Updated: Jan 22, 2020
Every once in a while you hear about a climb not far from home that you just don't know. You should know it. You should have climbed it. But you haven't and then it becomes an itch you need to scratch.
We heard about the climb to Bull Pot Farm from friends in the beautiful Cumbrian town of Kirkby Lonsdale and we had to go and see it for ourselves. We know the area well. We've ridden the Coal Road, been over Barbondale countless times and know the main and quiet roads to Sedbergh and the Dales, to East and South via Settle, Skipton, Giggleswick, Bentham and Lowgill well. We're there all the time, but this quiet little dead end road had slipped our attention. Not now. Now we had to go and climb it.
We've built a route for those visiting to get some riding in before you hit the climb, up through the beautiful and peaceful Rigmaden Park (below) and the Lune Valley north of Kirkby before returning through Barbon to take on this epic secret climb out of the sleepy village of Casterton.
The climb itself is there as a result of the large network of underground caves formed in the Yorkshire Dales over several millennia of limestone erosion. This is the access road to one of these caves high above the valley which the Lune cuts through below. It's a beautiful dead end climb into the secluded uplands with amazing views of the surrounding landscape from the Lakes to the Dales and the seaside beyond.
It's easy to find when you get to the bottom as it's signposted "Bull Pot". The lane starts easy enough and takes you up through farm tracks to the base of a savage 20-25% pitch. The feature of this climb is the severe changes in gradient for about 3km until you reach the Farm at the end of the lane. It averages 7% but varies wildly from false flats to these sharp inclines, sapping the legs. After nearly 1.5km you hit a 90 degree left turn and are faced with a seemingly never-ending straight pitch at 15-20%. It's a real make or break moment in the climb.
Having mastered this section, the climb rolls for another 1000m or so at a more manageable gradient and you can take in the stunning 360 degree view from the sharply carved limestone valley to your right to the distant Lakes' peaks to your left and the Forest of Bowland behind you.
You'd have been really unlucky to have seen another soul since Casterton. Finally reaching the seemingly abandoned Farm House at the end of the road you can turn and enjoy the 3km descent and the promise of a fry-up in Kirkby or beyond.
Heading back down is glorious, if a little sketchy in places. At least you know there won't be any traffic coming the other way!
Our little route can be downloaded here from Strava: https://www.strava.com/routes/8146779/export_gpx and can be studied in forensic detail here on VeloViewer: http://veloviewer.com/routes/8146779.