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We’ve a lot to thank her for.

Following her unstinting efforts to improve access for horses, we have the loop running from our doorstep around the southern Pennines.

Sadly, she didn’t make it to the opening – but it’s some memorial!

It’s twelve weeks since I was malingering in a hospital bed, so it’s going to be a good opportunity to check that bones and muscles have fully repaired.

It’s a nine o’clock start at Healey Dell – up the old railway line to join the MTL, and the first climb of the day -Rooley Moor.

The views from the cobbled track are as impressive as ever – it’s a great day to be out.

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The first climb over – the first descent.  The track drops down down into Cowpe with speed and some technicality – it’s a cracker!

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Even some dust from The Sleeve’s back tyre!

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Next time I’ll have to get some shots from the rocky section.  By the time I get down there the Shaman and The Sleeve are long gone.

The route crosses the valley bottom at Waterfoot and meanders up the valley through the Land of Gates – which isn’t so bad when there are three of you.  The bridleway continues over the road at Lumb and then continues north. Gentle inclines and a couple of descents send you on.

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Looking back, the wind turbines are visible on Rooley Moor.

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Shaman doesn’t have a bad head of (helmet) hair for a man of his age!

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Gorple Moor is where we’re headed, the second big climb of the day.

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It’s quite a slog.  And definitely preferable in the opposite direction.  All those water-bars look like a jumpy heaven!

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Before long we’re on the top.  Incidentally, if you’re new to the MTL that’s one of the marker posts there.  I’ve not counted them but the trail is littered with them, so no need for a map!

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Eventually it’s our turn to head down.

Cracking descent Grommit!

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That’s Widdop Reservoir straight ahead.

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This must be about the half way point from Rochdale and things are going well.

No mechanicals and no physicals.

We plough on, past Gorple Lower reservoir, through Egypt (no time to admire the pyramids), Rodmer Clough and across to Jack Bridge.

Here we take the MTL section affectionately referred to in Singletrack Magazine as “the vomit-inducingly steep haul” over o Blackshaw road.  I have to admit none of us rode it – too many miles on the clock!

I love the descent that comes next – it’s really interesting.  At the top we pass Mr Kelloggs, a rider we’ve already passed on the Land of Gates, obviously doing the route the wrong way round.

So it’s down to the bottom and straight back up again through Callis Wood.

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We’re headed for London Road, which skirts the hillside below Stoodley Pike.

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I can’t believe the weather.

It’s just not British!

Once past the Pike, we take the old Packhorse trail over the shoulder below Gaddings Dam.

It’s an old causey-way.  Rock slabs laid to form a track for horses, and is great fun to ride.

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The views of Calderdale are pretty good from up here.

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We’re starting to feel a little tired now, It’s been a long day and there’s still a way to go.

The MTL drops down into Walsden and then heads straight back up the opposite hillside on another causey-way which is just too steep to ride.

But the end is in sight and before long we have Watergrove Reservoir in our sites, just one last climb up away from the shoreline and the last of the uphill is done.

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Finally back where we started. Knackered, sore, aching etc.  Unsurprising really when you read the stats.  About 48 miles (pretty much all off-road), 2350m of climbing, riding time of 6 hours 15 minutes, elapsed time of just over 8 hours.  Not exactly sure what we did for that extra hour and three quarters but it wasn’t sun-bathing!

Oh yeah – I survived.  Must be better now!

Sorry about the thumbnails all over the place, can’t seem to get them to stay where I want them!