A lovely guy called Hugh Cleary has been coming up to the Lakes over the last year and each time has been going out on the lanes up here. Through a mutual friend, he contacted me to sort out information from a local source and over time we've now chatted a bit but never met. So this weekend I thought I'd change that. I contacted Hugh and asked if he was free to go for a ride as I was coming back from down south this weekend, once he said yes, I then asked a couple of other people to see if they were free and low and behold, overnight, we had four of us ready to ride.
We met up on Sunday morning near Whaley Bridge, Hugh, Mark, JP & I. All kit was checked, bikes fuelled and so after some chat, we were off.
A few of the first lanes, I'd ridden before, so knew what was coming, then Hugh took us on a few I'd not ridden but which took us to some lovely places.
There were groups of kids out doing their Duke of Edinburgh Awards, loads of walkers and hundreds of cyclists, both on the roads and the trails, so all in all it was shaping up to be a busy day out in the Peak! The bonus was that everyone was smiley and waving, we each stopped for a bit of a chat finding out what each of us were doing for the day. A proper summer's day out for all!
It's funny, but for me the Peak District is basically a big manicured farm these days, with a lot of quarries, roads and people. It's landscape has been changed by human management drastically over the years and now more than ever, the 'natural' scenery we see is actually a bit like someone has sat down and planned out a garden at a stately home, then set out to make it that way. Somewhere in man's drive to completely control our enviroment and extract anything that is useful to us, we have lost sight of the fact that there is no more land around, what we have is what we have and so in reality we need to find out how to work with it and not just draw a picture in our minds eye and hold the place in that image forever. Something all of the National Parks seem hell bent on doing.
We almost had a moment when Mark's rear tyre decided to part company with his wheel rim. It turned out his son Leigh had broken the bead whilst fitting the new tyre the previous night and as time was short, Mark had decided to risk it. We ended up shepherding him back to the van, where he decided to bail and go home.
A lot of the lanes around the area were old Roman roads or later Turnpike roads, and some of the Turnpike roads were toll roads where you paid at either end to support mainteneance of them and they had large coaching places where horses and carriages could be rested, repaired etc. A good example of this is the A515 at Newhaven, where the old coaching inn is on the left as you head north. This was a Turnpike road stage. The roman road runs nearby and through some trees now.
Nowadays, they are almost lost in lots of places as modern roads have buried them under tarmac or seen them bull dozed, quarried or farmed out of existence. The remaining lanes are all under threat from the prevailing mentality of the current management of the Peak District National Park Authority and some very biased people who appear to have an overwhelming desire to make the Peak District into their idea of a utopia and anybody who doesn't fit or agree is either castigated or painted in an unfavourable light! When I ride around here, I am very much conscious of the conflict that the lane users are facing in this area and that we are ambassadors of our past time, so taking it steady and chatting to all is just a part of the day.
At the moment, there are plenty of lanes still there though and I would highly recommend anybody go to the Peak and ride as much as you can, after all they need to be ridden to fully appreciate all that they have to offer.
We met up with a lovely family at the Three Shires, they all lived local and next to a lane, their son, who was only about ten, was super keen on his bikes and we got chatting about his KTM 85 that he's planning on having this year. A little font of knowledge in one so young...
Lunch stop was at Hartington, a lovely little village, where a load of Harley Davidson's were parked up, all the riders having food/drinks, we stopped at the local village shop and had coffee and a huge Peak Pastie! Well worth the £2.50 that was...
We got back to the vehicles on tarmac, winding through the Goyt Valley, back to Whaley Bridge. Hugh left us to head back home and JP & I stopped off for some food before saying bye and driving to our homes.
Another lovely day out on the lanes, some more nice folk met and chatted with, a little more knowledge about some of the lanes tucked in my head and plans for some more visits to come!