Thursday, 19 August 2010

The Long Mynd

Bit of a spur of the moment this. Had a free Sunday coming up so I thought I'd take a trip out. Atr the last minute I remembered Paul suggesting the Long Mynd last year on Singletrack when I posted a thread about where to ride within 2 hours of Manchester. On that occasion we ended up doing Drum Mountain instead, but the seed was planted.

So consulted a few locals as to a route and come up with This one.

However on the day, I thought that I'd try the climb through Carding Mill Valley in order not to repeat the last bit.

Drive down was very nice, A49 through Cheshire, not much traffic so nice and relaxing, pulls up at Church Stretton at about 9.15. Only problem was that the sunny weather that I had driven down in had been replaced by murky low level cloud. Still at least it wasnt raining.

Up Carding Mill Valley, and judging by the amount of parking this place has it must get thronged, but my early start had beaten most people.
The Climb up at the head of the valley was brutal to be honest. I cleared it but it damn near killed me, there was no breeze and the first of the days fly's had appeared and seemed to be all picking on my. At the top I was firmly in the mist, which was rather gutting actually as the views were just non existent. Spun along a path was was not disimilar to an old railway line and this took me to the top of Pole Bank. The first of 3 visits to the summit Today. From Pole Bank I tool the BW dropping off the Mynd down to Stanbatch. Very wet and loose. It looked like that there had been a shit load of rain the day before and the ground was just holding all the water, making cornering a lottery. Very steep bit of track this and in the Dry I reckon would make a warp speed descent. The next bit looked on the map like a road ride, but instead turned out to be a nice green lane with some lovely views across the Shropshire folds on my right. The lane ended in Tarmac at Asterton. Then quite tarmac to the start of the climb back up onto the Mynd at the interestingly named "Handless". This was a DOG of a climb. so steep and loose that it was hard work pushing up it, but after the initail steepness it was an OK ascent. At the top, picked up the Shropshire Way past the glider club.

The grass was pretty tiring to be honest as it was so wet. Watched the 2 landrovers flying up and down the "runway" blasting their horns to clear the sheep away and then the gliders started getting up. At the road junction I arrived at the top of the area's famous section of trail, Minton Batch.
This was supposed to be a ribbon of natural singletrack descending from the ridge right to the foot of the valley, down a narrow "batch" so characteristic of the area. It didnt disappoint. The only PITA was having to stop to take pics. It was just Mountain Biking Heaven. Twisting flowing trail that went on and on.
It was all over too soon though. At the bottom I headed over to Priors Holt. I handt noticed descending the batch, but the mist had cleared and the day was turning out really nice. This section was just ace. Cycling through typically Olde English landscape everything was right with the world. Everyone I met smiled and shouted a cheery hello, and on the singletrack road, I met a Londrover coming in my direction. Not only did he stop, but he reversed to a gate and got off the road completely to let me pass, wound down his window and had the crack. What a fookin Kinght of the Road!

Priors Holt was a nice little hamlett then up through the forest to start the third climb of the day back onto the ridgeline. Passed a set of Bee Hives half way up and stayed well clear of them. Rather that look for the BW in the forest I just took the easy spin up the fireroad. Smudge had mentioned that there was some fun to be had in the forest and I spotted loads of tracks cutting off from the road which looked promising. Half way up a local lad caught me up and offered to join me back up to the ridge. Nice guy and he said that there was a thriving DH scene in the woods on a Saturday.

Back on the Ridge I bade my riding buddy a farewell and sat down for lunch. Aparently a sweaty bloke eating tuna and pasta salad provided just the right combination to attract all the fly's in Shropshire.

Past the Glider club again and then up Pole Bank for the second time. Just after the summit though I took the little used BW down to Medlicott. This was Ace... wide track which was very fast then into loose baby head rocks at warp speed. Sadly too much for my front wheel and I ended up doing a San Marino Suffle trying to stop with a flat front. Nice place to have a flat though.
At the bottom the small Hamlet of Medlicott was passed and on a barely used gated road, I climbed up to Coats Farm. Here, while opening a Gate I could hear the distictive Deep Base Thud of music, but where the hell it was coming from was a mystery. Then as I started to climb the hill I spotted a camp site across the valley, although I reckon it must have been some sort of music festival as it was pumping out load of music.

This final climb was now on tired legs and it was a bit of a grind. Kept stopping to soak up the views and slowly spun back up to the ridge for the final time today. Here I decided on a route change. Scruff from STW had mentioned that the path from Pole Cottage to Little Stretton and recently been up-graded to Bridleway Status. On the map it looked like a nice drop so I went for that.

The Final visit of the day to Pole Bank Summit and I headed down to the top of the descent.

What followed was just ace, Bit of a climb to start it but then it was DH ALL the way, the best bit was turning a corner and having the full view of Sleekstonebank Hollow thrown at you. It really stopped me in my tracks. I got a picture but it doesn't do it justice.
The Run got very steep on some loose grass just before Little Stetton and some walkers held open the gate for me at the bottom, cheering me past!

The road back to the car was even a joy to ride.

First ride round here and it wont be the last! Loved it. Superb riding in a typically old English Landscape. Going to wait for a bit of a dry spell and go again. I finished up just shy of 30 miles with nearly 5000' of climbing and probably only touched 30% of the bridleways!


D0NK said...

"...It was just Mountain Biking Heaven. Twisting flowing trail that went on and on...The only PITA was having to stop to take pics...."
and THAT is why my blog is so bereft of pics :-)

Sounds a cracking ride, I've never ridden down that way, looks good, STW ride there soon?

Julbags said...

Rode there a good few years ago, only about my third or fourth "proper" offroad ride, on my far too big for me rockhopper, had to push up a few bits but I still remember it as being ace. Need to go back.

Anonymous said...

+1 for doing this

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