Saturday, 8 October 2016

hoghouse hill

If you’ve read Twenty Miles of Bad Road, you will know that when I’m in the UK, I like to do the same bike ride each time I go out. The main criterion for working out a route is that it is short enough that I can do it again the following day. However, the main failing of the original 20 miles of bad road was that there weren’t enough hills, which is why, soon after I posted the original account in 2014, I added three more hills, bringing the total to eight. The three additions involved turning left in Ellonby, which is not marked on the map but is located just southwest of the telephone symbol between Skelton and Lamonby. The last of the three added hills finishes near the red X on the map, and this is followed by a fast three-mile section that is either downhill or flat, through Johnby to Greystoke.

Although this added about three miles to the overall route, it was still possible to do it on consecutive days if I wanted. In fact, in September 2014, I decided that I would try to do the route every day if it didn’t rain. However, I reckoned without the driest September on record, and I ended up doing the route thirteen days in a row. The interesting thing is that I felt more tired after the second and third days’ rides than I did after the tenth.

I still wasn’t satisfied though. I’d forgotten about Hoghouse Hill, the location of which is shown by the red circle on the map, so when Paula came over from Hong Kong in July, I thought that this would provide a worthwhile addition to the route (and Paula does like a challenge).

The first photograph shows the approach to the hill. It seems quite innocuous:

However, as you round the bend shown in the previous photo, the scale of the challenge becomes apparent. The first photograph was taken from this bend, while the second was taken halfway up the hill:

Except that it wasn’t halfway up the hill. The apparent summit shown in the previous photo turns out not to be the top of the hill. It is followed by a short dip:

 …after which the climb continues:

Hoghouse Hill isn’t the steepest hill on the route. It isn’t even the longest, but coming at the beginning of the ride, it does feel quite hard. However, at the same time that we were adding Hoghouse Hill, I wanted to see whether it was possible to extend the route in the area beyond Ellonby. It was.

If you turn right in Ellonby (as per the original 20-mile route), then continue through Skelton to the B5305, you will soon notice that you are losing a lot of height, all of which has to be regained in the approach to Ellonby from the north. This turned out to be the longest and toughest hill on the route, although you wouldn’t think so from the following photograph:

All I can say is that it’s much steeper than it looks. And there is a lot more uphill work before you reach Ellonby. I’ve managed to do this new 25-mile ride three days in a row a couple of times, but the generally poor weather has meant that I don’t know if it would be possible to extend the sequence indefinitely. I’ll be returning to Hong Kong in less than two weeks, and it’s getting cold, so I shall have to wait until next year to find out.


  1. You must be very fit now, Dennis!

    1. I feel good, if that’s what you mean Peter. I like to think “not bad for a 70-year-old”. I managed to get out today, the first time in 16 days, but that will be it now until I get back to Hong Kong.

  2. Your body may then sustained for the next twenty years ;-)


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