Sun 27th Jun, 2010
Attendees: Pete Hughes (M), Sue Brooke (M), Heather Brooke (M), Penny Lewis (G), Rachel Somerville (G), Katie ? (G) - sorry, didn't get your surname!
A beautiful sunny day in Calderdale and a good turn out, for a biking meet anyway!
After a few introductions and some minor bike fettling at the car park, we set off along the tight cobbled roads of Heptonstall.
The first section of the route took us north - through Slack, along Edge Lane past May's farm shop and then up and over the superb bridleway toward Gorple Reservoir. This was the first section of proper off road riding, and whilst stony and bumpy, provided a safe and secure way for everyone get a feel for the terrain, try out their brakes and enjoy a fast but safe descent.
Once regrouped at the bottom, we followed the well surfaced bridleway over to Widdop reservoir, then swung north east on minor farm roads and gravel tracks which contoured round to the hamlet of Walshaw. We managed to maintain good progress with no major difficulties encountered. After a very speedy descent down through Hardcastle Craggs we sat down for a well deserved rest and a spot of lunch at Hebden Bridge.
My initial plan had been to head back to the cars at this point, before driving back home to watch the England vs Germany World Cup match. However, the weather was so nice that after consulting with the others we decided to carry on up the other side of the valley and try one of my favourite local trails - London Road, which heads down from just under Stoodley Pike to the tiny hamlet of Mankinholes. We said goodbye to Katie at this point, who had ridden the entire route thus far on a cyclocross bike with only one working gear, a feat which I initially thought would prove impossible! Who says you need suspension and 27 gears to enjoy yourself?
The climb up to Horsfold from Hebden proved a tough one, forcing some of us off the bikes and into pushing mode for the first time that day. However, I think everyone forgave me after a superb dusty, bumpy and exciting blast along the side of the valley. The London Road descent really is special - fast, rocky, but safe and confidence inspiring, it's perfect for riders of all abilities and gives a stunning view of the valley to boot.
All that was left to do then was to drop down to Rochdale Canal and follow the towpath back to Hebden Bridge. One last surprise awaited in the form of the climb back up to Jack Bridge through Colden Clough: The gentle gradient is offset by the loose surface, which can make traction difficult to find, but it proved a very satisfying way to finish off an enjoyable ride.
Total distance covered was just under 24 miles - just right given the terrain and the summer heat. I can also recommend riding during a major football tournament if you wish to have the roads and trails to yourself - perfect.
Thanks to everyone who attended, keep your eyes peeled for details of the next one!
Meet at 10.15 for 10.30 start at the car park in Heptonstall, signed off to the left of the main road from Hebden Bridge (SD 98748 27664).
The ride will take in some of the most scenic bits of the Calder Valley and will be suitable for riders of all abilities. Length and severity to be modified according to weather conditions on the day! Bring a spare inner tube and some waterproofs, just in case.