It was on the Club’s summer trip earlier in the year when we discovered the area surrounding Feizor. On that trip we had set off from the nearby Norman village of Clapham where our route took us out past the noted Church and onto a technical climb before starting the route proper.
On this occasion, however, my brief was clear – “nothing too technical”. We had picked this spot to meet up with some regulars and potential converts on a pilgrimage from far afield (outside of Yorkshire!). This time I’d decided to start the route from Austwick to avoid the huffing and puffing at the start.
Amanda had booked us in to a cottage next to a local pottery centre, where you can re-enact scenes from Ghost week days between 6 and 8pm. Despite ample room for six for just £12.50 pppn, the siting of the only shower (drizzle is more like it!) attached to the bath neatly located under the stairs was enough to make me turn white!
All geared up, tyres pumped, seats adjusted, baskets removed (!?), and in the centre of Austwick we are ready to set off – dogs n’ all. The route starts heading out of the village to the North-east towards Wharfe before turning left up hill on the edge of Austwick. The steady climb along Townhead and Crummack Lane are the simple alternatives to the climb out of Clapham to the West.
It’s not long before the narrowing road turns to track and the dog can be set free. By the time your breathing returns to normal from the earlier climb you are turning right towards to the Village of Wharfe (conveniently sign-posted for anyone who leaves the map in the car…).
The track turns to a rock slab which signals a change of pace before the first ford of the day! The bridge on the right-hand side has been specially designed for bikers and a quick shout will soon clear any would-be ramblers attempting to avoid wet feet. As the track narrows by the side of a gate the rocks become a little more pronounced, to the enjoyment of some. N.b. if you're leading a group this is not a good point to look back and make sure they are still following – you will clip the edge of the track and go running into a pile of nettles!
As the path widens you bear left and into the trees just before going down into the heart of Wharfe. Keeping left and high you avoid the road for a time but its not long before you join the tarmac heading East out of the Village.
There are a couple of right turns, a private road and footpath, before you reach the one you’re looking for, which leads you up, through, and past a couple of farm buildings. Along the bridleway and out of the gate it’s a race down hill, features on the left, to the café. “That was at least three miles – time for a cuppa!”
The café in Feizor has a novel way of serving drinks. In addition to the tea pot, I can confirm the hot-chocolate machine can only make two and a half cups every seven minutes (and yes, I got the half cup!!). Re-sugared and still in sight of the start we head out on the final leg…
Heading down the road from the café take the first right turn by a large farm building. This will take you onto Hale Lane where a series of raised drainage covers will prompt a ‘biggest airtime’ competition. As you reach the minor ford there is an opportunity to take a left turn along a more technical single track back to the road and left to Feizor again, where round two of the jump off can commence.
Back to the minor ford continue along the single track until you reach an intersection of two paths. Taking the middle lane of the three available will lead you to a deceptively deep ford and back to the start.
The whole route is about seven miles without any additional loops and is a very short but fun first ride for anyone interested in giving the sport a try. Our group completed this with the additional loop back to Feizor and café stop in around 3.5hrs.
The route can also easily be extended heading out the top of Austwick towards Clapham and then right, past Gaping Gill, to Sulber.
Thanks to Amanda, Anna, Sophie, Simon, Tim and Harvey!