Other Sports Magazine

Forest of Bowland, Gisburn and the Hornby Rd

By Stodge @stodgeblog

DSC_1620At the last minute this spring bank holiday weekend, we found ourselves looking for something to do, somewhere in the mountains or at the coast, an active 3 days but where. After an evening of searching we eventually found 3 beds in a Youth Hostel in Slaidburn, in the heart of the forest of Bowden. Its an area we have not been to before, always drawn by its more famous cousins, the Yorkshire Dales, the Pennines or the Lake District. http://www.forestofbowland.com/

The Youth Hostel is basic and fairly old school but warm with great showers and an open fire, a proper youth hostel!  Or first morning was just up the road at Gisburn forest when there are a number of MTB routes, graded for difficulty Blue, Red and Black. The red route riding was fairly tough at times and certainly on the darker side of red. The riding though is only half the story with fantastic long views to the moors beyond and great ribbons of singletrack following streams with carpets of bluebells and other wild flowers.





There is a recently opened visitor hub at Gisburn and the Forest Den Cafe at the Stephen Park Centre, is a  great teashop too! http://www.stephenparkcentre.com/forest-den-cafe/

We spent the afternoon down in Clitheroe, mooching around the castle, and having a dip in the pool before returning to Slaidburn to eat in the excellent pub opposite the YHA, the Hark to Bounty http://www.harktobounty.co.uk/

The next day we ventured over to walk up Ingleborough before coming back to Slaidburn to soak up the atmosphere of the end of the village May Queen festival, bathed in sunshire.


On the last day our plan was to ride as a family up over the middle of the Forest of Bowland on the Hornby Road, an ancient packhorse track and Roman road. It starts just out of Slaidburn and finishes over in Wray, usefully near a great teashop, Bridgehouse Farm. http://www.bridgehousefarm.co.uk/

The ride up out of Slaidburn is pretty steep, on the road and eventually on the track. Amazingly Holly (now 11) managed nearly all the climb on her 24 inch Isla Bike. Only the roughness of the track defeated her, and again and again she got back on and managed to get up bits I am sure many adults would be off and pushing on… a proud dad.

Once the climb is out of the way and you pass the watershed the track slowly descends  for miles and treats you to amazing views al the way, firstly across the moorland of Bowland and then far reaching out to the 3 peaks of the Dales, Whernside, Ingleborough  and Pen-y-ghent.

There is one brutal on road climb just before the drop down into Wray but its soon over and the cake in Bridge House Farm more than makes up for it.

A very beautiful area, few tourists and great riding.

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