Sunday, 11 November 2018

Back the Track - the McClean Way

Here is a very worthwhile project which is progressing in the West Midlands, the details of which have been sent to me by Bob Cooper, who many of you will remember has worked with us on some of our workdays. It is a greenway which, when complete, will replace a stretch of National Route 5 which currently goes mostly over roads. It uses the track bed of an old railway line between Brownhills and Pelsall Common. A lot of work needs to be done to clear and drain the site, and this is already well advanced. When complete, this path will join with another greenway at Pelsall, a continuation of the same railway track bed, giving a traffic-free trail all the way from Brownhills to Walsall. I have ridden this path as part of the West Midlands Cycle Route from Derby to Birmingham and Oxford (NCR54/5) several times, and can recommend it as a route which includes many types of surface and which passes through a range of landscapes. You will find a link to the Back the Track website in our list to the right of this post and there is a mass of detail about the project. Please could you also give a 'Like' to the project on its Facebook page: . Thanks!

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Workday on Route 680 with Groundwork

Maldwyn and I met with Marion Farrell of the environmental charity, Groundwork, at Harrison Way, Darley Dale on Monday. After giving us a few safety tips concerning saws, loppers and rakes, which she supplied, Marion showed us an area where recent tree shoots, nettles and brambles have already encroached onto the Matlock to Rowsley multi-user path which, readers will recall, is still less than 3 years old. Together, we cleared a swathe of trail alongside Peak Rail's Rowsley South station car park. 

Marion also did some litter-picking. We look forward to returning to this section of path in the not too distant future, to clear some more vegetation, improve visibility and make the cycleway look tidier. In the meantime, it would be great if we can interest users of the trail in forming a local group which can continue this work. Look how the three silver birch trees stand out in the picture (right), after trimming back a number of small branches.

If you know of anyone who would like to take part in this sort of venture along this path (or any other trail in our area), please let me know and I will pass the information on to Marion. To remind you, my mobile is 07855 804451.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Remember remember the 5th of November! Workday on the White Peak Loop

For our next workday, Marion Farrell from the environmental charity Groundwork will be working with us clear encroaching trees and undergrowth on the Matlock - Rowsley greenway, an important part of the White Peak Loop. We will also rake up and brush leaves from the tarmac sections. Meet 10:00 at Harrison Way, Darley Dale (first left off the A6 after the Shalimar restaurant, also on the left, if you are travelling from Matlock; first right off the A6 after the Beeley turn if you are travelling from Bakewell - this is the road to the recycling plant DE4 2LF and Peak Rail's Rowsley South station). We will work from there southwards along the trail, finishing at 13:00 latest. 

Marions adds: 

Come in sturdy footwear and old clothes. Bring a waterproof and a drink. Groundwork will supply all the equipment, tools, gloves and chocolate biscuits etc. (although secateurs and shears might be a useful addition). To take part you need to be an adult - no special experience or skills are necessary as all health & safety training will be covered by Groundwork - just bring your enthusiasm! If you need any further details please do not hesitate to contact Marion Farrell (Groundwork) on 07801122494 or by email 

See you all there!

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Workday Mon 1 Oct 2018: signage check on Route 549 from Waterhouses to Doveridge

Before and after Robin delivers a devastating karate chop to a stone wall in Stanton

David R trying to hide behind a lamp post

 How many rangers does it take to ...
A good solution to a problem of signing at Norbury

 Relaxing on the Churnet Valley Trail at the beautiful Italianate style Alford station ...
... and another picture of the station

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!