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.