Day out pass booked - Check
Riding Buddies - Double check
Route - Check
Weather - Check, oh hang on....
Thursday before I looked at BBC weather and it showed full on hardcore sunshine for Sunday. Right, off we go, Weest managed to get a pass out and Donk decided to join us also. I had the Skiddaw Cheek ride planned. A real epic, 30 miles and 7000' climbing / carrying.
The trip up was getting increasingly gloomy and rather worryingly the cloud base was very low. Driving through the Lune valley we could see nothing except the rain hammering against the windscreen. We pulled into Tebay services to stock up on the finest pies known to man, and while Weest was getting a coffee, I sat looking out of the window at the deluge being blown horizontally. Not good.
We met Dave at a layby just outside Keswick and parked up at the bottom of the Latrigg Bridleway. Getting kitted up in the rain wasn't much fun and was a precursor of what was to follow.
I was not really bothered about the rain, more worried about the cloud. The Caldbeck Fells are pretty bleak and featureless I I knew that the traverse from Great Calva over the Knott to Sca Fell would require compass bearings in the mist, not a problem on foot, but on a bike t can be a PITA.
Spun along the old railway to Threlked, and then started the climb up Glenderraterra to Skiddaw House. The rain has made the bedrock slippery as hell for some reason, probably due to it being so dry recently. Up to Skiddaw house and we were in good spirits, as despite the weather, it's still wonderful country to be riding in. We headed over towards Dash on the 4x4 track and as we past the flanks of Great Calva, I started looking for a path or sheep track that we could take in the ascent up to the high tops. None. Damn, there was nothing for it, but to just shoulder the bikes and take the direct route up. The bracken was knee deep and proved pretty hard going, however, I must admit to loving it. There is nothing like the feeling of adventure in off pieste biking and sure it was hard work, but well worth it. What wasn't much fun was the howling tempest slamming into us direct from Scotland, I was blown clean over a one point. Dave, I suspected started to have a sense of humour malfuncation at this point as he slammed his bike down off his shoulders in frustration, however, it had got stuck on his back pack, so he followed it into the heather lol.
IN THE MIDDLE OF FUCKING NOWHERE I thought it would be best to head twoards the Mosedale Bridleway, then to Skiddaw House and along Longscale craggs. What I failed to notice was the wonderful singletrack bridleway descending to our west, which would have provided wonderful riding and a route to the foot of the Dash Falls Bridleway. Doh. My excuse for this was that my map was printed out on an ink jet printer and I didnt have time to laminate it. So everytime I looked at it, it got wet and then basically turned to mush.
Still, ever the optimist, I told the lads to follow Wiley Gill down to Mosedale. Now I'm not 100% sure, but I'd put a big chuck on money on us probably being the 1st bikers ever to descend this lonely valley. Nothing in here, not a path, nothing. Even the sheep couldnt be bothered to get their act together and form a sheep track for us to follow. This, predictably, made the going a little bit tough, however I have to admit to enjoying it. A proper bit of adventure in the face of adversity.
So there we are in the lonely valley, not a path in sight and what do we come across ? a Bridge over one the other tributary streams. Why the hell someone had gone to the effort of putting it here, over just one of many tributaries was utterly beyond me and bordered on the surreal.
We really shouldnt have taken the piss as karma soon set in and I flatted on the downhill from Latrigg, and whilst Weest came back up for me, he also got a flat.
Donk scattered all the walkers like a ten pin bowling ball descending and we were soon back at the car. Here, God played his final jolly on us. The skies miraculously cleared, the rain stopped and the wind died. Even Skiddaw was clear. Oh how we all laughed. I will return and do this ride sometime soon. It will not defeat me.