Ride 15: Rolling and Rambling

Sunday, 24th May, Selside to Austwick, 8.9 miles

Last night I dreamt all my teeth were falling out!  What’s all that about?  Could it have been sparked by the skeleton of a dead sheep I had seen yesterday along the Ribble Way at Gayle Moor?

Whilst we wait for the rain to clear, I try and find a route for tomorrow’s ride which is annoyingly just off my map, without much success.  Anyway, we set off from Gill’s place, with me leading Tommy up the horrible stretch of main road until we get back onto the Pennine Bridleway.

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Tommy is feeling a little ‘lack-lustre’ today which seems to match the mood of the weather and I wonder if he is simply tired from yesterday’s efforts.  I suspect it is more likely that his feet might be a little sore from the rough going and vow to make it easier for him today by leading him for most of the way.  I also notice some cracking on his hooves which I need to keep an eye on but thankfully, don’t detect any lameness.

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When I hop on his back for a few hundred yards, I can suddenly see over the wall onto a wonderful vista of grey escarpment called, Studrigg Scar at Moughton which this picture just doesn’t do justice.

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Coming into the pretty Crummack Dale, via a fork off the Pennine Bridleway to avoid a bouldery track, ‘like the bottom of a river bed’ that Gill had told me about, we come across a group of walkers who turn out to be The Lancashire Rail ramblers.  Their leader, Craig Ward, kindly sent me this picture.

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He said, you can follow us into the valley to get you onto the road leading into Austwick.  When we reach the bottom of the track we pause to regroup.  Craig was just remarking about what a lovely surface this closely cropped turf is to walk on, to which Tommy must have agreed because the next thing I know, he has folded his knees under him and sunk his body onto the ground in preparation for a roll.

No, no, no, I shout and yank at his bridle to try and pull him up before all our panniers and their contents as well as my saddle are crushed, not to mention the untold damage that could be inflicted on his back.  Is he tired, someone asks.  No, I say, he just wanted to have a roll.  And Lindsey, there’s me thinking, Tommy would never do such a thing!

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Walking down the dale towards Austwick, we pass the limestone boulders in the fields that have been dumped by the last Ice Age.  I decide to go into Austwick first to unload a couple of bags at the B&B where I am staying before finding Tommy’s accommodation about a mile further on the other side of town which we reach by rejoining the Pennine Bridleway, across another stream, and there, waiting for him, a delightful old hay meadow where, once installed, he not only looks instantly at home but also where he is free to roll to his heart’s content.

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