Horsehold

Distance: 1910 metres, Ascent: 184 metres, route map

Before I got into cycling I used to do a spot of climbing and Horsehold was a venue for a couple of climbs. Which is another way of saying that this route is basically a cycle ride up a cliff. Admittedly this cliff does have tarmac on it but you may still need ropes. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Alongside the Hebden Bridge Co-op on the A646 Market Street is the side street of Hebble End. Go along here, turn left along the canal and you’ll find Cycle Recycle. This worthy venture reconditions old bikes. Apart from secondhand bikes, it’s a great place to pick up some spare parts or to get a running repair. If you’ve got an old bike that you no longer use, this is where you should bring it.

But when you’re feeling more energetic the climb up Horsehold should sort you out. Start next to the Co-op and head up Hebble End first over the river and then over the canal. Almost immediately there’s a right turn onto New Road and you can follow this to its bitter end. Just watch out for the toads.

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The climb starts off steeply enough but don’t be too keen to go flat out from the start. After a hundred metres or so, just after a turning on the left for the track to Weasel Hall (really), the road gets steeper and you’ll need your lowest gear. The road also gets narrower. So narrow in fact that this can cause problems for the success of your hill-climb. If a vehicle comes the other way there simply isn’t enough road for the both of you and so, being the courteous cyclist that you are, you’ll need to get off the road and stand on the grass bank clutching your bike to let them past. Fortunately it’s not a busy road but considering how few houses it serves it feels a lot busier than it should.

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If a vehicle comes up behind you, you could make them wait because the road does widen again a little further on, just not by very much. You’ll probably be standing on your pedals by this point and grimly wondering whether it would be easier to get off and push but the worst is soon over.

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As you come above the treeline the road flattens out considerably. It also becomes cobbled although these aren’t a problem as they’re wide, smooth and well laid stones and let’s face it, the state you’re in you’re hardly going to be racing over them. The cobbles lead you towards the austere gritstone hamlet of Horsehold where tarmac briefly takes over.

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You’ll have a little moment of confusion in Horsehold wondering where to go – you need to turn right just after a low barn and find yourself some more cobbles to ride. Things start getting steeper again as you leave Horsehold behind but never so bad as earlier. It’s just a question of continuing cycling until the tarmac ends at a little crossroads of tracks.

If you’re on a road bike then you’ll probably want to head back down the way you came up but if you’re on something more robust then you should set off on one of the tracks and see where it takes you. Turn left for routes to Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd, turn right for a pleasant traverse round to Mankinholes and go straight on for a bit more climbing and the tracks over to Cragg Vale. You’re spoilt for choice.

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