Rosedale Biking – North York Moors

Another migration from my old site, currently working on some new adventures…..

The North Yorkshire Moors are my forgotten National Park, less than an hour away yet constantly overlooked for the more precipitous vistas of the Dales, The Lakes, Snowdonia, or the crowded gritstone edges of the Peak District.


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It really shouldn’t be the case though, every time I visit the Moors I’m struck by the the beauty of the place, not so rugged or savage as its other northern neighbours, but an open barren beauty; the sky feels bigger here than anywhere else in the UK with no large features to draw the eye; and below the bright azure blue of a crisp winter day there are few better place to put miles under the wheels of your bike.





Its cold despite the lack of winter snow, puddles are covered with a thin film of ice which crunches satisfactorily under the tread of the tyres; mud frozen into ruts and bumps ready to kick your wheels and bounce the unwary sideways. 

Last year when I was here there was snow on the ground, this year winter has failed to really get a grip of the land, stories of huge snowdrifts cutting off valleys appear from a different time. The colours are somber a pallet awash with the yellows and greens in the valley blending into the browns of the vast heather moorland.


Old limekilns below the moors


The valley was not always this quite, the clues to its noisy active past are everywhere. On the far hillside ruins blend in against the winter colours, a thin scar running almost horizontally across the  moor then curving all the way back to the track I’m following contouring smoothly around the hillside. 

I’m cycling along the course of the old Rosedale Railway built in the nineteenth century to take iorn ore from the mines over the top of the Moor and down to the furnaces in Teeside. Between 1856 and 1926 the valley was a centre of iron ore production and rang to the sound of hammers, and the clank and hiss of trains and wagons.

The old railway makes an excellent easy surface to ride along, picking it’s way round the hillside. Little is left of the infrastructure it once served a chimney here, a wall there, its window now looking neither out or in. Then the mine itself a huge yawning shaft in the ground from which the whine of the wind wails and cries.



A room with a view

Round the head of the valley the line of the railway fades out twisted, broken, and buried by a series of landslips over the last eighty years as nature slowly reclaims the landscape for it’s self, sculpting away the hand of man. Here the biking becomes a bit more technical, a narrow trail, with mud and water, the telling signs as to why the land here has changed so much in the life time of a man.

Later I cycle over a couple of large embankments with steep drops on either side, still proud markers of the hand of man in the landscape. The railway ends just after the east mines, now little more than  a jumble of walls which once housed the men who toiled below ground, other walls mark the old workshops, coal stores, and pumping house. By far the largest structure is the brick kiln supports 20m high an built into the hillside, two of the three have collapsed sending a cascade of brick fanning out below them, inevitable victims of entropy.



Following the old railway


moors (1 of 1)

Rosedale Ruins

Somehow I’m quite struck by the idea of this moorland railway, the thought of a trail of white steam, and grey smoke against the pastel colours of the moor, the audacity of the Victorians for building it. There is a melancholy nature to the ruins, a sadness of times passed that fits in with the barren beauty of the moor. Thats what made it such an enjoyable ride, the feeling of peeling back the history of the landscape and painting pictures with my mind of that lost world.


Tyndrum to Taynult; The Back Way

Migrated from my old site this was originally published in June 2012

With Scotland basking under a high pressure system bringing glorious blue sky’s and little wind the obvious thing to do was to go for a big ride, linking togeather the netwoork of tracks and trails that wind through the valleys and cross the passes. Starting from Tyndrum the route initially follows the West Highland Way before heading towards the western end of Loch Tulla. Here tarmac is dispensed with entirely and the route runs the entire length of Glen Kinglass before emerging into Glen Etive and then back to civilisation. 

A ride that clocks in at almost 60km (even if the guidebook claims the contrary) and leaves you miles from your starting point may not seam too good an idea. Here however is the master stroke, both start and finish are served by stations on the railway line to Oban; time it right and you’ll be back  for tea and hero biscuits in no time, get it wrong…well don’t get it wrong!


