enduro mountain biking on garburn pass in the lake district sun winter

Annual Christmas Eve Ride

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When I was 16 I had started to really get into mountain biking and on Christmas eve of that year me and a few friends were sitting around twiddling our thumbs basically so we decided we would be men and go out in the crap weather for a bit of a bike ride. I think the first ride involved a short ride out from Hexham along to Fourstones and Warden followed by a pub meal at the Boatside in which in summary ended up being a shitty ride through a lot of slop and mud, being freezing cold in the horrible northumbrian winter weather with ice blocks for feet followed by a large pub meal sitting beside a warm log fire – which made up for the time spent getting cold and wet.

The next year we did the same again, and the year after and so we decided to make it a tradition – a good winter ride on Christmas eve followed by a proper pub meal to warm us up again.

We have kept it going for almost ten years now with this year being the  9th, some riders have come and gone and some people have come simply to join us for the meal but only two of us have continued our love for bikes (and mud and shit weather) to make it along every year, me and Angus.

This Year

Usually we tend to stick around our neck of the woods and not head much further than Hexham and it’s surroundings however this year since the weather was good-ish and two friends (Jonny and Roy) from down Manchester and Clitheroe way were up for joining in we decided to ride at a halfway point that turned out to be Staveley in the Lake District.

Despite all the recent flooding in the Lake District the area around Staveley seemed relatively unscathed, apart from the road bridge in the village sitting at a funny angle and with a large hole in the side, so I planned out a route taking in Garburn Pass, Kentmere, Longsleddale and Stavely Head Fell which included a fair bit of bridleway riding. The highlight being Garburn Pass and its (thankfully unrepaired) super rough and technical east side, the lowlight being the long slog through the muddy puddles into a direct headwind on top of Green Quarter Fell, but there has to be some of that otherwise it wouldn’t really feel like the Christmas eve ride! We had food in the Eagle and Child pub afterwards (strange name) which was a bargain, £5 for a pie and some chips… not bad at all.

enduro mountain bike riding garburn pass lake district winter
Roy, Jonny and Angus looking at stuff
enduro mountain bike riding garburn pass lake district winter east side
Pinball wizards down this section of Garbun Pass
sun through clouds in kentmere lake district mountain biking enduro
Dramatic skies in Kentmere
enduro mountain biking banshee over lake district moors winter
Roy battling against the wind
mountain biking enduro staveley head fell singletrack lake district winter
Singletrack down from Staveley Head Fell, the wind made it a downhill pedal


mountain biking enduro whitley chapel northumberland devils wate
Me and Angus crossing the bridge over Devils Wate just near Whitley Chapel
enduro mountain biking hardwood shield hexhamshire moor northumberland
Looking down to Harwood Shield on the Hexhamshire Commons


enduro mountain biking hexhamshire common moor northumberland winter
Battling against the wind with the dark clouds coming over the hills on the road between Blanchland and Rookhope
enduro mountain biking commencal blanchland hexhamshire common northumbrland
The blizzard set in on our way back whilst we were still out on the tops
mountain biking enduro bolts law near blanchland northumberland
A quick selfie in the wild weather at the top of Bolts Law near Blanchland


enduro mountain biking in allendale northumberland ibis mojo hd norrona lyngen
Me, Harry, Bill and Angus after out ride in Allendale



enduro mountain biking blanchland northumberland orange commencal yeti giant bikes
Bill, Timmy, Angus, Aiden and Huw post muddy ride in Blanchland car park


Nobody took any photos….? I think I remember riding from Hexham to Corbridge in the snow and having food in the Divels pub though! (and my memory is terrible so I am impressed I remembered that without photos, you should be too)


enduro mountain biking singlespeed hexham northumberland dmr trailstar
One of the snowier rides we have done, skidding about along the old railway between Warden and Hexham
snow winter mountain biking hexham northumberland enduro
Testing the depth near Hexham



enduro mountain biking whitley chapel northumberland
About to head onto the moors near Whitley Chapel, heading towards Stobb’s Cross
enduro mountain biking stobbs cross northumberland hexhamshire common
Muddy bogs at Stobb’s Cross on Hexhamshire Common


Beyond 2008 remains a distant memory, I think possibly before the times I owned a working digital camera… But rest assured it was cold, it was muddy, it snowed, it rained, we didn’t really enjoy the riding and many pies were eaten.

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