I like to imagine that the road builders of old, working as two gangs heading north from Kettlewell and South from Carlton, met up at Park Rash, saw the difference in height between their two bits of newly laid turnpike and the angle of the steep head of the little valley which carries Park Gill Beck down to the Wharfe which they’d need to put a road down, muttered a collective resigned ‘Bugger’ and then ran around holding carrier pigeons above their heads trying to pick up some coverage so they could have a nice friendly chat with the surveyor. These days they would just have blasted have the hill away but what they left us with was the Dantesque descent from the plains of the moors high above Coverdale through several levels of slippy bendy steepness down to the village shop through whose door you would ride if you didn’t have quiet enough rubber left on your breaks when you crossed the cattle grid at the top.
The top of the hill, reached by the deserted winding lane rising up from Middleham, always seems close to heaven because it is so very quiet (there aren’t many houses to start with in the dale and half of those will be empty in the winter as their owners don’t live in them), it’s high and the fells either side don’t rise much higher so you feel elevated, the view south could be something from a John Martin painting and it always seems to be lost in a kind of ethereal gloom which makes for a calming feeling of distance from the worries of the mortal world but which is really crap for taking photos (which is probably why this beautiful bit of bicycling bonkersness hasn’t featured on here before). I would definitely think that if you hung around up here too long wearing cycling gear in winter then heaven wouldn’t take much time to get to at all.
So there you have it; the lovely Park Rash: ride up it if you have big lungs, ride down it if you have big, err, nerves. It can be a wee bit grey at this time of year but I love it anyway. The photos I took may have come out a little dull but I was damned if was going to spend all of this morning freezing my arse off on the bike and not get a blog post out of it. There are a limited number of opportunities, given the challenges presented by winter road conditions, shortage of daylight and surplus of weather and being unable to zip my jersey all the way up due to eating too many mince pies, between now and spring to get out for more than a couple of hours so the dieum had to be carped even if the route was photogenically uncooperative and I still can’t feel my toes. Let’s hope for some snow soon so I can lighten things up a bit.