July 18th - 20th:

The weather in the preceding weeks was glorious and all promised to be a wonderful day out with 9 taking to the bikes for an historic inspired loop of the Peaks. As the day approached the weather turned and a less than glorious day looked likely. Accidents happened and excuses were made leading to 5 setting out on the day. The 55 mile L’Eroica Britannia route was followed as planned but with slightly altered ins and outs the days mileage was closer to 60.

We met at the hut for 9am and a quick decision was made to have another coffee to try and let the heaviest of the rain pass by.  With a break in the weather appearing the group set out in the direction of Hassop. The break in the weather did not last long and we only made Calver crossroads before the rain started again and set in for much of the morning.


The group proceeded steadily to join the Monsal trail at Hassop station.  The trees along the trail offered some much needed shelter and a comfortable pace allowed for some jovial conversation (and time to search for some lost ‘sunglasses’ - eventually found just metres from our feet as we gave up the search). A first comfort break was made at Miller’s dale station while Geoff phoned round the Taddington crowd in search of a dry place for a coffee.  Unfortunately fellow meet leader George was actually working and Pip had popped to Sheffield and Bryan and Sheila were in the campervan on their way to an airshow. Fortunately for us (unfortunately for them) they had made it only a few miles from their house before a red light on the dash caused them to stop in the lay-by by the Waterloo.  Sheila put the kettle on and we made the steady climb out to be greeted by a steaming coffee and somewhere dry to stop for a few minutes.

Bryan tried to persuade us to take a less steep route out of Taddington but to Geoff’s dismay was ignored.  We headed out up the first steep climb of the day in search of the greenway to link us with the High Peak Trail.  The greenway became rutted and in scenes reminiscent of Cancellara’s great Paris-Roubaix victories Geoff swept by to lead the pack.  On the High Peak trail we were able to gather pace as we rolled downhill to Parsley Hay in search of some shelter and a couple of large baps. Road beers were unpacked and an obviously thirsty John drained his in seconds. There were further rumblings about the route and reasons for dropping in to Hartington and climbing out when one of the specific points (Cromford) could be reached simple by staying on the level of the trails.  Once again over-ruled Geoff mounted his freshly washed saddle and grumbled on in to a rather chilly descent.  A sharp climb past Hartington Hall YHA saw us join another rutted green lane with an intriguing descent passed a somewhat interestingly parked boat in a ditch.  No-one was quite sure how and why it was there but we quickly pushed on to join the Tissington trail in search of more shelter.  In scene’s reminiscent of the cobbled classics Rob found himself in the wake of Richard and ended up taking on an interesting pebble dashed looked (although when dried looked somewhat heroic!) The trail is departed in Tissington and a sweeping descent with stunning views heads in the general direction of Carsington via a ford. The leader is proud to report that the ford was tackled with great gusto by all riders (there comes a point where you just can’t get any wetter!) The ford seemed to draw a line in the weather and it began to dry up and the sun poked its head out on a increasing basis.

A hidden gem of a wooded climb awaited the riders out of Carsington (the meet leader had entirely forgotten to mention its severity) and we were soon back on the safety of the trails at Middleton Top and progressed with out incident to the 3 mile descent down the Hopton incline to finish our off-road riding at Cromford canal.  The descent is sketchy at the best of times and with recent ongoing remedial work, the amount of rain and slick tyres Rob and Mike didn’t have to turn a wheel to descend large sections.  Geoff and John were persuaded to stick with Rob, Mike and Richard in the gentle climb out of Cromford via John Smedley’s mills to Beeley top rather than return to the hut via the A6. By this time the sun had really found itself and was shinning resplendently high in the sky causing the moisture to change from precipitation to perspiration.  It had been a real Peak District day with all four seasons pretty much represented.  The final few miles saw the always wonderful descent of Beeley and the glinting gold leaf of Chatsworth to crown what had been a wonderful ride taking in some of the best and different aspects that the Peaks have to offer.

Sizeable helpings of pasta and hop based electrolyte beverages were provided to re-fuel participants for the next days activities.  Falling asleep in our chairs we manfully called it a night somewhere just before midnight. (Rick S, Geoff P, John E, Mike P, Rob P)

Rick S & George Samp