Friday, 11 January 2013

A ride through the mists of Derbyshire.

My beloved Derbyshire

Well after what feels like years of not riding Mr T, which in fact is just 3 weeks, I eventually managed to get out yesterday. I had a perfectly viable reason too, I needed to drop off some documents near Sheffield just off junction 33 of the M1. From there it was to be just a short jaunt South down the M1 to visit my Dad & Ang in Alton 8 miles from junction 29.

Now  I’ve just spent a few minutes surfing the net (how modern does that sound?) to find a few interesting facts about my beloved  home county of  Derbyshire. I say home county as that is where I was born and lived until joining the army at the age of 21 back in 1984, as  I now live in Lancashire but that’s a story for another day.

To be honest there are not that many noteworthy facts but here’s a few I thought worth sharing with you:-

1)      The Peak District was the first national park in the country and the Arboretum park was the first public park in Britain.

2)      It contains over 50 reservoirs and several villages had to be submerged to make way for them, including Derwent and Ashopton

3)      Buxton is the highest town in England at 1000 feet above sea level. That elevation means the average annual temperature is below 8 degrees Celsius, which is a full 20 degrees below the temperature of the geothermal springwater which flows from St Ann’s Well in the town.

4)      Barnes Wallis, The creator of the famous bouncing bombs during World War II, was born in Ripley in 1887. Bouncing bomb crews carried out practice runs over Ladybower reservoir.

5)      Legend has it the world famous Bakewell Tart was created accidentally by a cook in the town’s Rutland Arms Hotel in 1820? It is said the almonds, sugar and eggs which ended up as a custard layer above the jam were intended by the landlady to enrich the pastry of a jam tart.

All interesting stuff don’t you think, but absolutely nothing to do with me riding around Derbyshire.

Pulling off the drive at 9.00am the temperature showed 11 degrees Centigrade, inflated by the fact Mr T is kept in a garage attached to the house. Within half a mile the temperature dropped to 6 degrees, so I pulled into the lay-by near to where I was about to join the M62 and plugged in the trusty Gerbings heated jacket. Within 5 minutes I was really pleased I had. Visibility dropped to 100 meters, the temperature sat at just 2 degrees as I climbed the hill that takes the M62 to its highest point of 1,221 feet or 372 meters making it the highest motorway in the United Kingdom. Riding over the 140 foot high Rakewood Viaduct I always have to smile to myself.

remember my Mum coming back from the campsite shower block with the news “They are going to put a toll booth on Rakewood Viaduct!”  As far as I can remember some campsite regular had got chatting to my Mum and convinced her 100% categorically that the council planned to charge people for travelling over the viaduct, which ran behind the campsite. She would not have it that it was the M62 and there was no way on earth after 40 years the council would build a “Toll Booth”. She took that belief with her when she went, God Bless you Mum, you still make me smile as much today as you did back then. (Love n Miss You, so bloody much.)

Anyway, after negotiating the 50mph average speed limit (if only) M62 car park I eventually hung a right and headed South down the M1. Dropping the paperwork off near Sheffield, I was back on Mr T and heading further South without delay.

Now this is where my ride truly takes on its very own persona. As you may or may not have gathered by now I simply adore riding around Derbyshire. The reason is simple, the roads I was about to ride around are the very roads where I learned to ride my Suzuki T125 Stinger way back in 1979.

Pulling off at junction 29 of the M1, Sutton Hall was clearly visible through the morning mist on my right with Hardwick Hall a little further along on my left, both of which were favourite destinations as a lad on my pushbike. A quick left and left again and it was time to take the first photo of the day and Mr T’s first photo of 2013.

Tyre deep in frost & loving it

Pulling back onto the road, the wheels were coated in the thick frost, it was 1 degree. My right hand middle finger which I use to pull the front brake on with was going numb, heated grips or no heated grips. Still, the sun was blazing into my face so down came the internal visor on the Shoei Neotec, thanks to Jeannie for yet another great birthday present, it’s a lot more snug around the cheek area and around the ears but so much lighter feel than the Mulititec.

Sadly it was just at this point that the Garmin 660 “Low Battery” alert flashed on the Garmin 660! Strange as its hard wired in, that prompted me to check my mobile, 68% damn! That meant that my Fuzeblock was dead. Hay ho and on we go. Heading parallel to the M1 Mill Lane took me towards my next destination, Hardwick Hall. Stopping at regular intervals to take photo’s I found the single track road to be fine where the car tracks were so stayed “in the groove” so to speak.

Hardwick Hall 
A view that will vanish in the summer

just love Hardwick Hall, having spent many happy hours riding around, up and down, and through the estate both on motorbike and pushbike. Now the road is a one way affair so you can no longer have a quick ride straight up the hill to the halls and then blatt straight back down like I had done 30 years ago. Passing Hardwick Inn my memories came flooding back, Ozzy Osborne on his Yamaha 125, me on the Stinger, two of the other lads from Holmewood on the Kawasaki 175 Trials bikes all parked up having a pint then off around the estate. Riding like lads possessed, how we ever survived beggars belief, the lads on the 175 Trials bikes flying off the main tracks and just blasting straight down through the sheep! Game keepers always finding us in the pub and giving us a right old lecture about the wild life. Not appreciating our  “We are the bloody Wild-Life” comments, to which we would all just fall about laughing.

