Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Tour of Britain

Stage 7 of the TOB  finished in Mansfield and passed within a couple of hundred metres from where I live. I had a perfect vantage point to take a few photo's as the leaders come through.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Buxton signing workday Monday 3 September 2018

National Cycle Route 68, known as the “Pennine Cycleway” is a long-distance route running from Derby to Berwick-on-Tweed*, and our group looks after a significant stretch of this as it wends its way through Derbyshire from Etwall to Buxton and beyond. The almost four-mile section from Earl Sterndale to Harpur Hill, until a couple of days ago, has followed main roads much used by quarry traffic. Not nice! In 2016 Derbyshire County Council constructed a very fine multi-user path over Staker Hill and earlier this year completed a short spur from the Parks Inn to join with it. This has meant that the original alignment of that section of Route 68 has become redundant and the new route now proceeds from Earl Sterndale, straight on along a minor road, over Staker Hill on the new path, to Harpur Hill. We could not remove the old signage until this final Parks Inn link was built and the Staker Hill MUP fully accessible. Monday was our day to act!

We met at Earl Sterndale: David and Catherine, David G and Tom Aplin, our new Sustrans Volunteer Coordinator. After David G had outlined our tasks for the day, we slogged up one hill, then free-wheeled down to Brierlow Bar, and then climbed again to Harpur Hill (steep gradients in this area are unavoidable!), taking it in turns to scrape the old signage from lampposts (David and Catherine had already removed a couple in Earl Sterndale itself while waiting for the others to arrive). While riding these busy roads, we were reminded by the lorries thundering past us why this was not a good route and what an improvement the Staker Hill path is!

Having successfully achieved this important and somewhat overdue task, we renewed and added some signs at the road junction outside the Parks Inn. Next, we descended Harpur Hill Rd, still following NCR68, to the A515, checking as we went on the clarity of current signage and we made a couple of additions towards the bottom of the hill. Further improvements were made to signs along the quiet residential roads of Buxton, until we came to the town center. Final tweaks were employed at the junction of Manchester Rd, St Johns Rd and Water St, where we carried out several improvements, including the removal of tired old signage which was already peeling away and the addition of some Station signs. We also put some bracketed (68) signs (“leading to Route 68”) up at the station itself.  

That was a lot done, and we could have added more along the way, to make following the NCN even clearer – but that can wait till another time. And now it was time for lunch. We ate at “Upstairs at Charlotte’s CafĂ©” and exchanged tales with Tom. The Sustrans region for which he is responsible is enormous, stretching from Nottingham city (but not the county) westwards, past Birmingham, to Herefordshire and Shropshire, and as far south as Northants. He told us about the ranger groups he has already visited in the Midlands.

Just a little aside, concerning the signing of the National Cycle Network generally: while we were working in Buxton, two people – one an inhabitant of Buxton, today on foot, the other cycling from Bristol – congratulated us on the work we were doing. That would be gratifying in itself, but both said they had used the NCN to get to places and they found the well-signed routes really useful: the first chap had recently done the C2C and was preparing to use the Network to pedal from Land’s End to John O’Groats in a couple of weeks. The cyclist, David (another one!), was riding home to Leeds over a few days. He had also ridden the Coast and Castles Route earlier this year and was inspired to sign up as a ranger himself. He had received his welcome pack and was now hoping to hear from the local volunteer group. Good man!

Next, we investigated a footpath alongside the railway station, which could become part of the link between Buxton and the Monsal Trail, and forming an important part of the White Peak Link. The path is narrow and has a dog’s leg halfway along it, but recent demolition next to it and the consequent redevelopment which will inevitably follow could possibly bring with it some Section 106 money which could be used to improve and upgrade it to a MUP.

We regrouped again at the station and investigated a clutch of ten “Bike and Go” cycles on the station platform. These can be hired after first logging in on line (and giving bank details). A member of the station staff informed us that the bikes were hired from time to time, but Tom had a plan to increase their desirability for riding in the Buxton area and promote Sustrans at the same time; we will look into this.
At this point, the lure of a ride home in 2 hours with no hills was too great to resist, so I bade farewell to my friends and set off down the murderous A6 to reach that most excellent of paths, the Monsal Trail. The rest of the group (I’m told) retraced their steps to Harpur Hill, once again checking the quality of current signage, from there rode over the DCC’s brilliant Staker Hill MUP, making a few improvements en route, and thence to Earl Sterndale.

This was a highly fruitful workday with much achieved, and an opportunity to meet our new Volunteer Coordinator, Tom. Thanks to all for coming and thanks to David G for his leadership, keeping us all on the right track!

* NB There is a two-map set of the Pennine Cycleway published by Sustrans, price about £20. If you’re buying them, don’t forget your ranger discount!

Monday, 6 August 2018

Route 6 Workday

6 August 2018

Our workday today was a little outside that of the White Peak, however In the interests of covering routes   where group  members live, we agreed to spend the day on Route 6 in Nottinghamshire. Our task was to ride from Vicar Water (Clipstone) to Newstead Abbey checking signage and the condition of the route. Before setting off we enjoyed a coffee at Rumbles cafe in the visitor centre. Almost immediately after starting from the car park at Vicar Water, we replaced a well weathered sign with a shiny new one and added a repeater sign giving clear directions to join Rte 6. 

