Bikes Along the River Dove by Andy Bebington
Liz and I stayed in a cottage in Hartington for a week this summer, near the junction of the High Peak Trail and the Tissington Trail, and not far from the Manifold Trail (along the valley of the River Manifold). The three trails are diferent but are equally enjoyable.
The first one we rode was the Manifold Trail, which utilises some roads (almost empty of traffic) one of which goes through a couple of hundred yards of tunnel. Halfway along the Trail we came to a pool where the river widens out, with a bridge and a refreshment stop. The river was awash with youngsters (from a boys' camp? a Sunday School?) playing, splashing their young adult leaders and being splashed in return. There are two bike hire locations at the southern end, at Waterhouses, and a super little tea shop just north of there. It's about a sixteen mile round trip, starting a mile or so from our cottage, so we threw in a diversion on the way home to see a church that was recommended, in the hill top village of Alstonefield. Not bad for an unfit memsahib in a halfday ride.
Everyone we told that we were going to Hartington told us that we'd be near the Tissington Trail. Why is it that everyone's heard of it, when in fact the Manifold Trail was the country's first ever disused railway line conversion in the 1930s. (Although cycling wasn't officially allowed on it until fifty years later, it had in fact been a popular cycle route almost from the start).
The Tisington Trail is well signed, has a number of watering holes that Club riders would approve of, and (probably the reason it was the most crowded trail) it starts in Ashbourne, with another cycle hire base. What a super town is Ashbourne! We had found a town trail so, having ridden there, we walked all round the recommended route and then cycled back again, with plenty of stops to allow rest and recuperation. And, of course, tea and cakes. There was a sort of camaraderie on the trail, with parents of young children welcoming encouragement for the kids from passing cyclists, and we were impressed with the bike handling skills of even the smallest children. The even smaller children were riding tag alongs or in trailers and they gave us a cheery wave as they went.
The trouble with trails like those is that they're there and back again routes; so the third ride we did was by. road, on a locally recommended route, to Carsington Water (which my OS map showed as "under construction") and thence to Middleton Top to pick up the High Peak Trail. The object of going to Middleton Top was to answer the CTC Cyclequest question set there. It’s called "Top" because that's what it is the top of a slope up which a static engine pulled trucks from the valley bottom (where they'd been drawn by horses) to the plateau (where other horses would take over). It was a system arising, we were told, from the construction of the railway by a canal building firm, and Middleton Top was, in their eyes, at the upper end of a lock. We came across another such slope later, but at 7% this was easy by comparison.
All routes are well served with advice boards, toilets (clean ones!) and mileage indicators so that you know how far to the next refreshment stop and can work out if that's beyond your children's (or your wife's) range. Surfaces are generally good, although there was standing water in a couple of places and nettles were overhanging the path occasionally. Possibly the biggest hazards are pedestrians walking side by side and clearly so absorbed in their conversation that your friendly "dring" on a bicycle bell from twenty yards becomes a frantic call, "coming through on your right" from about five yards away before they recognise your existence. Mind you, they probably curse those cyclists who don't have bells and believe that they can squeeze through on the edge of the path without realising that that's exactly what (justifiably) winds pedestrians up. A great place for some gentle cycling, well used by young couples and older ones and especially by families. And we didn't see very many kids' bikes with stabilisers!
Rouen Athletic Club’s 60th Anniversary by Keith Wawman
Now that we are back to the old type ferry taking four hours, plus one for the time change, the departure time of the ferry is much earlier 7am!
On arrival at Dieppe we met up with a small group who had ridden from Rouen that morning, accompanied by the usual cavalcade of cars (most welcome as they were able to carry the saddle bags etc). Also waiting were the few who had travelled on Friday, missing the early start. Robert Bellini had pre booked lunch at Au Grand Duquesne restaurant in the town (and very good it was too). After lunch we took a look round the Kite Flying Competition on the sea front that is the car drivers and passengers (as well as myself up to now I have always ridden) and Wendy Smith, not cycling. The afternoon was taken up with riding to St. Martin de Bosherville with a quick stop to pick up Ted who was finding it hard going, and later meeting up with Mike and Mo who had started a few days before.
The usual arrangements had been made to stay two nights at the Hotel le Relais de Montigny (top of a big hill) for five people, the rest staying with RAC members' families. The evening dinner was a grand gathering, as usual another good French meal. During the meal a small presentation was made to Robert Bellini for organising the weekend for us.
On Sunday the rides centred on St. Martin de Bosherville (35km to 150 km) made up with two circuits morning and afternoon with lunch at the village hall. I did a small ride with Robert and after lunch had a walk around the Abbey grounds with Mike and Mo. The guide went on so long that even the French in our group gave up (even so it was worth the visit). We heard a very fine recital in the cloisters, and later tea with Mo testing the home made cake. Back at the village hall, when all the rides had finished, the usual presentation of silverware was made. The evening was spent with the host families and at the hotel for the others.
On the ride back to Dieppe there was a bit more time so lunch was taken at Le Saint Ribert at Torcy le Grand. Then we were accompanied by some of the RAC riders and two cars with the baggage (with me as part of the baggage!). Everyone managed to make the 5pm ferry.
Bet you think that the whole of the weekend was spent eating, with a little cycling thrown in! Next year it will be our turn to host our French friends hope we can do equally as well.
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