Lark Ride to Hassop
57 miles in good cycling weather, vegan options and vegan date and walnut cake available at Hassop Station Café.
I did however eschew the cake after Simon C had kicked off a most welcome initiative of bringing a Vegan Iced Lemon Flavor [sic] Arbonne Essentials® Protein Snack Bar imported from Canada for the ride leader to test. I’ll draw up a spreadsheet so you can all take turns; even I can only handle so many bungs in one ride. It must have worked since I felt considerably less fatigued than on my last Peak District excursion; well at least my last ridden one for I’m up there all the time posing unshaven in rugged hiking attire for my forthcoming and eagerly awaited tell-all photo-biography, Peaky Blunders: A Southerner Lost in Derbyshire (pre-order now on Amazon, signed copies £0.99 extra).
Rob, Mark and Simon C joined us just after the obligatory car-park photo call where we mingled with our friends the Larklings, the morning air heavy with anticipation and testosterone. Steve left somewhere to rush back to play left back or somewhere for Macc Town against Crawley. Ewan and Simon S headed home from Longnor after what I hope was an amusing change from bombing along the ridge as usual by diverting at mile 14 towards Hollinsclough Rake but switching right and back to the ridge before we got to the Hill From Hell, which would at least have been downhill this time, but still not my idea of a good time (suggestions on my idea of a good time on a postcard please. Better make that an envelope – Ed).
We rescued (I hope) a cute and confused fluffy black hen from The Duke’s Drive (aka the A6) after the long descent from Sheldon before cutting through Ashford in the Water (it’s not really in the water is it, it’s not Venice, but still delightful) and on past Thornbridge Hall, the start and finish of my last (two meanings) 10k run, when the dear scouts marshaling sent me and others the wrong way along the Monsal Trail on what must have been the hottest day the Peak District has known since records began the day after the last hottest day the Peak District has known since, etc.
Raph found himself alone in Great Longstone and missed the café loop and I graciously introduced a less grueling alternative at mile 32 to climb out of Cressbrookdale, which was accepted with tears of gratitude by half the party, the other half having wiped away their tears of pain by the time we reconvened further up the ironically named Bottomhill Road before pressing onward to Litton, a housing estate behind Tideswell (yes it’s not all cafes and Cathedral of the Peaks), up Summer Cross to Hargate Hall, Peak Dale, Dove Holes, Chapel, Whaley, Kettleshulme, Brickworks, Bollington and back to Macc.
Here I diverted to the estate of artisan market gardener Russell who kindly harvested some fresh kale which I shoved up my gilet to look like Saatchi’s iconic pregnant man for my final leg home where our pet rabbit Harrington fell upon this bounty with his well-rehearsed, though baseless, impression of a starving rabbit, only pausing in his chomping to ask me to pass on his considerable gratitude and a request that we go a little faster than 11.3 mph next time so he doesn’t have to wait so long for his tea.