Having loved our 2 day jaunt into the area a couple of weeks ago we came back with the bikes to try out a couple of the cycle trails.
Staying at Whitehouse Farm Campsite in Heathcote, a couple of miles outside Hartington village. Campsite is a CL, very small with 5 large caravans onsite all parking across the pitches. We squeezed into the top corner, awning out and mock Moroccan mat down and spent Saturday afternoon sat in the blazing sunshine – probably as close as we are going to get to being in Morocco any time soon.
Sunday morning we unloaded the bikes and headed out to cycle the Tissigton Trail. Being a former railway trackbed its apparently reasonably level and runs between Parsley Hay and Ashbourne, all off road on a surfaced trail. We joined at Hartington where we were impressed with the massive car park, loos and even a special car-park for horse boxes with water for the neds too. First thing we noticed was it wasn’t actually flat, a slight gradient down all the way to Ashbourne so we whizzed down in no time at all. On route are a couple of cafe stops and a cycle hire / repair shop and the most amazing views across the countryside. Very many people out on the path on bikes, walking and a fair few on horses too, lots of picnics going on at the side of the trail and a fair few cherry red faces on those going in the uphill direction. The last part takes you through a former railway tunnel, really eerie as there is a vague sound of a train whistle behind you, so whilst you know there cannot be a train you cannot help but keep looking behind you.
A brief stop at Ashbourne to fill up on Apple-turnovers and strawberries for the energy boost we needed to tackle the return trip. Slightly harder going – into the wind and up hill, I was considerably peeved when passed by a fella who must have been in his 80’s but then saw his bike was electric. Just past the village of Tissington we spotted a landrover off road club having an event so its was time to chuck the bikes in the grass, get out the butties and half an hour stop for lunch whilst watching them throw land-rovers off the side of a quarry – which allowed allowed our bottoms to ease their aching a little at the same time.
Back at Hartington we decided to leave the last part of the trail for the next day so were back at the campsite ready for a sunny snooze with our first 26 miles under our belts. With weather that would not go a miss in the Med we had tea sat outside and watched a million grass flies merrily hovering around the caravan next door – not sure what it was about us but luckily they stayed away from us.
Monday and unbelievably the sun was still shinning so we headed back out to complete the last couple of miles from Hartington up to Hurdlow. This time we were tackling the uphill gradient first so we knew it was downhill coming home which always makes life seem better. At Hurdlow we considered continuing over on the Penine Bridleway, but to do that needed to cycle a couple of miles on the A515 first, as we got to the road a couple of quarry lorries thundered past so we gave that up as a bad job and turned around and followed the path back. At Parsley Hay there is a small cafe, bike hire and gift shop so we stopped for refreshments. We considered buying a knitted bike?? Also took a fancy to a tandem tricycle with the biggest basket in the world on the back – our future has 3 wheels 🙂
Started back towards the campsite but the High Peaks Trail looked too inviting so we detoured onto this. A much narrower trail but again a former railway flatbed, well surfaced and seemingly flatter. We decided to do a couple of miles but before we knew it we were half way down the trail at Minninglow. Here there is an amazing railway embankment that is actually Grade II listed. Looks like a stone wall from a reservoir and runs in an arc around the valley, perfect place for a butty stop before heading back and adding a further 25 miles to our total. Much talk then on what to do with the afternoon, walk into Hartington village, cycle a bit more or just sit and snooze – the latter won for the day, so another lazy afternoon in the sunshine was calling until I heard it was time to learn to use the new bike bar! Our recently fitted new bike bar sits on the tow bar and is therefore low enough for us both to put the bikes on and take them off. Hence I now have to share what is most definitely a ‘blue’ not a ‘pink’ job. After a quick lesson I demonstrated with ease how to load – now just keeping fingers crossed they are still with us on arrival at home.
Tuesday is home time, but first a quick stop in Hartington village. Chocolate box pretty with a locally famous cheese shop so would be rude not to stop off and buy some. As always locally famous means reasonably expensive but everything looked too good to resist so with a small wedge of pineapple stilton and a block of fig and almond wedge to go with it we headed towards Monsal to have a look at the next trail we fancy riding, the Monsal Trail. As it was a bit misty we decided against cycling today and instead went up to Monsal Head, spectacular views down the vale and over the viaduct. Loads of people walking the trail which does make you a bit green with envy but will save that one for another day. The route home took us through Buxton and over the moors on the A54 to Congleton, we stopped off for a quick lunch break at the picnic spot and then had half an hour at Spinney Motorhomes, just to see if there was anything we needed. This obviously excluded a new motorhome – agreement reached before we opened the doors. Having treated ourselves to a new kettle for the van we were home late afternoon and already checking our campsites for another visit into the Peaks as soon as we can fit it in.