Monday, 4 December 2017

Signing Route 680 along the Monsal Trail

Catherine, David (R) and David (G) were joined by Sustrans' Midlands Volunteer Co-ordinator, Dan Robertson on 4 December 2017 to undertake further signing of the Monsal Trail. Although David and Catherine had (very impressively) cycled all the way over, we all joined up to start at the Coombs Road viaduct in Bakewell; eventually finished up by fixing the final sign onto a post in the Wye Dale car park (4 miles out of Buxton).

The event had been postponed by a week because of inclement weather on the original work day. This time the weather could not have been better with perfect blue skies and bright sunshine, albeit a bit winter watery. David (G) soon demonstrated why he shouldn't be let anywhere near a hammer as the first nail bent over and the "professionals" within the group had to rescue the position. Dan provided masterful Quality Assurance over the entire proceedings and we all fully accepted that these signs are the only thing that most people ever see or recognise about the National Cycle Network. Therefore they have to be displayed in the correct place to be seen and then positioned perfectly with "no creases".

Clyde had done a wonderful job in preparing all the signs with waymarked distances at strategic points along the length of the trail. Although he was unable to come and help us put them up I am sure he will be pleased that they are now doing a useful job helping cyclists appreciate just how far it is to cycle to different points along the trail.

As well as being a most useful work day this was once again a great opportunity to catch up with other members of the White Peak Rangers group, as well as getting updates from Dan about all the projects he is currently involved with across the region. Not only did he do a very good job of "selling" the Brompton concept to a couple of people we met along the trail, but he also introduced us all to the idea of his travelling coffee filter, which I would certainly welcome as a Christmas present, (another action point for me to add on to my Christmas present wish-list!).

The signing took longer than we had expected and so we didn't get further than Wye Dale car park on this event. We will need to plan another day to conclude the route into, and out of Buxton. We should really extend all the way down the High Peak trail to Cromford, which will certainly keep us going for a few more workdays yet.

Quite a few additional Action Points came out of this workday with regards to signing and I will email these separately. We were definitely a pair of scissors short in the "signers' tool-kit", but we will know better for next time. Thanks to Catherine who saved the day by pulling a "claw" hammer out of the bag.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Signing workday and ride

There will be a workday to put up a few destination patches on the Monsal Trail (Route 680), followed by a ride to Buxton, and then Harpur Hill to see the development of the final Parks Inn spur section of the Staker Hill multi-user path (work in progress - completion expected Jan 2018). 

Meet 10:00 Monday 27 November 2017 at Coombs Road viaduct, Bakewell (the start (or finish!) of the trail). We will sign from there up the Monsal Trail to the Wyedale car park and, if time allows, in Buxton (but not Harpur Hill yet) before returning either by the Monsal Trail or by the High Peak Trail. 

Bring sandwiches although, if it's cold, we could consider stopping at the Buxton Morrison's. 

NB They say that Buxton has its own microclimate! The forecast for Matlock is no rain at all throughout the day, although humidity is always over 80%, but for Buxton rain is predicted the whole day! Temperatures 6-7 C with a significant westerly wind. 

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Bennerley viaduct ride Thursday 2 November 2017

The Bennerley Viaduct used to carry the Great Northern Railway line between Derby and Nottingham, over the Erewash valley near Ilkeston. It was bought by Sustrans for £1 some years ago. It is of wrought iron construction, similar to the Meldon Viaduct in Devon (which is on the Devon C2C cycleway). There is a plan to renovate this bridge and make it part of a new cycleway; possibly even to turn it into a mecca for cyclists by one day adding hostels, tea rooms, a pub?  Work has already begun and future developments will depend on sponsorship and awards from charity. Kieran Lee is the project manager.

I have just heard about a ride led by Ian Dent of the Sustrans ranger group. It will leave Derby Market Square at 10:00 on 2 November and follow Route 6 to Long Eaton before turning up the Erewash Valley Trail to Cotmanhay, arriving at around noon. We will be given a tour of the viaduct by Kieran, followed by lunch at the nearby Bridge pub. The return will be via Route 672 the Great Northern Greenway (I think). More details may appear here later, if I find out more. Do come along - it will be great meeting up with old friends!

NB This is not a Sustrans-organized ride for the public and everyone takes part at their own risk.

