MTB – Castleton / Jacobs Ladder / Hayfield / Mount Famine / Cavedale – July 21st 2012

This ride was supposed to have been a bigger group but on the day it turned out to be just Guy, little Chris and myself. The day itself was clear blue skies and plenty of heat, too much heat actually, and it makes it known that the ride was going to be even tougher than it already is. As we started to get the bikes out to load onto the car I notice the rebound on my shock has packed up and it’s topping out with a loud clunk, too choice presented in front of me 1) give it a miss or 2) just ride anyway, and I choose the latter, I wasn’t expecting to get airbourne during this ride so didn’t see much opportunity for it too top out during the ride.

The route was stated at Castleton, and up the broken road to Mam Nick, we were then supposed to go to the Summit or Mam Tor and then ride down to Hollins Cross and branching off left towards Edale, however the morning had dragged longer than expected after having breakfast in the Young Vanish at Glapwell, so I choose to miss that section out and ride straight down the road to Barber Booth, I’m not sure I’ve ridden down here before, I know I usually avoid road riding but going down at the speed we were and even overtaking a car gave much grin factor. The road ride towards Upper Booth is pretty dull but the scenery makes up for the fairly flat road section, the road then turns into a track as it passes a farm.

Carrying along the track we eventually got to the river crossing at the bottom of Jacobs Ladder, the climb from here is mildly difficult to say the least, it starts off as a straight track slewn with fist and head sized boulders, eventually turning right to form a zigzag up the hillside, we watched a few people come down it, far more gingerly than expected as well, but at least they were riding, we were now pushing the bikes up, traction was a premium, and so was line choice, the path turns left after a gate and climbs upwards along the very rough track, again we had to push this section although we did keep hoping on and off the bikes to ride as much as we can. Little Chris had suggested riding Jacobs Ladder and Cave dale, I suppose we should have clarified which direction he wanted to climb it from, a he said he expected to come down this way, never mind, we carried on up the climb to Edale Cross and then started the long decent to Coldwell Clough only slowing for some horse riders, before continuing the decent and the ride into Hayfield.

No time to stop we carried on out of Hayfield, it’d been a few years since I’d done this route and I did get a little confused at which road we climbed but a quick check and we were sorted. The road climb eventually stops but only as we branch of left to take the bridleway over Mount Famine, and at South head we passed the horse riders again who’d taken the shortcut from Coldwell Clough, this time we got chatting to them for a short while. Carrying on, we descended into Roych Clough, trying to beat a couple on MotoX bikes, I got to the bottom first, but the superior power of the bikes was going to shame me on the climb out, luckily I’d had to wait for Guy and Little Chris. Energy levels for the day were quite low for some reason, but we managed the climb out and continued along through Bolehill Clough finally meeting the road that crosses our path, we descended along the road past Rushup Hall reaching a indicated speed of 48.3 mph I think it was, so we had a pedal free section all the way to Perryfoot, where were faced with a short road climb until we reached the bottom of the climb past Eldon Hill Quarry, the track up was loose but easily rideable, Little Chris had charged ahead, whilst I was answering the phone, next time I’m going to put it on mute because it doesn’t matter how much you try to ignore it, the phone wins!! Reaching the top of here a double track took us along Old Moor until we turned left along Limestone Way and for the awesome descent down Cave Dale. The first section is grass, until you reach a gate, though here it’s a track worn into the grass too another gate, through here, the speed starts picking up as we start descending starting on grass, and then through a boulder field, that shakes rider and bike, it’s one where speed smoothes things out, but it also means any fall is going to be a painful one. Eventually it gives a short respite, where we stop and re-group again; through the gap in the wall where the old gate use to hang is a  descent of all descents, this ext section is tricky, but it is rideable and I can usually do it without dabbing, although we do have video proof that this isn’t always the case, but that was using Guys bike on his old XC tyres that may well have been slicks; but no excuses this time, the recent weeks of endless rain, made Cave Dale look more like a riverbed, the rocks were not only wet but slimey and no amount of control was going to get us down this time without dabbing, and dabbing we did and plentiful amounts of it as well. Eventually we come out of tough bit and the last section becomes rideable again, and we descend into Castleton, with just the road climb in front of us as we head back to the car, but not before Guy shouts out about having an Ice Cream … hell yeah! … once polished off we start the climb, which although not steep, it seems to last far too long, but we eventually arrived back at the car. Shattered and ready for the BBQ we were having in the evening.