Saturday, 23 March 2013

Grizedale, Gisburn Forest and GoPro

We went up to Kendal last weekend, to stay with my old caving/climbing friends, Nick and Anne. The forecast for Saturday had said it would be light rain until 10am and then improve throughout the day.  It was sort of correct only the rain didn't stop until lunchtime so we filled in the morning by visiting Hilary's niece. who works at Fell Foot.  We'd originally planned to do a ride out of Staveley but then I remembered that it might be the weekend where you could test out mountain bikes and we reckoned the bridleways might be full of people wanting to go faster than us.  So we diverted to Grizedale Forest.  Due to a navigational anomaly, it took rather longer than expected to arrive at the visitor centre and it was 1.30-ish before we started riding.  Another navigational anomaly caused us to miss the red trail through the forest, so we followed one of the main LRTs up to the top, where a bridleway runs south from a place marked on the map as Heald Brow Pasture.  It starts off as singletrack through trees but fairly soon opens out to give splendid views across Coniston Water and the Coniston Fells, which were sporting a covering of snow on the tops.

Coniston Fells from The Park, above Grizedale Forest

We passed another group of mountain bikers on the top before spying some 4x4s in the distance.  Thankfully, they moved off before we reached them, so we didn't get in each others way and no words of an immoderate nature were exchanged.  The track down to High Nibthwaite has a short gnarly rocky section (Nick had hinted as much when he suggested the route to us) but overall it is a superb ride and one to repeat on a warm summer day (with a proper picnic stop.)

We went back on the road, which took us up a ludicrously lung busting hill after Nibthwaite Grange, before heading over the fell, along a wide track crossed by some large 'lakes', to Ickenthwaite. 

Track to Ickenthwaite

Then it was more road to Satterthwaite and back to the car park, arriving in a very muddy state, just too late for the bike clean and the tea shop.

I had the GoPro attached to the bars for the section above Grizedale.  Here are the edited highlights.

Heald Brow Pasture to High Nibthwaite, Grizedale
On the Sunday, we woke to find snow outside. The plan was to drive back to Sheffield going via Gisburn Forest, which has had some MTB trails developed since I last visited the place, more than 10 years ago.  We stopped off in Ingleton and called in at Bernies, the caver's cafe, for a brew and to allow Hilary to see the kind of places I used to think it was cool to take a girl to and to soak in the 'atmosphere' (which was less fetid than I remember it.)  Then we drove to Gisburn Forest but due to yet another navigational anomaly, we took the wrong road out of High Bentham and ended up in Slaidburn.  With another late start, we only rode the bottom half of the red trail (which conveniently, is laid out as a figure of 8).  The first mile or so is a bit boring but then the technicality ramps up with rooty, rocky sections through trees only just wide enough to fit the bars. 
Section of the blue trail in Gisburn Forest
 Forest of Bowland in the distance
 This is followed by a section of the blue trail before back to the sigletrack red with scarily steep drops (walked!) and a stretch of North Shore (aka 'duck boards' to non-MTB readers).  The final section is some wonderful bermed switch back giving a  fun, fast ride back to the cars. The trail was pretty wet and muddy and I didn't get the GoPro out until half way round.  Then it ran out of battery before we reached the north shore and the final bermy section, so I missed filming most of the exciting stuff.  Doh!  here is some of what I did get.
Gisburn Forest - MTB blue and red trails
 This is definitely a place worth revisiting.  There's a chap called Ed Oxley who runs MTB skills training days from here and we came away thinking we might sign up for one and learn how to ride the red properly!
Anyway, despite the unpromising weather forecast, it turned out to be a reight good weekend.


Al said...

Sounds like you made the best of the weather Tony.
Grizedales always good specially if you ride the bridleways. Leave the North Face trail for the weekend warriors!
Gisburn is improving all the time, well worth a day of anyones time.

Martin Rye said...

Good use of time based on the snow on the fells Tony, and good fitness training. Nice one.