Tour of Croatia (Mobile phone photo: Stuart Coleman©2013)

Tour of the Vosgue (Mobile phone photo: Stuart Coleman©2013)

PICTURE a small boy cycling to the tops above Hebden Bridge to write an encouraging message on the road in chalk; the scene is set for Le Grand Depart and the South Pennines Walk and Ride Festival.

With the Grand Depart of the Tour De France 2014 less than a year away this year’s South Pennines Walk and Ride Festival, taking place between Saturday, September 7 and Sunday, September 22, will feature a series of cycling events to whet the appetite of cyclists everywhere; from beginners to seasoned enthusiasts, and also offering spectators the chance to get close to the action.

The festival (details at, organised by rural regeneration company Pennine Prospects, has commissioned two short films: “Le Grand Depart” and “The Magic Tenner”, to show the world the stunning landscape of the South Pennines and to celebrate the part it will play in the Grand Depart 2014 as dozens of the world’s top athletes race through the Yorkshire countryside. Day two of Le Tour will pass through the South Pennines.

Tim Royle, of the production company WhiteNoSugar, said Le Grand Depart had all been shot in and around the South Pennines, very close to the actual Tour route. “We follow a small boy as he makes his way onto the tops to write a message in chalk on the road. I challenge people not to smile when they watch this; it’s a lovely film. With the Tour on its way you’ll need to buy some chalk.

“The next short film, the Magic Tenner, will follow the progress of a £10 note as it travels through the local economy from one person to the next. It all starts off in a cycling shop and then continues from there,” explained Tim. “It will be launched before the Walk and Ride Festival in September and like Le Grand Depart will be available to watch online.”

There is an increased number of cycling events in this year’s festival programme, from the spectators’ firm favourite, Up the Buttress, to a guided ride along the Calderdale section of the Tour Route, including the challenging climbs at Cock Hill, Cragg Vale and Ripponden Bank.

“At Shibden Park we will be holding a cyclocross race event. Alongside the standard format of cyclocross racing we have added separate women’s and beginner’s races to help encourage people to have a go,” explained Emma Osenton, event organiser. “In cyclocross the aim is to complete as many laps as possible in the allotted time. This course will be two kilometres long with jumps and obstacles along the way so competitors will have to pick up their bikes and carry them over some sections. It’s a great spectator sport.”

The cyclocross Lister Lion CX will take place at Shibden Park on Saturday, September 14 as part of a cycling bonanza weekend. On Sunday, September 15 there will be the Shibden Spinner sportive, a challenging long distance cycling event, over two distances; 40 miles and 85 miles, which will include a timed section up the cobbles of the cycling-world-famous Shibden Wall, at Lee Lane; and the three climbs to feature in next year’s Grand Depart. Over the weekend there will also be a hog roast and family entertainment.

For those not at competition level but keen to start cycling or gain confidence there are also a number of Sky Ride events taking place during the festival. Categorised as easy, steady or challenging the Sky Rides are aimed at getting more people cycling.

With over 150 events, this year’s festival, the biggest yet, offers something for everyone and not just cyclists: walkers and horse riders also have lots of choice of events, all with volunteer guides and organisers who have expert knowledge of the area and terrain. To find out more visit the festival website for full programme information at



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