Monday, 31 July 2017

On Sunday the White Peak Sustrans Rangers held their summer picnic in the wonderful setting of David and Catherine's garden at Warslow. More precisely, we were in their summer-house looking out over the sun-bathed Manifold valley, with the entrance to Thor's mighty cave just visible. We were joined for our picnic lunch by a couple of younger, prospective members for the group (as well as Jane!). Isabel came along with Robin and Karen whilst Nethanial kept coming to see if Granny Rooke could help him to make a dinosaur

Whilst we all took our own picnic, there was lots of sharing (except by me) as everyone had bought with them a fabulous lunch. Catherine then bought out the summer puddings; a mixture of lemon, yoghurt, ice cream, condensed milk and lots, lots more. "Fantastic" undersells them by a thousand times.

That would have been enough to start any bike ride with, but there was more! A special hazel and walnet chocolate cake that was just too difficult to resist (especially with a thick, dark chocolate sauce) made its appearance just as our stomachs were lookingto put up the white flag. Hope you are not yet beginning to think you missed something very special Clyde?

Feeling ready for a lie down, rather than a 10 mile bike ride, 6 of us managed to somehow get on our beasts and set off into ever darkening (rain threatening) skies. Jane tried to show why she was now our leader and attempted to ride off with her back wheel partly jammed against the frame. But, us older and wiser stalwarts were having none of those low tricks to try and escape the ride. So, with a new bike borrowed for Jane from the Rooke's garage we set off again; uphill of course!!

We had very soon climbed up to the (black) grouse moors of the Harpur-Crewe family and then began a (mostly) downhill descent towards Longnor. These were lands that I know of only by reputation, and yet they offered some of the finest views over the Dove and Manifold valleys. The roads were generally very quiet and, although Robin was unable to join us for the ride, I can assure him that yours truly did a wonderful job as rear marshall making sure that our leader got around safely. Catherine and David a wonderful job of riide leader and ride manager ('cos they are separate jobs!). We did have a few spots of rain, but only to cool us down from the occasional steep inclines, especially the one up to Sheen for instance.

Naturally we avoided the direct road back to Warslow, but the extra kilometre or so by going the longer way round took us along some of the prettiest lanes of the whole afternoon. Although the route had taken a bit longer than David had thought (definitely that extra slice of cake to blame) we still managed to get back to their house in time for tea! Of course our kind hosts had left nothing to chance. Catherine had baked a whole magnificent fruit cake for us to tuck into after the exertion of so much energy on the bike ride. Our enthusiastic indulgence would surely have put the Famous Five to shame!

So, many thanks to David and Catherine for their absolutely fantastic hospitality (again) and for sorting out such a wonderful afternoon of bike riding. We reached a decision that afternoon that we would suspend led rides for the rest of this year and then think again about how we might rebrand them for next season. That is not to say that we shouldn't get together as a group for events like this one. We will try to get something arranged for before Christmas but it is definitely the Rooke's turn for a day off. Thanks to you both.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Public Ride - Hardwick Hall

6 riders joined myself, Robin and David on Sunday for a 10 mile ride to Hardwick Hall and back. We hadn't anticipated sharing the ride with a Horse Trekking event, but both horses and cyclists were  well behaved!

The weather was ideal on the day despite all the rain we had during the previous week and the tracks were surprisingly mud free. Everyone enjoyed a coffee break sitting in the sun at the Hardwick NT cafe and  the talk Karen gave on Bess of Hardwick.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Hardwick Hall ride 21 May 2017

Join us for a guided family cycle ride to Hardwick Hall
 Ride location:  The Phoenix Greenways, starting at Teversal Visitor Centre.
Date & start time: Sunday 21st May – 11.00am
Approx length: 10 miles taking around 3 hours (inc stops)
Suitable for: Family groups, including accompanied children who have reasonable proficiency at riding a bike. Appropriate to riders of all ages.
Terrain: Tracks and Trails.
Ride description: This is an "out and back” ride along the traffic-free Terversal and Rowthorne Trails, taking us into the spectacular Hardwick Park. The Trails are shared by walkers, horses and other cyclists so can be busy at times with walkers, joggers and loose dogs, so basic riding safety etiquettes and protocols will be observed.  The ride is mainly level apart from a very gentle incline on the outward leg in the grounds of the Hardwick Estate, but it should not provide a problem to anyone with a degree of basic fitness.
The ride will be fairly leisurely and ride leader will facilitate a number of stopping points to take in the views on the outward leg.
Facilities: There is free parking at the Teversal Visitor Centre. The Café and information Centre opens at 10am so refreshments can be bought before the ride.  When we arrive at the National Trust Hardwick Estate, we will have approx. 30- 45minutes relaxing time to enjoy a drink/snack etc, at the NT café and picnic area, alternatively you can bring your own refreshments.
Entrance to the estate is free, but this ride may inspire you to visit Hardwick Hall another day and discover how Bess of Hardwick acquired her wealth and built Hardwick Hall.

