Ride Reports

Saturday 18th May 2019

A Group RT Whinfell - Mike Birchall
A bit of a disappointing turnout this week, I might have thought. The excuses came thick and fast. All seemed reasonably plausible so no offence seemed necessary. Anyway it turned out to be their loss.
The route was garnered mostly from studying the online version of OS maps, having realised an area above Kendal, reaching up to Tebay, hadn't really been explored off-road, certainly as long as I have been in the club. With a desire to explore the "hidden" Borrowdale valley, a 28-mile loop was devised.
So it was that myself and "10 Fred's" Morgan set off from a lay-by near Otter Bank, just North of Kendal. The forecast was for mainly cloud and a bit of rain so to embark in sunshine was a welcome bonus. Sadly, without realising, I had engineered the start at the foot of a fairly steep off road section. So having to make do with a measly 30 second warm up, we dug deep, old Whitton legs dropping me like the proverbial black pooh bag on a Nicky nook pathway. He even had the nerve to capture on film one of my more pathetic wheelies just to add insult to injury.
Easier going lay ahead taking in more off road sections, one incorporating a knee deep ford, which we managed to navigate without issue.
Four miles in we came to the first major ascent of the day, the radio mast topped, Whinfell. Having assumed the way up would be some sort of limestone track, I was pleasantly surprised to find us riding on a metalled road all the way to the 1400ft summit. After some heavy snacking, discussion of Great Dunn similarities and geological banter we pressed on.
Money shot number one- the descent down into the Borrowdale valley. You know the form, a lovely mix of fast, rolling, open moorland leading into progressively steeper rocky single track, a bit switchbacky in places with some natural jumps if feeling bold. A fine payback for the effort up.
From the valley floor we headed north west, following the spectacular Borrow Beck as far as Low Borrowdale farmstead where we embarked on the second "col" of the day, a push over Roundthwaite Common and then on down the long but fast and flowing descent, finally joining the tarmac stuff down in Roundthwaite village.
Having decided earlier to ditch the picnic idea and find a pub in Tebay, we took the handy off road section over that way, marvelling, as we approached the railway underpass as to how I had managed to time a steam train pass for us to gawp at, with such precision.
Lunch, unfortunately, was mediocre, well the food bit was. A very distant relation to the home cooked fayre we had imagined. The beer however was marvellous, and after almost taking up Phil's offer of another one, decided to keep it sensible and carry on.
Back on route we climbed up Pikestone Road dutifully letting several 4 x 4's pass, wondering if they were heading the same way as us. The road finally petered out, and after passing Bretherdale Hall, came to the third pass of the day, that being the tittilatingly named Breasthigh rd, a well pummelled rocky bridleway taking us up and west back toward the A6.
It was a fair push over, the off roaders we'd passed by earlier just visible at the top of the fell. We reached the top after a reasonable slog and after chatting with a group of Enduro boys from Ilkley, descended yet again. This time it was rough and rocky, which Phil found a bit hard going, but game-fully managed without major incident. After another wet footed river crossing it was a short sharp climb up to the A6 and after 50 yards, back onto a lovely fast off road section down the valley, the splendid Ashtead fell on the left. Back accross the A6 took us onto the unlikely named Shap Road, an ancient overgrown highway of unknown pedigree. Several off road links followed bringing us out halfway along the Longsleddale yellow. From here it was a welcome extended downhill selection of country lanes, having to abort a wrongly plotted public footpath, in favour of country code compliance. Nothing more than road section remained and we arrived back at point of departure after covering 27 miles of the finest our green and pleasant land has to offer. Thanks to Phil for joining me and keeping me entertained. And to all you refusenics......we will do it again soon. I might not be able to promise the steam train pass though.

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