Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Annual Trip, Westside - Britannia and Charming

Woke to dreary conditions after a rainy night in Westport and took our time getting going for the Britannia Road. Just north of Waimangaroa (where you go for Denniston) we parked up and chatted to a old golddigger before riding into the mist. no views to be had except for low cloud and damp rainforest, the latter being particularly nice. across a soggy paddock, through an electric fence gate, and into the woods. deep in the woods... quite dark in the forest, and very drippy. up we climbed. across a bridge, very pretty creek rushing under, and on up. cleaning most stuff, occasionally not, sucky muck, slippy rocks and sloppy roots, which are all features of west coast riding. Not sure how long it took us to get to the top, there were a few trees across in places, and old slips the track detoured around, but mostly it is a benched into the hillside well formed old bullock track. a challenging and fun ride up.

At the top the cloud began to lift and for the first time we could see across the valley to the bush on the other side.

Turned around at the top (without dropping down to the Britannia Battery), and the extra fun began. what a blast. what had seemed tricky on the way up we now just flew over, and the end came really quickly with the sun starting to shine on us as we cruised back across the final paddock.

Next up it was Charming Creek. We stopped in full muddy regalia at The Drifter's Cafe, and most of us scoffed down excellent cheeseburgers, then back in the cars and up the road to the Ngakawau River. the river was up a bit, quite dirty and raging to the overnight rain.

The trail was an old railway (for logs first then i think coal), and still had its tracks most of the way up. these proved an interesting feature whenever you needed to change lines, often grabbing the rear wheel and sliding you round if you got it wrong. Also, associated with tracks, are sleepers... rough, old, sleepers. continuously, budump budump budump all the way. most of the time they were eminently rideable, but occasionally there was a hole between them that would eat a wheel. the track was scenic as all hell, with the raging torrent of a river on your left, and cliffs either side, and waterfalls raining down on you. eventually we got to the swingbridge and from half way across the most spectacular waterfall comes into view. incredible, especially with all the extra water pouring over it. then its through a tunnel, and on up the gorge to the actual Charming Creek. from here the track got pretty boring, flat, monotonous, through an open scrubby (completely logged over) country. a sulphur spring next to the track was interesting, and another (rideable) swingbridge met.

probably about half a km from the end, we decided we'd had enough, so turned round and headed back down. the challenges of the climb were easier with gravity on our sides, and everybody had a good spin, enjoying the scenery, back. small detour near the end, then it was back to Westport for 3 lbs of Whitebait courtesy Bruce. Cheers Bruce!

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