Distance: 2624 metres, Ascent: 107 metres, route map
There is a minor road that takes you from the A6033 in Walsden through to the A646 in Eastwood without needing to visit Todmorden. Apart from the obvious pleasure of avoiding Tod, it gives some fabulous views and takes you through the pretty villages of Lumbutts and Mankinholes and gets you close to the landmark of Stoodley Pike.
Heading north through Walsden on the A6033 there is a right fork just after the post office – Hollins Road. Follow this over the bridge over the canal for about a kilometre almost until it rejoins the main road. You will then find that there are two forked junctions in quick succession. Take the right fork each time, first onto Knowlwood Road and then Lumbutts Road and the start of the climb. Lumbutts Road sweeps round to the right taking you round the corner of the valley climbing all the while. On a typical day you’ll have the added advantage of a tailwind which will make the challenge much easier.
Very quickly you’ll find yourself out of the valley and on to the tops with the Stoodley Pike monument in the distance. At the top of the rise in front of you is the welcome site of the Shepherd’s Rest pub. That’s where the cycling stops but if you’ve got a bike lock and a sense of adventure you can cross the road from the pub and head straight up the hillside. After about a kilometre you’ll reach the dam wall of Gaddings Dam where, should you happen to have a wetsuit (and I’m hoping that you regularly take one cycling with you) a very enjoyable wild swim awaits.