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.


Highwaylass said...

Ssh..if you tell them all about the Snake Pass they'll move across from the Cat and Fiddle...

Nikos said...

I heard that!

Anonymous said...

I have to share this with you guys! The coolest way to blaze the roads on your motorcycle and ensure that other motorists notice to check this place out - ,they have some of the coolest bling for your helmets. We all have to be safe out there, but we can have fun doing it! One of the greatest benefits is the fact that YOU ARE NOTICED! It is shown that the majority of our motorcycle accidents are due to other motorists…who say they DO NOT SEE US!, lets throw that excuse out their window! Yeah I know the famous t-shirts all you fellows wear that say “If You Can Read This…The Bitch Fell Off” are the only accessory you feel you need, but I have to say, there is something hot about a guy with a Mohawk…..especially a purple one! I wear mine and I love it, I get lots of attention, not that a lady on a bike does not anyway…but the more the better! The helmets are affordable and I plan on getting a few for my riding buddies for Christmas gifts, I want to keep them safe, and I do think this is a cool way to do it….make motorcycle helmet wearing fun.