Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Outdoor circuit for Derby?

An outdoor closed road cycling circuit beside the Velodrome is being proposed for Derby.
For more details see Les Sim's post on 29th December at http://rangersderby.blogspot.co.uk/

Cinder Track

The 21 mile section of NCN route 1 between Scarborough and Whitby is known as the Cinder Track. This is because it runs along an old railway line and unusually the track-bed was composed of cinders rather than the normal crushed stone ballast. The cinders are still very obvious in many parts of the trail. I wonder where that large volume of cinders came from in the 1880s?
Approaching Whitby the trail passes over the 13 arch brick Larpool viaduct with the River Esk and the active rail line from Middlesbrough to Whitby 120 feet below.


The route ends abruptly about ½ mile from the centre of Whitby where there is an interpretation board.
The line did continue but there is little sign of it now except for a footpath stretch north of Sandsend which forms part of the Cleveland Way.

Cycling Along the Danube

A talk by Colin Hobday on Friday 24th January - 7.30 pm at the Imperial Rooms Matlock.
Colin's talk covers the 300 miles from Passau in Germany to Vienna in Austria.
Event arranged by Derbyshire Dales Ramblers but all welcome; admission £3
Further information from Pat Stephens 01629 650092

British speed record on a bicycle

Did you see Guy Martin attempt to break the British record for outright speed on a bicycle - an incredible 110mph? If not you can view the programme at

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Merry Christmas, everyone!

This has been a very fruitful year for our group: we have renumbered a significant chunk of the National Cycle Network in our area, as well as signing routes that have never been numbered before. I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who has been out working on the trails throughout the year, sometimes in quite tricky weather conditions! I'd like also to wish you all a very merry Christmas, and a happy and prosperous 2014! I look forward to working with you once again on our trails in the New Year. Don't forget to have a look at Jim's Xmas puzzle in the last post (below)! Clyde

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Unusual signs

At end of August Clyde posted (on the Erewash blog) a picture of a sign he had seen while in Scotland on route 75.
A bit nearer home - within the White Peak area - I came across this Sustrans sign. It isn't really high up in the trees, that was just the angle I photographed it.
So questions:
  • what does it mean?
  • which NCN route ? (I have removed the number on the image)
  • where precisely?
Anybody have any other examples of non -standard Sustrans signs to post?

Monday, 4 November 2013

Changing Places event at Derby Velodrome

         I cycled to Pride Park for this event. There were a lot of groups and organisations represented there but the main focus of the day was (for me) the most important. It was eye opening and quite alarming to sit in the drivers seat of the cement wagon and realise how huge are the blind areas (they are not spots as car drivers call them). Although this wagon had extra mirrors beyond the statutory requirement, you still cannot see much along the nearside (or even immediately in front). Two bikes were placed at different positions on the nearside of the wagon and were completely invisible. This vehicle was also fitted with video cameras and it was only when they were switched on that the bikes could be seen in the display above the windscreen.

Now, no matter how much of a hurry I am in or how late for a meeting or train, I will never be tempted to cut through slow traffic containing heavy goods vehicles. Better to arrive late!

          We were given the chance to have glimpse inside the velodrome - still very much under construction. They hope to be largely finished by April 2014 when an Open Day for the public is promised.

          There was a “street velodrome” set up (cycle on a tight circuit round cones on the tarmac but turn on near vertical curved ramps at each end) and it was good to see youngsters in Derby Mercury kit fearlessly giving their all on that circuit. Local successors to Laura Trott, Victoria Pendleton, Jason Kenny, Chris Hoy and all the others?

Cycling films in Wirksworth

Jeremy Taylor informs me that the renovated 51-seater Northern Light cinema in Wirksworth will be showing two cycling films. A "Sunday in Hell", a film about the gruelling Paris-Roubaix race in northern France, will be shown at 19:30 on Thursday 28 November, and a second film "Janapar" at 16:00 and 20:00 on Sunday 1 December. The latter concerns the 12 000-mile ride without maps or guidebooks by 23-year old Tom Allen. En route, Tom's ride takes an unlikely turn when he falls in love with an Iranian-Armenian girl! Tom Allen will be present at the cinema to answer questions, after the screenings, and he will be selling a DVD and signing books. The cinema opens one hour before each performance and has a fully licensed bar and tapas snacks. Regular old-style tilt-up cinema seats are £6.50 (£5.50 seniors), armchair £8.50 and sofa for two including wine £25.00. All tickets must be purchased in advance, either on line www.thenorthernlightcinema.co.uk or by phone 01629 337513 (the box office is open Wed to Sun from 16:00 to 19:00).

