The day began with Ray and I arriving at Rowsley in the pouring rain, we met up with Andy who had brought his new Santa Cruz Bronson out to play. The route we were taking started from near Caudwell’s Mill and the first ascent of the day came straight away when we headed up the lane towards Lea Moor Wood past the Peacock pub. It was a good way to get the muscles working but it made me realise I must send my old bike in for a service very soon, I had to stop to manually change the gears which left me with oily hands :-).
Our route took us along the edge of Lea Moor Wood and then some fast bits of downhill saw us back down at the river Wye heading along the Bridleway towards the start of the Monsal Trail. Along the trail we went until we reached Hassop Station, a favourite of ours. It would have been rude not to stop for drinks and treats, we used the excuse that it was raining but in reality the lure of cake and coffee is always too great :-).
After we had dried out and left some muddy puddles on the floor of the Station in the process (sorry about that), we got back on our bikes and headed off into the rain. We used the Monsal Trail again for a short while before turning off on the Bridleway which heads over the hill and then down in to Bakewell. It’s a shame about the number of gates along here, there must be about 8-10 on this section which really slows down the fun, obviously I know livestock need keeping in their place but it would be a great downhill route without them :-).
Down in to Bakewell, along the road, past the riverside carpark, under the viaduct at the start of the Monsal trail and up to Coombs Farm. This uphill section of Bridleway is rather enjoyable as the gradient isn’t too steep which allows for good progress. We then swung sharply to the left and the harder ascent began, I’m not ashamed to say that I did get off and push at one point during the climb up in to Lea Moor Wood. Once the climbing had finished I jumped back on and we rode through the pine plantation… Regular viewers, readers and listeners will know I’m a sucker for a pine forest. We continued on through the woods until we reached the gate out in to the open fields where another spot of fast downhill awaited.
I must admit that some of this route would be best done in the opposite direction to which we did it, although there are some great bits of descent in both direction, I think in reverse you would get some more extreme and twisty terrain in places. One of the best bits of downhill going this way is the section in Chatsworth Estate leading down to the road, there is some nice big bumps which were very fun when taken at speed.
We joined the road, went over the cattle grid at the entrance to Calton Lees car park and then came to a stop at the traffic lights. The lights were on red so we stopped for a moment at the ancient bridge over the River Derwent, I remember watching the Network Q RAC Rally on TV when I was younger and seeing the cars jump over here… Anyway, back to the present day.
We turned left after the bridge, headed up the hill, made slow progress past Beeley Hill Top Farm before the Bridleway levels off a little. This is another one of those sections that would probably be best done in the opposite direction, there is some nice rough sections with some big dips which would be very interesting at speed, we however, were making less hair raising progress as we climbed ever upwards.
Once we reached the very top of the hill where the Bridleway joins the road we made our way back downwards in to Hell Bank Plantation. I have seen bikes racing down the forest here before but I have never rode through myself… We inadvertently took a wrong turn somewhere I think but the time we spent in the forest was great fun none the less…. The path just got thinner and thinner until it was un rideable and we had to get off… We chose to get off just after Andy managed to get his foot stuck in his clip-in pedals at the moment gravity decided to show him who is boss. (Check out the video to see it happen – exact time to follow shortly) Andy took a low speed tumble in to some brambles but luckily he and his brand new Santa Cruz Bronson were unharmed… Phew 🙂
We made our way out of the forest, down the road and then picked up the Bridleway down towards Rowsley Wood. After we had negotiated some deep mud and a sea of cow muck we eventually made it into the forest. Another quick direction correction saw us taking in some more excellent downhill. I was in the lead and almost caused a pile up when I went flying through a mud puddle at high speed, failed to make the turn and stopped inches from a rather large rock… Phew, another close one 🙂
After we reappeared from the woods all that was left was the very fast downhill section which comes out in Rowsley across from the entrance to the Peak Village car park. We crossed over the A6, rounded the corner and were back at the cars just near the entrance to Caudwell’s Mill car park. We were drenched, muddy and tired but it had been another thoroughly enjoyable ride. I’m certainly looking forward to getting out on the bikes next time Andy is in town.