I've been out again this afternoon looking at some of the originally planned route sections. Unfortunately as I suspected, Charity Lane still requires 4 hours and a mini-digger to get through successfully.
The problem is it's a sunken track which filled with drifting snow at the start of January. Now it's become a partially frozen mass which is unrideable and very difficult even to walk on. I reckon Rick Draper is right when he says it'll take until March to thaw.
It's a shame because it's one of the best descents in the area.
As for the higher sections opposite the Cat & Fiddle Inn, well you've guessed it; still alot of snow. The original route requires some road sections which link up several good lengthy off-road sections. Of course if all the off-road sections are unrideable it turns into an pleasant road ride interupted by unpleasant walking pushes.
So plan B it is. A fully rideable 12 mile loop with a 5 mile extension for anyone still feeling fit enough to bypass the pub for an extra hour.
In answer to your bike question Ed. Bring whichever one slows you down on the climbs and the downhills, so that we have a chance to keep up.
Looking forward to seeing everyone on Sunday.