Uplift days might be fun, but they just don’t run that regularly in the Howgill Fells
Bowderdale is one of the best, if not the best bit of ‘natural’ singletrack in England. It’s probably better than anything in Wales for that matter. And it would compete north of the border too.
But Bowderdale comes at a price: there is only one way to access it, and that’s a relentless, steep, grassy push that gains nearly 500 vertical metres in a little under 5km.*
There’s a phrase often used in skiing: ‘earn your turns.’ And that really is exactly what you do here. Although you do get to bag a summit too – always a great feeling and made even better if you can persuade a random stranger to snap a shot of you as you celebrate.
So what’s Bowderdale like?
The top is steep, narrow and heavily eroded. All ride-able but there are a couple of spots where you need to stay out of the rut. But after a wicked little section where it plummets onto a narrow slatey terrace with a huge drop to the right, the gradient eases and you find yourself really working the trail.
The mid-section is easy angled with all the excitement coming from the odd landslide where only momentum and commitment carry you over a gaping void. And then there are the stream crossings – steep on entry and steep back out again. Good technique will get you into them clean but only the right gear will get you out again.
The end turns tail and is slightly uphill. But it’s not so steep that you can’t continue to attack – only this time with a higher pulse. It’s also technical enough to keep motivation levels high.
By the end, you’ll have ridden nearly 7km of singletrack – much of it barely 30cm wide – among some quite awesome mountain scenery. You’ll be tired and out of breath. You’ll also be wet and muddy, and probably in need of sustenance.
You’ll also have completely forgotten that push.
NOTE: We are planning to host a couple of guided trips to the Lakes this year to take in the amazing natural singletrack like Bowderdale. Please get in touch if you’d be interested in knowing more.
*There are actually 3 different ‘trails’ that approach the 676m Calf from the south and they are all similar length and steepness and require a big push.