Tuesday, 3 August 2010

1 Aug: Day ride from Tissington (Car-assisted)

Joseph Sugg writes: We began with an early start at Addenbrookes, at 6:30am, to meet up with Adrian and John. We took a leisurely three hours to get to Tissington. The journey can be done in two and a half hours if you so wish.

Tissington is in the south of the Peak District National Park and is about three-quarters of the way down the Tissington trail. There is an intact platform and a refreshments kiosk. The trail is entirely off-road and follows the path of the now disused railway line. The Tissington trail meets up with the High Peak trail further north.

At Tissington we met up with Averil and Mike C, who had driven up separately. We began by riding south along the trail towards Ashbourne. The Tissington trail ends at Ashbourne where there is cycle hire and a refreshment kiosk, where we had our first coffee of the day.

We now had to leave the relatively flat trail. Most roads in the peaks go up or down, some more steeply than others! After a gradual climb up the B5035 we turned onto a minor road and discovered some very steep hills. The descents are not easy either because you have to watch the cars and gravel on the narrow roads. We then rejoined the B road and climbed again for a while. Then it was a brief but fast bit of downhill down to Carsington Water.

At Carsington there is a large visitor centre and shops and a cafe. The well-surfaced cycle trail goes right round the reservoir but we left at the northern end and rejoined the B road. We left the B road shortly and raced down a very steep incline into the village of Wirksworth. It was one of those hills where you daren’t let go of the brakes!

Wirksworth was our lunch stop and John, myself and Adrian went into the pub for a meal. The Roast was a very reasonable £5.99 and there was a selection of ales on offer including the pub's own brew.

From Wirksworth we set off up the hill to join the High Peak trail at Middleton Top. This turned out to be a very long steep climb up the B5023. Here we joined the High Peak trail.

The High Peak trail runs from Cromford in the south and runs NW for about 15 miles until it joins the Tissington trail at Parsley Hay. Cromford lies in the Derwent valley so when the railway was built, engineers had to find a way of getting trains up an incline of over a thousand feet in five miles.They built a winding engine at the top of the incline and literally winched the trains up four similar inclines ranging from 1 in 14 to 1 in 8.

We rode up some of these inclines, and I can verify that they are very steep indeed. Bottom gear was employed for much of the climb and, of course, I had to stop to take photos. At the top there is the winding house museum which shows the winding gear still in situ.

From here the trail flattens out and although some of the surface is a little bumpy it is eminently passable. Having been told it was only a couple of miles to Parsley Hay I left the others and charged ahead. At this time of day on a Sunday there are a lot of other users on the trail but most are very polite and move aside without being asked. This part of the trail is very high up and affords fantastic views of the surrounding countryside and ragged outcrops of rock above your head.

Mike’s prediction proved a little out as it took me 8 miles to reach Parsley Hay, just beyond the junction with the Tissington trail. Here I sat down for a well earned cup of tea and ice cream.

At Parsley Hay we left the track and descended down a fast windy road that cut
through the rock towards Hartington.

Just before Hartington we climbed back up via the B5054 and rejoined the Tissington trail, heading south, at Hartington station. There is an intact signal box here which you can view.

From here we rode the final 5 miles back to our cars at Tissington at 6:00pm, all downhill!

Total mileage: 40 miles of very enjoyable country. I arrived home at 9pm, but it was worth the long drive to enjoy such spectacular cycling. Joseph Sugg.

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