Swaledale Lead Mines

Final bike ride of a crazy week of biking, and my legs hurt before we start. Destination Swaledale for a trip (or push) up Fremington Edge, then over to Great Pinseat and back via the Old Gang Mines and along the River Swale.

Graham was back (last time we’d ridden was when I had my big accident on this same route), and Adam and Craig from work (Craig riding an impressive Fatty to ride on).

Fremington Edge was a long push, and when I got to the top (last) they guys were chatting with one of the gamekeepers, as there was a shoot on.

Reeth, with the mist starting to clear, from Fremington Edge
Reeth, with the mist starting to clear, from Fremington Edge
Still some way to go to the top
Still some way to go to the top
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Adam plays on the Fatty

We had to wait until they’d finished, so Adam had a play on the Fatty, and I took the time to fine tune my gears: the previous day I’d found my derailleur was slowly unscrewing itself from all the hammer it had taken, so had tightened it up with some blue-lock on, but neglected to adjust cable tension. The limit screw also needed a tweak, as I’d dumped the chain off the back of the cassette on the way up. Mobile repair shop complete and shooting over, we push on to Hurst, with thanks from the toffs for waiting for their shoot to complete.

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Burning heather on the moors

Another moor climb and then the amazing descent to Langthwaite. First stopping to check out our first descent of the ‘Ard Rock, which looks unfeasibly difficult. Down through the lead mine is amazing, with high limestone cliffs on the left, a high drop on the right, and a slender single track threading the gap between. We run out of mine, and embark on the fast grassy gully down to the stream splash, then spin along through the woods to Langthwaite, and a pub stop!

Next up is a short, but hard, bit of road work to gain the bridleway over Cringley Hill, where we meet a massive bunch of ramblers at the junction with the road. They’re trying to charge us for holding the gate open, but we get away without paying! A quick descent leads us to the site of my April accident; this time I take it slowly, but it’s still slippery. Adam has a little slip, but makes it through OK. Craig on the fatty has no issues whatsoever.

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We’re then climbing off-road to Great Pinseat. It’s a long drag, but when we get there I break out the haribos. This area is like the moon, just bare rock and spoil heaps from the lead mining. We ride around (and over) spoil heaps, then start the descent to the Old Gang mines. The whole descent, but especially the first quarter are immense fun, with a wide choice of lines to take, which for Adam includes into the heather.

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Craig leaving Great Pinseat
Spoil heaps on Great Pinseat
Spoil heaps on Great Pinseat

At the end of the descent, there’s a short steep road climb, followed by a massively steep descent into Feetham. Despite this being 100% on tarmac, it rates up there with the rest just because of the steepness. As we stop at the give way sign, all you can smell is burning brake pads from four mountain bikes!

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Old Gang Smelting Mill
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Approaching Old Gang
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Racing sheep

We make our way west, and over the bridge towards Crackpot, but turn off towards Low Row to gain the byway along the Swale. This is followed all the way to Grinton, and throws in everything from loose rocky ground, rocky/rooty singletrack to grassy traverses high above the river. Absolutely beautiful, and despite being mostly flat, we blast along it, so even this is tiring. There’s a collection of nettle stings obtained as a consequence of this low level route, but all is forgiven as we approach the Dales Bike Centre. A big rest is taken here, with drinks and bacon sarnies a just reward for a hard day out. At last we get back on the bikes and make the last kilometer up to the cars in Reeth.

Glad the week of biking is over: it’s been great, but not sure I could last another day!

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Strava log: https://www.strava.com/activities/405498274

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