Sunday, 11 October 2009


"I am king of all I see,
my kingdom for a voice.

Old man don't lay so still, you're not yet young there's time to teach, point to point point observation, children carry reservations
Standing on the shoulders of giants,
leaves me cold
Leaves me cold. *





After last weeks 'jigging it abaht a bit ' style , I fancied more of the same this week. I dug out the OS map ( SD explorer 287 ) and with trusty google earth ( GE )/ mapmyride I picked out a route.

This was midweek . We've had some nice autumnal sunny weather . Mild and nice . All it is has to do is hold for the weekend.......


It wasnt actually too bad leaving home but I could see it was all a bit overcast on the hills . Approaching Horwich I was not greeted with the usual inspirational view of the Pike . It's like this : If you let the weather dictate when and where you ride in this country , you'd never get out at all . Just do it .The route I've set out though doesnt exactly lend itself to the wet stuff . It's going to turn into a boggy yomp across open moorland. Ace.

There's a feature on the map that has jumped out at me for years but I've never actually made the effort to go there . It's a bit off the beaten path , some might say inaccessable . There's isnt a clearly defined path marked on the map , so I zoomed in on GE and developed a picture in my head . Google proper revealed more info . I was scanning rambling websites for best directions / routes , when I found more than I bargained for . It turns out ' Round Loaf ' is a 3500 yr old bronze age burial mound . Furthermore , it aligns perfectly with a 'longcairn burial chamber ' near Leadmines , and the summit of Great Hill . ( Roundloaf being in the middle ) . Worth a visit I'd say , and , as it's all in straight line it'll be a doddle to find. All we have to do is get up to Great Hill and ' eye it up ' .

Today I'm riding the Cannonale Rush . My trusty sidekick and closet wed night roadie friend Stu is riding the Rize . The big green one . Theyre due to be swapped for 2010s any minute , so hopefully they'll get a good send off today. Stu had yet to try the Rize . " It was good " , He said. It is . A 'go anywhere bike ' I once said . I dont know if Cannondale quite realise what that means , but we'll see.

Setting off it is already raining . Rick has turned up with his mate Sham . Andy has also made the effort , and a special mention goes to Dave who's ridden up from home and already is soaked . It's not very cold though and I soon feel a bit sticky. We head up alongside Yarrow Res' , drop down through the trees ,and then at the YewTree turn right towards Healy Nab .

It's a stiff climb up to the Nab . I hit a rock and stop about halfway up , Stu sails past on his Kawasaki making motorbike noises .

Healy Nab woods now has a small MTB play trail thingy . I didnt mind the old downhill with the tricky drop corner at the bottom , but, in for a penny. It's not a bad little trail . Not big enough for a dedicated day out visit , but OK to pass through on a ride like this . It's tight and twisty , and today , fairly slippy . Good laugh though.

We pop out on the road above White Coppice . We're heading over to Wheelton Woods . I stuck this in the route simply because I dont seem to have been for ages . It's a short mile or so on the road , avoiding the sticky stuff . Easy . Then local lad , Dave spots a ' short cut ' he knows . In for a pound . Shortly , short cutting ,through sticky stuff we're being led through a farmyard by two accomodating farm ladies who asked us if we were lost. I knew we were exactly a short mile , or so , from Wheelton Woods .

We take the obvious path up through the woods. It's a tough climb , but has a good surface , even today. Andy romps up on his singlespeed, in the granny gear. We exit the woods for more climbing on the cut-up tarmac to the edge of the moorland, and have a minute . The calm before the storm .

We string out across the moorland path to Great Hill. Its not a bad surface . Today though there's a stiff breeze blowing through damp jackets and the odd eroded bit and deep puddles make for tough riding . I think Sham's having a bit of a moment with it . We regroup at the top of the White Coppice run,( not today ), and I assure him it's not always like this , whilst fully expecting it to get worse . It's a tough climb up to Great Hill and when we drop off it's going to be wet and slow going across the moors. I have that GE picture in my head and remind myself it's less than a kilometre from Great Hill to Roundloaf . If you say " less than a click " it not only sounds closer , but also you sound like you were in 'nam.

The climb up to Great Hill goes as expected . Tough but on the super 'dale I clean it . Which was good . The tyres, that earlier in the year I didnt rate too high, have been good the last few weeks. The Rush has a stretched out , old school feel that I like ( well I would ) , but it might not be for everyone . The BB feels low . At speed this is good but there's a chance of pedal scrapes in ruts and the like. Y' just have to go with it . Cannondale have dropped the Rush for oh-ten and replaced it with a Rize-like RZ120 . I'm sure that will be very good , but I do like the simplicity of the Rush . Ah well . Almost in complete opposition to the simple single pivot frame is the Joe-90 Lefty fork. I'm struggling to find a reason for it other that it's bonkers selling point looks. It's been working as well as a regular fork though . I like it , it's just a bit mad.

So , we regroup on top of Great Hill and have a minute . Time to look for Roundloaf ...... It's

The picture in my mind didnt account for low cloud.

We drop off on slippy stones , winding down to a valley that bisects the moorland. Rick is ploughing on. Dave has an idea where we're heading and says we need to be on the other side of a wet gully . This doesnt exactly contrast with the picture in my head , and the map doesnt look very clear , so we shout Rick to come back , he'll be over Spitlers Edge in a mo , and we turn 90 deg' off the slabs .

What ensued could be described many ways depending on your point of view. It's very wet , coldish , very boggy , and we now cant get line of sight on where we are going .

Or where we have been .

Stu's talking about getting a lift home off the RAF.

This is shaping up to be an epic . At the point of no return I dismount and my foot sinks in up to just below the knee. Mega.

After what was only about 5 mins of this , but it seemed like more , I got the map out . The cloud had lifted , or more likely blown away , from Great Hill . I get the compass out , ( honest ) , take a bearing , and we carry on . Dave is on point and shortly signals ' eyes on ' . Result . Just over the next rise is Roundloaf . We pick up a path . It leads to a grassy lump that has a pile of stones on top.

It's 3500 years old .

Well that was good .

A perfectly punishing ride like this should probably end on some wild roller coaster downhill in the sun. I had every intention of heading for the next bronze age feature at ' Pike Stones ' , near leadmines . Quite apart from time ticking away , we take a path off Round Loaf that doesnt quite head over that way,and is ,surprise surprise, fairly boggy . There's a steep sided wet gully to cross , and whilst it's tantalisingly close it's just not going to happen . Not today. We head back , down the LeadMines roller coaster , no sun though , to the cafe for more calories than is sensible.
Same time next week ?
* REM . King of Birds .' Document ' album . It was the first song on the CD in the car when I got in this morning and thought it was quite fitting .
I'll stick the map up when I get a minute , but right now I'm literally bog-eyed.

1 comment:

  1. When thinking of "nam" earlier Tim was that "Healy Nam". Hahahaha.