Apologies to lowey for pinching his ride.
By tuesday I still hadn't decided where to ride but I warned Johnnie we would be riding something steep and rocky on wednesday. Picked him up nice and early and we made our way to Keswick. Got on the M61 and immediatley had to leave due to M6 being closed, great start, Johnnie found us some quiet roads to skirt round preston and eventually we were on our way. Finally decided on Skiddaw/Ullock pike, parked up at the bottom of latrigg, did the blencathra climb, the steep bit at the head of the valley has been sanitised, easier now but a bit boring. Wasn't pushing hard so didn't expect to clean the rocky bit up lonscale, I just focused 3' infront of my wheel and didn't plan ahead, as I hopped up onto the big stone halfway up I had to trackstand a second to regain balance (Johnnie accused me of showboating) I thought I might actually make it but not to be lost it not long after on the last tricky bit. Dropping down to whit beck johnnie nearly hit a tree, then the monster climb of skiddaw began. Absolutley brutal, not tech, plenty of grip but stupidly steep. I rode a bit collapsed in a heap, rode untill collapsing again, decided this technique would cause some major bonking later so resorted to shanks's pony. Quite a few walkers but the clouds were brewing and several turned back before little man. A bit of riding then before the final push to skiddaw man. Saw a couple on bikes coming down, the guy was taking it pretty slow and his lady friend was walking, ouch - long walk up long walk down bet he was in trouble later. By now we were in cloud, for a while we could just see Keswick below then it too was gone, nowt but cloud. Had a chat with a guy at the top then saddled up for the touted "best descent in the lakes" Only just saw the trail in the mist/cloud a tiny ribbon of trail perched on the side of a huge scree slope. I was going down heavy braking on the limit of traction on the loose stuff, paused to wait for Johnnie, looked back and saw he was having trouble walking down, that's when I realised how steep it was. Due to a last minute wheel swap Johnnie only had 160mm discs and they just weren't cuttting it here. Saw some walkers struggliing up, one old lady said "you're mental" and then we didn't see another soul til the road at the bottom.
Ullock pike was brilliant, tight twisty singletrack switchbacks interspersed with pick your own line, open rocky drop sections. After nailing a long sweet section I stopped and started jumping up and down whooping, like a kid with the keys to the sweet shop. MTB nirvana, I was very happy.
There was one section I looked long and hard at but didn't attempt, the rest was just right for me. Johnnie rode a lot of it, getting more comfortable on his 5. Nearly lost his lid tho, while I was checking out the un-rideable bit he took a break, removed his helmet but the wind caught it and it started to tumble downhill fortunatley it caught on some heather 20ft down otherwise it would still be falling/rolling now. It finished with grassy singletrack and then a drop through dodd forest. took the road back up to the car park below skiddaw and did the Latrigg section which was unusually fairly walker free. The heavens opened as we got to the car, perfect timing, excellent trails, contender for ride of the year.
So good I think I'll go back very soon.
No pics, too much cloud anyway but el-boufador got some decent ones here when he did it and peachos too. Oh and Freeridenick who's pics were the inspiration for the ride.