Travellers' Tales: Salter Fell

Salter Fell is crossed by a remote-feeling gravel track
Paul McKearney rode this great gravel track in the Forest of Bowland last June

Leaving Lancaster, I rode up the Lune Valley towards Hornby. A right turn at Roeburndale Road took me up to High Salter Farm where the track begins. Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-ghent looked magnificent in the early summer sunshine. Ahead, the white gravel track was flat at first but stretched up and away, winding its way over Salter Fell.

Westward, a helicopter rose menacingly above the high Bowland ridge, quartering Wolfhole Crag and Ward’s Stone before disappearing behind Blanch Fell. I stopped near the summit. The course of a Roman road feeds in nearby, veering down the valley to the north. The easy riding continued but my rear wheel slipped on a short steep section of loose scree. 

Then I crossed a great divide. Fewer sheep and an abundance of gorse and heather indicated grouse shooting country. The becks now fed the River Ribble, not the Lune. Tractor-tyregouged craters with festering muddyblack water made the going trickier. I pushed until I came to a west-leading track that accessed an impressively rustic hunting lodge beside Baxton Hill.

Back on the bike, deceptive false flats led to a sweeping descent to the Upper Ribble Valley. I could see the distinctive features of Pendle Hill in the distance, and marker posts for the Witches 400 trail guided me. A squadron of RAF jets roared over Croasdale Fell, hugging the terrain in camera-defying passes of the valley.

I descended on ochre-tinged gravel, passing a dutiful RSPB warden keeping a protective vigil. A relaxed cruise towards Slaidburn brought an unfamiliar sight: tarmac. Completing the off-road crossing took two hours twenty minutes. I had plenty of light left for a delightful warm-down ride home through the Trough of Bowland.

More at Paul’s blog.