Luddenden Foot to Sykes Gate

Distance: 7215 metres, Ascent: 283 metres, route map

This is one of the fiddlier routes in the fifty so listen carefully. You can find the start of the ride by leaving the A646 in Luddenden Foot and heading west across the canal, past the Brandy Wine on your right, over a bridge above the river to a junction where the straight ahead option is a steep cobbled road. I’m not going to send you up the cobbles – a no entry sign saves you from that peril – instead turn left into Boy Mill Road where the ride starts.

And a nice gentle start it is too. Bimble along on the flat for about 300 metres and then the road turns right, heads over the railway line and all gentility comes to an abrupt halt. Almost as soon as you escape the bottom of the Calder Valley things start to look pleasantly pastoral and this will soften the impact of the climb itself which is quite a zig-zag up to the first junction.

Turn left and head along the flat for about 200 metres until you spot the right-hand turn into the not very broad Broad Lane, just in front of the first buildings that you meet. You’ll find clumps of trees and pennine stone buildings along the route which starts to ease off after the left and right hairpins that mark the hamlet of Hollins. There’s a minor junction with Clunters Lane but it’s obvious that you head left here as it’s uphill.

There’s a crossroads ahead where the straight on option is a track. Turn left and enjoy a flattish ride that heads towards a copse of trees. This is all very easy level cycling as you contour round the hillside towards the final stretch of upwardliness. You’ll reach a crossroads where you need to turn right into Steep Lane. Don’t be alarmed by the name as the steepest section is below you but if you’ve picked the wrong day for this ride then you can allow yourself to be alarmed by the headwind; it can be strong enough to blow you to a standstill. Get your head down, shout at your legs and fight your way forwards.

The gradient softens and somewhere in the next kilometre you’ll find the high point of the climb. The only problem now is in trying to find the right place to finish. It’s a great little road to travel along, all airy and panoramic, so I decided to take you all the way to the Blackstone Edge Road B6138 even though that means you don’t end at the highest point. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

In summary those junctions are as follows: left, right, left, left, right.

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