Distance: 4490 metres, Ascent: 270 metres, route map
This route breaks two of my rules – it shares part of its ascent with another ride and it has a downhill section. Oh well. A little rule-breaking is worth it though as this gives you three tough ascents in the one ride.
Ascent number one is from Todmorden to Cross Stones. Ascent number two goes from Cross Stones to Great Rock and number three from Great Rock to Blackshaw Head itself.
Start in Todmorden at the junction of Cross Stones Road with Burnley Road A646 and climb steeply but strongly up towards Cross Stones. Once there, avoid the temptation of the left turn and stay on the flat through the village. Some meandering around the hillside gives you a little time to recuperate ready for the second ascent which is made tougher by the fact that much of the climb is laid out in front of you. Somehow that feels more intimidating than climbs that hide their perils. Grind your way in a low gear to the junction at the top and you are rewarded with a little downhill. Don’t go too fast or you’ll miss Calderdale’s answer to Uluru. True, Great Rock isn’t quite as big as its Australian equivalent but in its defence you are allowed to climb it.
No time for that sort of behaviour now though, or for a visit to the Great Rock Co-operative Shop – come back and see them once you’ve finished the route. Enjoy the swoop down past Great Rock and follow the road as it goes round the hillside and then downhill – yes, downhill – to a chicane across a bridge. The turns here are sharp enough to lose you all your momentum in advance of the last of the three climbs. Fortunately this is the least severe – a piffling 60 metres of ascent up to Blackshaw Head. The climb ends where the road meets The Long Causeway.
Did I mention that Blackshaw Head used to have a pub? It’s a long time since the Shoulder of Mutton here closed down but not to worry. If you’re in need of sustenance then turn right, cycle through the village and then down the hill. The New Delight Inn in Colden is just after the second hairpin bend.