Books of the Month – Mountain Biking in the Yorkshire Dales | Here be Wizards
- Tuesday 11 February 2020
Yorkshire Dales Mountain Biking
Bowderdale Singletrack, Howgills. Photo: John Coefield.
Featuring twenty-six rides between ten and forty-three kilometres in length, Yorkshire Dales Mountain Biking peels the lid on the region's varied and excellent mountain bike riding. Whernside and Pen-y-ghent offer full days out while loops near Malham and Kilnsey reveal the area's quintessential beauty. Bonus material includes information about riding the Swale Trail, the Howgills, the Pennine Bridleway, Gisburn Forest and Stainburn, which lies just outside the national park.
Click this link www.v-publishing.co.uk/howgills to download a free guide to riding through the Howgill Fells in the North-West corner of the Dales. The route is taken from Great Britain Mountain Biking by Tom Fenton and Andy McCandlish. For further details click here.
Here be Wizards
Here be Wizards is the tremendous climax to The Snowdonia Chronicles trilogy by award-winning author Sarah Mussi.
Set in the Welsh mountains and steeped in mythological history, the book follows the adventures of Ellie, a modern teenager raised on the slopes of Mount Snowdon. Embroiled in an ancient battle between good and evil, Ellie and her companions set out on a perilous quest to locate a magical sword and a wizard who can save her one true love, Henry, from entrapment under Mount Snowdon with the evil white dragon of Wessex. This is a funny adventure-romance that will delight readers of ages eleven to sixteen who love mountains, myths and modern adventure.
In the extract, Ellie is battling up Mount Snowdon in a storm.
I’ll follow you, I’ll lead you about a round, Through bog, through bush, through brake, through brier.
Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
As if by instinct, I halt. Something’s wrong. Flashes of light sear across the horizon. Then comes the boom of thunder.
I scan the slopes for cover. Another roll of thunder crashes out. The rocks tremble. I take stock: storm; lightning.
I’m halfway up Snowdon and way too exposed. Do I turn back or carry on?
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good summer storm. The thrill of lightning; the fun of counting the seconds to see how far away the storm is; the crazy drum of thunder.
TBH, I love it better from the safety of my window seat, in our old farmhouse, all cuddled up with a hot chocolate. Not so much up here, high above the upper pastures. A target for any chance lightning strike.
Sigh. I’d really wanted to get up to the Devil’s Bridge. The storm rumbles closer. Definitely not good.
I mentally flick through the safety guidelines in the Mountain Rescue Volunteer’s Handbook (AKA Mum’s Bible):
Caught out on a mountain in a thunderstorm:
1. Look for cover.
2. Avoid trees or large stony outcrops; instead head for cracks and crevices in natural rock faces.
3. Move to sheltered overhanging rocks and be sure the scree on the slopes above is not loose.
4. Failing finding cover, lie down flat and stay there until the storm has passed.
The first fat splodge of rain hits my cheek. Lie down flat? In sheep poo? And prickly thistles? Really? You’ve got to be joking. I’ll climb higher and search for cover.
But before I have time to move, the sky rips open. A spear of purple-blue, volcanic orange, then intense white slashes down. Lightning strikes the slope just metres above me, igniting a stunted hawthorn. Flipping heck! That was close.
No time for Plan A.
OK, you win, MRV Handbook.
I drop flat on to the turf. And my face lands on hard nobbles of sheep poo. Great. So much for a romantic visit up to the Devil’s Bridge to tell Henry how much I love him. (DB is where we first kissed, so my utterly-best-ever dreamy-happy-place.)
I lie there thinking, the heat of the burning scrub above me, the rain pelting down. That hawthorn was the tallest thing around here. So if I stand up, I’ll be next.
Still going up to the Devil’s Bridge, Ellie? Get real.
Not Going To Happen.
Rubbing my cheek free of the sticky sheep poo, I roll over to see where the storm’s coming from.
I shield my eyes from the battering rain and peer out.
In the distance, a blanket of white spreads across the sky. It’s nowhere near dark yet. It never gets totally dark at midsummer up here. But a grey storm cloud is blowing in from the west. It blackens the sky, making it feel much later than it is. I glance at my phone: 6.47 p.m.
Something silver flickers in the rolling billows of cloud. Lights? They appear to be heading towards me, though they’re mostly obscured. I tilt my head up and squint into the pouring rain. Something is speeding this way, quite fast. A plane? Helicopter, maybe? I sit up properly to get a better look. Whatever it is, it seriously needs to gain height. I go all goosebumpy. Don’t they know about the huge cliffs dead ahead?
A sheet of cloud folds over the moving object. Its lights blink out. Engines stutter. A shiver runs through me. Whoever’s up there is in trouble.
A sixth sense sends tingles through my skull.
A dark bird swoops out of the sky, trilling out a note of alarm.
Instinctively I roll sideways and drop back to flat. There’s a crackle of static. A flash of light, then an almost instantaneous boom. My heartbeat shoots into overdrive. FLIPPING HELL! The mountain seems to shake. Rain waterfalls down, totally drenching me.
An outcrop of stone just above me splits in two! SPLITS IN TWO! A boulder crashes down, right where I was lying.
Oh my God.
That was just centimetres away. I could have been smashed to bits!
I throw my head back and breathe. My ears! The noise! That was louder than a bomb going off.
I was lying right there!
My legs tremble. My insides are squishy jelly.
I could have been splattered!
I glance up and get hit square in the eye by a massive raindrop.
There are more stones up there. I must move. NOW. I roll on to my tummy and start to squirm away. My legs are so shaky, they hardly work.
That rockfall ripped a gash right down the mountain.
Thank God I rolled away!
I think fast. Lightning strike, boulder crashing down, dark bird swooping. All those things are weird. Something’s up. Something weird.
I stop crawling and sniff the air. Rain, earth and ... what’s that smell? Magicke?
I mentally check through the requirements for magicke.
Water. Rain. (Splatting me in the eye.)
Fire. Lightning. (Setting fire to random hawthorn bushes.)
Earth. Rocks. (Tumbling. Squishing. We won’t go there.)
And the racing air.
Could be magicke, then.
Oh my God! I’m out on Midsummer’s Eve and there’s magicke about.
Definitely not so good.
Stay calm, Ellie.
I seriously need to get out of here. I check the skies again.
It’s magicke all right. Maybe I can make a run for it back down the mountain ... Another rumble of thunder dies away. The struggling cough of an engine takes its place. I look up. The silver flickering is visible again, speeding much closer. It is a helicopter, and it is in trouble. It’s way too low. It’s going to crash. Oh my God, this is the kind of thing that happens when there’s bad magicke about.
‘WATCH OUT!’ I scream. ‘FOR GOD’S SAKE, TURN BACK!’
Poor visibility. Torrential rain. Rolling clouds.
And the evil Black Cliff of Clogwyn dead ahead.
Just waiting for a blood sacrifice.