Looking across to the snow capped alpine mountains seen from the back seat of a motorcycle

Home BAT Recommended Rides

Recommended Ride - Widdop Reservoir

Ride Date 21 June 2020

By Ren Withnell

I have a Saturday with no plan. I pour over online maps looking for those elusive and very rare things in the North West - *LEGAL* off-roadish trails. I'm not good or brave enough for gnarly, just a nice gravel farm track will do. Nothing, well nothing new at least.

Burnley is a town like many others, there's good points and bad points, but I wouldn't list it in my "Top 10 Towns Of England". Hebden Bridge is smaller and has it's charms, worth a look if you haven't been before but I wouldn't over-hype it. 

I've ridden the main road between the two towns, the A646, often times. My online maps suggests there's roads through them there hills north of the main road and they look wiggly. I've never been along them, they look interesting and as my gravel track search is going nowhere I might as well go somewhere. I'm going to Widdop Reservoir.

As soon as I'm south of Burnley and into the countryside I'm already pleased with my choice. There's rolling hills, green grass, stone cottages and the village of Worsthorne is in complete contrast with nearby Burnley's post industrial revolution shopping centre's and collapsing mills. 

Up down left right, narrow lanes and unfamiliar lanes mean I'm soon lost. I put the phone into navigation mode and follow it. There we go, thank goodness for modern tech eh.

I will bore you with the usual cliches. Rolling hills, single track tarmac, rocky outcrops, undulating twists and turns, quaint farms, remote houses, a babbling brook or two, sheep in the way and broad vistas from the crests in the road. There, done it. It feels and looks like the deepest Yorkshire Dales (which are close by so it should). 

There's a switchback to focus your mind. There's Widdop Reservoir which looks like it belongs there. The surface is fine for all road bikes but it's not smooth or perfect with random gravel patches and sheep poop. It's wide enough to pass oncoming traffic with caution. There's occasional wide patches for you to stop and sip tea from your flask.   

A reservoir set among the the green hills and  valleys south of Burnely
Widdop Reservoir

What makes this road special is not that it's exceedingly amazing or outstanding, it is the surprising location. Anyone who's travelled the M65 corridor and been through the towns of Blackburn, Burnley, Nelson and Colne will know these towns were on their knees once the cotton industry died, forgotten and remote. They are pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps and hard work but they ain't quite thriving, yet. To find such beauty and pleasant surroundings within a handful of miles has been a revelation, one I will explore further. 

Rens motorcycle set against the farmland and trees and hills
Gentle calming countryside between the motorways and main roads

Worthy of note is just south of this ride is a two lane road called "The Long Causeway". This is a much faster more flowing motorcycling road. Certainly worth a ride, but this is also known by the local riders so beware the crotch rocketeers. This is shown on the map above as the grey alternative route. Beware the switchbacks out of Mytholm at the south end!

We need more recommended rides! Contact ren@bikesandtravels.

Reader's Comments

nab301 said :-
Looks good , I managed a spin around the Blessington lakes near me (county Wicklow , Ireland) on my CB125F, didn't stop to take photos this time , too busy keeping the little Honda in the "powerband"....
22/06/2020 21:28:01 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Powerband nab301? Are you going all boy-racer on your CB125F? I can see you screaming over those Wicklow hills with your chin on the tank, arms tucked in and feet on the pillion pegs, giving it large. I reckon you'll have reached 62.5 mph at some point, that's like 100kph!

I'm always looking to add recommended rides if you ever do get the time to whip the camera out.
23/06/2020 20:24:54 UTC
nab301 said :-
I've a few things in mind , will send them to you when I can finish them . Officially I'm still limited to 20kms radius of travel from home or within my own county whichever is bigger... I've also got one on historic/ interesting structures / buildings within a mile from home ( a lockdown project) and surprised myself how many there are!
24/06/2020 19:43:54 UTC

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