Cycle + walk trails – St James Cycle Trail
Looking for a remote and challenging cycling adventure like no other? How about an overnighter in a basic backcountry hut? Like a dip in a natural hot spring all on your own? Well if that ticks all your boxes for making a great ride, then the St James Cycle Trail is for you.
had been looking forward to this trip for some time – a true ‘out of the way’ ride with stunning backcountry scenery – although I admit I had some apprehension. While the trail is near to Hanmer Springs, I would be cycling alone at altitude, away from roads, with no mobile coverage, rivers to ford and a storm due to hit the following day; it was not a ride to take lightly. You get my apprehension, right? So along with my GPS units to map the trail for the Great Rides App, I took my Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). The PLB I had yet to use. Well … I should say that I had not even taken it out of its packaging! I hoped I would not have to unpack this tiny yellow device, appropriately named ‘Rescue Me’, on this ride.
It’s a cool morning, the weather is prefrontal. While really wishing to stay overnight on the trail, I elect to complete the trail in a day as the rest of the week’s forecast is for heavy persistent rain. I am dropped at the start of the ride by Andrew of St James Journeys; his Land Rover Defender seems like the perfect vehicle in this tough environment. I wave goodbye to him, and in a few short moments I enter the wilderness pedalling along a 4WD track towards a pass on the St James Range.
Beside me winds a clear babbling brook. My eyes follow its curves upstream towards its source near the skyline. Off to the side, behind a patch of beech forest, I spot a grand waterfall that cascades off a rocky terrace that is fed from the idyllic sounding tarn called the ‘Princess Bath’. It seems odd to have such a regal name for a backcountry lake. I don’t think there have been many princesses lazing about in those freezing waters.
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