Distance: 2459 metres, Ascent: 154 metres, route map
As we climbed this very narrow little side road and cobbles turned to pitted tarmac I did briefly wonder whether or not it was suitable for road bikes. And then I remembered stage 5 of this year’s Tour de France and realised that it’s way better than some of the pavé the riders had to endure on their way from Ypres to Arenberg Porte de Hainaut.
The start point is on the southern outskirts of Ripponden on the A672 Oldham Road. Look out for a bus turning circle and Rishworth Mill Lane is just opposite. The sign says “Unsuitable for heavy goods vehicles; Steep road ahead; No passing places for 1 mile” which sounds about right. Coast down Rishworth Mill Lane towards the impressive facade of the mill building itself. You won’t hear any spinning jennies clattering though as it’s all des res.
Cycle round to the right in front of the building and the road heads darkly into the woods where it finds a hairpin bend left and the start of the climb. It rises up through the woods past several stone buildings until you find another hairpin this time to the right. This takes you onto a brief stretch of some steep and mossy cobbles. Further along a couple of narrow strips of tarmac have been laid down covering much of the cobbles, more’s the pity. The road is very narrow and you wouldn’t want to drive along here as you’d be bound to meet a tractor coming the other way. Or some horses. Whatever, you would be the one needing to reverse most of the way back to the main road.
On two wheels it’s a different proposition and you could have the place to yourself. Carry on cycling uphill with fields all around you and take the left fork when the opportunity arrives. It’s an obvious choice as it goes uphill. This is now Hall Green Lane but it isn’t any wider. As you near the top you’ll briefly become aware of the M62 in front of you but it doesn’t stay intrusive for long. There’s a T-junction with Withens End Lane where left is the obvious choice. There’s one final stretch of climbing before you’re onto the hilltops and can cruise along with a view over Ripponden to your left. The junction with the B6114 Saddleworth Road next to the Ringstone Edge Reservoir makes for an obvious endpoint.