Our Peak District Tour this year was somewhat dogged by very poor weather! However, all of us managed some good rides, walks and a good helping of culture and nostalgia!
On day 1 (5/6/19) ten of us arrived at Hartington Hall YHA in time to have a short but picturesque introduction to the limestone scenery. We managed a sizeable chunk of the Manifold Valley and a shorter section of the Tissington Trail with some steep hills in between. The Tudor/ Jacobean Hostel, formerly a Manor House was large and lively (3 school parties!) with superb facilities. Ok, communal sleeping was perhaps a little more problematic at our age! but this was more than offset by the choice of communal sitting rooms, the setting, well equipped kitchen where we liked to gather for a brew, the friendly bar and restaurant and the easy access to open countryside.
Day 2 dawned reasonably brightly and 10 cyclists set off on a circular 42 mile route through a mixture of limestone dales, high gritstone moors with amazing views over the Cheshire Plain and an 8 mile ridge to bring us back to the limestone country. Sadly as the weather appeared to be deteriorating we returned to the hostel via the entire length of the Manifold Trail. Sue and Niccy elected to explore on foot the famous Dove Valley with it’s caves, rock formations and Stepping Stones.
As we feared Day 3 was very wet! And the majority of us decided to seek an alternative in the form of a National Trust property with The Museum of Childhood at Sudbury Hall providing us with a happy hour or two of nostalgia. Hardier members of our party were not to be deterred by mere weather forecasts and set off to explore Buxton by bike (bravo to Mike, John and Larry!) At this point things became slightly more complicated eg. bikes at Hartington, new dorms and on-street parking awaiting us at Youlgrave and group members spread to the four winds! The former Village COOP building which served as the Yougrave hostel was quirky but lacked the facilities of Hartington. Eventually the majority of us enjoyed a excellent meal at The George Pub in the Village, we booked for 14 to eat there again at 6.30 the following night.
With a worse forecast for Saturday, Day 4 , 6 cyclists hit the road, 2 went on a hike through Lathkill Dale with Graham (‘Winkie’) Dave’s friend, and 5 ( those with National Trust membership) investigated the life and loves of Bess of Hardwick after sampling tarts at Bakewell. On this day at least 2 Wetherspoons were located to add to the tally. Our two younger members got rather muddy and were spotted with copious quantities of water dousing bikes and themselves!! (that will teach them not to have mudguards!) We enjoyed the evening at The George followed by a convivial coffee in the well-equipped member’s kitchen. We hit the sack fairly early in anticipation of a short ride before setting off home the next day.
Day 5, saw 8 of the group head north out of the village through Over Haddon and Taddington before descending into Miller’s Dale where they cycled along the beautiful Water-cum-Jolly Dale, which proved to be very muddy. As we climbed up to Monsal Head we encountered a bunch of racing cyclists speeding in the opposite direction. As time was pressing some headed back to their cars whilst others had one last coffee break. ‘Winkie led a short walk into Bradford Dale and Graham Black was pleased to be able to take part, he is recovering well from his op.
In conclusion on this year’s tour we had no food poisoning or heat exhaustion, not much sleep or cycling (well, for some) but lots of good company and bonhomie!