Saturday 26th September
My train pulled into Nottingham at stupid-o-clock on Saturday morning, two weeks after I had last left Nottingham from the same station.
As I rode through the quiet Nottingham streets I noticed Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem on my left, reputedly the oldest pub in England. I’ve long wished to tick this one off my to do list but of course it was not yet open at this god-forsaken hour!
I needed to head northwards towards Chesterfield but had deliberately planned a route that would avoid retracing my strips from a fortnight ago. Firstly this would gone me a bit of variety, but more than this it would avoid the frustration if having to ride again past Doctors Orders and The Abdication while they were closed!
So, my route took me via the towns of Kirkby-in-Aashfield and Sutton-in-Ashfield. Then at Tibshelf, I turned onto the Five Pits Trail, a greenway which took me, traffic-free, most of the way to Chesterfield.
Chesterfield has one thing in common with Pisa in Italy: both have created icons as a result of shoddy building standards! In the case of Chesterfield, the spire of its church (the largest church in Derbyshire) has become so twisted that it is hard to miss. The local council, and many local businesses, use the twisted spire emblem as part of their logo. This is probably where the similarities between Pisa and Chesterfield end.
Somehow I arrived outside the Chesterfield Ale House just a few minutes after midday opening time. It was lovely to meet part-owners Trevor and Karen. More about this pub later.
After a pint there I crossed to the other side of Chesterfield to visit the town’s second micropub: Beer Parlour, which has recently moved to new, less micro, premises. Outside Beer Parlour, I encountered a security guard in discussion with two policemen. Hello? I thought. Trouble? But the reason turned out to be the close proximity to Chesterfield’s football ground, and this afternoon there was a home game. Indeed within half an hour it was impossible to move inside the Beer Parlour! One of these football supporters turned out to be Chris, a part owner of “Beer House”, a micropub in Sheffield.
The climb out of Chesterfield was quite severe, but using the excellent Monsal Trail disused railway cycle path later in the journey at least meant that part of the ride was a slow, gentle climb. But I was ready for a few beers by the time I arrived in Buxton!
Tonight I had arranged to stay at the home of fellow cyclist Dave via a cycle touring hospitality website. Dave, a retired teacher was being visited that weekend by his friend John, also a retired teacher. John came with me to visit Ale Stop while Dave prepared to play a gig at a nearby pub.
When John and I arrived at the Ale Stop we realized there was one thing I had forgotten to bring with me: my bike! I made amends by riding past the pub the following morning! Owner Louis kindly presented me with a bucket of coins that the pub had collected for my Alzheimers fund. You can see from the picture below why I don’t collect cash en-route!
John and I then moved on to watch David play blues guitar down the road at the Eagle. A great night. Big thanks to Dave for your hospitality!
Sunday 27th September
Before I set off in the morning, Dave gave me some sound route advice and, as a result, I had an amazing and scenic walk/ride up to the Cat & Fiddle Inn which, at 1700ft, is maybe the highest altitude of my trip.
Next, for what seemed like the first time in ages, I found myself in descent mode for the long downhill stretch into Macclesfield (a.k.a. Treacle Town).
Tim and Bronwen, the owners of the Treacle Tap in Macclesfield had come down to meet me.
The ride to Stoke-on-Trent was mostly traffic-free thanks to the towpath of the Macclesfield Canal and a disused railway. First stop was the Bursley Ale House in the suburb of Burslem. Then a short ride into Newcastle-under-Lyme to the Bridge Street Ale House where a great welcome awaited from owners Tansy & Grum and many people who had turned up from the local CAMRA group.
Riding to Stoke station to catch my train home, I noticed that the moon seemed large and somewhat redder than usual. Alas I had no idea that a lunar eclipse was about to occur.
And, no, I’m afraid that’s not my own photo of the moon, I borrowed it from the internet!