Monday 22 October 2012

Nidderdale Routes

One of the places I'm lucky to be able to spend time in is the town of Pateley Bridge in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire. I'm fortunate in having friends who live there, have a spare room, always seem happy to see me, and know I can entertain myself on a bike around there for hours.

I've posted several other times about the town, so feel free to scan through for the Nidderdale label or pick things up from this map below.

Anyway, that aside I've managed to explore and record cycling around the area quite extensively. One of the slight disadvantages of the routes around these parts is it's quite difficult to tell if the route is navigable by bike. The map may well say bridlepath along a track but when faced with overgrown path, 6 inches deep in mud which is sometimes a stream bed, it makes it diffcult to plan a decent ride. On the other hand, when the map shows a permissive footpath and the reality is a wide, hardcore track with plenty of smiling faces, things are just peachy!

This map is the result of that exploration. There's plenty to see here and I've no doubt I'll add to it. Just as an aside, I find this much better loaded into Google Earth as you can do all kinds of things in 3D in it and Google Maps seems to only allow 10 icons at a time to be displayed. Download it for free and then download my KML from the map page.

There are masses of links in this map including to a lot of video footage of routes. This makes it possible to see what a route is like before using it. Also, it gives some kind of idea what delights are in store, and there are quite a few.

View Pateley Bridge in a larger map

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Easy Cycling Hard Cycling Quiet Cycling
Offroad Cycling Not Suitable for Cycling      No Cycling

Uphill Busy Road General Hazard
Windy Road Water Barrier

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Video Clips

I've included a lot of video clips, mostly of riding around which is useful for working out exactly what the conditions on the ground are like. Here's a (probably incomplete) list of them. As always, these can be seen small in the map bubbles or opened up into full screen versions on YouTube. Fullscreen and putting you head right up ot a big screen and you'll feel you are there doing it all, without the leg pain!

Losing a Spoke. A short clip, when a lost a spoke. There's a clear clang and jerk at 9 seconds just before the corner. I stopped, adjusted the spokes around it to compensate, and rode on. I really ought to get that fixed at some point!

Pateley Bridge to Lofthouse. A winter ride up  the valley, first along the quiet Wath Road, then onto the slightly busier road round Gouthewaite Reservoir to Ramsgill and on the Lofthouse where there's a rather pretty waterfall. After doing this I usually head further up the valley along the Yorkshire Water road to Scar House Reservoir. Then do the Descent from Scar House Reservoir to Lofthouse listed below.

Over Kirkby Malzeard Moor to Pateley Bridge. A long summer route. This runs out of Pateley along the quiet Wath Road, then up Silver Hill. This is unfeasibly steep, hitting over 23% at one point. Then up High Bishopside and over Skell Gill to the Dallow valley. An off road descent to the river and back out the other side. Climbing up Dallow Moor to Kirkby Malzeard Moor and over the top. This is a permissive way which is a large track. Unfortunately on the downside it was just a bit too rough and gated to make it feel like it was worth the height gain. Finally back down the Ramsgill road passed Gouthewaite Water and up Wath Road.

Descent from Scar House Reservoir to Lofthouse. A winter ride again, this time with less hard pedalling. The top is very quick usually topping out at 30-35mph (which for a offroad bike with semi-slick tyres is pretty fast!). I'm not pushing it hard as the conditions aren't great. And that's borne out by the car and mud at around 1:00. The turn at around 1:20 signals the end of the fast section and is the "elbow" in the valley. The remains of the journey are done at around 25mph and does require a level of pedalling. I did signal the van to pass at 1:30. They had been patient and were going just a bit quicker (but not much!). The lower section is quite full of potholes, so the slower speed is a bit better. Finally I end up at the waterfall, also at the end of Pateley Bridge to Lofthouse above.

Wath to Pateley Bridge Along Back Road. Another winter ride coming back along the quiet Wath Road. Starting coming over the Nidd and past The Sportsman hotel. A couple of steep ascents along the back give great views across the valley. Some decents as well to even up the pain versus speed balance. A nice snow/ice traverse followed by the descent into Pateley, although I turn off the main descent into the centre. This can be preceded by Gouthwaite Reservoir from Pateley Bridge via Heathfield.

