The reason for all these bike rides will become apparent shortly. Today’s outing from Rose Hill in Marple was on yet another lovely sunny day, but thankfully lacking Pyrenean style heat, pressure sores and all that jazz.
I headed for over 6 km down the Middlewood Way, together with a large congregation of walkers, runners, horse riders and other cyclists. We did actually congregate for some time whilst a farmer moved his herd of Guernseys from a field on one side of the track to one on the other side.
Zooming past Higher Poynton Station, where previous rides have left the old railway line at Nelson Pit, I overshot the next exit and did a few ‘there and back’ kilometres before leaving the railway at a small car park after getting stuck for a while behind a fat, deaf man on a very slow bike, and heading down under the canal and up a hill. Doubling back to the left took me to the bottom of a hill, where a gate to the right (the West Gate) offered access to Lyme Park, and a steady pull up a rough track to another gate.
Beyond here, tarmac leads to the Hall, pictured above. This cycle route goes fast past the car park before doubling back to the right to face the hall as shown, looking back at the shocked faces of those who have just nearly been decimated by the silent but deadly Stumpjumper (my bike – the bell does work but people don’t seem to hear it).
Further up the hill the tarmac gave way to a stony path with views across Cheshire beyond the square hunting lodge on top of a hill that can be seen for miles around.
The track drops down to the East Gate, then a rough section goes down to the old bridge shown below. This bridge has recently been deemed unsafe for vehicular traffic by the Highways Agency. A footpath, on which my bike is positioned, has been constructed to by-pass the closed road. This is no good to horse riders, nor to the farmer who travels by Land Rover to shepherd his herd of sheep. So the fence erected to block the road is constantly being pulled down. Apparently some locals think it should have been demoted to bridleway status and not closed off, though that still wouldn’t be of much help to the farmer. The footpath proved too narrow for both me and my bike, resulting in a few skin rips from Stumpy’s sharper protuberances.
A steep push from the bridge over slippery rocks led to roads (turn left at the first road, then right at the junction) that traversed high above New Mills and Furness Vale, dropping eventually towards Whaley Bridge.
There were fine views down to New Mills and across the valley to Kinder Scout.
A fairly obscure bridleway* took a left past a 4x4 that was virtually blocking the rose bush lined route (more scratches), just before entering Whaley Bridge. This leads down to Furness Vale, where the Peak Forest Canal provided my next conduit. I could alternatively have taken the road into Whaley Bridge and picked up the canal there, but it wouldn’t have been as much fun as on the rocky paths I took.
The towpath passes large mooring areas before reaching New Mills and passing the unmistakeable aroma of Love Hearts emanating from the sweet factory, pictured ahead in the next image.
I turned right at the first bridge after the sweet factory, along a track that led down then up to Hague Bar. Straight across the main road there, and the last serious climb of the day took me at walking pace behind a couple of nervous hikers who thought they were about to be run over, up to the metal bench by Brook Bottom.
Turning left, I eschewed a visit to the Fox Inn, in favour of a cuppa in Marple with Graham and Sue, after returning to Rose Hill by the same bumpy route as described in my last report on Wednesday’s outing.
Here’s my route - 35 km with 700 metres ascent, taking nearly 3 hours.
* On the descent to Whaley Bridge pass a house on the left where there’s a Public Footpath sign. A few metres further on, by the next house, is a bridleway sign. Take this bridleway down steeply between rose bushes and houses then turn left down a fast, narrow path to a gate. Continue along a grass track, keeping at a contouring height and not dropping down to another gate. After rising slightly, the grass track turns to stone and descends to a stream and gate. Beyond here a narrow rocky path leads to tarmac, and the descent to Furness Vale.