16th August 2023
It heads steeply up Winder, then continues towards Arant Haw, Bran Rigg Top and The Calf. Then the descent into Bowderdale begins, with a long (and not easy) ride by Bowderdale Beck.
Ravenstonedale is the place to take a break. The return is via Adamthwaite and Narthwaite and along the valley of the river Rawthey to Sedbergh.
'Not for the faint-hearted!' say Visit Sedbergh, and that's accurate.
Distance: 24.5 miles/
Time: 5-6h plus stops
The ride starts from Sedbergh.
There's free on-street parking on Back Lane, or paid parking at the official car parks including one on Loftus Hill.
There are WCs near the tourist information (pictured above) on Main Street.
Leave Sedbergh on Howgill Lane. After about a mile, turn off the road up towards Winder.
It's a steep climb to Winder (473m). After the top of Winder there's some downhill before climbing again towards Arant Haw.
Then once again there's a bit of downhill followed by rather more climbing, this time to Calders (674m).
Next the route passes just to the right of Bram Rigg Top before reaching the summit of The Calf (676m). The view from the top is great - sometimes.
Now the descent begins. At first it's a traverse of a steep slope.
There are views into the valley where Cautley Holme Beck runs after its waters have toppled down Cautley Spout.
Gradually you descend into Bowderdale, with Bowderdale Beck to your right. It's a rough and challenging descent.
Once you're in Bowderdale, the path flattens out.
Now the main challenge is the side streams or gills that you have to cross, with a dip down to the water each time, then a steep little slope back up the other side.
There are around 23 of these side streams.
Eventually, you join a track which brings you to the road at Bowderdale. Continue on a mixture of minor road and track to Weasdale, then it's another couple of miles to Ravenstonedale.
I highly recommend the Kings Head at Ravenstondale.
A pint of lemonade and hand-cooked chips, sitting outside by Scandal Beck, were just what the doctor ordered.
Now the return trip to Sedbergh begins. First, there are a few miles heading south on a minor road.
At Adamthwaite, make your way through a farmyard and join a track that traverses the side of Wandale Hill, to Narthwaite.
At Narthwaite, go through another farmyard, cross Backside Beck, then descend to the river Rawthey.
Continue with the Rawthey down to your left, traversing the lower slopes of Brant Fell. There are some gorse bushes to dodge at times.
Next join Buckbank Lane, which brings you to the A683. It's less than
a mile on the main road before you reach Sedbergh.
The Black Bull on Main Street Sedbergh has a very nice beer garden.
The Bowderdale Classic mountain bike ride is covered by three 1:50,000 OS Landranger maps.
They are number 98 Wensleydale and Upper Wharfedale, number 97 Kendal and Morecambe, and number 91 Appleby-in-Westmorland.
New in 2023, Bike Rides in the Yorkshire Dales is available in colour paperback.
Bike Rides In and Around York features a historical city tour, plus family rides, road rides, and mountain bike rides.
Bike Rides in Harrogate and Nidderdale is a book of family, mountain and road bike rides.