Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Peak District - For a Change

When you're going for a bike ride to the Isle of Anglesey at 1.30pm in the afternoon it doesn't help when your fellow biking buddy doesn't turn up until 3.00pm. A brief calculation confirmed the fact that if we departed for Anglesey at 3.00 in the afternoon (more like 3.30 by the time we'd finished faffing around), not only would we be unlikely to find anything touristy open by the time we got there, we were also in danger of not making it back to The Local in time for last orders at the bar. The realisation of the latter saw us taking no chances as we headed for the High Peaks instead.

Peak District National Park is a paradise for walkers, cyclists, hang gliders, paragliders, rock climbers, cavers and motorcyclists to name but a few. Brochures, funnily enough, never seem to mention the latter in their advertising campaigns but don't let that deter you. The Peaks have some of the best biking roads in Britain, and with 555 square miles of space there's plenty of them to choose from.

Amongst bikers the most infamous road in the High Peak area, known as the Cat & Fiddle, links Buxton to Macclesfield. For me a far nicer and certainly safer road up in that neck of the woods is Snake Pass heading east from Glossop to Ladybower reservoir. Or the other way round obviously.

That's where we headed for yesterday, the Snake Pass, taking in all manner of great roads, nice villages, gorgeous scenery and dodgy sandwiches out of triangulated plastic packets.

Ashbourne - A rather attractive town at the southern end of the Peaks but suffering from a constant traffic jam. If you need to drive through the place allow several days extra for your journey. Alternatively find a secret way round like I have, but don't tell anybody...... Just like I haven't ;)

Upon reaching Ladybower reservoir I thought it was my duty to pull over and get some photos for the website. This however led Matt to inform me that my photography was interfering with the bike riding. But I soon noticed this didn't stop him sprawling himself all over his bike for a photo once he knew I'd got my camera out. That's if you can call a mobile phone a camera. Incidentally, neither did it stop him getting excited at the prospect of having an action shot taken of him riding his bike. Anyway where was I? Ladybower. Below which lies the villages of Ashopton and Derwent, now only visible during droughts or with scuba equipment. Ladybower was also used by the "Dambusters" squadron of the RAF for practise with their bouncing bombs famously used on the Ruhr dams.

Ladybower Reservoir, or at least part of it. It's a bit sort of T shaped with several dams strewn along the way.

Ladybower Reservoir again.

Somewhere along our travels the flowing bike ride was rudely interrupted not by photography this time but by a couple of thousand sheep wandering down the road. The highlight of this little halt in proceedings was watching a sheep trying to kick the sheepdog's ass.

Waiting for the sheep to kindly move out of the way.

As the crow flies, three miles south west of Ladybower lies the little town of Castleton, home to some fascinating caves including Blue John, Speedwell and Peak Caverns. Running between these caves lies Winnat's Pass, one of the most stunning stretches of road in the Peaks. The following two photos don't do the place justice, nor do they show just how steep the road is. It's only when you look at the third picture of my bike precariously parked up that you get some sort of idea.

Myself and Winnie on Winnat's Pass.

Matt - Not complaining about photographs now!

It's a good job there's plenty of compression.

That's just about all the time we had for sightseeing. The rest of our five hour journey was spent enjoying the ride. It would have been nice to cover more of the area but you can't do it all in one day. And anyway, it gives us another excuse to go back, this time visiting the Goyt Valley just off the superb A5004 between Whaley Bridge and Buxton.

Next week I'll make another attempt at getting to Anglesey.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

We Haven't Fled the Country (Yet)

In case anyone is wondering, we haven't all disappeared off the face of the planet, we've been just a little busy, that's all. I've been working pretty much seven days a week since Christmas refurbing the factory. Weekends have been the best time to be getting on with this job so any riding I've been doing has been when I take the occasional half day off work. Even then my rides have only been local travelling no further than the Peak District. Loz has been busy organising and preparing for a ride to Iceland in August (More of that later). Matt (Joey) is busy attaining his commercial helicopter pilots licence and has been snowed under with exams. Dean currently is landscaping his garden. Neil has had a career change and is concentrating on that, and finally there's Gaz who has been busy learning to skydive. At some point this year things will come together and no doubt we'll all end up catching up on lost time.

As I mentioned earlier, Loz is starting out for Iceland on the 2nd of August. On the 8th August he'll be catching a ferry from John O'groats. Dean and I will be taking a week off work to ride up to John O'groats with him whereby we'll leave him to head northward to a chillier climate. We meanwhile will head back down the country via Edinburgh taking in the Festival and the Royal Yacht Britannia. Rock on!

Other stuff in the news, our mate Tim who recently passed his test has bought himself a Honda CBR 600 (pictured below).

Tim and his CBR 600

Although we've all been busy, it hasn't stopped us getting up the pub for the usual rounds of silliness....... Oh no.

A somewhat spooky looking Matt (Joey)

I'll leave you with three short but funny videos of Pete Miller in his usual top form. I'll pre warn you that we're not all like this in Staffordshire!

Monday, June 02, 2008

This Month's Limited Edition T- Shirts

Jangle on..... And sing your song. That's the theme for this months brilliant limited edition T-shirts. On sale until the end of June whereby another staggering design will hit Downtown Tinterweb.