For many people, the title of this guide must seem like an oxymoron but then for most people West Yorkshire means the conurbations of Leeds, Bradford and Halifax. However, as Benjamin Haworth ably demonstrates in the latest Vertebrate Publishing guide, in more ways than one you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
For while West Yorkshire does encompass a lot of chimney pots, it’s also home to some superb mountain biking. The very topography that led to the industrial revolution also means steep sided valleys and trails – lots of trails. Packhorse trails, quarry trails, salt routes in abundance, many too steep to become roads, others left to decay as the horse was replaced by the canal, train and lorry.
Which is great news for the modern mountain biker, and in this guide Haworth has pulled together a diverse collection of trails that will tickle even the most jaded palate. For instance, how many guides include a route such as Pennine Bridleway and M62? That’s the West Yorkshire conundrum in a nutshell, a bizarre combination of bleak yet beautiful moorland through which runs the busy M62.
At the other end of the scale, Marsden and Willykay Clough while providing many reminders of the area’s industrial heritage is a picturesque romp through classic Pennine country.
The Calderdale area around Todmorden and Hebden Bridge is a hidden gem, so far off most people’s radar yet a real aficionado’s delight. The riding is typical of the area, only more so – steeper climbs, crazier descents and head-turning scenery around every corner. It is a near unavoidable invitation to step outside your comfort zone.
As usual, it’s all wrapped up in a typically efficient and precise Vertebrate guide package. Clear maps, concise directions and inspiring photography from both Haworth himself and the ever reliable John Coefield – the picture of Willykay Clough on page 85 alone is worth the cover price. This guide is a superb introduction to a little known mountain biking mecca. Get to it.
The guide costs £14.95 and is available from www.v-publishing.co.uk