Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Friday, 2 May 2014

Monday 28 April 2014 – The Mary Towneley Loop

2801start

Robert and I failed to complete this 75 km (47 mile) bike ride when we tried on 22 June 2012. The report is here.

This time we had near perfect weather and pretty dry surfaces. Mike was busy launching a new website, but Paul joined us to make up another trio.

We took our time, especially after setting off 45 minutes later than planned due to Robert’s carelessness with traffic.

So it was a cheerful Paul, Robert and Martin who set off at 9.15am, from the picnic car park at Waterfoot.

Here’s a map that I’ve gleaned from elsewhere, and thanks go to one John B Taylor for producing it. The route is basically a classic circuit of bridleways in the South Pennines area. It’s hilly – constantly undulating with 2000 metres or so total ascent. (My mapping software says 2350 metres, but my Garmin GPS says just 1820 metres.)

2899route

It took us an hour and a quarter, including a slight navigational mishap, to reach the memorial to Lady Towneley, who inspired the development of this bridleway route. I haven’t time today to go into its history, but there is lots of information, and reports of much quicker trips than ours, on the web if anyone is interested.

2802plaque1

After two and a half hours we reached Can Clough Reservoir, with the weather great and the bikes all running smoothly. (If in my case rather slowly!)

2806CanClough2

A perfect day for a bike ride

Here are Paul and Robert on Black Moor, beyond Hurstwood Reservoir, with the upper Gorple Reservoir to their right.

2808BlackMoor

We passed countless reservoirs on the 75 km ride.

Much of the route is very rough, and steep - this image is deceptive until you notice that Robert has had to dismount.

2810Robert

After four and a half hours we'd had lunch and were enjoying views towards Hebden Bridge before an excitingly steep descent to Charlestown.

Here we enjoyed our first crossing of the Rochdale Canal, after five hours on the bikes.

2816Rcanal2

It's a long haul back up to the Mankinholes track. "Glad we don't have to go up to Stoodley Pike" we agreed.

2817toStoodley

There were many paths with differing qualities of cobbles, this one by Lumbutts, beyond where the cobbles stretched for miles.

2819MankinholeCobbles

At Bottomley, after nearly seven hours, we took a welcome break at our second crossing of the Rochdale Canal. Then the bridleway undulated more disconcertingly than ever, with some steep sections that even had Paul and Robert pushing.

2822Paul

Finally, we hauled ourselves up the last and very long ascent, up Rooley Moor to the highest point of the day.

2824RooleyMoor

Soon we came across this welcome sign - just 3 miles to go - by now we'd been on the bikes for over ten hours. The others had just returned from cycling holidays in Mallorca, but I hadn’t been out very much. My bottom was sore.

2825sign

Those last three miles stretch off into the distance beside Cowpe Moss, with Robert and Paul just distant specks. Very pleasant cycling though, and we knew we were nearly home.

2826runforhome

We completed the 75 km route in a little less than 11 hours, just before darkness fell. A fine day out. A local hostelry was deemed to be essential from a life-saving point of view, but after finishing the ride at around 8pm Paul and I weren’t home until well after 9 o’clock. Thanks go to Sue (and I imagine Jeanette) for having much needed food on the table more or less instantly.

The day really warrants a fuller report, but I’m afraid time has got the better of me. I’ll add any further comments/corrections that Paul or Robert would like to make.

Here’s a short slideshow with a few more pictures.

And here’s what my Garmin recorded – note that it has smoothed off some of the corners and the time of about 8 hours is ‘moving’ time. We took nearly 11 hours in total.

PS Robert informs me that one of his tyres expired on his way home. We were fortunate that it did this in his car and not during the ride!

4 comments:

Mike Parsons said...

you were going really well reaching the MT memorial so quickly! Sorry not to be there,
website now launched........
http://www.outdoorgearcoach.co.uk/

Phreerunner said...

There didn't seem to be any really major hills before the memorial, Mike. After that I found it slow going up the hills, though there were only a couple of occasions when Paul and Robert had to push - it's a brilliant route in that it's virtually all navigable without the need to dismount.
Overall, a great day out, more demanding than any of us expected.

Well done re the website.

AlanR said...

Well done Martin. Good going that. I wouldn’t mind backpacking it some time.

Phreerunner said...

It's a nice route, Alan, but for backpacking I might divert to some summits (eg Stoodley).
Lovely weather here today. I'm sort of dreading heading north into the rain...
Have fun!
M