Pateley Bridge High Street. Coming down the bottom of Bedlam Hill (or Old Church Lane) and onto the High Street. It's a narrow street so things tend to be slow. Even so, it feels like you need your wits about you when walking on the pavement. I cross over the river and pass the showground on the left, and the park with bandstand on the right before getting on towards the Bewerley side of town.

Silver Hill, Wath, Pateley Bridge. This hill is just so awesome as to require a clip all by itself. It also appears on Over Kirkby Malzeard Moor to Pateley Bridge. I start with a picture of the hill itself, clearly visible from Stonecut, around 3 miles away. The hectic slope is the diagonal going up from right to left. The top section (from left to right) is still a climb but isn't as severe. Then a Google Earth analysis of the slope showing the peak slope at 23% which is just like pedalling up a wall, every pedal-stroke stopping at it's end and trying to roll back. At the start of the action, the slope is quite clearly visible on the houses on the right. That's not the hard bit. Just after the blue/black car at about 1:00 it's steepest. Of course, this is where I let a car pass and have to get going again. Uggg! The slope steadily eases but never gets much below 10%, which is hidden by the lack of reference on this clip. At the end I show the view, including Gouthewaite Reservoir.

Skell Gill. Halfway between High Bishopside (above Pateley Bridge) and Dallow, Skell Gill cuts through the moor. The water coming down here goes on to feed the flow through Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. It's a nice break from the relentless flat moor road, although doesn't allow for any quick downhilling as the corner over the bridge is covered in gravel and water. Not a surface for a high speed turn, even if the road is clear. Just to be clear, both directions are fun!

Rowel Walk and Belford Lane, Kirkby Malzeard. This was one of those exploratory times. I wanted to find out what this permissive path was like (note that I'm not assuming that cycling has a right of way or that it doesn't). The Ordnance Survey map suggests it's a track and Google Maps suggest the north section is driveable. Coming down Belford Lane at the beginning is fine, it's mostly tarmac and disappears to gravel at the end. Then the first barrier, a bridge across the stream, definitely designed for walkers only. Followed by a gate. I cut the clip hear and take longer than shown to get through this. The track continues and is perfectly fine if a little hard going. Then another gate. This is hte bit that is shown as driveable. Hmm, I'd suggest only for the most extreme vehicles. And another gate. Then another (cut clip) footbridge, and a very overgrown path. This is no chance for any driving, which is a good thing, but Google ought to change their map! I think this last section is possibly the hardest on a bike. A strong offroader with a completely kitted out bike might ride it, but I had to stop several times. No, this is good for a walk but not riding.

Descent through Dallow. After finding Kirkby Malzeard Moor closed for shooting, I came back this way. The disappointment of not getting right up on the moor (well, not reading a sign I passed 4 miles and a lot of climbing earlier!) was compensated by this descent. A nice open route albeit with lots of cornering through walled lanes (seeing any cars over the top!). Plenty of good views down the valley at the start changed to wooded lanes and streams at the bottom. I go all the way through to the Pateley Bridge to Kirkby Malzeard road, where I hobbled back over the top towards Brigham Rocks for some further compensation.

Descent from Brigham Rocks to Smelthouses. At the junction just at the south side of Brigham Rocks, there is a great route into upper Nidderdale. I often drive into the valley this way rather than using the main road that goes a long way south through Summerbridge and slower road sections through villages. The opening shots show why. A great view of the whole valley before the descent takes control. Some great drops and good places for hard pedalling to maintain a good speed. After a couple of dips a short flat section done at 25mph+ before the final drop into Smelthouses. This can be preceded by the Descent through Brigham Rocks.

Descent through Brigham Rocks. The tourist destination is very spectacular but also is the road through the set-aside moor land. It's not entirely descending having lots of little ups and downs. Generally it is down but not without some work on the way. Going onto the Descent from Brigham Rocks to Smelthouses or Descent from Brigham Rocks to Summerbridge.

Coming down Panorama Walk to North East Pateley Bridge. One of the awkward things about getting into Pateley Bridge is the lack of quiet routes in. I've found a way of avoiding the main road in, although it's only really any use if going to the north east side of the town (or onto the quiet Wath Road). I use a path, although I've no idea about the right of way here. The signage at 0:35 does specifically ban cars and motor-bikes but not bicycles. I wouldn't go fast here though. It is far too narrow with lots of pedestrian entrances. Also, there are plenty of drainage guides (mounds of tarmac taking water off the path). A short section of steps allows access to the estates and a straight-ish route through along residential roads and estate paths to the quiet Wath Road to go further up the valley.

