Friday, 11 June 2010

Singletrack Nirvara ?? Trail poaching in the Lakes.

After a bit of encouragement from some Lakes locals, I decided a while ago that life is just too short not to ride cheeky in the Lakes. Everywhere I ride at home is pure cheeky, so why not the lakes. I finally got my head around this and, as previously mentioned, I have set of couple of cheeky runs in the Lakes on my to do list.

These two days were set aside for my bivvy adventure, however, work soon put paid to that, having to work the Thursday. So this left me with a spare day, Friday. The forecast was good so all systems go for the Newlands ride.

This singletrack is mentioned in hushed "knowing" terms by the locals and the pics I have seen are pretty special I have to say, so I knocked up a route that took in both Gasgale Gill and Newlands. Quick call to Donk and G to see if they were up for it, but the short notice only meant that Donk was available.

So after a late start we parked up at Uzzicar, kitted up, put the suncream on and set off into the unknown. Stoneycroft Ghyll was the first climb and man was it hard work. Rough, loose and just got progressively steeper the higher we got. I plodded up this climb until I could go no further as the rocks were just spinning the back wheel, and was staggered at the view and height gain.

We kept on ascending and the gradient eventually relented a little as we got to High Moss, however the easier riding was soon forgotten when we turned a small corner to reveal the track ahead. Proper "stop you in your tracks" kind of view.
Both of us had a bash at riding it, but I soon got put off when a little wobble on the bars sent my wheel towards the edge, and it was a right old fucking drop down. The upper section was too steep to push so we shouldered the bikes.

At the col between Causey and Sail, the horror of the following climb showed itself. Dave bravely set off riding it and got a fair distance up before gravity overcame him. So again, shouldering the bikes we plodded up to the summit of Sail.

Its worth mentioning that at the start of the ride I was fairly apprehensive about the reception we would get, taking our bikes into the Holy of Holies, hardcore footpath poaching. However, to a person, everyone we met, whilst treated to a cheery hello from us, stopped and had the crack. They just could not believe that people were daft enough to bring bikes up.

We reached the summit and managed to ride about 100 yards before we had to get off and scramble down some craggs with the bike to reach the col between Cragg Hill and Sail. What followed was more akin to scrambling with a bike on your shoulder that mere ascending. Hard Hard work climbing The Scar, but the stop at the high point of Cragg Hill was out of this world, views so majestic that your elbows nearly exploded.

So here was where all the hard work was to be rewarded. The blast down to Wandope Moss was fast and loose, with some drainage give plenty of opportunity for air time. I had to stop halfway down and put my clear eye defenders on as my sunnies were offering no protection and my contacts were just sliding about on my eye, not what you need at 30mph. Right turn towards Coledale Hause and the track to Gasgale was taken.

Now I had learnt from the locals that the path had been given a hard time in the floods in November, but SHIT, the upper reaches were horrendous. Huge sections of ground and trail just simply missing, replaced with soft loose scree that threatened to grab your wheels, and hereabouts, the penalty for a mistake was usually a plummet over a cliff and into the Ghyll.

Proper technical riding, which I have to say Dave excelled at. There were a lot of sections that I pushed down but he rode some stuff that just had me shaking my head at. The middle section was just brilliant, weavy singletrack in the most awesome setting, both of us hooning down it like loons, oblivious to the penalty for failure. The final section once again showed just how much damage the rains had done. At one stage we were scrambling down cliff face's and passing the bikes to each other, but we were soon spat out on the banks of Crummock Water. Superb surroundings as we headed up to Buttermere, the High Stile ridge providing breathtaking views.
So here started the track that had given me the inspiration for the ride. The climb out of Buttermere was steady enough, but we soon realised that we had missed a left turn and start the steady ascent, instead we kept close to the river.  It meant that we had to just shoulder the bikes again and ascend straight up through some ferns. Hard work but the views kept us going. All the time the singletrack slowly ascended up the valley, it must have been no wider that 10" with a pretty steep drop on your right, not a place to get it wrong.

Another washed away section had us scrambling and passing bikes before we finally got to the col and the full descent was revealed. SINGLETRACK NIRVANA. Not flowey or swoopy as woodland or man made singletrack, but just an awesome natural, steep, loose and rocky ribbon of pure adrenalin fuelled heaven. Utterly steep and the drop to your right would severely punish riders who did not give it their full attention. Sections where your arse was so far off the back and your back wheel was fishtailing, not daring to touch the front brake.

I cant really remember too much about the track, all my concentration was thrown into riding it, but the pictures say enough. At the bottom of this descent I got it completely wrong, entering a section of trail that had been washed away by the floods, and lost my front wheel. A minor fall which I though nothing off until we reached the car and Dave pointed out that I had claret all down my shin. That was a measure of how much adrenalin Newlands had pumped me full of. I had no recollection of pain or injury.

The end of a memorable day out and one ticked off the list.


D0NK said...

That push up through the ferns was a killer, legs were fading and I wasn't in the mood. Descent was well worth it tho :-)

Julbags said...

Sounds lush, though above my skill level and I'm no fan of hike a bike. Glad you met happy walkers (that didn't want to stick one of their stupid poles through your spokes), though most of them are, particularly if they're actually up high.

I've met some right miserable sods on the Lakes hills in my time, even when on foot. I do wonder why they bother. The biggest grumps I met were on the Kentmere Horseshoe, because I had the temerity to be moving faster than them. They deliberately blocked me. You're not supposed to be running and travelling light in the Lakes hills apparently! Poles, stupid heavy boots, massive rucksack and a map swinging round your neck are compulsory.

lowey said...

I tend to find the higher you are / more remote you are the people are nicer. Its the car park warriors that are the PITA. And dont get me started on poles! I spent most of my formative years fell walking, how I ever got anywhere without the aid of stupid fucking poles is beyond me. Your walking, not fucking skiing !