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Changing Places event at Derby Velodrome

This is being held in Derby this Wednesday - 30th October. 
According to Les Sim’s post on Derby Rangers blog “It now seems that this Road Safety Presentation will be held within the Velodrome site and not in Pride Park Football Stadium AND (best of all) we will be able to see the inside of the Velodrome.”
Some details are below: 

Changing Places Day on October 30, 2013 aims to increase awareness and educate road users - particularly cyclists and HGV drivers - about the challenges that are faced by both when sharing the roads.
The day will be hosted by construction company Bowmer & Kirkland at the site of the Multi-Sports Arena and Velodrome project - currently being built for Derby City Council - on Pride Park in Derby.
If you are a cyclist, a HGV driver, or any other road user, come along and join us at any time during the event, between 10.30am and 3pm.
  • Sit in the cab of a lorry or bus and view the road from the driver's perspective
  • Meet Sir Dave Brailsford who will be there at 12.30
  • Cycle alongside a wagon in a safe environment
  • See link for more details

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Numbering of Route 549

We have just completed two very successful days, renumbering the Manifold Track and the route from Hulme End to Hartington from 54 to 549. On the Thursday we met at Waterhouses station and were joined by Jean and Bob from the Lichfield ranger group. It was great to meet rangers from another area, and we worked well together. Picture shows (LTR): Maldwyn, Jean, Clyde, Paul W, Jim and Bob. From there we signed the Manifold Track northwards. This excellent trail had very few NCN signs on it already - now it is very clearly-signed. Pics 2-4 show (some) work going on! The weather was mostly sunny and we managed to dodge most of the short-lived showers. We used up a large quantity of our red 549 patches, and had only a few for the following day. 
By the way, don't forget that any of these pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Finally, we arrived at Hulme End, where we enjoyed a well-deserved cuppa. And some of us were extremely childish!

On the Friday, Catherine, Paul S, Paul W and I met to renumber the section between Hulme End and Hartington. This turned out to have quite a few junctions which were signed with 54s and these all had to be replaced. The weather was foggy but this was another fruitful day. We finally used up our last stash of 549 patches, but supplemented our stock with upside-down 6s added to the current 54s! (and various other strategies to achieve a similar result) This is our group outside the tea room at Hartington, after another well-earned cuppa!
On my way home, I thought it would be a good idea to put a few 68s up at Hartington signal box, which has never been signed before.

Wed 23 Oct 2013 signing morning cancelled!

I'm having to cancel next Wednesday's meeting for a number of reasons, not least because a number of you won't be able to make it, and also because there is no strong likelihood that I will receive the new number patches from Sustrans in time. I'll post on the blog and send you all an email when we are ready to work again. There is very little of our initial renumbering work remaining now, although there is a lot to do in signing generally. I'm therefore going to tell Andy Whitty at the Sustrans online mapping that it probably time to make the corrections to the numbers on his maps. 

We had another good signing morning yesterday - thanks once again to all concerned. Pictures will follow later this weekend - honest!  

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Signing day update for this coming Friday

Not Hartington!

We had a very successful signing afternoon today - thanks to all who took part - and we got as far as Hulme End. It is only logical therefore to re-commence tomorrow (Friday) at Hulme End and continue to Hartington and (hopefully) Sparklow. Meet at Hulme End railway station at 10:00. 

I've just looked at the weather forecast and it seems that it is going to rain in the afternoon, not the morning. So we should beat the rain once again, as we did today (that's the theory anyway.) If the forecast is wrong, we can take refreshments and tell each other stories at the station!

