Couple of days on the High Peak and Monsal Trails.
As explained earlier, the graveyard in Cromford was rejected in favour of the riverside picnic spot….
.. which was rejected in favour of the toilet block “lawn” behind the atmospheric terminus of the Cromford Canal…
After a 4degreesC night of owls, condensation, but no slugs for a change; and some nicely relaxed morning ablutions in the warm toilet block; I met my pals at a place they called an “hotel” I think it was although I’m entirely unfamiliar with the term. As we were getting the bikes ready a very nice lady appeared and we chatted about our planned trip to Buxton and back. She explained she’d come to lead a ballet class in one of the hotel rooms. I instantly suggested we swapped – her ladies could borrow our bikes and do the trip and we’d come and do the ballet class. Surprisingly she was very keen on the idea, saying that “we need lots more men so you’d be very welcome indeed”. Arg! This was starting to become all very “Castle Anthrax” (Monty Python & The Holy Grail, remember?), and I wasn’t sure if our padded bike shorts were permissible ballet-wear, so we pedalled quickly away up the Sheep Pasture Incline on the High Peak Trail. I'd managed to cram everything into just my seatpack since there was no need to carry food, and we just wore all our rain-gear. The route is a little tame by my BaM standards but the whole point was a sociable wobble with some good pals, cafes/pubs/banter taking precedence over the biking. Plenty of sculptures and whatnot dotted along the trail, just after which I managed the Middleton Incline without stopping which mildly pleased me….
The line was built in the 1830’s to join the Cromford and Peak Forest canals, only a few years after Stephenson’s “Rocket” reached the unheard of speed of 30mph. Unfortunately the designers hadn’t quite twigged how railways work and each end featured massive rope-worked inclines. Still, the top bit was flat and included some impressive earthworks and embankments….
Very gloopy on the Pennine Bridleway down into Taddington…
I’ve not been into the Monsal Dale station café before, very nice tea and cake it was…
Followed by the insanely scenic Chee Dale section of the Monsal Trail, but instead of some scenery here’s the Chee Tor tunnels….
By this time it was raining quite heavily and we headed into Buxton for the night. I’d already started scoping for my “spot” and found an interesting looking derelict house which could be “entered” without any associated “breaking”. In town we took the opportunity to top up with gen-yew-ine Buxton Spring water – for free instead of two quid a bottle in the supermarket. A lady who was filling up a million bottles told us the bottled stuff is now actually Ashbourne
water!! So the warm spring outlet in Buxton is now the only kosher Buxton water – or maybe Ashbourne Water is now Buxton Water? All very confusing.
After a pleasant Thai meal and a drink in the trendy “Bank” joint next door, they sloped off to their beds, and I retraced my steps to my own “bed”, pleased that it was actually indoors as the rain was setting in again… got a snap next morning while waiting for the lads to catch me up on the way back to the Monsal Trail….
More lovely limestone gorge scenery….
Then up into Sheldon, after which we passed the partially restored Magpie Mine, last open for lead mining as late as 1958 but now maintained by the Peak District Mines Historical Society….
Bit of lunch in the café at Monyash and back along the High Peak Trail to Middleton incline with its preserved winding engine and other bits of railwayana. Quite fun screaming down the incline with red hot brake pads.
We viewed the mill workers cottages built in Cromford by Arkwright in the 18th century. A very enlightened chap for those days, the workers were provided with schools, shops and even a pub. The cottages themselves had small top-floor rooms which workers could use in their “spare time” for more weaving – maybe not so enlightened then
. Still, it was the Bell pub that interested us, and we were happy to continue the tradition of drinking ale instead of water to avoid lead poisoning from the lead mines. Curiously the public bar was posher than the lounge bar so obviously we retired to the latter and sampled the wares on offer…..
I’m not entirely convinced the Derbyshire spelling is “Ay Up”, but the landlord reckoned “Ey Up” was the Yorkshire version and not to be countenanced in any circumstances. Derby Rams such as myself will note the “Mi Duck” perched next to the handpump….
A bit of dinner was enjoyed at the Boat Inn, although I almost needed to call the Pickers Pudding Advisory Hotline because the pud menu was most confusing. Apparently we could have “flavoured” ice creams in their “standalone mode”, but only vanilla ice cream was permissible if ordered as part of a pudding. So my admirable chunk of STP duly arrived with its partner of VIC instead of the toffee flavour I was hoping for. Are they operating under some strange interpretation of Pudding Guidelines here Rich or is it actually allowed under the General Rules?
Dinner was followed by a leisurely stroll round the village, including paying homage to Scarthin Books, one of the top book shops in the world, where I’ve spent many a happy hour. Note the steps to the right of the shop – anyone else a connoisseur of “secret stairways”? These look particularly fine – probably a portal to a different universe or something….
Back to their boring rooms for my mates, and a soggy scout round for a bivi spot for me. I soon hit upon the kids playground nearby – they always seem to have nice flat spots under the climbing frames. “Me? The 13th Duke of
Perrin? Erecting my pole? In a childrens playground? At midnight? With my
reputation? Whatever were they thinking of?”
I took the precaution of configuring my tarp in a “low profile” mode and adding a shower curtain, which made the 4am downpour almost pleasant. So not much to write home about as far as the technical biking went but a thoroughly pleasant way of spending a wet couple of days in October.
The only casualty is my irreplaceable Rab Demand smock which now seems to be showing its age
. Cue yet another search for "best wind/waterproof" around here. Sigh.
10/10, 10/12, 45/45