South Lakes Group
Your Local off-
For cyclists who love off-
Part of the ‘Where’s the Brew stop? The off-
Having arrived at the Orchard Caravan and Camping Site in Reeth at midday on Friday I quickly pitched the tent and set out to get in an afternoon ride. After just 3km on the road I started up my first off-
Saturday started with a quick ride round to the Dales Bike Centre to meet Eileen and Nick and the group of four took to the hills. Just 1km of road took us to our first rough stuff of the day above High Fremington. Starting as a byway and then bridleway this track was effectively singletrack all the way north west to Heggs House. So good was the riding that we missed our turn at Heggs House and continued along the wall side for at least another half kilometre before realising our mistake. An about turn put us back on track crossing fields to Storthwaite Hall and then a farm track to Langthwaite. Having a good idea of what was to come it seemed rude not to have tea and ice cream at the Red Lion Inn! A short road section took us through Arkle Town which is not much of a town these days although it once had a parish church, inn and workhouse. On up Raw Bank brought us to the bridleway below Calver Hill. Calver Hill is a bole hill, a place where lead from the mines was smelted in an open air furnace which used the prevailing wind to increase the heat. Continuing round to the road at Fore Gill Gate we then headed south for less than 1km to the longest stretch of rough stuff of the day. From the road it was headwind and uphill all the way to Surrender Ground. Farmers share the moorland here, buying “stints” or “gates” that allow them to graze a certain number of sheep each year. At shearing and other times they work together to gather in the sheep before separating them out using the series of smaller enclosures within the pen. On reaching Great Pinseat we had a small detour on foot to find the trig point (583m). With no shelter from the wind we continued down Forefield Rake and into Flincher Gill to Level House Bridge. Despite the incessant wind there was no suggestion of a return to the valley floor so it was west through Old Gang Mines to drop down to Gunnerside Gill the site of intensive lead mining in the 18th and 19th centuries. The valley still contains much evidence of its industrial past. Here and elsewhere on our ride we saw resultant scars of “hushes” formed when water was released as a torrent to scour soil of the surface and reveal seams of lead ore. Now free from any headwind we flew down the bridleway on the east side of Gunnerside Beck to meet the small road to the north east of Gunnerside where we descended to the valley floor for a visit to the Ghyll Foot tea shop. On meeting the B6270 we were confronted by the novelty of an electrically operated gate. If all gates were like this we wouldn't need to dismount!
Crossing the River Swale via Gunnerside New Bridge we took the byway east through Hag Wood, along the side of the river and in to Dubbing Garth Lane. A short road section past Isles Bridge brought us to Low Houses. The farmhouse here, built in 1840, is unusual as it is an example of a farmhouse and dairy under one roof. From Low houses we rode along Low Lane to Low Whita. A couple of kilometers on the road brought us to our last rough stuff of the day, the bridleway past Stubbings Farm to Swale Hall. It was then a case of a beer at the Bridge Inn at Grinton after which Ian and I made the short ride round to the campsite leaving Nick and Eileen debating their evening eating options.
Although forecast to be overcast the sun greeted us again on Sunday morning and the four of us set out from the Dales Bike Centre through Grinton and up to Grinton lodge youth hostel. The bridleway opposite the hostel was our first off-
Rain was forecast for Monday but there was no sign of it as I left the campsite to ride the 3km west along the B6270 to Healaugh. Healaugh has no amenities except a stone trough fed by a hillside stream and a telephone box. Although I didn't actually visit the telephone box I understand that it is, or was, unusually endowed with a carpet, waste paper bin and fresh flowers! My first off-
Thanks to Ian for suggesting and arranging the weekend. Maybe a repeat visit will see more RSF members joining in as this is a fantastic area for the rough stuff fan with an abundance of bridleway and byway and Reeth, boasting a campsite, youth hostel, cyclists’ bunkhouse and numerous B&B, is the ideal base from which to explore it.