I set off from a grey, not very windy Lostock Hall for a local ride and arrived at the car park just off the A675 Tockholes turnoff to driving rain and gusting winds. Its a little exposed there. Anyway sat in my car for ages being not remotely tempted to get out:
Finally, wriggled into waterproofs before even stepping out of car and got ready. Hands were wet and freezing cold before I had even set off and trying to wrestle them into gloves resulted in a few choice words! Saddle very wet too but hey ho. Had a near off within three metres of the car as the front wheel slid along a piece of wet wood edging the track. Ignored the demons telling me to give up and headed out.
I had no plan other than a vague wish to ride over to Peel Tower. In the end I did manage it by making myself ride "just a little bit more" rather than think about the whole ride. I learned that trick from my Hebden Bridge ride. The final route is here.
I decided to do a bit of downhill in the woods first then head up to Darwen tower, a vain hope it would stop raining. Nope. I took the most sheltered way I could think of up to the tower and I was almost at it before I could actually see it:
I sheltered from the howling wind for ages and ate a bit of my first butty - only about two miles in! If I'd been riding with someone else and they had suggested heading back home I think I would have gone like a shot! As it was I had to head back past the car to go anywhere else so I put off the decision until that point. The clag got really bad for a while, just as well I know the hill:
So off towards the car, drop down off the moor and the combination of wind and descending speed meant the rain stung my face hard. At the decision point the wind was behind me so I thought I would continue up over the moor again, drop down to the A666 then pick up the Catherine Edge bridleway back to the car. I couldn't be bothered with the faff of trying to pack up in the rain quite yet really.
Up and over then a fast, wet descent down towards the A666 where the cloud lifted briefly and it seemed to be brightening up:
Cheered up by the thought I continued off down the hill, unfortunately the cloud had other ideas and chased me down the valley:
Once at the road I then had a decision to make, back to the car or onto Peel Tower. I was sheltered from the wind and the rain so decided to head to Peel Tower. Some fairly straightforward track and road riding led to the bridleway along Holcombe which I really enjoyed. A short but steep pull up then I was at Peel Tower:
The cloud had actually lifted quite a bit and I could see Ramsbottom below. I stopped for a proper butty stop and just as I was getting ready to ride the cloud closed in again.
I decided just to head back the way I came up rather than chance one of the paths across the top. Back along the bridleway back to the road. As I was rolling down to Edgworth the rain seemed to start in earnest. It was hard to see flying down the road and my waterproofs were beginning to get a little overfaced.
I found the Turton tower track (handily signposted) then made my way across the golf course to Egerton. I did think about heading up to the Pike as although I was cold and wet my legs would have probably made it. However, once through Egerton I picked up the road past Delph Res and the full force of the wind and the rain hit me.
I decided to just head back, the last three miles from Delph along the bridleway back to the car were just awful. There was nowhere to hide from the wind and rain and its a gradual climb. I was very cold and just wanted it to end. Once finished I think I just chucked everything in the car, got a towel on the seat and drove home with the heating on full blast.
As I got on the M65 the sun came out.......