Spring has been very odd this year for me. It sort of kicked off early, in a blaze of daffodils and crocuses, then went into remission. Since that early promise, spring continued but has been cold and quite windy.
Luckily over Easter we had a glimpse of summer at last: Warm, relatively still with lots of sunshine – and as anyone who reads this blog will know, that means only one thing: The first big ride of the summer.
I kicked off the season with a very long ride that really knocked the stuffing out of me, but was beautiful and enjoyable all the same. I undertook 118 miles, travelling out at dawn, the route was broadly Lichfield – Burton via Whittington and Walton; Derby via Findern; over to Keddleston Hall where I opened these majestic gates to cross the hall grounds. From there, Mercaston to Kirk Ireton, joining the High Peak Trail at Middleton Top.
Up the trail to Parsley Hay, back down the Tissington Trail to Tissington Village, through Thorpe and Ilam to Rushley, Throwley and the tortuous climb to Calton and the Weaver Hills before dropping down into Ellastone.
Return was via Rocester, Abbots Bromley and Handsacre.
I had ice cream, and cake. I visited some old haunts. I was bemused by a collapsed bridge at Longcliffe on the High Peak Trail, and infuriated by Derbyshire Council’s reticence to assist (see this post on the matter). I crawled through dense traffic through Dovedale on a Bank Holiday Monday – an experience I’d not expected to have. But in the solitude of the Weavers and Throwley, I once again refreshed my love for this beautiful place.
I also checked up on my red cowslips near Calton, a spring ritual for over 10 years now.
It was hot but not high summer hot, and the riding was good, it was a brilliant day.
Hopefully, the first of many this year. I waited so long for this.
Still suffering, it was again another good day on Bank holiday Easter Monday, so I headed slowly up to the canal at Great Haywood, to the rear of Shugborough for the heavily advertised Floating Market which had been on all weekend. It was lovely, but if you’d been to one before, a tad disappointing considering the hype.
I love canal markets – the ones at Fazeley and elsewhere have been fun, but I was expecting something bigger than that with this event; yet it was pretty much the same except it had next to no food, which was sad. But the characters, the dogs and beautiful boats were a joy.
The return, over the Shugborough Estate and Cannock Chase was excellent. Sad to note a funfair in full swing on Milford Common, which had few punters on a lovely afternoon.
It was, unusually, a lovely, sunny Easter. Let’s hope it’s a taste of the summer to come.
For more of this sort of thing, my 365daysofbiking journal is still running…