Ben Dorian



Stob Ghabar from the road to Inveroran

The initial section on the West Highland Way is mostly on a good track apart from one short section of poor single track that is possibly just about rideable if your brave. An initial climb leaves you at the head of Glen Orchy with great view down toward Ben Dorain a giant cone of a hill that dominates the first few kilometres of the ride until you finally contour round it’s flanks and drop down towards Bridge of Orchy Station.

Crossing over the A82 and following the minor road to Inveroran the last bit of tarmac the tyres will see for a while when it ends at the head of Loch Tulla. Running through a section of Caladonian Pine forest, trees twisted into fantastic shapes a contrast of greens and browns the route is ridiculously picturesque in the bright sun. Mercifully there is just enough of a cool breeze to keep the midges at bay and bring the fresh smell of the forest.  


Loch Tulla



Beinn Achaladair and Beinn Dothaidh


As the track begins to climb it slowly starts to deteriorate from broad hard packed gravel road as far as the remote farm at Clashgour to two thin wheel lines weaving and climbing steeply through the grass. The view both up the valley and back down towards the Bridge of Orchy Munros is superb, with a panorama of mountains stretching away into the distance and towering over the glen.

A line of stepping stones cross the River Shira, (bridge available slightly further unstream if the levels are slightly high) and mark the start of the wildest park of the ride. A few kilometers of good climbing reaches Loch Dochard and with huge views into the vast rounded coires of Glas Bheinn Mhor, and Stob Chir’an Albannaich the Glen Etive Munros here viewed from their hidden and less well trodden side.


Looking up Glen Kinglass




From here the trail is little more than a thin sliver of single track dropping down into the valley which opens out in front. Occasionally great rounded slabs of granite bedrock outcrop at the surface like vast boiler plates; their gentle angle and sooth grippy surface a joy to ride.

The route follows the infant river Kinglass here  a succession of waterfalls and short canyons as it makes it’s way down the steep valley. A line of inviting plunge pools break the rivers flow and one of these offer a cool, ok cold but refreshing dip at lunchtime. Lower down the track improves before becoming a proper gravel road at Glen Kinglass Lodge then following the river for at least ten kilometres to the foot of the glen


and onwards….


The River Kinglass flows into Loch Etive mid way down it’s length; the loch itself is a thin sliver of sea that cuts far inland, its narrow upper reaches overlooked by some of the finest hills in the highlands. Looking back up the loch the peak of Ben Strav dominates the foreground and in the distance the fine cone of Stob Dubh marks the head of the loch.

The track now winds its way round the edge of the loch clinging to the hillside and delivering a lot of short sharp shocks to the legs with some surprisingly steep climbs. Having now covered about forty K the gradient feels hard, each climb requiring a real effort and inevitably turns out to be never the last one. Ben Cruachan looms ahead and must offer a fantastic view the entite length of Loch Etive.


Looking up Glen Etive


This final section lasts much longer than expected and despite the good surface is the hardest section of the ride the steep climbs draining down on tired legs. Then suddenly its back to tarmac and cars for a short section on the A83. 

Arriving in Taynult a bit early for the train I settle down for a coffee and cake and watch sea kayaks out on the loch. Todays ride really was one of the most fantastic I have ever done, never particularly hard but with a great remote feel and sense of journey you only really get when you do a one way trip. As the train rattles up towards Tyndrum there can be few better ways than to spend a day than this.

BOB Ibex Trailer – First Impressions

For those interested in cycle touring, and by that I mean self supported rather than guided with luggage portage, there is the question of how to transport all your stuff around with you. If you are camping either wild or in campsites space on the bike needs to be found for  equipment which can become a bit of a packing nightmare; tents, sleeping bags, food, stoves, cameara etc all need a home.

The default approach for most riders has always been panniers, however there is another option available in the form of trailers which offer an alternative and possibly more flexible approach.