Pictures from today's renumbering later!
I'll be coming up the Manifold trail to Waterhouses tomorrow (17 Oct) so if I'm not there by 1 pm then set off without me and I'll meet you on route.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Derby Sustrans Rangers' Xmas Do

We have been invited by the Derby rangers group to their Xmas lunch. This will take place on Monday 9 December at their usual venue of Don Amott's café, Hilton. Further details of the menu, etc will follow, says Les, at which point we shall need to make our orders. If you wish to visit the Derby rangers' blog directly, the link is to the right of this post.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Signing days

At last! Workdays are back again! I think all of you know that I've been in hospital recently but I'm hoping to be back in the saddle again soon. I've been trying to accommodate as many of you as possible in a timetable of signing days early next month. What I propose is three days of signing, on different days of the week. Our main job is to renumber a section of the NCN which includes the Manifold Valley Trail from Waterhouses to Hulme End, roads and bridleways through Beresford Dale to Hartington, the gated road to Pilsbury and finally the road past Pilsbury Lodge to the High Peak Trail south of Sparklow. All of this will be National Route 549
The days I have put aside are: Thurs 17 and Fri 18 Oct, and Wed 23 Oct.  May I suggest a departure to our normal routine on the Thursday, please? Could we start in the afternoon, at Waterhouses station (cycle hire), south of the A523, where our signing can begin at the car park there - let us say at 13:00. This is to give me time to ride over in the morning with the signage. Bring panniers to take some of this stuff away with you, and a hammer! I will do some research before then on types of signage, as Jane Chapman at Bristol tells me that we can have tailor-made number patches that will be acceptable to the Peak National Park. 
As for the second and third days, we will continue wherever we have left off the day before, working probably from 10:00 to 13:00 on both days, as we usually do. I'll add the details on this post, and also confirm by email.
By the way, this job will never be finished! Sustrans gives us the option of ordering our own customized destination patches ("town centre 1 mile", "station 400 yd", "shops", etc). Moreover, it is possible that we can be of use to Peak Park rangers in the future.

Festival of Cycling

The recent Peak Park Festival of Cycling was a successful series of events. Here are a few pics of the stands at Thornbridge Outdoors on the final Saturday, including our own joint Sustrans and PCL stand (Greg Thomas and Dave Clasby are chatting to members of the public). Good to see some of the members of our group there during the day! The weather was excellent.

The evening before, five out of six expected riders turned up in pouring rain for a ride which I led from Parsley Hay. I had done the ride the night before, in better conditions, and decided that my original route was perhaps tougher than the ‘moderate ride’ described in the blurb! So I shortened it for the real thing, going first up the HPT to Sparklow, then taking NCR549 and the beautiful, long descent of Long Dale to the outskirts of Hartington. A toughish climb to the Signal Box, then the TT back to Parsley Hay. 13 km. Everyone enjoyed it!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Peak District National Park Festival of Cycling

As I write, the Festival of Cycling will have already started (last Saturday 7 Sep) and it lasts until Sunday 15 Sep. I am leading a ride on behalf of Peak Cycle Links on Fri 13 Sep, from Parsley Hay, starting at 18:00. If anyone would like to join me, come along! 

There will be a Sustrans tent at Thornbridge Outdoors on the Saturday and Sunday (14/15 Sep). Feel free to show up at that, and maybe staff a stand there for an hour or two, maybe jointly with PCL. I will be going to Thornbridge around 9 on the Saturday. I promised more details earlier in the week. In fact, what I have already written above is all I have.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