Crossing the Nidd at Hartwith Mill. On the face of it there are not a lot of places to cross the river Nidd other than the busy car-dominated routes of the Summerbridge and Birstwith bridges. This little road is a convenient little crossing, thankfully mostly free of cars. Because it's single lane, looks like a private drive, and is a toll-bridge, many cars don't come this way. It's one of those traditional toll bridges that has a fee of 10p for cars which probably goes nowhere to fixing the bridge itself. It's free for bicycles! The turn in is a bit awkward but soon picks up speed again. Then it does get pretty rough before the smooth road across the narrow bridge. From the end the routes open up the other side of the valley.

Climb into Ripley from the Lake. From Clint Bank through Hollybank Wood there's a great little off-road route which deposits you at the back of Ripley Castle. This is the climb back up from there to the centre of Ripley. Rather pretty and a really good surface underwheel. Can't help but feel that the centre of the village is rather spoilt by all those parked cars.

Descent from Brigham Rocks to Summerbridge. Done after the Descent through Brigham Rocks, this caps off the route down into the valley. It starts open with fields just below moorland but soon the pace goes up as the slope increases. I quickly get up to speed and shoot on down the hill. As soon as the woods appear the corners get sharp, scary, and exhilerating! It's not long before the town of Summerbridge arrives and sharp on the brakes to stop by the junction at the bottom.

Gouthwaite Reservoir from Pateley Bridge via Heathfield. Starting in Pateley Bridge High Street, this travels up the south side of Nidderdale. As usual is quicker on a bike through the High Street. Then the motorbikes stop in  hte middle of the road and start talking about which way to go. I nip through and quickly get on the Low Wath Road. This starts off busy, but soon quietens down. Just after The Bridge Inn, the route goes left up the valley side towards Heathfield. The view steadily builds behind me as I get up to the same height as the top of Silver Hill on the opposite side. There are a few farm cottages up here before the route tops out and I head back down to Gouthewaite Reservoir through the trees. This can be followed by Wath to Pateley Bridge Along Back Road.

Descent of Bedlam Hill. Yes. Hmm. Probably best to say this is not a sensible way to go downhill. Right at the beginning of the clip I pull out into the main road a bit ahead of a car. I probably should have stopped, waited a few minutes, then started again. Going downhill behind a car can be very frustrating as it can be down much quicker on a bike. However, having said this, I was feeling guilty  about pulling out (it was far enough ahead to not be dangerous I might add) so I pushed on far too hard down hill. The top sections should have warned me about it as I had a couple of close shaves on the road edge, but then I went far too fast down through the narrow section to be confronted by a van coming the other way. I locked up the back wheel getting the bike into the side and gave myself the willies.

Exploring Nidderdale Way. One of the issues of cycling out from Pateley Bridge is the lack of quiet routes out of town. This was a little explore to see if there was a quiet way along the north side going down valley. The first bit I did already know. It's quite a climb up Panorama Walk and then Panorama Way. Hmm, think there's a clue in that name? Yep, from about 1:10 there are some great views across the valley. Incidentally, the signage for Panorama Way does not ban cars just says it's 5 foot 6 wide. At the top is a place called The Knott which has access back down to the main road (right at 2:15), but I'm exploring the route onwards. The surface degrades steadily until the path looks more like a stream bed from 2:33 on. Coming out onto the Ripon road on Blazefield Bank is a relief, although that route is probably still good enough to use in summer I think. The track in front of Blazefield houses is fine and the next section of road (not marked as such on the OS map!) is likewise. But then, the section from 3:26 is meant to be a bridleway. Not navigable by bicycle though. It would work for horses (and the local llamas/alpacas) but is far to muddy and overgrown at pedal height. Eventually I push ot the end at 4:04 where there is a pretty stream. Well, pretty but also very slippery and really difficult to cross with a bike. I descend through the Raikes to get to a path to see if the Nidderdale Way is passable. The track to the farm is great. I slow down with all the animal warnings. Then I'm on the path. This is a bit better than the previous section but still has difficult bits, and is ended at 5:55 by a gate. The last bit up the track is fine, but generally I'd would use the Ripon road from after Blazefield houses.

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