Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
Showing posts with label Mary Towneley Loop. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mary Towneley Loop. Show all posts

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Saturday 4 June 2016 – The Mary Towneley Loop



A few weeks ago Andy and I were chatting during Wythenshawe’s parkrun. It transpired that we had both cycled the Mary Towneley Loop before and we fancied doing that again. But only in fair weather.

The allotted day duly arrived. Robert, always up for a day out on his bike, joined us at 7.30 am at Waterfoot in perfect weather – overcast, not too hot.

Having previously ridden in a clockwise direction, today we chose to go anti-clockwise, starting with a long push to the top of Cowpe Moss. The reward was a fast, long descent down Rooley Moor to bring us back up to ten hour pace, which we maintained for the first half of the ride.


Beyond Broadley the path rises to a golf course, then jinks past Brown Wardle Hill and heads pleasantly down to Watergrove Reservoir. Here we were distracted by people in bright yellow jackets and we missed the Pennine Bridleway turn that the Mary Towneley Loop assiduously follows. We’d been distracted by a group of parkrunners, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. It was Watergrove parkrun’s second anniversary. We lingered whilst lots of awards were made.


After that it was a lovely sweeping descent, followed by some minor undulations, to reach Lock 33 at Bottomley, on the Rochdale Canal, just in time for elevenses.


Even though we were refreshed, the steep cobbles above Walsden drew some sharp intakes of breath and a little pushing.


Back on a more level track, we had lovely views on the now sunny day, over buttercup meadows to Todmorden.


Just around the corner, the familiar sight of Stoodley Pike Monument came into view. Thankfully we wouldn’t need to go up to it today, and this path took us smoothly round to Lumbutts.


It was a little early for a pub stop at Lumbutts so we continued on beyond Mankinholes, rising slowly to Erringden Moor. The descent to the Rochdale Canal at Charlestown should have been straightforward, but we missed a turn, spotted another turn, and walked up a hill, at the top of which my rear tyre punctured.

Whilst replacing the inner tube we encountered a small group we’d met near the start. They were riding the MTL in a clockwise direction. We also met a couple who were doing it in two days in the same direction as us. They went down the hill we’d just walked up, and the ‘clockwise’ group headed off towards Stoodley Pike. Somehow we had contrived to reverse our direction, so we headed back down the hill, eventually reaching the Rochdale Canal.


We had plenty of provisions, and the towpath was closed, so we decided not to venture off route to the fleshpots of Hebden Bridge, instead climbing steeply out of the valley towards Blackshaw Head. We met a ‘clockwise’ Australian, enjoying a long day out on his bike. As it turned out, we went a bit too close to Blackshaw Head, as we missed the bridleway to Jack Bridge. This time we were soon back on track, but the attractions of the New Delight made us succumb to another minor diversion. We enjoyed refreshments and a spot of lunch with the couple who were riding the route over two days.


We then headed on towards the Gorple Reservoirs. The route undulates here, with a steep bit of tarmac reminding me of the fastest section of the clockwise route. We caught the two day couple just as I got my second puncture. The couple had seen a Little Owl beside the path, as well as other interesting wildlife.

There is merit in spending two days over this route.

Andy kindly repaired the punctured tube (which was brand new when installed earlier) whilst I wrestled with my second spare inner tube. Luckily, that lasted for the rest of the day – but I think I need a new rear tyre.

Meanwhile, at the Lower Gorple Reservoir an eight strong group from the Manchester Mountain Bikers Club, of which I’m a member, came storming through just as Robert’s bike suffered a puncture. So we had a quick chat and off the others went. They had started an hour later than us, and they finished half an hour before us, so I’m glad I didn’t enrol in their group as my fitness isn’t up to their required standard for this ride. They did really well.

It was another long, hot pull (push) up to the Gorple Gate track, before a splendid descent to Hurstwood and Cant Clough Reservoirs, and on to cross a stream at Shedden Heys. A family of sunbathers had positioned themselves perfectly to enjoy to antics of mountain bikers with wet feet. The water was quite deep. Robert and Andy walked over the stepping stones. Wimps.


It’s another hefty pull with the occasional ‘dab’ (or in our cases ‘push’) up to The Long Causeway, where we gave up the MTL on our first clockwise attempt in 2012. From the Causeway and its wind farm it’s a great descent into Holme Chapel, beyond which the route climbs steeply past Cow Side to reach the memorial to Mary Towneley, whose sterling efforts were largely responsible for the superb ‘Pennine Bridleway’ network of tracks.


That grassy ascent past Cow Side was the last of the steep grinds, and the final hour and a quarter of the ride was spent pleasantly making our way back to Waterfoot on good tracks with a few entertaining downhill adventures.

