After a long perusal of the Ordnance Survey Maps (map OS30) at the weekend, I decided to take a trip over to Swaledale and park up above Low Row at Surrender Bridge.
My aim was to loop around Great Pinseat and take the bridleway across to Tan Hill and then return along the same bridleway and come back along the other side of Great Pinseat. However the bridleway as marked to Tan Hill turned in to a bit of a hike a bike across the Moorland with the way disappearing at several sections for a good half mile or so. The tracks may appear a bit different if coming from Tan Hill but I decided to take a different route back from Tan Hill taking in a bit of road riding to catch my breath. So below is a description of the ride without too many of my initial detours and missed turns, a .gpx file and a few images.
Distance: 23 miles with a couple detours!
Time: 5 hours
Some great moorland tracks coupled with some hard climbs (and some carry the bike moments) finishing with a fantastic descent on the way back from above Great Pinseat.
Use OS map OS30
I parked my car, up above Low Row near Surrender Bridge, area for several cars to park on the roadside, sorted out my bike and hoped the weather would stay fine (it never does). The ride starts on the road, I headed down over the bridge and carried on along the road for about a mile towards Arkengarthdale dropping down over a ford and then climbing back up on the single width tarmac road. Then I took the bridleway to the left up onto the Moors, this started with a bit of a climb but soon became a gentle slope up and onto the top of the moor along the Grouse shoot tracks. You climb from around 400 feet in about 2 miles. Then the track leaves the gravel and becomes grassy and peaty (here I had missed my initial turn due to mist and rain to descend towards Whaw and back up the shoot track, (I found the turn on my detoured return and am thankful that I didn`t take it due to the extra climbing involved).
This bit of the trail takes you behind Great Pinseat for about 3 miles, near Whaw Edge. It drops gently down to begin with and then climbs up to meet the bridleway at Little Punchard Head on the other side of Great Pinseat that I will be returning on later in the day.
Once I met the other track at Little Punchard Head the well defined track heads across the moorland before dropping in towards the gill, here I found that the track seemed disappear in places over some very rough ground before I found it again, as I just kept heading towards the shoot track/bridleway that you can see over the other side of the stream, on some narrow steep sided track.
After another little climb on a good bit of track the bridleway continues across the moors starting on some shoot roads and then turning into single track through the heather. In my case in the wind and local mizzle across the West Moor. Before dropping down to another beck at Great Punchard Gill and shoot road, here I think I lost the correct bridleway as I ended up hiking across the moorland before finding a bit of a track again, I could see a cairn on the skyline where I figured the track to be and carried and pushed my bike towards it by following the green bridleway dashes on my phones OS app. Thank goodness for tech. As at this beck there were no signs for the bridleway, possibly if I had followed one of the shooting tracks I may have made my way around!
Then following the newly found track and now being hopefully less than a couple of miles from Tan Hill, the track just disappeared again, now I may have missed an obvious marker in the rain but I`m pretty sure I didn’t miss one I then had to follow the Ordnance Survey App once again across the heather before coming to another well marked track that dropped me down to Tan Hill for a well earned Hot Coffee and snack.
Having just hiked and biked over some pretty tough ground I decided that I was not going to go back the same way as I had originally planned. So from the pub I headed left towards Whaw and Arkengarthdale on the road, past the taunting Bridleway sign that I had just ridden past and along the road for about 7 miles until about 50 yards past the road junction to the left to Whaw I took the bridleway to the right back up towards Great Pinseat. Now after a nice gentle peddle up the track I then took the left hand fork to wards the old mine working on the fell side and carried on the track up above them, eventually after climbing from the road at 1200 feet to 1800 feet, I realised I had joined the track at the poin I should have descended at earlier in the day. So from here I was heading back along the grassy moorland track from earlier in the day back towards Little Punchard Head.
Now joining the other bridleway coming up from Surrender Bridge I headed Left along the track and then trough the gate in the fence line along the top of the moor. At the corner of the fence line the bridleway starts a good descent down towards Doctor Gill, over the rocky Friarford Rake, over the beck before a last little climb towadrs the junction of bridleways at some old mine spoil heaps. From here its all back downhill along gravel covered roads at a good old speed past the old mine workings and builds to Surrender Bridge and a hot flask of coffee at the car.