Ride leaders: The ride will be led by a member of the Group who has will provide some information about the history of the trail and the Hardwick Estate. He will be supported by other members of the group to ensure that the ride is conducted safely. All members of the group are qualified to lead rides of this nature and are approved to do so by Sustrans.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Emperor's New Signage

The Emperor of the New Forest was very proud of his cycle routes and wanted only the very best signage for them, so that his subjects on bicycles could find their way about in the forest. He searched far and wide but could never find quite the style of signage that he liked.

One day, two wicked Rangers came to him and said, “Sire, we have the just the thing for you – the very best signage that has ever been devised, but you will need to give us lots of money so that we can put this project properly into effect, and also it will take some time, so difficult will be our task. Moreover, this signage is magic: only wise cyclists will be able to see it; fools will see nothing at all!” The emperor was dead impressed and told the rangers to start work immediately. He said, “I only want clever people working for me, not fools.” When they were alone, the wicked Rangers laughed like drains. “All the cyclists in the forest will pretend to see the signage. Nobody will want to look a prat!” Next day and for the next few weeks they beavered away on the non-existent signage but everyone who watched them at work pretended to see the most beautiful signage in the whole world! Even the Emperor of the New Forest could not see any signage but he did not want to be thought a fool. The emperor was very happy and he gave the two wicked Rangers lots of money.

The day came when the new signage was ready to be installed on all the cycle routes of the New Forest and this ‘task’ was carried out by the two wicked Rangers who, after their final payment, disappeared and were never seen again. Then the emperor and his subjects cycled in the forest and said, “This new signage is amazing!” for they didn’t want to look like idiots, but in truth they rode round and round and got totally lost. And so it is that to this day that, despite the Sustrans online mapping which shows Route 2 passing through the New Forest and notwithstanding the fact that you should be able to follow any route of the National Cycle Network without a map, much of it has in fact only magic signs which can only be seen by clever cyclists.

Context: I have just ridden Route 2 from Dorchester to Southampton. It was fortunate that I had fed the route from the online mapping into my Garmin gadget before setting out. Otherwise I might still be in the New Forest together with the emperor’s subjects, riding round and round forever! A beautiful route, nevertheless! (Recommended – but take a map with you!)

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Easter Sunday led ride for the public


Meet at Matlock station at 10:45 for a prompt start at 11:00 (Derby train arrives at 10:30)

Fun for all the family! We will ride to Rowsley along the new multi-user path to Darley Dale and Rowsley, stopping at a number of places to search for clues and answer questions. At each location children will look for a letter which after rearrangement will spell out a well-known word. Adults will answer a few questions. There will be prizes for the winners! We will be passing through the delightful Whitworth Institute Park - and expect to see steam trains en route! Refreshments will be available at Caudwell Mill, Rowsley, after which we will ride back without stops to Matlock, arriving at about 14:00. Most of the route will be traffic-free, off road path consisting of tarmac or Toptrek (crushed stone - like the Monsal Trail) surface. Almost any bike will be appropriate for this ride. Parents, please look after your children when riding over the (very short) road sections. 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Your support is required for a planning application!

Many of you will remember the signing we did last year on the new multi-user path over Staker Hill (31 Mar 2016 - see blog post 28 Mar for details and pics on 11 Apr). This path is part of the White Peak Loop and also forms a new alignment of NCN Route 68. Unfortunately, we could not finish the job as there were some outstanding problems with the route which was to be taken by the path in the area of Harpur Hill, and the path itself is still incomplete.  Hopefully, this situation could soon be resolved as a planning application has now been lodged with High Peak District Council for a new link from the path to the Parks Inn. But we must take nothing for granted and this link will only happen if we give our support to the application. Click here for the link to the application and then go to the bottom of the page and click Comment on this application. Thanks for your support.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Becky Bryan - Derbyshire Dales DC

So, I have met up with Becky at DDDC this morning. She is the Sport and Health Development Officer for DDDC with a support staff of 4-5 people. Contact number is 01629 761385 and email at

I explained to her about the White Peak Ranger group, how we linked into Dan and the wider Sustrans organisation. I said I would send her a copy of the map of NCN routes that we cover, as she didn't seem to be too familiar with these.

