May 7th, 2004
7 - 11 May 2004
Derby to Berwick-on-Tweed
The Pennine Challenge
We did every inch of the Pennine Cycle Way (Sustrans Route 68) - 350 miles up the ‘back-bone’ of England criss-crossing the Pennines four times. It’s so long there are three Sustrans maps to cover it! After last year’s ride it seemed a logical choice. It was opened the year before. The founder of Sustrans calls it ‘the best National Cycle Network route of the lot’. We wanted another long-distance ride through wonderful scenery.
Sustrans recommend seven days for this ride; we planned to do it in five. You can see how the Welsh ride had given us such (over) confidence. We crossed Wales in four days at 60-70 miles a day. Surely, we could manage the Pennines at 70 miles per day.
Friday 7 May 2004 Derby Station to Crowden YHA
73 miles, and 0000 feet of ascent. Country lanes then the Tissington Trail (converted railway line) most of the way to Buxton (which was supposed to be lunch but was more likely tea time). The rest of the afternoon featured tough hills and industrial landscapes east of Manchester along the western slopes of the Pennines. Finally, we headed up into the Pennines to the overnight stop at the Crowden YHA – a remote location above the Torside Reservoir.
Saturday 8 May 2004 Crowden to Settle B&B
79 miles and 0000 feet of ascent. We followed up a hard day with a harder one! It started with a steep climb to cross the Pennines, then northwest, up and down, through the former mill towns of West Yorkshire and East Lanca- shire (Holmfirth to Hebden Bridge). The steepest climb of the ride, was out of Hebden Bridge crossing the Pennines yet again. To finish the day there was another big climb then an equally long descent into Settle.
Sunday 9 May 2004 Settle to Dufton B&B
65 miles; and 0000 feet ascent. Shorter mileage than days 1 and 2 and after Black Gill Head (beside Whernside) and the steep descent into Dentdale it was more generous undulating terrain through scenic valleys and over gentler fells through Appleby to Night 3 at Dufton. Featuring a brief acquaintance with the M6 motorway at its most scenic as it passes close to Howgill Fells.
Monday 10 May 2004 Dufton to Bellingham YHA
69 miles and 0000 feet of ascent. We followed the Eden Valley still hugging the east side of the Pennines – good warm up for the longest climb to the highest point of the ride over Hartside. We then descended to the South Tyne Valley which took us painlessly towards Hadrian’s Wall at Once Brewed followed by the most remote part of the whole ride through Wark Forest.
Tuesday 11 May 2004 Bellingham to Berwick Station
72 miles. The final day was the flattest of all; max elevation of 280m and net downhill. We were on the east side of the Pennines, following the eastern border of the Northumberland National Park so spectacular hills to the left.