Posted on Friday 16 April 2010 by John Aizlewood
|Follow this link for the Easter Tour 2010 album|
Paul and John rode out meeting at Jordans YH on Monday night. Paul’s new SPD shoes squeaked making any surprise attack from behind impossible. We crossed the Chilterns to Oxford with its dreaming spires and Inspector Morse’s pubs, then over the Cotswolds to Stratford on Avon. The weather was cold with head winds and occasional hail showers, so that we had to thaw out at Chipping Norton before ordering lunch. Then into the Midlands, passing through the centre of England at Meriden. We stopped at the cyclists war memorial there.
As we moved north we went back in the seasons, with only lambs, Daffodils and Primroses as evidence of Spring, but two meal deals were down to £7. It was raining as we arrived at National Forest YH. David and Angela, Nina, Lawrence, and Frank joined us in the Cricketers that evening and the start of the tour next day. David was given a handicap by carring both panniers: one for him and one for her.
Good Friday and we made progress following NCN54 to Ashbourne. Then it rained hiding some of the spectacular scenery of the southern White Peak, although the old railway trail along the Manifold valley was still impressive, and the tunnel dryer than outside for once. By Hartington the weather cleared with limestone cliffs and flooded roads on the climb over to Youlgreave. There were still snow patches in the fields left over from earlier that week.
The temporary warden at the youth hostel told us that there was no bike shed and to store ours in the boot room. Seven bikes filled the room and caused consternation amongst walkers who had an early bus to catch next morning, so we had to be up early ourselves. David’s front mudguard was mysteriously damaged whilst his bike was parked in the corridor. Angela had evicted the moths from her road jersey, but holes were evidence of their taste for fine Merino wool.
Saturday was a day for low gears and good brakes: first over the hills to Bakewell to sample a traditional pudding divided into five. During lunch at Monsal Head Paul’s map and case were pinched, but it was only a cheap map case. Down past the viaduct into Millers Dale and a steep climb back up to Tideswell, Cathedral of the Peak, then through Peak Forest to the top of Winnats. David, Angela and Lawrence descended the 1 in 5 gorge to Castleton, whilst the rest climbed higher over Mam Tor and down into the Edale valley. Paul was first down the steep descent and even overtook a car and the more cautious cyclist slowing it down; Frank and Nina took it a bit slower.
Hathersage YH bike shed was filled with hostel junk leaving four bikes outside, but the size of portions in the Little John Inn that night were more than cyclist friendly. The Cumberland sausage even defeated Paul, but not John.
Easter Sunday and an early climb into the Dark Peak and up to Stanage Edge caught the view of Hope valley below in sun, before rain squalls passed over. It was wild weather with rainbows and dramatic scenery as far as the Kinder plateau still fringed with snow. Coffee was at Yorkshire Bridge before following the track alongside Ladybower reservoir past the site of the drowned village of Derwent.
Water overflowed the massive stone Derwent Dam which had been used by the Dambusters for practice in 1943. A snack lunch there, then back down the road to Hope for tea, and up the steep climb behind Castleton with great views of the valley, Mam Tor and Win Hill. David was then despatched to retrieve Angela’s hat left at Youlgreave, whilst Angela carried the His and Hers panniers three miles to Eyam. David meanwhile did a fine 2 hour time trial enjoying late evening sun to get back for a very acceptable hostel meal. What a pity the bike shed was again filled with junk.
Monday and after breakfast David and Angela left for their train home, whilst we rode through Chatsworth Park for coffee in the garden centre, then through Matlock past the Heights of Abraham before lunch at Wirksworth, where Lawrence and Frank left us. It was a surprisingly attractive ride until we hit the outskirts of Derby where Nina caught the train. Leaving Derby NCN54 passed through Pride Park just as Derby County crowds were leaving the match, so we took the A road instead to our B&B.
The next day on passing through Melton Mowbray we sampled their pie before stopping at Thurlby. This youth hostel had been rescued from the YHA by the local council and volunteers, and for once had an excellent bike shed. A tail wind across the fens meant excellent progress to Cambridge, and the next day we made Tewin for lunch, leaving |John to ride home to London.