Please note: the owners of the wood, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, would like to point out that cycling is not permited on the permissive footpaths which run through Coxley woods. If you do venture this way bear this in mind. Also, look out for illegal motorcrossers, who tear around the woods causing lots of noise and erosion. Some dog walkers have stretched ropes at head height to stop these, which is obviously very dangerous to anybody passing that way.
The snow started around 7 in the morning and didn't stop until the afternoon, and by that time 5 inches of snow had fallen. Being the UK and unused to such amounts of snow, naturally nearly all forms of transport closed down. Nearly all, that is except people silly enough to think it was a good time to get out on a mountain bike.
By the time we were ready to start riding, conditions were more like what you'd expect on a skiing holiday rather than West Yorkshire in January. At least 5 inches of snow lay on top of a light dusting or snow from the previous few days, plus the ground was deeply forzen with the remains of some rather icy snow from the previous week. This ensured all but the main roads were frozen solid, with compacted and polished snow sitting ontop of ice. Off road the snow was thicker, with ice and frozen puddles lurking below the snow, to catch the unwarry. Frozen muddy ruts are always tricky, but a lot worse when you can't see them. Likewise solidly iced puddles were another unseen threat.
We set off along a favourite route of min up into Coxley Woods, but rather than climb the offroad hill above the canal, we decided to take Blacker Lane. The road was snow and ice covered and only just doable by bike. Until in a car it's easy to get off and push. Once on the farm tracks progress becaume slower as we had to follow a tractors path.
Once we got to Coxley, the path was fairly well worn by other poeple, off work, who had gone for a walk in the woods instead. Andy's lights, which had been fading, pretty much died once in the woods, just when he needed them. Fortunatly, I had my trusty Petzl tika 2, which we strapped to his dead lights, and my lumicycle LEDs kicked up enough light to turn the snowy woods into something spooky but light. Moral of the story. Always charge your lights before going out, even if you think they have power left (especially in the cold), and take a decent headtorch as a spare. it's also handy for fixing the bike, as main beam isn't great for close work.
Here's the initial descent from near Earnshaws Fencing centre to the gate:
And here's a lovely tricky technical bit. Normally in winter it is hard to ride due to mud. Even in summer it's twisty and features lots of tree. In snow, you just point downhill and go:
And the last bit down to the gate: