Peaky Blinder

Stop! If you’re looking for the Shelby’s sorry. BBC iPlayer is where you need to be, this my friend is a recount of a great ride in the Peaks today.

Tuesday. Day off. Unusual as I normally have Sunday & Monday off but I was working in Bristol yesterday so I took today off. It was already wall-to-wall sunshine when I got up so a ride was definitely in the offing. I’d explored driving somewhere for a change last night to try and squeeze some more mojo out of me. It’s waned a bit the last week. There were a few options in mind. Cannock Chase, Wyre Forest, the North Warwickshire Cycleway or something completely different.

I got up and downed my usual bucket (big cafetiere) of coffee and jumped on the maps while I was munching toast. Faffing and an hour in wasting the day I just said fuck it and threw everything in the van. Peak District here I come.

Ashbourne was going to be my base. The Tissington Trail. It’s not far, just over an hour’s drive. As I entered the outskirts of town I took a punt on the first car park by the leisure centre. The two at the front were small and full so I followed the road round the back and bingo a big one with loads of spaces and weirdly right at the start of the trail. Just like it was meant to be.

the last time I was on The Tissington Trail was hiking with the Cub Scouts in the 1980’s

Ticket sorted. I was changed in no time and off straight into a long, old (barely lit) railway tunnel which was really cold.

Out the other side and I was straight onto The Tissington Trail which as soon as I got on it, I knew it was going to be brilliant. Hard packed gravel. I was flying along passing loads of walkers and cyclists. The first 12 or 13km are all uphill, literally one long drag onto the peaks. It was blazing sunshine but the first few km are well shaded with trees which was refreshing.

You don’t notice the gradient at first but in places you can visibly see it kick up and it just keeps going. Eventually the canopy shading me dropped away as I got higher up and the trail narrowed a bit and the gravel became white just like Strade Bianche.

The views across the valleys of plush, green farmland contrasting with piercing blue skies and the sun, it was just breath taking to be honest. At times when I stopped to take a pic and there were no walkers or cyclists in sight, you could hear nothing bar a crow or some farm machinery. Pure escapism. I couldn’t stop looking everywhere around me.

I carried onto the High Peak Trail for a bit. Past an appetising cafe but I knew if I stopped I’d struggle to get going again so I cracked on. Just a couple more miles and that was it. Onto proper gravel now and a good old farm track that climbed and dropped me down to some tarmac!

The tarmac though not needed was welcome. It was like riding on carpet. I’d opted to dovetail the top part of the ride with a kind of figure of eight loop on back lanes for a few km before back onto the trail and the High Peak one this time. This was my favourite despite some gates. It’s quieter and a little bit more gravelly if thats a word.

I was blessed with more great views across the fields and it just seemed to climb and climb again. Some of the engineering of the old railway line where cut through rock and was built up to carry it were eye openers too.

At what must have been the highest point (because there were wind turbines) I dropped down to Carsington Water and began riding around the trail that follows the water’s edge. It’s a great track but the constant (unnecessary) gates were annoying. After such a flat ride along the High Peak Trail, the regular short sharp pitches around the reservoir were energy sapping too.

I could have just sat and dipped my toes in the water. It looked so inviting. There wasn’t much going on, on the water. I saw a couple of fishermen in a boat and that was it. No watersports or sailing.

I left the Visitor’s Centre car park and my Garmin decided to go a bit Lady Gaga sending me half a km along the base of the dam road before telling me to turn back. I climbed back up and past the car park and then up a long old drag on a B road.

I was supposed to turn left along here somewhere and take a byway back towards Ashbourne but the Garmin missed it and I couldn’t work out really where I was so I just carried on back into Ashbourne on the B Road with its nasty 10% climb out of Kniveton village. That told me it was time to call it a day and the Garmin was saying I was over 3hrs in now too.

I was gifted a long descent back into the village but I had no idea where I was going. I followed my nose but that took me straight out the otherside of town so I had to double back on the main road briefly back to the car park. I was cooked in the sun, the bike was baked in dust but I thoroughly enjoyed it

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