They Think It’s All Over

Well I’m back from a wonderful Bank Holiday weekend in the Derbyshire Dales with our motorhome and our tandem. What beautiful countryside, with rough pastures full of buttercups, dry stone walls and verges full of wild flowers – much of it the ubiquitous Cow Parsley or as we called it when I was a child, Mother Die, but others were in evidence as well. Swallows flitted all around our camping field and I even spotted a curlew standing statue-still only a few yards from the road as we were cycling along. There were also plenty of hills and steep-sided woodlands rising up from the lanes beside us. I haven’t yet had time to download any photos from my camera so nothing to share I’m afraid.

One minor problem of the weekend is that we found that the whistling kettle that we use on the gas cooker (we had no electric hook-up so relied on the gas) was in serious danger of losing it’s handle which had nearly detached itself. The meant that we had to cycle into the lovely little town of Bakewell to buy a new one – this was Bank Holiday Saturday. What a mistake! The town was jam-packed with visitors (okay, so were we visitors too!), very few masks and no social distancing in evidence. It seems that, since everything is due to open up later this month all being well, the majority think it is all over already. The same problem was true of the off-road Monsal Trail that we rode along to get to Bakewell and back again – crowded, no social-distancing or masks. At least we found a kettle after spending quite a long time looking for a shop that could sell us one and being sent on some wild goose chases when we stopped to ask! I may have had both jabs but I’m still not comfortable with a quick return to so called ‘normality’.

This was however a minor hiccup, the weekend was most enjoyable and out and about on the country lanes we were virtually alone (except for passing traffic). We kept away from the popular places where crowds would gather. By gum, it’s hilly up there though and we were glad of our electric assist!

The Monsal Trail

Monsal Trail, Bakewell end

Monsal Trail, Bakewell end

Just over a week ago our eldest son and his family rode a fair chunk of the Monsal Trail, so that our grandson could finish his ’50 miles’ challenge (see last week’s cycling post here). This is yet another old railway line that has now become a traffic-free cycling and walking route which runs through the Peak District National Park from Bakewell to near Buxton in Derbyshire. It has been on our to-do list for a while but we were unable to join with them on their ride so we took ourselves off to cycle it last Tuesday.

It is a bit further away from our home than most of the other recent rides that we have done, being about an hour and a half’s drive. The trail itself is about 9 miles long but again we would have to go ‘there and back’. We actually started from a car park at the former Hassop Station, a mile or so out of Bakewell. Bicycle hire is available here for those who need it and there is also a café and craft shop. It was very busy as it was a half decent day, if a bit cool, after a wet spell and nearing the end of the school holidays.

Approaching a tunnel

Approaching a tunnel

We rode up the trail to its further end at Wyedale, where there is a similar ‘End of Trail’ sign to the one pictured above and you can go no further. Here we had a drink and some of our packed lunch before the return trip. This trail has a much better surface than many of the others we have ridden, being mostly tarmac, it is also wider and probably had two rail tracks rather than the single rail of the others. It is very popular with families and children as, not only is it an easy ride, but there are several tunnels to go through (which are lit, though not very brightly). How I managed to get this photo with no people in it a can’t imagine as there were many people about, families with small children riding bikes with stabilizers included. We also passed horse riders making use of this wonderful off-road route. It was impossible to cycle at any great speed – not that we wanted to as part of the purpose is to enjoy the scenery.

View from the trail

View from the trail

After passing through Chee Tor tunnel,  the longest tunnel on the route, you come to Miller’s Dale Bridge, where a group of youngsters under instruction were abseiling down to the banks of the River Wye below – not something you would catch me doing. The trail also passes over a viaduct, which our book tells us is one of the most impressive viaducts in Britain. Unfortunately you can’t actually see the viaduct itself when you ride over it!

When we arrived back at Hassop Station the car park was even more crowded. We had another drink and a bit more to eat before setting out to ride the remaining section of the trail, to its Bakewell end and back. The round trip was about 18.5 miles.

We did our good turns for the day – my husband never cycles without tools! We passed a group of three ladies, one of whom had a puncture and stopped to help. It tuned out the bike was a hire one, they had squirted in the ‘gunk’ provided to seal any punctures but it hadn’t worked. However they felt we probably shouldn’t do anything else and were trying to phone the cycle hire place for assistance but had no signal. They must have sorted something because they had gone when we returned that way later. We were more successful helping a family with a kiddie on a small bike with stabilizers. One of the stabilizer wheels wasn’t turning properly so hubby freed it up and also raised the saddle for them – the poor child was peddling with his knees nearly knocking his ears!

This was a lovely trail to ride and ideal for families but if you wish to have a clear run at it then it would be better not to go during school holidays, it is obviously very popular and well used. We took a different route home from the way we had driven out to Bakewell. This brought us past The Roaches where there had recently been wild fires which have completely blackened and ravaged the vegetation around this beautiful spot. The area was still closed to the public but at least the fires were out. Such a sad sight after the pleasure of the cycle ride.


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