The Calf/Bowderdale

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  • The Calf/Bowderdale
  • Premier Icon lowey
    Subscriber

    5-6 hours.

    I’m always a bit underwhelmed by Bowderdale to be honest. It looks perfect in the pictures but in reality its just a big steep down then about 5 miles of pedaling through mud.

    Next time I do it I think I’ll do it anticlockwise. I bet the descent from the Calf to Sedbergh would be pretty good.

    dunmail
    Member

    It’s good. I don’t think it’s that steep at the top to be honest. It’ll be pretty dry at the moment as well, possibly just the side becks being the only damp bits. Nowhere really difficult but there’s a lot of it and you need to keep alert.

    Don’t underestimate the ride back via Cautley, it takes longer than you think and there’s lots of gates.

    Premier Icon thepurist
    Subscriber

    Its a bit of a slog from seburgh to the top of the calf. Bowderdale is one of those sections that gets built up to be a lot better than it is IMO, a bit like the doethie valley. Still good, but not totes amazeballs, nowhamsayain?

    Eta – it’ll take longer than you expect just looking at the numbers.

    Premier Icon martinhutch
    Subscriber

    I’m always a bit underwhelmed by Bowderdale to be honest. It looks perfect in the pictures but in reality its just a big steep down then about 5 miles of pedaling through mud.

    Sadly, this. It’s not an unbroken ribbon of perfect singletrack that you can just plough and flow down – it’s boggy and tussocky in places.

    Still a reasonable day out, mind. Took me about five and a bit hours, but that included slogging around a field near the A685 for about half an hour looking for a BW and eventually giving up (ride along the minor road opposite would be my advice), and taking tea in Ravenstonedale.

    3,500ft ascent in 25 miles.

    Premier Icon crispo
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    Anything you can recommend as better in the area then? I’ve ridden the other side of the M6 plenty so looking for some uncharted terrain!

    I normally do it the ‘wrong’ way round and climb the parallel path up the ridge to the summit. Calf to Sedbergh is always a top ride whichever route you take.

    Premier Icon martinhutch
    Subscriber

    Don’t get me wrong, If you’re in Kirkby Lonsdale after a dry spell, I’d still ride it. It’s a beautiful area to ride through, for one.

    It was mainly my high expectations and buggering about with routefinding at the north end that took the edge off my happiness that day.

    Premier Icon yoshimi
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    crispo – I’d say do it!

    24miles and around 4 hours for the classic loop from Sedbergh/Ravenstonedale and back the via other side of the valley

    All I’d say is that after a long slog up to the Calf the downhill is just ok and doesn’t last long before you’ve got a long traverse through to Ravenstonedale – can be heavy going but the weathers been ok for quite a while – I like it

    Premier Icon crispo
    Subscriber

    Been wanting to do this ride for quite a while. I am up in Kirkby Lonsdale this weekend and with the recent weather and the (touch wood) forecast it could be a good day to do it. So is it a good ride?

    I’ve seen it’s meant to be 40k with 1000m+ climbing. How long are we looking to ride it?

    Premier Icon mos
    Subscriber

    If you like Nan Bield, then you’ll like Bowderdale. If, like me you were underwhelmed by Nan Bield not living up to the hype, then you will find Bowderdale the same. The view from the top of the Calf is worth it though on a clear day.

    Ecky-Thump
    Member

    Rode it with Yoshimi back in March. Just had a quick check and Strava says 3h:47m moving time.
    Bowderdale needs to be dry to be fun and I guess now is about as good as it’ll get.
    I’d say mos’s comparison with Nan Bield is a reasonable one, i.e. not technical but a bit of fun and best done flat-out chasing your mates for the fastest time to the gate. 😀

    Premier Icon crispo
    Subscriber

    That’s ok then, I really like Nan Bield. Might as well give it a go, it’s dry and it’s one to tick off the list hey!?

    dunmail
    Member

    To those who reckon Bowderdale isn’t particularly good – what English section of trail do you think is better? We’ll leave Scotland and Wales out of this for the moment.

    dannyh
    Member

    Scenery-wise it is the nicest setting I have ridden in. Absolutely stunning, including wild(?) ponies in Bowderdale itself.

