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Sheffrec - Hopey New Year

Blog Posted on 09 Jan 2012

The Hopey New Year is a 105 kilometre ride organised under the auspices of Audax UK, which kicks off the Peak cycling year.  Sometimes the weather is very challenging - deep snow a couple of years ago and a full gale in 2005 - but Sheffrec normally field around 20 riders among the 60+ who participate.  This year it took place on 7 January which was very breezy, but dry and fairly mild.
We left Bradwell sports centre heading back to the main Hope Valley road and then on to Hathersage.  The tail wind meant it was nearly a freewheel for the first part of the ride, so we made good time.  Right in Hathersage village onto the B6001 took us along the valley of the Derwent to Grindleford, then on via Calver and Hassop to Bakewell which was was very quiet in the aftermath of Christmas.  The A6 too was fairly empty as the peloton of Sheffrec and assorted hangers-on made its way past Haddon Hall to the junction with the B5056.  The climb along the valley of Ivy Bar Brook was gentle at first, past the turnings for Stanton and Birchover, then more steeply towards Elton and Winster. Cresting the brow we descended rapidly towards Grangemill, crossed the A5012 and began climbing past the quarry workings, heading for Longcliffe.
Here we turned left, went under the bridge carrying the High Peak Trail and dropped rapidly through Brassington village to join the B5035 near Carsington Water.  On an undulating road we passed through Kniveton and entered Ashbourne. Through this historic town with its many fine buildings we headed out of Derbyshire and ito Staffordshire towards Leek on the long, tough climb of the A52 and A523.  Though major roads, these too were fairly quiet as we ground our way upwards into the teeth of the near westerly gale.  The scenery gradually changed from the deep green of the Dove Valley to the harsher moorland above Waterhouses. Ever upwards, through Winkhill we eventually came to the very aptly named Windy Ridge cafe at Bottom House where we stopped for some well earned refreshment. 
Back into the near gale once more, we had only a short distance to go before we turned right onto the B5053 through Onecote and Longnor, having climbed well over 600 feet since Ashbourne.  The wind was now across us and the generally downward gradient made cycling easier. The countryside gradually became softer as we headed back down towards the Manifold Valley, and after a short climb beyond Longnor, the Dove Valley once more.  A short climb up Hitter Hill and we sped down past the quarry at Brier Low to cross the main Buxton-Ashbourne Road (where there is an interesting bookshop providing free tea/coffee with every purchase).  On past Chelmorton, which boasts the best preserved Peak field system, to join briefly the A6, before plunging down to Millers Dale on the B6049.  A short climb took us to Tideswell, then over the A623 and down the hill back to Bradwell and our ride's finish, still in daylight.
No accidents, no punctures, no rain and cheerful conversation all the way round what is an extremely scenic and varied ride.  An excellent start to what we hope will be a fine cycling year.

This blog was brought to you by Sheffrec


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