Patience and Len led a ride of off-roading stalwarts of the club on 25th June. The objective being the 8 miles crossing of Salter Fell from Slaidburn to Littledale. It was completed in the chillier breezes of the weekend, with fantastic visibility, by five members, two of whom came along on mountain bikes. Four other members rode to coffee at Dunsop Bridge village hall and opted to return on tarmaced alternatives.
The Salter Fell track, also known as Hornby Road, is classed by the OS as an “other route with public access where exact status is to be checked with the Highway Authority”. There is no access for vehicular traffic, but it is widely used by off-road cyclists and walkers.
After gorging themselves on the wonderful home baking at the village hall, the cyclists delighted in the beauty of the Hodder valley in the clear conditions, turning off at Newton to get to the start of Hornby Road via Back Lane.
Some sections of the track south of the watershed (topping out at 416 metres) had to be walked, even by the mountain bikers due to the loose and rocky surface. We stopped briefly at the sculptural “milestone” telling the story of the Lancashire Witches, who were marched this way in the 16th Century when it was the main route from north-east Lancashire to Lancaster Castle. A picnic lunch was taken at the south facing shooting hut, where we were paid an unexplained and menacing visit by two people in a Range Rover, presumably the gamekeepers. They didn’t speak but drove around us, passing close to where we were sat, before moving on.
Once over the watershed, the wonderful panorama across Morecambe Bay and to Yorkshire’s Three Peaks provided good excuses to dismount and stare, particularly whilst the only puncture of the day was attended to.
The tarmac was thankfully regained at High Salter Farm, and we rolled down into Wray for afternoon tea, where we rendezvoused with two of our members who had opted for the on-road alternative via Wigglesworth and Rathmell.
With a distance of 50 miles, it was not one of our longest summer rides, but the challenging surfaces made it feel like a most enjoyable epic.