North of the border

Over the Bank Holiday weekend, I managed to get away to Scotland, a country I had visited before but never cycled in. I headed directly to North Queensferry and rode Route 1 into Edinburgh, making use of the Forth Road Bridge (1), which is superb and has wonderful views of the Firth of Forth, the railway bridge (2) and North and South Queensferry. NCR1 is a varied and a pleasant ride, including some ex-railway line (3). I bought a ticket for a stand-up in the evening (it was the last day of the Festival) and then rode back to my car, had a Chinese meal in South Queensferry and then drove to Edinburgh for the show (quite funny), a pub (I sampled several different real ales unfamiliar to me) and the Youth Hostel. The next day, I pedalled first to Leith by Route 75, then retraced my steps back into town on the Water of Leith Walkway (4) and on to Glasgow by NCR75 and 754. Once out of town, NCR754 follows two canals, the Union and the Forth & Clyde, which are connected at Falkirk by the famous Wheel (8), an amazing piece of engineering for lifting boats. Obviously, this ride was very flat but it took me through pleasant countryside with plenty of interest: aqueducts (7), castles, red hills (6) and wooden sculptures (5). Day three saw me riding back to Edinburgh, this time by Route 75. This was hillier, but I had the wind behind me! The route began with Clyde following the Clyde (9), passed through a few built-up areas (this impressive piece of artwork (10) above the trail is at Coatbridge), ran alongside a brand-new railway line from Aidrie to Bathgate (some 15 miles of beautifully tarmacked path (11) created when the line was built), passing through the tranquil Almondell and Calderwood Country Park and under Camps Viaduct (12), eventually joining the Water of Leith path (13) and merging with Route 754 again before entering Edinburgh. The weather was very kind to me and I was pleased to have covered these 266 km in Scotland over the three days. Strongly recommended! Map: Sustrans "Discover: Forth and Clyde")

Saturday, 24 August 2013

PCL Gala meal at Hassop station

The Management Board of Peak Cycle Link invite you to join them for a

Gala Dinner at the old station, Hassop, Nr. Bakewell

On Saturday 14 September 2013; 7.00pm for 7.30.

Dress: Informal, casual
Price: £25 each, to include

  • A welcome drink on arrival (courtesy of Duncan Stokes at Hassop Bookstore)
     ·     [EG]Creamed Mushrooms with Parmesan and Fresh Tarragon on Toast

  • [EG] Roast Free Range Chicken Breast with a wild mushroom sauce, served with roast potatoes and seasonal greens OR Vegetarian option (request in advance)
  • [EG]Assiette of Mini Homemade Desserts
  • Tea/ coffee
  • A selection of wines and local bottled beers are available for purchase separately during the evening
This is the second year that we have held a gala dinner in support of the work of Peak Cycle Links. It provides members, supporters, other interested persons and their guests with the opportunity to dine in the splendidly refurbished Hassop station buildings, whilst catching up on all the developments taking place at the moment as the dream of a 60 mile cycle route around the White Peak becomes an ever closer reality.

During the evening there will be a raffle draw. Anyone who would like to donate a prize for the draw should contact David Gray [d.gray811@btinternet.com or Bakewell (01629) 812435]

Tickets are limited to 40 persons and must be obtained in advance from:
David Gray [d.gray811@btinternet.com or Bakewell (01629) 812435]

Thursday, 15 August 2013


Great news! (although somewhat late news now, due to poor internet connexions and hopeless equipment here in rural France!) Earlier this week the government announced that the Peak District was one of four winners of the bids submitted by the English national parks (see post on 14 April 2013).  The other parks are Dartmoor, the New Forest and the South Downs. This means that in our area £5 million will be available from the DfT, together with another £2.5 million in matched funding from DCC. The linking of the Monsal Trail to both Buxton and Matlock will be part of the work covered by the bid - a major step in the construction of the White Peak Loop promoted by the charity Peak Cycle Links - and there are three other proposed developments within the Peak District National Park. These include links to Stoke on Trent, Manchester and Sheffield. Another £77 millions was granted by the DfT for improvements to cycling facilities in some of our major towns and cities.  This is an amazing shot in the arm for cycling in our region and I'm you are all as chuffed as I am at this news. Click here for the original press release from the DfT.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Cycling in France

The pictures are of the Bordeaux to Lacanau-Océan greenway, which runs along an old railway trackbed. Sylvie and I didn't go very far along it from Lacanau - just a few km to the lake at Le Moutchic - but you can get a flavour of the trail from these pics, I think. It even has a departmental road number: it is the D801. It has been very hot here, and riding through the forests gives you a chance to cool off a little. Find out more from this French website: 


Friday, 26 July 2013

The fastest bikes on the planet

Thanks are due to Les of the Derby Rangers blog for this post about some very fast bicycles coming to Darley Moor circuit, near Ashbourne, on 4 August. Click this link for the details: 

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Signing of Routes 547 and 548

A good chunk of the renumbering of certain trails - those which are now 547 and 548 - has now been completed. Maldwyn, Paul Watson and new ranger Jim Hudson met me at Hopton Incline Bottom yesterday (Sat 29 June) to check the signage we did a couple of months ago on the routes to Tissington, Biggin, Hartington and Gallowlow, and add new patches where required. 

