Sunday, 24 August 2014

Day 2 - Cycling (or rather hikling) up Jacob's ladder

Woke up very early this morning, about 5:30am, due to not having a very good night's sleep thanks to the rain. I got up and went to the toilet before heading back for a couple more hours sleep. As I was coming back from the toilet block however, the grey of early morning sky suddenly changed hue from grey to faint yellow - it was the sun rising. This was one of very few times I have seen such a thing occur (the other time was in the Świętokrzykie mountains in Central Poland), but none-the-less the effect is quite magical. The transformation is quite sudden, but the effect is spell-binding and almost miraculous.

After getting up properly just before 9am, I went down to the shop for some supplies (juice, breakfast items, cookise etc.). Although often in places such as this, where supply is often limited, most items are pretty expensive. However, in the general store in Edale you can get some very reasonably priced items for considerably less than a pound - cookies, flapjacks, toffees, beans, juice, energy drinks, especially if you buy the own brand products, which come highly recommended. In total, I spent less than £5 for everything I would need to snack and drink on.

Anyway, after a 'hearty' breakfast of sausages, beans and bacon (plus a few mushrooms) I set about getting ready for today's bike ride, which would take me from Edale to Hayfield, where the current TV series The Village is set. The ride would take me up Jacob's Ladder, a snaking route that literally seems to climb up to the heavens when seen face on. It's very steep in parts, and turned out to be most definitely not rideable, so my day's ride ended up becoming more of a hike with a bike as I pushed my +13kg mountain bike up and over the top. Admittedly, I was riding a rigid, but even with full suspension you'd need to have legs of steel to have any chance of cycling over such rough, steep terrain.

The route is so steep and rocky for most of the way that I must have spent 4 or 5 miles walking and pushing the bike uphill. None-the-less, some of the views are tremendous. The going did not get any easier as I reached the crest of the hill, as the path downwards seemed to consist of nothing but huge, freshly laid stones, making even walking difficult and uncomfortable. Still, I arrived in Hayfield in good time, sufficiently to have a look around some of the village.

The village really is like a step back in time, containing a butchers, greengrocers, cafe and various other stores. the greengrocers is even done out in authentic 1920's style, complete with stuffed animals hanging outside (presumably for filming). Anyway, I bought some nice sausages, fresh potatoes, a yoghurt and some beans, so knew I could look forward to a hearty dinner when I got back tonight. Even better, the whole lot came to under £3.

My dilemma now was the best way to get back to Edale. If I went back the way I came, I would face even more hills and rocky paths, and if I took the main road, the distance would be twice as long and probably be very busy with traffic (not really what you want when you come away to the country for a few days). So I opted instead to cycle along the Sett Valley Trail, a pleasant and traffic free woodland route passing through nature reserved and pleasant forested area, which would bring me out at New Mills Central train station - I had decided to take the train back. The hills and rough surface had beaten me after only 12 miles (it felt like 112).

Once back at the campsite I had a much needed shower, followed by a brief downpour, and then set about preparing my dinner. It's no mean feat cooking potatoes, sausages and beans with only one gas ring, but I did and this is proof that you don't need all the modern conveniences we have in our homes these days - my gas stove only measures around 30 x 45cm! Still, I probably couldn't do this every day - otherwise where would the fun in that be? Now all that remained to do was choosing whether to go for a guided night time walk in search of bats, or to view a local art exhibition in the church later in the evening.

Link to day 3:

Full route details:

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