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#ColdDarkRides - Jaimi Wilson

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

#ColdDarkRides are here to inspire your winter planning and give you an insight into the roads that our friends in the Cold Dark North love to call their favourites.

The brief for some of our favourite local riders, brands and photographers remains the same: give us 5 photos and descriptions of the places you love to ride and a bit of blurb on yourself. Over the coming months we'll be sharing their secret climbs, epic rides and favourite spots here in the Road Gauge and on Instagram.

Fresh from completing her epic "Lap of Englandshire" during the COVID-19 Lockdown, we asked Proper North Cumbrian Jaimi for her favourite climbs and roads... Here's a bit about her first:

Born in the Lake District and throwing myself into every sport going I somehow failed to discover a bicycle until I was 27 but making up for it now spending most of my waking moments perched a top of a saddle. Being a little all or nothing my first bike tour was a 3 and a half year, 60,000 km lap of the world and since then I’ve spent the past year and a half down sizing to shorter tours, around Cumbria, the UK and Europe when I get the chance.

I’ve swapped the clunky steel weight touring bike, panniers, flip flops and paper maps for a road bike, clip ins and a fancy gps as I try to clock as many miles as time allows and as fast as my slow twitch permits! Blessed to live in Cumbria where I’m still finding new roads, loops and climbs to test out. I’m not sure I could say what the best place in the word to ride a bike is but I can tell you that Cumbria is pretty damn epic.

Honister Pass || 2.2km @10.6%av

Being from the Lakes so it’s only fair to kick things off with one of the big passes and I have to give the nod to my favourite…Honister pass. A feature of the Fred Whitton this is the Lake District’s best climb, incredibly stunning and a climb that will test anyone’s legs! It can be ridden from either side but I prefer the climb from the west, starting from the small village of Seatoller the pass connects the beautiful Borrowdale Valley with the equally beautiful Buttermere Valley. Kicking things off straight away with some 25% sections as you navigate the small winding roads through the trees.

The landscape opens up towards the middle section of the climb and you get a short reprieve here before it bites again for the final stretch up to the top of the slate mine. After a few snaps capturing the stunning scenery the pass snakes down passed the mine through the Fells towards Buttermere and Crumnock in the bottom of the valley. This pass is easily connected to make a great loop from Keswick taking in Honister, Newlands and Whinlatter if you feel like giving the legs a good run out.

Matterdale End || 2.1km @6.7%av

My home territory…the North Lakes is where I am lucky enough to spend most of my days riding. Heading from the main lakeside road along Lake Ullswater to Glennriding, throwing in a right turn will take you up passed aira force to Matterdale end where just a couple of miles away from the busy lakeside you can get lost in the quiet narrow lanes winding along the fell side. I love this area and still, despite being less than 10 miles from my door sometimes get lost in these Matterdale Lanes.

The climb takes you up the steepest section at the beginning as you pedal away from the lake and swing right heading East, try to look behind and take in the epic view down the Lake towards Glenriding before easing off a little up to the car park at the top of Park Brow. There is then a short descent into Dockray before sweeping further downhill to Matterdale and the final steepest push up to Matterdale end and the white house on the left pretty much marks the top of the climb.

Haweswater Reservoir || 7.2km @0.5%av

Not really a climb as such but just a mega bit of road and the Cold Dark North love a #deadendclub so thought it only fitting to include my favourite! This road definitely ticks all the boxes, heading from the small village of Bampton, through the Valley of Mardale and along the East side of the reservoir on a virtually traffic free road to the dead end at Mardale head where you get the pleasure of turning around and enjoying it for a second time! Stunning views across Haweswater from towards the end of the reservoir where the road rises before dropping down to the car park in the bottom.

The road passes a 1,550 foot wide and 120 foot high concrete dam built in the 1920’s, causing the water level to rise and bury the old villages of Mardale and Measand, which during the height of summer when water levels are low you will catch a glimpse of what is left of these old villages. Extra Kudos if you can find the little roadside hatch where you can pick up homemade jam and chutneys.

Martindale || 0.9km @9.2%av

Another dead end…because all good things come to an end. Heading along the East side of Lake Ullswater through Howtown over a cattle grid will bring you to the bottom a steep, switchback road which leads into the valley of Martindale.

From St Martins church at the top you will be treat to amazing views of Lake Ullswater and your choice of three dead ends, Sandwick, Dale Head or…the other dead end either I don’t know the name of or it has no name! If you’re lucky you may catch a glimpse of England’s oldest herd of Native red deer.

Faulds Brow || 1.2km @8.3%av

I spend the majority of my time cycling in the Lakes but during those busy summer months where the tourist traffic makes riding the lakes a little painful I love to head to some slightly more low key places to enjoy the quieter roads. Heading further North out of the Lake District now to a beautiful section of road behind the Scafell range with cracking views of Caldbeck common, the Northern Fells, the Pennines and the Solway.

This climb stats in Whelpo and is less than a mile to the top with an average gradient of 8.2%. Caldbeck common is pretty exposed so leave it for a day of good weather or at least make sure you don’t have a headwind! Also be aware that the fell pony’s don’t move for anyone so don’t take it personally, be respectful, you are after all riding through their back garden!

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