Monday, 24 June 2013

Cycling in the North-East

I’ve been staying in Durham for the last couple of weeks and this is quite probably the last time I will have the opportunity of riding the cycle routes of this area since my son and his family, with whom I have been staying, will be moving to Exeter soon. During this stay I have made three 100-plus km trips.
The first was on NCR 14 to Haswell, Hartlepool and Stockton, and then Route 1 (Castle Eden Walkway) back to Haswell, before returning to Durham. The route from Haswell to Hartlepool is mostly ex-railway trackbed, as is that from Stockton to Haswell, and therefore both quite flat. At Hartlepool there is a superb British warship from 1817, the “Trincomalee” and a very well-presented museum which I dashed round rather quickly. The route from there to Stockton had some lapses in signing, which meant I had to rely rather too much on my maps; this slowed me down. On the Castle Eden Walkway there is an excellently restored railway station at Thorpe Thewles, which is the visitor center for the Wynyard Woodland Park, and also a fine modern footbridge over the A689, opened by someone called Tony Blair in 2001.
My second ride took me on NCR14 (Lanchester Valley Trail - my favourite cycle trail out of Durham) to near Consett, where I joined Route 7 (the C2C) to Sunderland. I had ridden the C2C from Whitehaven to Tynemouth in 2005. Now was my chance to finish this iconic cross-country path by the alternative route. This also consists mainly of railway path and it passes through some very pretty countryside, following the River Wear for the last few miles. En route there are some impressive metal sculptures, including the famous Terris Novalis, two huge robots and some grazing cows made from JCB bits. Near Sunderland marina, there is a wonderful sculpture of an old-fashioned sitting room, all in stone. At Roker, I turned north on NCR1 to South Shields. This route, mainly on the pavement of the main coast road, gives good views of sea, beaches and cliffs along most of its way. I then took Route 14 (this goes everywhere!), the Keelman’s Way, westward on the right bank of the Tyne, to Gateshead and on to Newcastle by the Millennium Bridge. The Tyne pedestrian tunnel is currently closed for renovation. I returned to Durham by train. This part of the Keelman’s Way is mostly through town and although it follows the river it has some steep climbs.
My final trip was from Durham on the pavement of the A167 and then by relatively minor road through the center of Chester-le-Street, past the Angel of the North, to Gateshead. From Chester to Gateshead this is designated Route 725, although you won’t find this on any Sustrans map yet. The Angel was the only highlight on this essentially practical and undemanding route linking towns. But from there things changed: I turned upstream on the Keelman’s Way again (NCR14 and 141), all the way to Wylam, where it crosses the Tyne and joins Hadrian’s Cycleway (NCR72). From here the trail becomes traffic-free for a while, and enters the Tyne Riverside Country Park, crossing back over the river on the Hagg Bank bowstring railway bridge. At Ovingham I crossed to the north bank again on a curious double-bridge with one lane for pedestrians and cyclists and another, very narrow lane for cars travelling in both directions (but not at the same time!) I continued on Route 72 by quiet, narrow road almost to Corbridge, at which point I considered I’d done enough! The countryside on this part of my route I found very beautiful, especially where the river was in sight. I returned all the way to Newcastle, completing (if I include the chunk of Hadrian’s Cycleway I did in 2009) the whole stretch from Carlisle to the ‘Toon’. On my way, I stopped at George Stephenson’s birthplace, a pretty whitewashed cottage near Wylam, owned by English Heritage, for a pot of tea and a piece of carrot cake. I had no time to see the museum. 
My rides had got better as time went on, with the C2C from Consett to Sunderland and the routes on either side of the Tyne, west of Newcastle, the ones which most stick in my mind.  Can the trails of the south-west be as good, I wonder?