I always check on the weather before going out for a ride and the forecast said sunny. What I forgot to check on, as usual, was the wind conditions. Ah well, at least I remembered to pack my Buff, windy ride it is then.
I parked up in the car park just off the A660 for Golden Acre Park. Map printed off and stuffed in my shorts pocket, I headed along the westbound bridleway and through Rushes Farm before heading on up to Bramhope. From Bramhope I found the poshest entrance to a bridleway that I’ve come across yet. It’s a good job that this was well sign posted as otherwise I’d have thought it was a driveway.
Posh or not, it was a decent section and coming out the other end I had two options; left down the hill and take a bridleway through the woods or right and pick up the one by Wood Top Farm. Both took me to roughly the same place, so I picked the wooded option. My advice is, Don’t! Of course I don’t know what the other option was like but the one I chose was more of a bridleswamp than a bridleway.
The moss growing on the impromptu stepping stones that had been plopped into the trail suggest that it’s this way all year round. It’s a real shame because it would have been a great trail had it been ridable. Anyway, after a bit of dragging, squelching and pushing I went right up the lane and joined Bank Side Lane which is a byway stretching across Arthington Bank. This was more fun, still muddy especially around the farm and field entrances but easily ridable and a big relief after the previous bogginess.
Towards the end of this byway was an option to go left onto another byway which takes you down to the A659. This starts off as a steep and slightly rock descent and is enough fun to recommend including in a loop around this area. When I reached the A659, I then went right and right again and up Rawden Hill towards Weardley. Just as you reach Weardley there’s a crossroads with a dead end signposted straight ahead. Turning right here takes you up a hill on the tarmac, which you can bail out of just as it turns steep, because your bridleway option appears as a saviour on the left.
This bridleway and the following one that heads south to Ay-Up reservoir (sorry Eccup reservoir) are better and more weather resistant. In fact I imagine most of the ones out this way between the reservoir and Weardley are worth riding and should probably be the main focus of a ride up here. I did intend to ride some more of these but didn’t really have the time; dimming light, getting hungry, you know the score! So I reached the reservoir and headed back to Golden Acre Park via the ‘roadie popular’ lanes. Oh and out this way the livestock are expected to close their own gates it seems; bit much to expect of sheep if you ask me!
So what about the wind? It blew a fair bit, seemed to be mostly a side wind and dropped to nothing mid way through when I was at a slightly lower altitude, nearer to the A659. Then came back strong again towards the end. But to be honest the weather really didn’t cause me any problems, I can cope with a bit of wind, the sun was out mostly and it didn’t rain on me. In the end it was a bit of local knowledge that would have improved the ride most rather than better weather conditions. I would have avoided the bridleswamp, focused my loop on the bridleways around the Harewood Estate and I think that a couple of sections would have been more fun ridden the other way around. Just goes to show that a little bit of knowledge goes a long way!