Another work trip up north brings another opportunity to ride. Last time I rode up this way it was a very quick blast from Reeth up to the top of Grinton Moor. But on the way down from the A66 to Reeth I passed through Kirkby Stephen and drove up Lamps Moss. It was then that I decided that I’d have to come back at the next opportunity.
So come back I did, with a plan to ride out from Kirkby Stephen, up Lamps Moss and down to Thwaite, then through the Buttertubs Pass to Hawes and finally back to the car at Kirkby Stephen again.
Kirkby Stephen turns out to be an excellent place to ride out from. It’s just off the A66, which means it’s easily accessible and it also has plenty of facilities. There’s a big free car park on Silver Street, toilets just off the main street and a host of shops and cake options.
So once I had parked up, got my stuff ready and got the bike out, I set off for Lamps Moss. It’s a turn off the main street in Kirkby Stephen signposted Nateby and then a left again onto the start of the climb. At this point I started dropping down the gears preparing for the climb ahead. Lamps Moss turns out to have two really tough sections, one initially and one right at the end and similar to Holme Moss it just seems to go on forever.
Up on the top, the wind was blowing and I’m guessing the temperature was a few degrees lower too. Certainly my usual dress code of ‘slightly on the cool side’ knowing that I’ll warm up as I ride was proving less than ideal. This is one ride where having a windstopper gillet that packs down into a jersey pocket would be a seriously good idea! An extra layer while on top and when descending which can be removed and packed away easily for the slower, hotter climbing.
Once over Lamps Moss I continued on to Thwaite, carrying a little more speed with the climb now behind me. It seemed a lot further along this top section in reality than it looked on my map but eventually I found the right turn that points towards Hawes. But not before having stopped a couple of times for photos; I can’t ride through areas of outstanding natural beauty like this without taking a few photos at least!
As soon as you turn off the road heads up. Something I hadn’t expected and something that left me hoping that this was actually part of the climb up to the buttertubs and not just a hilly bit on route to the proper climb. Fortunately it was and I hadn’t dropped off my big chainring prematurely.
The buttertubs pass is steeper from this side and ramps up to 25% on some sections, including the tough hairpins where I used all of the available road (well my left side of it anyway) to minimise the gradient. This is the opposite way to that which the Tour de France took in the summer, I didn’t ride back up again once I’d reached the bottom to see which is more difficult; I didn’t have time. But I’m assured by others that I took the more difficult side, whether that’s true or not I don’t know but one thing I know for sure; the descent this way round is fantastic.
Down from the Buttertubs I turned right just before Hawes and headed off towards Sedburgh and then kept my eyes open for the right that took me back to my car at Kirkby Stephen. From here on the road is much flatter and in most parts slightly downhill. As such I was able to push my average speed back up to a more respectable 21.5 km/h overall.
Down this last section the roads may be more benign but the scenery isn’t, it continues to be a great place to ride. And that’s one thing that is true of the whole ride. In fact it really doesn’t matter how fast you get up the hills or even if you have to get off and push at times. It’s such an awesome ride to do you’ll still have a great time.