ten miles in, ten miles out

Another night, another run out to the dark peak. The Saturday nearest to solstice was warm and cloudy and gave no need to pack any more than the bare essentials; in this case a sleeping bag with a bivi, a new light airbed, a head torch, some instant coffee, pasta, a pot and a meths stove. […]

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Something simple

A night camped out on the lonely grassy moors around Bleaklow almost feels like returning home after a longer trip. Having nearly dried out from a spectacular backpack in the northwest highlands a few weeks had passed, which is just long enough for itchy feet to be setting in, a simple night on the hills was needed. Only an hour away by […]

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Schools out

When the school announced a strike on Thursday we decided to express our unconditional support for better pay and conditions for teachers by heading up to the peaks for a 7.5 mile wander. Starting from Hope we took a path up to Lose Hill for a picnic in the sunshine before heading the ridge to Back Tor and Hollins Cross before […]

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Less is more…

An overnight trip to one of the quieter corners of the peak district with virtually no route planning, a fairly light pack and little more than an hours drive was a good reminder of the pleasure to be found in enjoying the simpler things in life. All we had planned was a few miles walk to an […]

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The Giant Black Bird Cloud

We nearly didn’t bother going, it was getting late on a Sunday afternoon, it was cold out and looked a little cloudy and the idea of sticking a good film on, lighting the fire and staying cosy was winning the battle against ambivalence. They both had school the next day and I was back at […]

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To the Peak District via Bulwell?

After a busy morning with the kids I crammed the last essentials into the backpack and rolled out onto the street and down Hucknall Road. I hadn’t scrimped on gear, a forecast for a cold night meant I was taking no chances, but happily I still managed to keep things pretty light. The plan was to get from Nottingham to a relatively isolated part of White Peak by bike and spend the night under the stars before riding back in the morning using as few ‘proper roads’ as possible sticking to bridleways and tracks.  I had a few destinations in mind but was happy to end up anywhere remote, having not done any big rides for a few months I wasn’t completely sure how quickly I’d become knackered.  A mishap with my usual dinky camera meant that I was going to experiment with a GoPro instead.

Leaving the main road just past Bulwell I found some good woody paths near Hucknall and stitched together a vague route West by travelling along the Robin Hood Way, over the M1 and past some ex-mining towns. Through meadows of rapeseed, farms, woods took me beyond Nottinghamshire. The disused Cromford canal linked straight on to a no through road which dumped me near Ripley. Within 2 hours I’d got to Shining Cliff Woods at Ambergate, a patch of ancient woodland perfect for bombing around on a bike. I necked one of those caffeine energy gels and waited for my head to explode.

Following some caffeine induced noodling around in the woods I joined the Mid Shires Way. Along the track I met the world’s friendliest farmer (opened a gate for me and docked his flatcap) and the world’s most sinister farmer (three of them, all stood dead still glaring at me, one of them had a pitchfork). A downhill detour to Cromford for some fish and chips turned sour as all the chippys were shut, and I’d somehow lost my debit card so couldn’t get any food anyway (think it dropped out my pocket). I resolved to survive on what I’d brought along for snacks, and cursed away whilst climbing the monstrously steep hill up towards Black Rock and Wirksworth.

The last segment of today’s riding was along the High Peak Trail, a gentle track that used to be a railway and has now been converted for cyclists and walkers. The surrounding land was ‘very white peak’, rolling green hills, drystone walls, bleating lambs, the occasional narrow road snaking past the fields. It’s not as wild, epic and adventurous as the Dark Peak but except for the odd car in the distance I hadn’t seen another person for three hours. I was drained from the ride and rolling along a flat empty bridleway with the sun setting ahead of me, I couldn’t want for much more.

I’d noticed Minninglow Hill on the map, mainly because it was far from any roads and buildings and offered a few trees for shelter. In reality it was a perfect inconspicuous spot to spend the night, flat grass, fenced off from the surrounding farmland and it turned out to be an iron age burial ground. It was a chilly night just nudging above zero, I set up camp under a cluster of bare beech trees, once in the bivi I knocked back a few flasks of miso soup and tried not to think of fish and chips.

I used the GoPro to try and make a timelapse film of setting up camp, it didn’t really capture that too well but it does show a decent transition to night time.

The sun was up at 05:30, it had been a good nights sleep under a clear starry night which had left a layer frost by dawn. I was on the road again by 06:30 experiencing the highs that only a person who has two snickers bars and strong black coffee for breakfast can know. I didn’t see anyone until about 08:00 when a couple of fresh faced runners passed me. It was a cool fresh morning which was a pleasure to move through with bleary eyes, feeling a little lazy I opted to go back the way I’d came. Some fruitless searching for the missing bank card further compounding the decision to get back home.

It was a long and slow three hours of steady riding back to Nottingham, it was tough going without any food and the ride seemed to mostly consist of uphill climbs. I’m proud to say that once back home I ate a shameful amount of food and made myself ill. I’d been out the house about 21 hours, covered about 75 miles, slept in a burial ground and ridden through woods, bridleways, fields, past rivers, streams and found a wilderness from my doorstep.

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