Club Ride to Great Dun Fell

  • On the road

With the upturn in the weather at last, an alternative club run was arranged for Sunday 8 May. A long day of climbing called for a start point of Middleton in Teesdale, and after arranging a few car shares, seven riders (Peter Scott, Ian Gardner, Christian Braun, Stuart Cook, Jonathon Foreman, Mal Gray and guest Graeme Stobbart) started out of Middleton under warm clear skies.

The ride started with the steady climb out of Middleton over the moor towards Brough – ideal to get warmed up for the day ahead. Lots of young lambs about meant keeping any eye out for strays and staying alert.

After Brough and navigating through the lanes, we came to the military ranges at Warcop. The red flags were up, but a quick phone call to range control gave us permission to cross through – as long as we kept to the road!  It’s quite an interesting place to ride across  – burnt out tanks, pop up targets, and the sounds of automatic gunfire accompanied us, but it is very nice smooth tarmac which comes to an abrupt halt as soon as you leave the range area.

As we rode on there are glimpses of the radar station on the top of Great Dun Fell and before long we turned onto the service road that leads to the top. As the road climbs up the hill it twists and turns, the strong breeze that had been behind us earlier in the day became a headwind on some of the steepest sections, then a crosswind, and on the final part of the climb was again behind us.  Although a little hazy, the panoramic views from the top are great and you can see for miles in all directions.

A few pictures and some energy bars later, and it was time for a fast descent. On the lower slopes, there were a few sharp stones in the road and Graeme unfortunately caught one, resulting in an instant flat rear tyre, so a puncture fix became necessary (his Garmin file shows his tube blew at 33mph, so he did very well to come a controlled stop).

With the wind once again behind us, we had a quick traverse through the valley to Melmerby for the second climb of the day up Hartside. As you might expect on a warm Sunday there were a lot of motorcycles out riding the pass, but the majority were giving plenty of room. The café at the top was very busy, but as ever serving rapidly and there was plenty of space for us.

Ian and Stu pushed on at this point, but after some lunch the remaining five set out towards Garrigill, but now into a strong headwind. The gradient on the climb out of Garrigill is always a tough one, but then we were able to turn towards Yad Moss for the last climb of the day.  Once over the top the theory was that we would have a long descent back to Middleton, but the increasing strength of the wind meant that there was no freewheeling to be had, so it was a case of pushing on just to get back to the start point.

A long day out, with some tired legs at the end, but worth doing – especially on such a warm sunny day. Thanks to everyone for making it happen, especially those who were able to take a passenger in the car share, and to Peter for the photographs.