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Tom Hutton strikes gold in a littleknown corner of the Lake District

It’s not often an injury turns out to be a lucky break. But it’s always good to try to see positives in these things. And, as I gazed up from the climb at the peaks of Western Lakeland backed up by a totally cloudless, azure sky, I was having an easy job convincing myself that my last little mishap had been for the best. Well, at least as far as producing this Singletrack Classic Ride was concerned anyway. Had I not fallen off my bike the day before we were due to originally shoot this feature, we’d have been riding in clouds and rain. As it was, due to having had to take three weeks off the bike to heal, when we returned to the Lakes, we were treated to glorious weather.

Taking two.

So here we were, take two, back in the Lakes. And, despite the mid-week snow that had temporarily put this second try in jeopardy, it now looked like we had lucked out big time. The snow had melted, the temperatures had risen enough to melt any remaining ice, and the sun was shining. Well, out of the shady depths of the deeply cloven valleys anyway.

It’s little wonder we’re smiling as we turn the pedals and warm up our travel-weary legs on tarmac before starting the first of the day’s many brutal climbs.

So where are we exactly? The answer is the Duddon Valley – not the most obvious of the Lake District’s much-lauded dales, but an impressive one nonetheless. The River Duddon rises in the cleavage of the Langdale Pikes, high above the top of the Wrynose Pass. The river drops west to carve itself a deep channel that the vertiginous road follows. And at the foot of the legendary Hardknott Pass it swerves south-west, drawing a watery line between the shapely bulk of Harter Fell and the huddle of summits that make up the Coniston range. It then fianks the Dunnerdale Fells on their western slopes.

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About Singletrack

We’ve got our usual dose of adventure for you, with three UK based rides to inspire you to hit the trails. Path of a Prince – Pete Scullion takes us on another historical Coffin Road tour, this time in the wilds of Scotland, in the footsteps of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Trail Hunter – Border Blasting – Tom Fenton heads to the northern fringes of England in search of more of the best trails the UK has to offer, this time skirting the Scottish/English border on a frigid day. Classic Ride – Duddon Valley – Tom Hutton takes us on a tour on the Western side of the Lake District – away from the big tourist crowds, but still big on scenery. Quit Your Job – We look at people who have made the leap from ‘normal’ jobs to working in the bike industry. Could you quit the rat race and turn your hobby into a job? Bamboozled – Wil takes on a build-your-own bamboo bike kit. Will he glue himself to the frame? Will he be attacked by a panda? Will he build himself a bike, or a bike shaped object? Wil tells us the tale through his epoxy-induced high. Bike Test – Unsprung Heroes – Chipps checks out fully rigid bikes from Kona, Pinnacle and Surly and discovers that no suspension doesn’t mean no fun. It just needs a re-evaluation of your outlook. Group Test – Platform Clip Ins – Wil checks out eight pairs of pedals with platforms for support as well as cleats for security. Full reviews of the best four will be published in this issue, along with summaries of the runners up. Room 101 Charlie The Bikemonger sets all judicial process to one side and passes his decrees on what will or will not be banished from the cycling world for ever. Column: Jason Miles Our award winning columnist is settling in to his new life in Scotland – by going on a ski holiday, where he learns that being a beginner again can be refreshing. And finding a whole new avenue of kit to need.