With the Tour Britain cycle race due to hit our area on Monday 7th Sept, I decided to cycle out and re-do their big hill Nick o’Pendle above Clitheroe on today the Friday before. I did not follow the whole route as Garstang is 12 miles from Longridge, so I did a 54 mile bike ride with a good chunk of the route, including the Nick of Pendle.
And past Stoneyhurst the Roman Catholic public school and so past a superb mediaeval bridge
I continued toward Clitheroe with views of Pendle hill in front and crossed the Ribble where I stopped for a second cup of sweet coffee and a cold sausage!
And so I hit Clitheroe and circled round the castle built on a Walsortian mound of Carboniferous limestone. I then turned due south with a 220 metre or 700ft climb ahead of me.
At first the climb was steady and gentle, with Pendle Hill and the stupendous Little Mearley gully to my left. The climb steadily steepened and I did not stop to take a photo of a superb array of scabious. A 14% slope puts you off a bit, but more was to come. The road can be seen running diagonally up the side of the hill. (RH photo)
Pendle and Mearley were still on the left with a lone wind turbine, wistfully standing on Bowland Shale, which contains so much methane. By now I was in my “granny” which is 24 teeth and as I turned a corner the road steepened and I now used my reduction gears so I was pedalling faster than the wheel was turning. I suppose I really need granddad gears!
That section was marked as 1 in 5 or 20% on the map and felt like it. Fortuantely after another bend the gradient eased off but as I twiddled upwards I did not take a photo of ski-lift, which is an absurdity here. After another third of a mile there was a steep bend to the left and I was at the top
Pendle Grits dipping steeply to the village of Sabden below.
Near the summit was a memorial stone with red poppies. It was another recent memorial to allied pilots who sadly crashed here during WWII. It was to an Australian and American piot who crashed on separate occasions. The Oz pilot’s nephew had come to visit.
After a well earned lunch it was time to descend, first passing an old quarry and noting some “Slow” signs for the benefit of Tour riders. The descent into the village of Sabden is very steep and far more so than the north side. It was OK to descend but an ascent is beyond me now.
I doubt if Tour riders will slow to 30 mph as they enter Sabden , a lovely village with many houses built in Pendle Grit and probably obtained from the quarry at the top of the hill. at the bottom of the hill I turned right on the Whalley road, which was rolling Lancashire country at its best and relatively easy. There were beautiful views of Pendle Hill behind me.
Whalley would be worth a visit with its ruined abbey, but I had to press on. I stopped for a moment on the bridge over the river Calder to view the railway viaduct and glance back into the town. I am afraid I did not go to look at the recent hydro scheme on the Calder
From Whalley I suffered busy road for a mile before turning off to a lovely road on the south side of the River Ribble, getting a final view of Pendle Hill and the Nick (right of photo) . As I crossed the Ribble I stopped for yet more sweet coffee. (Health fanatic please note!!) A few miles further I hit Ribchester and rode down to the river and failed to take any photos. However last month we went there to look at the Roman remains and here’s our grandson looking at the Roman baths.
Ribchester is at 26 metres and the only way back is a steady 100 metre climb back to Longridge for three miles. My speedometer was recording about 8mph and I expect the Tour riders will be doing at least double that. And so it was back into Longridge , another town built of Pendle Grit.
I still had a dozen miles to go, and went back via Inglewhite a village with a lovely cross in the middle of its green. In just over the hour I was back home, having had a superb bike ride but doing it in a most immemorable time, as I had averaged a stupendous 8 mph !
One of the joys of cycling in Lancashire is the immense variety of the scenery, some excellent building with much history. Despite what some claim, if you stick to minor roads, there is relatively little traffic and these makes for enjoyable cycling as you explore, rather than race through, a picturesque area.