Saturday heralded a “Big Mountain” outing for five members of Walkers Cycling Club in the Lake District National Park in Cumbria, writes Martin Wheeler. Meeting at Keswick for a pre-start coffee, and led by Greg Bowie, the group briefly discussed ‘challenging contour lines,’ before saddling up and heading out to ascend the Skiddaw summit. The weather was reasonably kind to start with, remaining dry and bright, as the group deviated from plan and followed the now compulsory McClory shortcut. After testing their bog traversing skills, the group re-discovered the trail and ascended to the first descent section of the day. With the sun shining in the valley, the group traversed along a meandering ridge, over rocky sections, water features, and fast flowing singletrack, with huge grins, to the foot of the Skiddaw ascent. Stopping for lunch, to add layers, and befriend several walkers canine friends, the group began the assault on Skiddaw, past the Little Man, and on to the Summit. At times the push-up was character building, 40% gradients, freezing level reached, and 40 knot gusts of rain and hail. At the summit it was difficult to stand, and visibility was poor. After some ‘chain ganging’ for shelter behind the Cairn Stone, the group headed down from the summit, along a sketchy, steep, shale descent which in the most part was rideable. This then bottomed out to an amazing ribbon of singletrack along the ridge leading to Bassenthwaite. After a brief flurry of snow, and a pinch flat repair, what followed was a mixture of fantastic natural stone, mud, and grass descent, leading the group down to the road back to Keswick, with burning brake pads and huge grins.
In total, the group (GB, Robin McClory, Des Hughes, Drew Thompson, MW) rode 30km (car park to car park), gained almost 4300ft in ascent, which peaked at 3110ft at Skiddaw Summit. The temperature at the summit was 3degC, with a windchill of around -12degC (thank the Gore gods for Windstopper!). A couple of mechanicals; punctures, loose saddle clamp, and PSI adjustment, kept the group on their toes.
Pics on Flickr, some really good ones of ridge parallel to Bassenthwaite, the initial valley traverse along the first ridge, and some of the initial Skiddaw descent.
(Ed: you can access the Flickr photoset through the link on the right sidebar – Walkers CC Photo Gallery)