2016 Basque & Pyrenees dates

All dates and details for the 2016 trips are out now. Click on the Trips heading above.

2015 has been the best year so far for the Great Rock trips run in partnership with Basque MTB. All the trips have a mountain bike skills element, which adds to the overall feel of the holiday without making it into a “skills clinic”.

Each day we spend up to an hour sessioning a section of trail or developing a riding technique. The rest of the day is spent riding, but all the time riders are under the eye of Ed, the skills trainer and Doug, the head guide. There is plenty of opportunity to follow or by followed by both of them and the feedback is that this really helps riders to progress their skills, flow over the trails better and take on new challenges.


We have three different trips.

The spring Backcountry Pyrenees has longer hours of daylight for more time on the bikes and concentrates on slightly lower altitude trails on mainly south facing slopes.

The autumn Backcountry Pyrenees trips take us higher into the High Pyrenees, with uplifts regularly taking us up over 2000m.

In the summer we run trips in the Basque Country on and near to the coast. Here the trails are shorter in length but rich in their technicality, beautiful ocean views and always close to the amazing Basque gastronomy to keep body and soul together.

On the Basque coast trips guests stay in one place and enjoy more off the bike time whereas the Backcountry trips involve more driving and staying in different accommodations. If you’ve seen the social media feeds then you know that we like to ride hard and eat well. Every year a good proportion of guests rebook to return again which we think is a great testament to the quality of both the riding, social atmosphere and great food that we like to share.

All photos by Douglas McDonald


So proud to have been a part of this event. Steve had an accident after the Vain Vagrant video launch party last year that changed his life. 1 year on and we’re helping him get back on his feet (pun intended)

Tim Royle of Whitenosugar Productions put together this video of the guided ride and party at North West Barber Co that raised nearly £3,000 on Saturday

You can read Steve’s story here and donate if you like.

Hebden Bridge Ride 25/7/15

It’s the Shakeyakey Ride! To book a place click ‘Shakeyakey Ride’ under the ‘Trips’ tab above

Be guided on Hebden Bridge trails, see where the Vain Vagrant film was shot and raise some money for a good cause.

To celebrate the one year anniversary of the launch of the Vain Vagrant film Great Rock will be organising a guided Hebden Bridge ride. We’ll ride some Hebden Bridge trails including some from the film, we’ll have a nice lunch, a pub stop and a visit to Old Gate for a pint to finish. Who knows there might even be some weird characters there and some prizes!

This is also the 1st anniversary weekend of a life changing incident that happened to one of our friends. Shakeyakey, a passionate mountain biker, was at the Vain Vagrant launch party and had an accident on his way home that left him paralysed and changed the way he now lives his life.


Shakeyakey’s story really touched me because I know how it could so easily be my story. I do dangerous things and I do daft things and even some of the normal things that I do could, in the blink of an eye, end with it being me in the wheel chair. It could be any one of us.

Wouldn’t it be great to do something positive that would be fun to do and help a friend? Yes, and that’s why all the money raised from the ride will go to helping Shakeyakey buy and adapt a home. There will be other events happening to raise money, this is just the beginning! Maybe we’ll even be able to get him riding off road again.

You can read more about his story here on the gofundme page.

Our great friends at the North West Barber Company will be donating all takings from their shop on the same day to the cause as well as hosting a party in the evening, to which we’re all invited.

Oh and by the way planning has begun for the follow up film to the Vain Vagrant, we’ll let you in on some secrets if you come along on the day.


We’ll ride all day from 9.30am to about 4pm with a lunch break at Old Gate in Hebden Bridge (so you don’t need to bring sandwiches but you will need money to buy your lunch and drinks)

You will need a mountain bike and be able to ride moderately technical, rocky terrain (think Red grade trail centre trail). You will be riding for about 4 hours during the day. It won’t be a race, this is a fun, social ride and no one will get left behind. If there are lots of us there might be some more technical trails that a brake away group will be able to ride.

All money from this day will be donated to the gofundme fundraiser page minus the amount that Paypal will deduct for processing the payments.

2015 partners


Great Rock is supported by some fantastic brands for 2015 and it’s something worth shouting about. I’m more than happy to recommend the kit that I use because it’s tried and tested by me and if it didn’t work without lots of faff and fixing then I wouldn’t want it. It also helps if the kit looks good and can put on a pretty face for the relentless Instagram photos!