DDDC have very little specific cycling based activity since the loss of funding for Ruth Taylor's position. She is keen to work with us, and support any activities that we arrange. The only active programme she is aware of is the regular Monday (ladies) group who meet at Hassop Station. That group regularly attracts 15+ riders and has a total membership of perhaps 30 people. The only ride they do is along the Monsal Trail.

It was interesting to hear that the Monday Group has an arrangement with HAssop Book Store and cycle centre whereby riders are able to park for free and riders can hire bikes with a 40% discount ie £6 per bike per ride. Similar discount levels wither agreed with DCC at their Parsley Hay and Ashbourne sites, but no led rides have yet become a regular feature from there.

Becky has got access to the DDDC website, Facebook and Twitter accounts and through which she will help promote any rides that we organise. She is also keen to ensure promotion of them is made at the ARC.

She was interested to learn about the programme that we are putting together and I have said that I will send a draft to her as soon as we have progressed it to the next stage.

Unfortunately DDDC does not have the resources to initiate many biking activities and so they are keen to support others who are looking to do something. In practice, at this stage their support will probably be little more than promoting our events. However, this could be a relationship which might grow over time. I am not aware of much else, by way of funded stakeholders or partners, in the area.

Please let me know if there are any other matters which you would like me to ask her about.

Cycling therapy by Lee Craigie!

Watch this inspiring short Sustrans video, sent to me by Andy Staines, about champion Scottish MTB rider Lee Craigie and the therapeutic value of cycling. Click here to watch it. It made me want to immediately charge up to the Scottish Highlands and start pedalling! What breathtaking scenery! What wonderful commitment Lee shows! Anyone care to ride the Caledonia Way (NCR78)? 

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Public rides for 2017

After our discussions on Thursday evening I hope that you will also consider further what format our programme of rides for 2017 should take. We originally agreed we would aim for one a month, but I may look to supplement this with a few shorter, evening rides along the Monsal Trail. Is this too ambitious a programme?

The question is.... do we look to establish a regular group for whom we can establish greater levels of competence and confidence over the summer months OR do we just hold each months' ride in a different location around the area as a way of trying to introduce the cycle network to as many people as possible?

Anyway, I will circulate separately the draft "2017 Programme of led rides" document (not sure how to include it here), which is indicative of what the programme will look like, once I have all your feedback and comments. It has embedded documents which include example risk assessments and communication briefs to use to drum up attendances.

The programme will only be successful if we can all make some commitment to it, so its important that we set out something that we are all happy with, and which is not too ambitious in this first year.

Please let me have your suggestions for rides, thoughts and other comments by end of February, at which point I will send an updated draft for us all to consider.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Had a great meeting last night with all the White Peak rangers.

Great to welcome Jane, the new Group Coordinator. I'm feeling very excited about all you're going to achieve this year to promote cycling and walking in the Peak District.


Mount Teide, Tenerife

Last night’s meeting has spurred me into action!  Ruth and I haven’t done any exciting rides recently – apart from island hopping along the Dalmatian coast in Croatia, where we failed to take any photos!  So I thought I’d tell you about the ascent of Mt Teide, Tenerife in 2003.  This is one of the very few places in the world where you can cycle and walk from sea level to 12,000 ft and back in one day – at least that was the plan.  We’d hire bikes and cycle up from the coast to 7,700 ft then walk the rest.  

We hired nice Scott bikes and set off early but soon found that, though the bikes were good, the saddles were torture so we had to keep getting off and walking for a while until the pain subsided!  So we were late setting off on the walking part and, by the time we reached a mountain refuge at 10,700 ft, we realised we had to stop there for the night.

The next morning we set off at 6 a.m. in the dark and managed to be on the summit for the sunrise at 7:30 – 24 hours after we set off. 

So we did manage the ascent in “one day” but will have to go back sometime to do up and down in a day.  See all the pictures at and click on the link “Mount Teide ascent 2003".

PS – No, we didn’t do it in pirates fancy dress - Ruth’s eye patch was because she was having trouble with her corneal graft at the time.