Distance: 6909 metres, Ascent: 345 metres, route map
This route takes you from the bottom of the Calder Valley to the shores of Warley Moor Reservoir, home to Halifax Sailing Club. At the lofty elevation of 410 metres above sea level it is quite probably Britain’s highest sailing club. You may not expect to find a sailing club this far from the coast but the moors in the South Pennines are littered with reservoirs and sailing is an obvious way of making the most of them. The windfarm next to the reservoir demonstrates another use of the local natural resources and shows that, while it feels very wild and remote up here at times, civilization is never far away.
This is one of the longest rides on offer and it has a total ascent of over 300 metres. Most of that 300 metres comes in the first kilometre as you are faced with a brutal climb right from the off.
Finding the start can be a little tricky as the village of Luddenden is a warren of narrow lanes. From the heart of the village – as represented by pub and church – follow the inappropriately named High Street as it wiggles south and east to the junction with a very sharp left turn and a very wedge-shaped building. This is Stocks Lane where the ride begins.
It’s a stiff climb right from the off with the village dropping away on your left hand side. It’s all characterful old stone buildings and the thick cover of deciduous trees to begin with, but as you keep those legs spinning away the trees are replaced by fields and you will get a great view over the attractive valley of Luddenden Dean. Don’t lose focus though because it is unremittingly steep and you’ll want to keep your momentum. The continuous grind is alleviated by a couple of hairpin bends first to the right and then the left which have been put there just to remind you of how hard going this is. It’s no less steep after the bends but as the vegetation around you gets sparser and the landscape more rugged things start to ease off a little until eventually you find yourself bowling along some tarmac and gathering speed as you do so. Things get steeper again as you approach the junction with Mount Tabor Road but by this time a big chunk of the climbing has been done.
Head left and there’s a few hundred metres where it’s flat enough. Pass the Crossroads Inn on your right and, further along, The Delvers pub on your left.
If High Street was an inappropriate name for a road at the bottom of the valley, then Cold Edge Road gives a much more accurate indication of what to expect next. The road starts to climb again and as it does so the land around becomes less cultivated and the whole aspect becomes wilder.
Things are much more exposed up here and it’d be unusual if there wasn’t at least a breeze to entertain you. More typical is a strong side wind and a temperature several degrees below what it was in Luddenden. It’s certainly no place to bring clear-eyed young cyclists when you’re trying to nurture their enthusiasm for two-wheeled adventure – I just wish someone had told me that before we set off.
You’re at an altitude of over 400 metres by the time you draw level with the communications mast on the left of the road and the windmills on the right. From here it’s less than a kilometre to go along a low quality road; past the turning left for Halifax Sailing Club to the highest point on the road and the end of the ride. It may be a bleak windswept spot but on a clear day there’s something majestic about the panorama that unfolds before you.
From here you could head back the way you came up but the road to the north is worth exploring and if you’re wanting to do a good loop back to the start then I’d recommend continuing to the A6033. Follow this south to Pecket Well and then fork left along the minor road that takes you through Old Town and Midgley and back to Luddenden.