We continued along the route towards Newstead Abbey replacing signs where necessary and  adding few new ones to ensure that users do not get lost. Some of the existing signing was barely visible so undergrowth was cleared to make them noticeable. This section of route 6 is mainly off road and takes you along some lovely trails through Sherwood Forest and along disused railway lines. This route also takes you into the very attractive Newstead Abbey country park where we had lunch at the cafe.

As you can see we are now sharing the route with some more unusual users (Huskies)!

We retraced our ride  back to Vicar Water making a detour in Sherwood Forest along Route 645, where we found a Rte 645 metal finger post that had been completely knocked over. This will be followed-up to have it reinstated, as it is located at a T-junction and obviously without it, there is no indication which way to go.

Many thanks to David & Catherine Rooke (Catherine joined us at Vicar Water but was unable to ride as she had hurt her arm - but was with us in spirit) and David Gray for their sterling work and support on a very hot workday!

Monday, 14 May 2018

May Work Day

As all good work days should, we started the day making sure we knew where we were going! Only Andrew really knew  the problems with signage  in this area and so we were very reliant on him to point us in the right direction. 

So, we started from the car park at Hope station and our first task was to look at signage needs from here onto NCN Rte 6, which is about 1/4 mile away. With that all sorted we headed on into Hope for sandwiches and then retraced ourselves back to the route. Once away from the main A6187 what  a lovely route this is. There is a bit of an initial climb up to Aston, but it is not too bad and on a sunny day like today it offers wonderful views across the Hope valley. 

 One or two more signs required to confirm to cyclists they are on the correct route, but otherwise few navigational concerns all the way across the hillside to Thornhill.
 We were able to make a few improvements to the existing signage but it soon bacame clear to us that we will need to make a full list of signage requirements and then return later in the year to put them all in place.

From Thornhill the route climbs a bit further up the hillside until levelling out to give some lovely views out over the Derwent Valley and an intersection with the Thornhill Trail. This was the old rail line used by the construction company building Ladybower reservoir, but it now makes for a most delightful traffic free ride. Although it is ideal for cycling along towards Ladybower (and is the existing official route) Andrew has asked us to consider a route change which would potentially eliminate the section along the trail, and introduce a new section along the very quiet, little used road from Thornhill up to the main road at Yorkshire bridge. There are a number of reasons for wanting to do this, and a couple of alternative ideas, which we will be investigating further. What was very clear was the fact that signage in this area does need some urgent attention to meet current Sustrans standards.

Having contemplated whether the route should go across the dam wall, or not, we adjourned for much needed refreshment at the Yorkshire Bridge Inn. There Dan gave us a training session on "how to sign a route", which certainly covered a lot of the areas we are likely to come up with in the next few months.

The final task for the day was to retrace our steps back to the point where we had joined the Thornhill trail but then, rather than staying on NCN Rte 6 we deviated onto a lovely descent along the Thorhill trail which leads almost into Bamford. Andrew was keen to look at this as a potential link route to Bamford station and we all agreed it would be excellent, if only we can get permission to use a short stretch of private road. We deduced that this access lane was probably owned by the local Quaker community and so, in for a penny...., we went and knocked on their door. The guy we spoke to was very friendly and suggested we write to them to put forward our proposals. He was surprised we were even asking as he said most people just used it as a "right of way" anyway! Maybe they'll give us permission to sign it

So, all in all a really interesting day. I was not aware previously of the Sheffield to Castleton NCN route 6, but I intend to try and ride all of it as soon as possible (even if not on such a fantastic day as today!). Otherwise, we will gather together everything we need to complete the signing on our next visit so that users travelling in either direction along NCN rte 6 can be confident about following the route easily.

Thanks to Andrew, Dan, David & Catherine and Paul for all their contributions today.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Giant Leggo!

Seen on the High Peak Trail near Hopton Tunnel.

Parks Inn link to Staker Hill MUP

Another link in the White Peak Loop is complete! When DCC built the multi-user path across Staker Hill, over two years ago, the link from it to Route 68 coming from Buxton was not finalized due to planning problems. Now a last stretch of path has been constructed at Harpur Hill, next to the Parks Inn pub. Up until now the only way of accessing the Staker Hill route was via Fiddle St which some of our rangers will remember we were not allowed to sign, not even temporarily (http://whitepeakrangers.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/pictures-from-last-workday.html). Now all has been resolved: this short section of new path is of an excellent quality, part tarmac, part Toptrek, and leads quickly to the next section, which was built from the successful bid for Government funding in 2013. Bravo DCC! Chapeau bas!

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Matlock - Rowsley multi-user path formal opening

Claire O'Reilly has informed us of the formal Opening Day of the multi-user path between Matlock and Rowsley. This will be on Tuesday 27 March at 13:00, by the railway crossing, with refreshments at Arc afterwards.