Remote but achievable routes for a memorable night out
This weekend combine a night ride with some awe-inspiring meteor spotting. Here’s five great places to watch the Perseid showers.
The Perseid meteor shower is caused by debris from the Swift-Tuttle comet. The annual shower expected this weekend is set to be one of the best shower shows for a while in the Northern Hemisphere, so make the most of it.
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What to take with you
You don’t need to take any special viewing equipment like telescopes or binoculars. They’ll be perfectly visible with the naked eye.
Having said that you might want to take a few extra things with you than you would normally take out on a night ride. Make sure your lights will last long enough for what you have planned. Also taking a blanket, a beanie hat and a proper camera would be a good idea.
What are Perseids?
The shooting stars that you say during a Perseid shower are actually tiny particles of dust coming into contact with Earth’s atmosphere and bursting into flame.
As mentioned, this year’s shower is predicted to be a really impressive sight with Perseids firing twice as fast as usual. How fast is twice as fast? About 37 miles per second. As well as being speedy, the showering dust particles will be relatively frequent at approximately 200 meteors per hour.
Perseids are best viewed at night and with as little light pollution as possible. So you’ll need to head out a bit further afield than the end of your road. It’s a good idea to avoid places with lots of high mountains or trees blocking your vista.
The ride starts in Porlock. After a steep climb, the first great singletrack drops through Horner Wood. A couple more punchy climbs lead you to Webber’s Post and a long, rocky singletrack across open moorland to Brockwell. Later you’ll climb back up the top half of Porlock Hill for more viewing opportunities.
2. The South Downs
The South Downs is not only a ridge line of rolling hills separating the English Channel from the southern counties — it’s a mountain biker’s playground, and there’s more to it than just the South Downs Way.
3. The Cheviot Hills
This ride starts in what feels like the middle of nowhere and tops out high on the English/Scottish border, where it can be extended into Scotland. From Alwinton follow Clennel Street N through Kidland Forest and down to the Usway Burn. Keep N around Hazely Law to the border and follow this over Windy Gyle.
4. The Gower Peninsula, South Wales
So near to Swansea and yet so very, very different. Watch the meteors on the beach or head up on to the wedge shaped hill that sprouts up right behind it. You can’t move for excellent advantage points on the Gower really!
5. Caldbeck Fells, Cumbria
The northern tip of the Lakes feels remote in comparison to the southern end. And this ride has a real ‘out there’ feel despite a few road sections. It’s so remote we couldn’t find a photo(!)
Top tips for Perseid watching
The meteors will emanate from near the Pole star in the sky. So locate that first.
The best time to see the meteors will be between 11am and 3am – the darkest period of the night basically. It gets particularly dark after the moon has set, so after 1am.