Ride Reports

Saturday 12th August 2017

A Ride to High Cup Nick by Rick Wiggans
This had been flagged as a not unduly technical ride, but the conditions on the ground conspired to make it a pretty tough day at the office. The weather forecast, although eventually turning true to form, was less than kind, as three intrepid souls parked up in the free car park in the centre of Dufton. Myself, Mick Birchall, and Keith Oglesby being the riders in question. Heading south-east along the road to Murton, phrases such as “it was supposed to sunny”, and “don’t like the look of that low cloud”, spring to mind. However, whinges soon over, we turned our attentions to the first big climb of the day, up the shoulder of Murton Fell. This is initially a straight forward pull up a gravel track, often frequented by the military, until lit levels out somewhat onto the moor. The way then becomes indistinct, and on the day, very wet and boggy under-wheel, which in places
made the going quite tricky, especially some of the stream crossings. After a while, the way on shoots down a tricky, very slippery single track into the bottom of a deep gully. Mick, in front, attacked this head on, whilst I decided to put a foot down and think about it. However, the foot I chose to put down landed on one of many extremely slippery rocks, and I proceeded to do a double somersault into a rock garden. It hurt, thanks for asking. It still hurts! Half a mile or so of hike-a-bike saw us back at moor level, where prior knowledge of the route, plotted on the Garmin, and the occasional marker post proved invaluable. This is Ride Coordinator shorthand for “I didn’t lose the way this time” The limited visibility was for sure a disappointment. Before long, a rather boggy, rutted descent saw us arrive at High Cup Nick for the first time. Not much of a view, I must confess. We then turned east, down a wide grassy bridleway, following the southern bank of Maize Beck. Not having ridden this bit before, I was quite pleased at the firm ground we were at last encountering. Rocky, and slippery, but at least, not muddy. After a couple of kilometres, it became apparent that the way on was across the swollen river, but as luck would have it, a bridge magically appeared out of the gloom. Hauling the bikes up the steps, and over the bridge, our wide, firm bridleway magically metamorphosed into at first interesting single track, then increasingly wet boggy moorland. Uphill, wet, boggy moorland, involving about a kilometre or so of hike-a-bike. However, soon we gained a well-surfaced shooting track along which we sped for around 5 kilometres to Cauldron Snout. The advantage of the heavy rain was that the river was in spate, so the waterfall was in magnificent form. Just above the falls is Cow Green Reservoir. We decided to pop up for a look, rode across the dam, and found a (slightly) sheltered spot to devour our picnics – this being a no café ride. Pies, pizzas and butties duly despatched, we remounted to clearing skies. And a headwind. Oh well, you can’t have it all. We retraced our steps back up the long climb to the bridge, and thence back to High Cup Nick, where our efforts were rewarded with magnificent views. A quick photo opportunity, a chat with some walkers, and some miserable Pennine Wayfarers, and we headed for the long, rapid, 7-kilometre descent to Dufton. A quick change, and a stroll down to the Post Box Pantry for a late lunch completed a classic day of the hill. Wet, slippery, boggy, and highly enjoyable. 22miles, just over 4000ft of climbing, 6 mph. A good day.

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