The Beards of Bowland search for Botton Head

Another Beards of Bowland outing, although it was only myself and the Prof. Our route was devised by the Prof as he wanted to look for some dead ends near to the Cross of Greet. We set off and leisurely made our way to the bottom of Bowland Knotts with a hefty head wind, where prof insisted on our first photo of the day. What is the difference between a headwind and a block headwind?


From Bowland Knotts we returned the way we came, looking for dead ends. A couple of gravel roads were found that will be saved for another ride. Disappointingly there was only one other small dead end so we set off up the Cross of Greet, whereupon I got a puncture.


This was the first puncture that I’d had on my road bike for over a year. My front tyre has now done 8640km, which isn’t too bad. I reviewed it a while ago here.

Once I’d swapped tubes Prof set off across the grass to climb a stone. You’re probably not allowed to do that.


Once back on the road the serious business of finding Botton Head began. We were both sure that there was a sign post, but we couldn’t find it as we crisscrossed some more back roads, until there it was.


There wasn’t much to see at Botton Head except for a small farm, although the farmer was surprised to see two cyclists and was happy to chat for a few minutes.


We then headed back to Wray for a cafe stop. I’ve never been to the cafe in Wray, but others have said that it isn’t very good. £2.40 for a scone without any jam or cream. I won’t be going back.

During our ride we had discussed the relative merits of flat bars and how much better they are for descending. The Prof has flat bars on most of his bikes, while I have drops on my mountain bike. We also discussed close passes. I had had a very scary pass the other week (read about it here), while the Prof recounted an encounter he’d had that week. Coming to a traffic island he’d pulled out to take the lane much to the annoyance of a driver towing a trailer. If he’d gone through the gap he would have taken out the Prof, as the trailer was much wider than the car. At the next set of traffic lights the Prof shouted at the driver, who shouted back, before they both went on their merry ways. I’m not one for arguments.

It was then time for me to head home as I was meeting a real Prof from the Uni to discuss air quality, while the other Prof detoured up Roeburndale, getting himself a couple of KOM’s. I was obviously holding him up.

Another great day out with the Beards of Bowland, both of us. Next time will be my choice of dead ends. Previous Beards of Bowland rides can be found here, here and here.

The Beards of Bowland give a thumbs up to sticky toffee pudding

The last Beards of Bowland (BoB) ride was back in December and I bailed early. Too cold, too foggy and too quick. This ride was to be a bit slower, as new BoB member Mark, had cycled 25 miles to get to the start and was going to cycle the extra 25 miles home at the end as well. At 9am on Millennium Bridge in Lancaster four of us set off, myself, Prof, Mark and guest non-beardy rider Ali. The planned route, from Prof, was to cycle to Cartmel, stop at the home of the legendary sticky toffee pudding, before slowly plodding home.

I suggested that we take a small detour to the farm where we left the kitten from a previous ride.

In the summer, the BoB had found a bedraggled and abandoned kitten. The photo of Prof is too good not to share once again. Alas, there was no sign of the kitten, although he wouldn’t be a kitten anymore, so we continued into the Lyth Valley, with our obligatory dead end climb.


This was the second time that I had met Mark, so it was good to be able to chat with him this time. He was a former pro cyclist who raced in the 80’s and 90’s, often against a certain Chris Boardman, whatever happened to him. Mark also held the Lancashire 25 and 100 mile time trial records. Fortunately he had had a hard session the previous day, so he was taking it easy.

Prof’s route headed up over Tow Tops, a particularly nasty climb with some very steep switchbacks and a horrendous road surface. Ali decided to miss out this climb and take the longer but flatter route to Cartmel. As Prof and Mark climbed with ease, leaving me in their dust, I was wishing I’d taken the same option.


We found the cafe in Cartmel and had only been there a couple of minutes when Ali arrived. Mark declined to eat, Prof had a bacon and egg butty, Ali went with Sticky Toffee pudding, while I tried the Sticky Ginger pudding. They don’t just make Toffee puddings, there’s a whole range, although Prof declined to put one in his back pocket to take home to his wife. He also declined to carry a small tub of ice cream home as well.


When we set of I had the chance to chat with Ali for the first time, although he was having some problems with his rear derailleur jumping. Ali knew that I had successfully Everested, so we had a great discussion on the pros and cons of specific climbs and the whole concept of Everesting. You can read my blog entry and see my Strava entry, if you’re bored.

Click to access everesting2.pdf

Ali had attempted to Everest up Jubilee Tower in Lancaster, but without anyone to ride with hadn’t managed to finish. Maybe BoB should have a group Everesting attempt this summer. We then chatted about Ali’s successful bob Graham round, which if you don’t know is a 66 mile circuit of the highest peaks in the Lake District to be completed in less than 24 hours, running, not cycling. Ali had also completed the Welsh equivalent, the Paddy Buckley round, which is even tougher. Hats off to anyone who can manage these challenges, especially as Ali almost had the complete set as he narrowly missed out on the Scottish equivalent, the Ramsey round.

Disaster then struck, Ali’s mechanical got worse, resulting in a nasty fall. His helmet saved his head, but his thumb was pointing the wrong way. I was all for calling for help, but Ali is a tough nut, and climbed back on his bike for the ten miles home, even insisting that we don’t wait for him. We waited and made sure that he got home. I am positive that I do not have the testicular fortitude required to cycle home with a dislocated thumb.

Back at Ali’s his glove had to be cut off revealing a very bent thumb. I won’t post a photo, but take it from me it was nasty and after a trip to A & E it was found to be dislocated in two place. Heal fast Ali, and the BoB we’ll ride with you again soon.

I’ve said it before, but it’s never a dull ride with the Beards of Bowland.