Ride no. 62 – Borrowdale Bash – classic mountain biking in the North Lake District

Big ol’ round of the classic North Lakes mountain bike loop – the Borrowdale Bash!

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Yours truly amongst the bracken

As you may have noticed in previous posts, there has been glorious weather thus far this summer in the Lake District. I have felt so spoiled and grateful to have such dry, calm weather. The Lake District really does come into its own when it’s beautiful weather – and makes all the weeks (months) of rain worth it. We’ll see if I say the same thing come mid-November… but it really is stunning out there now.

The main novelty is really the dry trails – especially on the Borrowdale Bash. A very classic North Lake District ride, the Bash is really technical and rocky, so it rides completely differently when wet (which is most of the time….). Today was such a pleasure then – to have a proper go at the techy climbs (no excuses of your tyres slipping out on slick slate!), and really giv’er hell down the descents! To that end, I felt absolutely ace on the bike today, proper confident riding that I haven’t really felt in a while.

My fella and I had a leisurely morning and set off with lots of time and sandwiches. It was so warm and sunny there was no need to keep moving to keep warm (usually the case in the Lakes), so you could just enjoy it all.

We huffed and puffed up from Keswick to Watendlath – a teeny village (hamlet?? cluster of houses?) set amongst the fells. Further upwards pedalling on technical, rocky trail where a few walkers gave us friendly commentary (“you must be mad!”) until we reached the top – where the mountains of Borrowdale were spread out in front of us. The descent then begins to the valley floor – the fast, rocky, pick-your-line-and-hold-on kind of riding which is a delight when it’s dry. Got lots of snaps and one big old pinch flat on the way down! That was myself playing around with jumping over some drainage ditches on the trail… whoops.

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Moi descending into Borrowdale from high above Watendlath

From the valley floor a pedal along the road for a bit, and then back upwards, tackling Honister Pass. Well, not along the road (although I think the official route advises that way?), but along a slightly mellower grade of Bridleway that runs paralell. Met some more walkers doing the Cumbrian Way (or some other long-distance walk!) who gave us another friendly comment of ‘being nutters’ :). My fella’s brakes had been a bit wobbly this ride … and by the time we got to the top of the climb, one of his brakes just decided it wasn’t playing anymore. He still (sorta) had one of his brakes, and decided to take the descent (again, a rocky, techy one) from Honister quite gently!

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Me and the Yeti descending from Honister

Managed to get back down to Grange in one piece though – Jack with his faulty brakes and everything. Cycled back via the lakeshore of Derwentwater and stopped for a bit of a nibble before heading back to ‘normal life’. Hung out with some rather bold ducklings and their watchful mother duck. Jack particularly bonded with the ducks through feeding them bits of my sandwich :P. Lovely evening and fabulous ride out – reminds me why I love mountain biking so much – being outside, on rad trails, with great people.

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