Hardwick Inn
I've spent many a happy hour on those benches 
over the past 35 years

Cutting up towards Hardstoft I felt the back slip out, a touch too much for comfort. A quick check of the display confirmed it -2 degrees in the shade. Heading back over the M1 bridge I was really starting to suffer with the pain in my right hand. Just then I noticed in my mirror a  brilliant photo opportunity of Hardwick Hall sat amongst the trees. I pulled on the front brake, suffering much discomfort in the process and the front end just slid. Luckily straight forward, putting my feet down I realised why. Sheet ice!

A guy following behind pulled up on my right hand side,

“You all right lad?”

“Yes fine thanks, I was going to take a picture but it’s a bit icy underfoot”

“Aye, tha can say that again lad. Been following you an’ expecting to be pickin thee up any minute, me traction controls been having a ball in here”

“No problem, I’ll sack the picture, thanks anyway”

“As long as tha’s awl rayt, just be watch thissen” It’s great listening to the broad Derbyshire accent, it just reminds me of Grandma & Granddad Walton.

I pulled off steadily keeping my feet just off the deck, something I never do and instinctively put my feet back on the pegs within seconds. The friendly local followed me all the way to Hardstoft and gave me a wave as I pulled up outside the Shoulder of Mutton, where he turned left and drove on. Don’t you just love it when total strangers actually care for your welfare instead of just ploughing on past.

The reason I pulled over was to take a picture of the Shoulder of Mutton but seeing the rear now converted to flats, exactly where I used to work in the old function suit kitchens saddened me, and so I left the photo for another day.

Interesting fact here, did you know 1 mile down the road towards Tibshelf is where the first oil-field proper in Britain was extracted? It was discovered by the Mexican Eagle Company in 1919 & was the first commercial oil-field in this country. The pump is still available to visit although now within the grounds of the local Garden Centre, if you ask any of the staff they will escort you to the site. I never knew this until I visited the site whilst competing in the 2011 Britt Butt Rally, now how mad is that?

nice meander through Pilsley and then up into Eyam to the second hotel I worked at Eyam Farm Hotel, now called something else which I cannot recall. At the bottom of the car park is a viewing platform which was built after I’d left to join the army in 1984 but affords excellent panoramic views out towards the edge of the Derbyshire Dales.

This was my view for 2 years
before leaving to join the ACC

Taking a couple of photos proved to be very interesting as I actually had to use the little finger on my right hand as all three fingers were a deathly shade of creamy white and numb! Time for a brew at CMC Motorcycles in Clay Cross.

Bacon & egg butty (small) with a coffee= £3.95, bargain of the day!

As many times as I’ve visited this bike shop I have never ever found a better bike shop yet. The selection of bikes is just brilliant, they even have a Suzuki T125 Stinger in the back right corner of the show room with a selection of “Not for Sale” classics. The loo’s are  good too with a hand blower that works a treat bring life back into numb fingers.

Coffee, butty and a chat with a chap in the café who was amazed a) how creamy white my right hand fingers were & b) that I’d ridden down from Rochdale in freezing conditions. Still I was happy as Larry and after a look around the new discount outlet that open in December, I was ready to head over to see my Dad & Ang.

Dad & Ang were fine, Uncle Neil was there too and when the double glazing chap turned up I knew it was time to mount up and carry on my ride.

Brownhills Lane leading to
The Fabrick

Heading up and over towards the Fabrick then across all the back lanes towards the tail end of Matlock, missing the village and traffic in the process. I re-emerged at the side of the Grouse and Claret on the main Bakewell  road and followed the well-trodden tourist route up to Monsal Head.

Can you spot Bottomhill Lane?

Instead of following the road Ashford Lane that turns into Castlegate Lane I headed down into the valley and rode the full length of Monsal Dale arriving in the picturesque village of Litton.

I simply adore
Dry Stone Walling

All that was left to do now was to ride over toward Chapel en Le Frith, Glossop, Ashton-under-Lyne and into Manchester to “bag” my first Motorcycle History Trail 2013 photo as I’ve signed up to the Grim Rider’s annual fund raising ride in aid of Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance.

Finding the DOT Motorcycle factory less than a mile away from where I used to work in Manchester again made me smile. I’ve driven and ridden past it literally 100’s of times in the last 9 years and never even knew of its existence. Who says these photographic trails are not worth doing? If you’re still looking for “something to do” this year take a look at The Grim Riders MCC site and I’m sure you will find some interesting rides to tickle you taste buds.  

Number 1 DOT Motorcycles Manchester
Motorcycle History Trail 2013

Once I’d got the photo with the all-important Motorcycle Placard clearly displayed it was time to head home. I had a cracking day out and loved every minute of it.

As a foot note – I’ve been asked what I think to the Akrapovic Slip-on Silencer. Here are my thoughts:-

            Weight saving is phenomenal as it weighs next to nothing

            Fitting takes 30 minutes start to finish, literally!

            No re-mapping required as the silencer was developed directly for and with the cooperation of Yamaha Motorcycles.

           The sound is a deep throaty growl which vanishes altogether over 30 mph

            Performance is instantly improved, the easiest way to explain is T (touring)  now feels like S (sport) and S is just in a world of its own.

      The bike pulls smoothly through all of the rev range and redlines easily.

            Roll-on acceleration is instant, therefore reducing if not eradicating the need to change down.

All in all, I am very happy with my investment and I’m looking forward to many happy miles together. If you’re toying with the idea of buying an after-market silencer I personally recommend the Akrapovic  Slip-on Silencer whole heartedly.

My favorite photo of the day
Hardwick Hall in the Mist

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