Saturday 31st August 2013

Wedged between the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales is the small range of fells known as the Howgills. Because of their neighbouring National Parks, the terrain of the Howgills is unique; a blend of Cumbria and Yorkshire - a match made in heaven if ever there was one!

This ride starts at Ravenstonedale, but can also be started at Sedbergh and crosses the entire range of the Howgills. Predominantly on bridleways, (with a small percentage of road riding) you would expect most of the route to be on wide tracks - this is not the case at all. There is a refreshingly good amount of single track to be had, in varying levels of technicality, though never quite as challenging as some of the trails the Lakes can offer.

I set off on the ride on my own, but by the time I had done five miles, had caught up with a couple of lads from Kendal, doing the same route, but starting from Sedbergh, so they were on the final stretch and I rode with them to there.

If you aren't familiar with the area, there is no doubt that you will need to bring along an OS map and for the first half of the ride, it will be getting pulled out of your rucsac quite regularly, with some turn offs being not particularly obvious. There are also quite a number of gates to open and close, which can become tedious, though because the trails really are good, it's well worth the hassle.

The big climb of the route is from Sedbergh onto the top of the Howgills. The central peak of the range is 'The Calf' and this is what the ultimate goal is. The climb is tough, but all rideable (well just about). The first part looks quite daunting, but can be made easier due to several paths criss crossing to ease the gradient, eventually joining up in the same place.

The major descent of the day is the long single track section down Bowderdale - five miles of continuous technical singletrack, steadily loosing height virtually all the way, that really is worth all the effort in the climb before hand.

Having ridden this route four years ago, I had forgotten what a gem it is. The trails do seem to have had a lot more use by mountain bikers since then, so it would seem it is becoming more popular. I can see why.

Stats 'n that

Location info

How far and how long:

23.32 miles, 3 hours 45 minutes

Summits:

The top of the first descent.

The top of the first descent.

Gary and Martin from Kendal

Gary and Martin from Kendal

Dropping into Bowderdale

Dropping into Bowderdale

Leaving Bowderdale behind and into the Lune valley.

Leaving Bowderdale behind and into the Lune valley.