    The slog up from Sedbergh is offset by the views. When we rode Bowderdale it was after a prolonged wet spell and it was horrendous. As stated above it was built up massively, and was a massive disappointment. There are some fun bits on the return leg, but not enough to offset the disappointment. We also spent a long time in that field at the north end of the loop!

    I do want to go back, though. It needs to be after a good month of very dry weather and I will consider it.

    English section of trail better than Bowderdale (on a purely riding basis – ignoring the views).

    Minton Batch
    Cut Gate (anywhere in the Dark Peak if we’re honest)
    Descent from Old Cote Moor top to Litton in the Dales

    The list would be long for me – but if you take scenery into account then Bowderdale is back in contention – it really is that nice.

    Premier Icon thepurist
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    Depends what you mean by “better”. As above bowderdale is a lovely scenic ride in places, as is the doethie valley. I’d say the doethie valley is a better riding experience than bowderdale, and if you want better fun, flowy, swoopy trails. . head South.

    Premier Icon martinhutch
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    We also spent a long time in that field at the north end of the loop!

    😀

    I think you’d be hard pressed to find that length of gate-free singletrack in that kind of setting in the Dales area, which is the main attraction I think (aside from the surroundings, which are beautiful). But there are dozens of bits of trail that I enjoy more, even if they’re a bit shorter.

    The actual descent in Bowderdale isn’t more than a couple of miles, I think, the rest to the gate is more or less on the level and a bit of a slog in places.

    dannyh
    Member

    I think you’d be hard pressed to find that length of gate-free singletrack in that kind of setting in the Dales area, which is the main attraction I think (aside from the surroundings, which are beautiful). But there are dozens of bits of trail that I enjoy more, even if they’re a bit shorter.

    In a nutshell there, sir.

    I have some great photos from that ride – some of the best on the steeper bit of the drop into Bowderdale – I still don’t regard it as a total nightmare, even though it was in riding terms. To cap it all off, near the end of the return leg a farmer had parked his tractor on one of the high-sided lanes, blocking it completely. We had to lift, push and scramble through two barbed wire fences to bypass him!

    Riding-wise I can’t get past the Dark Peak. Rough and rocky and very challenging trails without ‘one inch too far to the left/right and you are dead’ drops. I was never a big fan of corners anyway!

    pennine
    Member

    View of Rowantree Grains, Calders & The Calf

    Coming down Bowderdale (quite pedally in places)

    dunmail
    Member

    Strange isn’t it how “better” means different things to different folks: did Minton Batch and thought “Is that it?” Hardly any different to many a section of trail. Cut Gate is good but I wouldn’t say it’s as good as Bowderdale.

    dannyh
    Member

    That’s the beauty of it. In the eye of the beholder and all that!

    Premier Icon ampthill
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    ‘m always a bit underwhelmed by Bowderdale to be honest. It looks perfect in the pictures but in reality its just a big steep down then about 5 miles of pedaling through mud.

    Next time I do it I think I’ll do it anticlockwise. I bet the descent from the Calf to Sedbergh would be pretty good.

    I went up Bowderdale about 6 million year ago and really enjoyed the challenge of ridding up it

    Junkyard
    Member

    Like the high street worth doing IMHO but not life changing which means I have not been back but I enjoyed it.

    dannyh
    Member

    One of the most memorable rides I have done was out of Kettlewell, up to close to the peak of Buckden pike, drop to the valley then up onto old cote moor top and the epic drop to littondale. This was then followed by the lesser climb onto the lower part of old cote moor and the drop back to Kettlewell. I absolutely loved it. The trails felt properly wild, but we were constantly dropping back to little villages in stunning valleys. With a nice pub at Litton. The last drop was very interesting with some ‘oh shit it’s a cliff, no it isn’t’ stuff on grass followed by a rocky, rubbly riot.

    My mate hated it. The second climb is not possible, full stop. He doesn’t like hike a biking.

    The point is that different people have vastly different opinions on the same ride. Throw in different conditions if you don’t ride it at the same time and there will be more chance of wildly different reviews.

    I am going back to Bowderdale, it just needs to be like the fabled summer of ’76 before I do!

    grum
    Member

    There is a ride round Barbon you can do from Kirkby Lonsdale. It’s nice but not that amazing. Farleton Knott/Hutton Roof crag cheeky stuff is good.

    Not done Bowderdale but the descent from the Calf back to Sedbergh is great IMO. Warp speed with stunning views on a clear day.

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