RSF - The Off Road Cycling Club

The Adventure Starts Here

The Rochdale Smasher!RS 1


RS 3A loop in the hills to the east of Rochdale was the objective of our ride, a route that had been borrowed, with some slight modification, from a mountain bike challenge event organised by Evans Cycles. We started from the small car park on Ogden Lane near Newhey and were straight away into granny gear mode to help us up the steep cobbled lane to Rough Bank. No warm up, no warning, a near vertical wall of stone setts had us guessing that things could only get easier.


Carr Lane was its usual torrent and with loose rocks to negotiate there was a need to push for a while, also as usual. We made good progress past Tunshill golf course and continued the up and down theme over Bib Knowl and on to Rakewood near Hollingworth Lake. With only four miles travelled a coffee stop at the visitor centre didn't seem quite right so on we sped over tarmac and cobbles to Clegg Hall. Here we crossed over the canal (no towpath touring today) on a puddled cinder track up to Smallbridge and the busy A58, Halifax Road. Once safely across this difficult junction we followed the minor road to Wardle, a cul-de-sac village on the edge of the moors, and then to Watergrove Reservoir. The reservoir was built in 1938 to hydrate Rochdale following a severe drought earlier in the decade and was formed by drowning the village of Watergrove. Some carved date stones and window mullions were saved and have been incorporated into the reservoir wall as a poignant reminder of village life lost forever.


RS 5From the waterworks road we turned right to follow the Mary Towneley Loop section of the Pennine Bridleway eastwards (anti-clockwise). This is a super 3.5-mile crossing of the lower slopes of Shore Moor; always rideable; always lumpy and always fun. Our lunch stop was planned for the Summit Inn above Littleborough. Lunch lasted the statutory hour, half of which was spent ordering pie and waiting for the crust to brown.


The promised rain had stood us up but undaunted we pedalled on under grey skies on the Pennine Bridleway towards Piethorne. Our first climb after lunch was over Leach Hill – always hike-a-bike these days – and then over Whittaker Moor, down Heart Attack Hill and up to the crossroads above Piethorne. “Do you want it hard or easy?” was the question. “Hard” came the response, so in true rough stuff spirit we turned left at the crossroads to continue climbing up what has recently become a broken trail. Thank you Mother Nature for flushing out the sanitised stone surface and returning it once again to its more natural state – for a while at least. The long, steep descent was similarly affected and made for an exciting finale. The last mile or so was around the reservoir and down Ogden Lane on the big ring back to the car park.


Seven of us had ignored the poor weather forecast to brave it around Rochdale's very own Lake District. About 19 miles with 800 metres of ascent and some tired legs. A smashing day out in the hills was had by all.


Mick Ely

More of Andy's photos can be viewed on Flickr here:


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