Kit has to work well in the tough and rocky conditions of Hebden Bridge, as pictured above, as well as at Gisburn Forest, Lake District, Basque Country, Pyrenees and all the other places that it gets dragged, ridden, thrown in vans, carried up mountains, crashed, rained on, sun bleached, sweated on and cleaned over and over again. It’s making me all excited just thinking about all the adventures to come this year!

Frames are Santa Cruz

Clothing, helmets and pads are Sweet Protection

Drivetrains, brakes, pedals and shoes are Shimano

Forks are X-Fusion

Wheels are Mavic

Bars, stems, saddles and grips are Chromag

Tyres are WTB

Dropper posts are KS

Frame protection is Invisiframe

Chain lube and bike cleaner is Squirt

Waterproof socks and gloves are Sealskinz

Trail tools are Lezyne

Bike travel bag is Evoc

Haircuts and beard trims are North West Barber Co.

Hebden Bridge Riding

Hebden Bridge trails are rideable all year round. If you stay on the steep valley sides the water just runs away and if it’s windy you’re protected. Our trails are gritstone based which means there’s a good level of grip and even when conditions are wet you can usually find traction somewhere.

Of course it’s not always grim up north and now that the sun is getting his flat cap on and the green shoots of spring are popping up it’s time to start another season of skills and guiding days.

As well as being the base for the Northern Rock Tours, the Alpine Tech skills courses take place on Hebden trails as well as many private one to one and group bookings. People travel from far and wide to ride the trails, progress their riding and enjoy the food and drink of the town.

The trails in this short edit are classic Hebden: rocky, technical and fast and a firm favourite on our days. Check out the courses or trips we offer and maybe come and see for yourself what all the fuss is about.

Acre Hauser 14L pack

Acre Hauser 14L pack

I need a mountain bike pack to:

1. Not fall apart

The construction of the Hauser is top quality. The fabric is tough, the zips are strong and keep working even when covered in mud. I’ve got faith that it’s going to last me a long time even when it gets used daily, thrown in the van and left covered in filth.

2. Carry all my stuff

I didn’t think that 14L would be enough for me, but without the need for dry bags (see 4) and if you pack stuff in tight it’s a good size. In the Hauser I can carry a full tool roll with tools and spares, waterproof jacket, spare layer, gloves, hat, buff, big phone, windproof, 1st aid kit, space blanket, tube, wallet, snacks, water and a down gilet. For remote guiding duties where you are carrying extra kit or equipment it would be nice to have a couple more litres of volume. Maybe this is something that Acre will go on to develop, but for most people it’s plenty big enough as it is. I was worried that I’m miss a hip pocket to put my multi tool in, but I found that it fits in an open pocket on the shoulder strap.

Pads fit on the outside securely as does an open or full face helmet if you need it to. You can close the main compartment by rolling the top and securing with the Velcro strap, which allows you to cram a bit more stuff in. Or you can buckle the flap over which is quicker and gives more water protection to the 2 external zipped pockets.

The tool roll is a work of genius, allowing you to organise and separate tools as well as making them more accessible when you unroll it. How did I live without this? It even makes you look pro as you lay out your tools instead of dropping bits everywhere.

There is space for up to a 3L water bladder. It’s easy to get it in and out even when the pack and or the bladder is full.


3. Stay in place when I’m riding

Being slim, like an alpinist’s pack, means that the load is spread up your back, keeping the pack from swinging about. This does mean that you have to pull the top things out to get to stuff at the bottom, but the benefits far outweigh the minor inconvenience, and less zips mean more protection from water. The slim width of the pack also means you’re less likely to get caught up on a branch or a cheeky rock knuckle.

4. Keep my stuff dry

It’s described as weatherproof, a description that I always think means porous! However I’ve found that the contents of the main compartment have remained completely dry even after riding all day in proper rain. I’ve always been a belt and braces kind of guy and have used dry bags inside my pack as well as covering the pack with a rain cover. No need for that anymore. Just remember to close the bag after you get your pie out in the rain and don’t leave it open like I did. Ooops!

5. Fit my body

There are various anchor points on the body of the pack so that you can fix the shoulder and hip straps in the right place to fit your body size.

6. Not look shit

It looks ace with its understated styling and colour options and doesn’t have any gimmicky bits stuck on the outside.

It’s ace, get one.

RRP is £195

More details and retailer list here