It was 7.20 by the time we got back to the cars, so the trip took 11 hours 40 minutes, about 50 minutes longer than last time. Three punctures, a pub stop, and a few extra kilometres due to navigational mishaps are probably the reason for the slower time. As last time, I wasn’t bike fit and I held up the others from time to time, but never mind, it was a great day out.

Here’s the route – on this occasion we did about 76 km, with around 2300 metres of ascent according to Anquet (some trackers may show a bit more distance and a bit less ascent, but hey – it doesn’t matter, it’s a great day out).


There’s a link to a slideshow including some of Robert’s images, which can be seen in full . Andy also has some photos and I’ll insert a link if he gives me one.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Monday 28 April 2014 – The Mary Towneley Loop


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.)


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.


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!)


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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!

Friday, 22 June 2012

A Nice Day For A Bike Ride - The Mary Towneley Loop

First, a short mention of last night's mini adventure. An evening walk had been planned from the Silverdale Hotel, so after Sue had picked me up from the station we headed off for a bite to eat at the hotel. 7.30 came and went, and nobody had turned up for our traditional mid-summer's walk. Not really surprising given the torrential rain outside.

"I've already done 30km over mainly pathless ground with a heavy pack..." I muttered.

My inferred plea to go straight home didn't work.

"I've come for a walk, so I'm going for a walk" dictated The Boss.

So we enjoyed a pleasant circuit - along the beach then across to Far Arnside to the path up Arnside Knott, which is a good viewpoint - recommended when the rest of the Lake District is engulfed in cloud. Tonight Arnside Knott was itself engulfed in cloud. We took some photos in the rain. I may get time to download them one day.

A steep descent through dark, wet woods (Jenny wouldn't have liked it) and a pleasant if rather damp stroll back via Arnside Tower, Elmslack and the Cove, ensured that we got back to the car in time to get home from this rather energetic three day trip by 11.30...

The alarm went at 6.30 today. It was still pouring down, but Mike, Robert and I had a long standing engagement with 'The Mary Towneley Loop' - a 47 mile bike ride in the South Pennines, all off road, with about 2300 metres of ascent.

A tough day out.

We met at 8.30 as planned at a picnic site in Waterfoot, despite being baulked by a closed motorway and a lack of signage to the picnic site. It was raining hard but we set off in good spirits and after quite a while we reached the plaque to Mary Towneley, pictured above with a picture of Robert and Mike at the same point. The phone with which the pictures were taken spent the rest of the day in a waterproof bag. My wet weather Ixus (once drowned) camera decided not to work - again - it was fine afterwards (again).

It was at this point that Mike started to shiver. "I may not get all the way round" he offered. I thought about this whilst cruising down the next section of 'path', or should I say 'river', as today the Pennine Bridleway that forms the basis of the Loop had acquired the persona of a river bed, with the contents in spate. Perhaps that's why we didn't see any other cyclists today...

I had a wet bottom. "Probably because your overtrousers have split" observed Mike, between shivers.

"You might have a wet bottom" chipped in Robert "but my waterproofs from Aldi have a 'fit for purpose' issue".

So I was nice and warm, if a bit tired, and therefore on the slow side, Mike was cold, and Robert was wet. We'd been going for over two hours and were less than a quarter of the way round the Loop. It was 'tipping down'. We felt as if a whole month's rain was being dumped on us in one go.

"I didn't get wet at all on the TGO Challenge" commented Mike, "but I am now!" "Same here" I muttered, from a wet bottom.

So, on reaching Long Causeway Road, a long straight road beside a windfarm, we decided that as the camera I'd brought to record our exploits had failed, there was no real reason to continue.

We left the Loop and headed down the road to Todmorden, where a café was remarkably understanding and fed us with tea and coffee and huge baked potatoes, in return for very few notes and a large puddle on their floor - "Don't worry, we have a mop" they jested.

It's quite a pull over to Bacup and Waterfoot from Tod. The wind was gusty and the rain at times torrential. Rivers were full to capacity or more. I walked on the verge for a mile or two - safer, I thought. I didn't want to be blown into the path of an HGV.

By the time we got back to the picnic spot at about 3pm we'd covered about 47km (30 miles) in about 6 hours. Had we attempted to continue around the Loop.... we may still have been there (waiting for the camera to start working, obviously). The rain didn't abate until much later.

A sort of heroic failure, can perhaps describe our day. But some might think us foolhardy to have set off in the first place with a camera that was known to be a bit dodgy.

I really rather enjoyed it. I hope Mike and Robert did.

We'll crack it one day!

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