Ravenstonedale: Crawling Up The Calf

Posted by Swaledale Outdoor Club on 2009-10-11

Nobody came the last time Steve and Judith tried to do this ride so today a certain amount of arm twisting ensured that eight people turned up in Ravenstonedale for an attempt on the Calf in the Howgills. Chris, Pete and Kev had a bit of an incident on the way over the A66 when the strap holding the top of Kev’s bike onto the bike rack on Chris’s car fell off and his bike pivoted over and was dragged, still attached to the rack by its wheels, at 60mph along the road surface! He was remarkably calm about this as we set about making emergency repairs to the crumpled and scraped handlebars, brakes, gears etc. and managed to avoid bursting into tears (Rachel’s preferred response) or abusing Chris (everybody else’s preferred response).

Eventually we set off south on a wet, muddy but amusing track towards Cautley Spout and ended up on narrow and tricky singletrack for the last section around the hills above Sedbergh. A refuelling stop near the bakery allowed everybody to top up their pie levels for the long climb ahead. Steve had warned us, and we’ve all done it before anyway, but the long climb up from Sedbergh over steep grass all the way to the top of the Calf is a killer. It’s virtually all rideable, just one steep rocky corner requires a push, but every time you go around a corner another vista of endless grassy slopes opens up before you and its head down and push on for the top. After an hour and a half of grind we made it to the top and posed for the compulsory summit photo. Rach, looking on the bright side, commented to Kev that he must be quite glad to have shaved a bit of weight off his bike dragging it along the A66 as it must have made the climb that bit easier. I didn’t quite catch his response.

Finally the long singletrack descent down Bowderdale, miles and miles of technical and quite demanding biking that meant by the time we reached the bottom we were completely bungalowed. A great ride, thanks to Judith and Steve for leading us on.


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