’s possible that I’ll ride my big 100 km challenge then and I didn’t want to still be recovering from a full out effort. Then I regretted my decision as I trudged up the final part! I stopped to take some pictures at my highest point.

Darwen Hill, with it’s monument lies above the handlebar stem with Pendle Hill just visible to it’s left.
Great Hill is not as high as the place where I took the pictures and is accessed by a stone slab path to prevent erosion.
Over the stone wall is the 1,050 foot TV transmitter on Winter Hill.

The downhill was fast and needed concentration but not much in the way of trail craft. Some drop offs needed me to lift the front wheel a little to land flat and there were rocks and ruts to avoid. Back on the gravel track to Lead Mines valley I turned in the opposite direction to do some more exploring and found a moorland single track passing some ruins of old farms. Now there are still sheep on the moors but a bigger farm is much lower down by the tarmac road. I was almost overtaken by a fell runner who said I’d be better off without a bike. I soon left him in my wake, though, as I continued past the farm. Here I tried another track which runs alongside a deep and incredibly steep valley, which is a nature reserve called Dean Woods. I found back at home that I’d set the tenth fastest time ever on this segment! OK only 51 others have ridden it using the app. Strava but it’s still gave me a warm glow. Later a walker said, as I passed, that it was too hard for a bike later on but I’d joined a trail which I’ve ridden recently. A set of stone steps had me shouldering the bike but only for a short time. I completed the ride on the roads covering 13.89 miles with 1,445 feet of climbing. It was a good trail ride and nice to be out in the good weather but there wasn’t too much in the way of thrills. I’d spied my objectives of 4 hills if I ride my big ride at the weekend and got a good final ride in if Saturday is the day.

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