I have just returned from just under a week of cycle touring round the islands of Coll, Tiree, and Barra off the north west coast of Scotland. It was also my first trip with my new BOB Ibex trailer and an ideal first test of the kit. I have some previous with BOB trailers as I rented the more basic Yak model in 2012 when I went cycle touring in Iceland, and was at that point sold on getting one for trips in the UK.


Ready for the ferry

Version and Set Up

Although BOB still make the Yak I went for their newer Ibex model which includes a suspension fork on the trailer wheel. Although my experience of the Yak in Iceland was good It did bounce notably when dropping off curbs etc. and I intend to take this trailer onto rougher terrain in the UK including single track and therefore thought some rear cushioning would be useful. I also bought the bigger version compatible with 29 inch mountain bike wheels, as my 29er is mainly the bike I intend to tow it with (this larger version is also compatible with 700C road wheels). A smaller 26 inch wheel version is also available but the bigger version works with 26 inch wheels too.

Setting up was very easy (detailed instructions) straight out of the box; the swing arm,  and shock/wheel assembly need attaching to the main load area which can be done with a few simple tools (adjustable and torque wrench).  Both models attach to the rear wheel of the bike through a modified quick release mechanism (through axel users, word on the street these are now available with through axels for fat bikes), the trailer drops into grooves within the QR and is held in place using locking pins. With the trailer removed the QR functions as normal so you don’t need to carry the original around with you if you decide to ditch the trailer for a day.


Attachment point and locking pin on rear hub


The trailer comes with a massive (94 litre) yellow and black waterproof bag, which swallows large amounts of kit. The material feels really durable and well made, and closes with a simple fold and clip shut mechanism. Having only a small tent with me I used the bag as overnight storage outside by tent and it showed no sign of leaking despite two nights of heavy rain.

One of the benefits of the trailer is in my opinion is storage, although it is possible to match the Ibex storage volume using panniers based on the average pannier being 20-25 litres you would need front and rear wheel mounts and therefore a proper touring bike to get close. The large single volume also means you don’t need to break things down to get them to fit, so no more splitting the tent into three pieces! The trailer is rated to carry up to 32kg which should be more than enough for anyone; crucially as outlined below the weight is much less noticeable with a trailer as the wheel means it is not all taken through the bike.


Obviously you do notice the weight on the bike especially when you are getting going but I think it is less noticeable than with panniers; the trailer keeps the centre of mass lower and because it has its own wheel only puts some of the carried weight through the bike; because of this, and also the flexibility of the swing arm I think the bike feels less encumbered and more stable and manoeuvrable.

Although I did not really test the trailer on really difficult ground during this trip (mainly worn  tarmac, gravel tracks, sandy beach, and grass), a number of points were apparent, the ride was very smooth even on rougher terrain, the suspension gives a ride that is certainly smoother than the Yak with no bounce going up and down curbs. The single wheel design means the trailer tracks very accurately behind the bike even when you are winding about all over the place. The short clip below gives an idea of how well the trailer tracks.


Going up hills with the trailer was fine too, I tackled a number of hills with gradients up to about 15% no problem; granted you can’t power your way up them in the big ring but need to sit and tick over but you really would not know there was that much weight hanging off the back wheel. For those that like to ride up steep sections out the saddle I did notice significant and disconcerting wobble of the rear with a very heavy (>20kg) load. This went away as soon as I sat down again and was not present with more moderate loading of the trailer.


This is not normally an issue with a bike, but it is with a BOB especially if its heavily loaded. The trailer will very easily fall on its side if you are not careful how you park it against an object and in doing so it will take your bike with it. The Yak I used in Iceland did have a stand but I remember that not working to well. Just paying a bit more attention to how you leave the bike and you should be fine.


Trailer shock

Currently planning on giving the trailer a second test on the Pennine Bridleway in October, so will report back!