Sowerby Bridge to Blackstone Edge

Distance: 11634 metres, Ascent: 351 metres, route map

This is a long gentle climb with just a couple of steeper sections to test you out.

Start by the junction of the A58 with Sowerby Street. This is just south of the river after you have gone under the railway bridge and is marked by a wedge shaped building with a rounded end. Can we call it Art Deco style?

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Follow the A58 south from here and just keep following it. Sowerby Bridge is a pleasant enough town with old civic buildings showing its industrial past and a sense of bustle but unfortunately the route out of town does not show its best side.

The first part of the ride takes you through the sort of scruffy, edge of town business zone that blights most places but Sowerby Bridge isn’t a big town and soon enough you’ll be cycling along the side of the Ryburn valley in much more attractive surroundings. The route of the old railway line from Sowerby Bridge to Ripponden should be visible at times through the woodland to your left and fields are all around you.

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The road meanders through the delightfully named village of Triangle. Predictably enough its name derives from the shape of a patch of land in the centre of the village. This was created when the new toll road to Rochdale (now the A58 you’re cycling along) parted company from the original road. It’s not the most imaginative name as I’m sure you’ll agree but there is a local precedent. Before being named Triangle, the village was called Pond, I kid you not.

Triangle to Ripponden is fairly flat but Ripponden is where the fun begins. Be careful as you approach the traffic lights in Ripponden to make sure that you occupy the right hand lane. After the lights you’ll be faced with the first climb of the ride but it’s no more than 7 or 8% and is fairly steady. This brings you up and out of Ripponden and out above the Ryburn valley.

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The scenery is now much more open with large grassy fields leading up to moorland plateaux beneath some big sombre skies. It’s quite possible that you’ll have a strong headwind to battle against so tuck in behind your friends and let them do the hard work. The open road leads you alongside Ryburn reservoir and Baitings reservoir. You’ll be climbing almost imperceptibly all the while until you leave the reservoirs behind and start the final climb.

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The scenery gets wilder and bleaker as you head towards the moorland summit with the buzz from the electricity pylons above you and the howl of the wind through them adding to the atmosphere. The route ends at roughly the highest point – the junction of the A58 with the B6138 road that heads north to Mytholmroyd.

It’s not a long or particularly steep final hill but it can be tough if you’re doing it into the teeth of a gale. If that’s the case then the reward for your exertion at the end of the ride will be the site of the wind whipping the water from Blackstone Edge reservoir across the B6138. If you’re more fortunate with the weather then you may also be lucky enough to find an ice-cream parked up by the junction. Bon appetit!

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