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LAKE DISTRICT | VIRGIN GOES TO BOOT

Clementz and co on tour around England’s highest

When someone asks me if I know where there are any rocks and mountains in the UK, I know exactly the place…the Lake District…the perfect place for an adventure, and a beer or two… 

DIRT ISSUE 129 – NOVEMBER 2012

Words by James Richards. Photos by Steve Jones

We were meeting up at the Old Dungeon Ghyll Inn at the head of Langdale…mountains, sheep and gnarly tracks, oh and a few sound farmers. The bar and hotel has offered sustenance and accommodation to travellers for over 300 years.

I was bringing along Enduro supreme Jerome Clementz, fresh from his win at the first UK Gravity Enduro, and he’s always keen to hit new trails. I got to know Jerome at the 2011 Trans Provence (which he won). To ride with JC is awesome, effortless, smooth and lemming–like, this guy can truly ride a bike. True to form our accomplice’s for the trip Jonesey (Steve Jones) obviously, and Spag, a joiner and mountain bike virgin, had not arrived and weren’t due till after midnight.

DAY 1

As we spread out the maps on the table and ate a full English washed down with five or six cups of tea, I pointed out the route, “that doesn’t look far. What’s over there? Is that Scafell?” Yes the highest mountain in England! The loose plan was to ride round Scafell via Wasdale Dale Head on legal tracks over two days and take a few rugged all–mountain shots.

The trail starts behind the pub and in no time at all you feel like you’re miles from anywhere, the flat valley bottom surrounded by high mountains, Crinkle Crags, Bowfell, Stickle Pike and Pike of Blisco, to name a few. This is definitely no trail centre, one minute you’re on a nice easy blue route then the trail follows Mickleden Beck and turns into a World Cup rock garden for 100m. On normal days even the track is a small stream. Today it was bone dry and the grip was unreal. As we neared the end of the valley and took the turn for Rosset Gyhll the track became increasingly technical.

Soon we were all off and walking uphill, shouldering the bikes for a short hike–a–bike, the increasing height revealed more impressive views. We could see Windermere in the distance, England’s largest lake, we took time to take in the view and could’ve sat there all day, it was simply stunning.

Wiping sweat from our brows we soon hit the top, two stunning Spanish girls caught our attention for a while, especially Spag’s, well he was on holiday. Switchbacks, ruts and man made stone pitching were the features of our first descent to Angle Tarn, as we stopped for photos and looked around the light was incredible, although for once maybe too much light for photos.

At the Tarn people were sunning themselves, there wasn’t a breath of wind. We then began the next short climb heading for the high point of our route near Esk Hause where the real fun was to begin. At 730m it’s not the highest place in the world, but the valley floor is at 100m and that meant a 600m of descent over 5 kilometres.

Jerome needed little encouragement as the playground opened up before us and the sinuous red stone trail disappeared in into the jumble of rocks that made up the surrounding landscape. We let loose into the rocks and left the others behind.>>

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