The Moss

For non-residents of the Pennine Hills of the North of England the term Moss in a place name refers to the glacially flattened boggy hill tops of the local fells. These are the quiet unpopulated moorland places beloved of bike riders, ramblers and squawky ginger game birds and the people who shoot them, unknown to the wider world until the helicopters of the global media filmed the Tour de France taking in a couple of these fells during it’s emotionally received two day northern excursion away from it’s continental comfort zone the weekend before last and probably forgotten by the same world as soon as the race crossed the Channel.

Sitting by the roadside on the moor waiting for the bike race that weekend and between nattering with other bike fans, taking photos of gorrillas on bianchis and pushing small children out of the way to grab the free Haribo I couldn’t help mentally wandering off up some of the other routes you can see from up there and in particular up this one which climbs high above the moor after talking a right turn as you climb out of the village, after the cattle grid but just before where a big arrow pointing to Paris remains chalked on the tarmac.

In someways the Moss would have made a more worthy Tour climb, being that little bit higher, that little bit steeper, and the road staying up high for longer. It would only have added a few kilometres to the route but it always seems to be viewed as the poor relation of its shorter neighbour, a bit of a backwater. Perhaps this is because it doesn’t function as the through route that the moor to the east is for normal traffic, perhaps because those few extra metres of height make a surprising difference to the amount of snow and ice on the road in winter, perhaps it’s just not sexy enough but the Moss just doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves, and that includes from me.

I am not a very frequent blog updater this time of year; summer is short and time outdoors precious and spent riding my bike rather than writing about riding it but it’s worth taking the time to give a mention to the backwaters and the bypassed, the unglamorous and the unclassified, the road less travelled because that’s a big part of what I at least ride for in the first place.


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