Friday, 11 April 2014

Riding by Red Tarn

I had been eyeing up this descent for some time. From the ridge above, from the mines across the valley and often enough on the map. The gradient looked perfect and the track a mix of pitched slabs and flowing singletrack. The problem is its popularity - taking a bike here would be pointless on most weekends. On this night, I had the place to myself.Just the birds and the sound of snow melt running to the tarn below.
The start of a superb run, dropping approximately 700m over 5km and on par with any of the other also excellent descents in the immediate area.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Just because

A gratuitous post - just because I like the shot.
Paddling on calm seas off the west coast of Cumbria.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

High on Hawkswick

Not so many years ago, Hawkswick was a regular haunt of mine. Yet nearly two years has passed since I last visited the crag. Returning this evening was a little like being welcomed by an old friend. Familiar, yet somehow changed. The steep approach seemed steeper still. The twisted trees more sparsely spread, disease evident amongst twisted boughs. The deer remain and the curlews, just as I remember. There is a little more polish now. Nothing too noticeable, just enough that I know the routes are climbed more regularly than they were.
But I doubt it will ever get busy. No bolts. Overgrown crack lines and loose blocks. Limestone esoterica that will only ever appeal to the few. Those for whom 7a holds no greater allure than a modest VDiff. For whom a short solo on a warm evening in spring - only the deer, the curlews and sounds of the river below for company - means more than the pump of steep, bolted and polished horror shows further down the valley. On this short evening, three short routes - a Diff, Severe and HS - were enough.
And dropping through the trees as the sun set, it seemed no different to before - the subtle changes of time smoothed over, lost in relaxed re-acquaintance, pastel shades darkening over familiar ridge lines. And there are still lines I have yet to climb here, a direct start to classic VS and one which needs a little gardening work to reveal the holds. Projects for summer evenings to come.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Summer time sunshine

With the change of the clocks, right in cue it seems, summer arrived in the Lakes. 
At least for a day. 
Heading into Mosedale beneath a warm sun, the burnt orange of last year's bracken adding colour to the fells whose flanks are just turning to green.
A warm breeze and 17 degrees made for a hot climb and we lazed in the sun, more than once, on the way up. Despite the warmth, spring had yet to reach the ridge - rideable in ascent in parts at least - the grasses still faded, though the ground was dry and firm.
The angle soon increased once again, forcing bikes back onto shoulders as the grassy incline gave way to steeper rubble strewn slopes approaching the summit.
Just beneath the final climb, gazing over the upper corrie, the last of the snows lingering in the gullies, melting fast.
Starting the descent - nearly 800m over 5km...
...which made for some steep, technical and fast drops.
Picking a line amongst the boulders...
...avoiding the wheel catchers required concentration with a couple of the steepest sections proving unrideable in either direction.
Lower down, and the track opens up, pitched steps providing a rattling drop towards the valley before giving way to flowing singletrack, fast - loose in places - it is perhaps one of the best descents in the area.
Looking towards Gable, as the sun set on the first day of summer time - a superb start to the season.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

A fine day on the fells

Heading up onto the fells, bike on my shoulders, I was pleased not to have fallen for initial appearances. The snow cover was thinner even than I had suspected from the valleys.
Tempted as I had been, carrying the skis would have been a futile exercise, but it was a fine day to be on the hill...
...though it felt like some time since I had shouldered the bike and using the blue skies as a welcome excuse, I stopped a couple of times, sheltered in small hollows from the cold breeze, listening to the skylarks, soaking in the warmth of the sun beneath the crags.
And so, having taken the bike for a good walk, time for some fun. A 700m drop over 6km. And for once I made a clean run. No flats, no photos, no dabs - even that tight corner that I normally take too fast to make the narrow slot beyond - just the gates lower down, but that doesn't count. A fast run for the first real outing this year in the fells and finally it seems the incessant gales of winter are done.