Ride 14: Rain, Steam, and Speed.

Saturday, 23rd May, Garsdale to Selside, 19.5 miles

The part of the Pennine Bridleway that we are travelling on today runs roughly parallel to a section of the famous Settle to Carlisle railway line, built by the Midland Railway Company in 1870 (now run by Network Rail), and so it features prominently in my post for today.  We start our journey from the railway station at Garsdale and end up staying in a railway cottage, one of a row of terraced cottages, right next to the line and built especially for railway workers where the original steam train would have stopped to either pick up or drop off their workers.

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When I go to tack up Tommy, he has been having a lovely time rolling in chicken shit so is a little more dapplely than he is normally.  No matter, no time for a major spruce up today as we have a long way to go.  So with a perfunctory brush down, tack up and panniers on, we set off for the hills.

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Under the first viaduct of the day on our way to the Victorian station at Garsdale which you can see on the left of this row of cottages below.

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After the station, we begin the long, slow haul up the hill out of Garsdale Head, past the old coal pits, presumably providing the coal to fire the steam engines, onto Great Knotberry Hill.

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Somewhere along this road we meet the first of several groups of walkers or cyclists we will come across today.  It’s the start of the Bank Holiday weekend and it makes a change to meet people after what seems like a while of travelling through an unpopulated landscape only seeing the odd farmer on his quad bike checking on his sheep.  At Blea Grin Gill, we branch off onto a green lane called the Old Coal Road where we have to skirt around some cattle to avoid herding them down the lane in front of us.  They follow us up to the next gate.

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On Dent Fell, we stop for a break

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before crossing the track that leads down to Arten Gill and continued on to Newby Head Gate.

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After crossing the long, straight B6255 road, we joined the lovely Ribble Way where a lone jogger caught up with us and passed us before turning round and running back past us.  A sharp right takes us onto the Old Roman Road where the going begins to get very stoney underfoot.

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At Cam End, I can see the Ribblehead Viaduct in the distance and we take a left onto an old cobbled road, descending into the Ribbledale Valley.

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More challenging going for Tommy, and I, once again, dismount to ease his burden on the rough going.  Over the pretty Ling Gill bridge and on into the Nature Reserve.  It’s been a long ride and we stop for a tea break before the final stretch.

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Crossing the smart new bridge over the Ribble River which was officially opened to great fan fair by Martin Clunes a couple or so years ago,

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under the final viaduct of the day, endure a terrifying half a mile of road work where we are nearly swept away by a super sonic motorcyclist who comes screaming around the bend towards us at a precarious angle to the road, we finally arrive at our destination to a lovely welcome from Gill and David who have been looking out for us.  They tell us there have been two terrible biking accidents in the area today already.  Tommy wastes no time in getting his head down munching the grass in the meadow and I am invited to tuck into some home-grown lamb accompanied by a glass or two of white wine, happy to have made it through a long day.

The art buffs amongst you will recognise the title for today’s post is taken from Joseph Mallord William Turners’s famous painting of the same title, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1844, depicting a train crossing the Thames on the Maidenhead railway bridge.  The irony is, the only thing we haven’t experienced today is the rain!

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