2013
07.05

Chatsworth House

Friday 5th.

Slept really well because it was so quiet and peaceful in this perfect little village. Sarah had done our washing for us, then presented a magnificent breakfast. We rode the unladen bikes to the magnificent stately Chatsworth House, 16thcentury.  Paid for a tour of the house and garden, well worth it.

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The House is full of magnificent art and furniture, acres of gardens around the House, all wonderfully landscaped by Capability Brown and Thomas Paxton. The huge fountain and water features are amazing. 600 staff are  needed to run the estate, house, grounds and tourist business.

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Later I caught the little bus into Bakewell for an explore. Had to have tea and a Bake well tart, served by a bloke from Bunbury WA.  The perfect end to this beautiful warm and sunny day was the stroll to our local pub for a pint and a Pimms, sitting outside, admiring the view of this gorgeous little village, all the lovely little stone houses with their doors, guttering and trim all painted in Chatsworth Blue.

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2013
07.05

To Pilsley

Thursday 4 July. 

Up in good time, which is easy when sunrise is at 5.30, another hearty breakfast and then headed North, destination, the Peak District. Oh my, there were some steep uphill (some walking up them) and some very fast downhills.

I loved the country side where there were lots of little green fields, all bordered by green hedges and oak trees. The village houses were all bigger gray stone blocks, tall and square with little windows. Then,up on the Downs the fields were larger and had gray stone walls. It was wild and windy and exciting.

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Ashbourne

We had lunch in the little square at Ashbourne which was really pretty and decorated in colorful bunting. Glorious gardens and window boxes everywhere. Lovely riding up and down and a detour to Winster to find somewhere to repair Peter’s broken pannier.

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Finally, beautiful Bakewell and a last 5 ks to Pilsley village. Total 60ks.  We are staying in the divine Holly Cottage (17th century building)  and I have already told Peter to keep riding and leave me here. We were welcomed by Sarah with large slices of home  made Victoria sponge cake and shown to our exquisite ‘blue room’.  Had a wonderful meal at the Devonshire Arms Pub. Had to walk the whole 100 meters there, a great chat with the locals and a lovely stroll around the village. It is 9.45 pm and we have just stopped to admire the sunset. Bliss!

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2013
07.04

The great canal escape to Uttoxeter

Wed 3 July.

Next day set off again and it was a slow trip out, along canal paths to avoid the traffic. Finally got out into the country and found our route along country lanes again.  It was a 70ktrip to Uttoxeter which is an old market town. Had a wander around, a meal in the pub and a night in a Bnb which was a bit too close to the main road.

Jane

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This is an understatement.  We never thought we’d get out of Birmingham.  It was a nightmare figuring out which path to follow, let alone the petals defined specifically to make the struggling recumbenteer feel victimized.

P

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2013
07.03

Birmingham – a day off the bike!

Tuesday 2 July. 

Travelled on a double-decker bus into Birmingham to walk around, admire, and go to the Jewellery Museum for a tour of one of the old workshops.  Birmingham is one of the 3 places in Britain to be an assay center (fascinating).

Jane

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A highlight of the museum was the workshop, closed as a family business in the 1970s and kept intact until established as part of the museum. An amazing insight into another era of work.

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Wotkshop pretty much as they left it

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Cup of tea ready on the job

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P

2013
07.02

Anne Hathaway’s cottage and canal paths

Monday 1 July. 

Up in good time, a hearty breakfast and then another delay while Peter tried to get the Sim cards working.

Packed and on the bikes finally by 10.30, we had a lovely ride around Stratford, then a tour of Anne Hathaway’s cottage and stunning garden. Impressed by the information which was so beautifully imparted.

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Shakespeare was 8 years younger than Anne. By the time he was 20, they had 3 children and although he went to live and work in London, he supported them all.

Time for a quick lunch and we were away. Rode along a canal path for a way, but the path was not good and there were too many distractions (photos of canal boats, people to talk to), we eventually took a longer route to Birmingham. 80 ks that day. (Geographically challenging – P)

It was wonderful to be warmly welcomed by Margaret, fed, bathed and slept soundly.

Jane

2013
07.01

It has to be said that quite apart from the recumbent’s undoubted power as a chick magnet our luck at being shepherded out from Bristol by Sally was brilliant. She knew the country like the back of her hand, have is a map, and advised on the route beyond the point where we separated.

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It turns out that the Red Lion is one of the most common pub names in Britain. We have seen many of them, usually when geographically challenged. I thought we are meant to be in Cirencester. The is a Red Lion in Cricklade, but our one was in Castle Easton.

It was a pretty spot though and we were pretty impressed to see the swanlings.

What Jane didn’t say was that our first day on the bikes turned into a very long 100 km epic. Rather more than I had planned, and not the way one would really want to acclimatize to riding fully laden bicycles.

P

2013
07.01

Saturday 29 June

We rode the bikes along the river to see the amazing Brunel suspension bridge across the gorge. Then, time for brunch, pack and depart on our heavily laden bikes. Took a while to get out of Bristol, but once we found the Bristol to Bath bike path, we flew along in the sunshine.

We stopped at a supermarket to buy food. I left Peter to sort his gear while I shopped, returned to find him chatting to a blonde on a bike. She was Sally and was from Darfield (near Christchurch – Jane’s home. P), and she quickly became our new friend. We had our lunch together, she produced maps and offered to ride with us to see us on the right route to Cirencester. What a gem.

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On the bike path out of Gristmill, following Sally.

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We came across a “closure” but it isn’t much challenge for Aussies and kiwis!

The riding was gorgeous, sunshine, a following wind, divine little country lanes, beautiful countryside and several photo stops for picturesque houses. Sadly our directions to the Red Lion hotel went astray and we had just clocked 100k before we finally arrived at 9.00pm at the tiny village of Castle Eaton. But, our hostess, Melody, had kept a cold meal, we ate, bathed, and slept soundly.

2013
07.01

Sunday 30 June.

Ate a hearty breakfast in the morning, admired Melody’s 18th century inn and lush garden sloping down to the river where a family of swans were posing for photos.

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Melody identified the bush with large white flowers which we have seen flowering prolifically along the way, as elderflower. She put some drops of her homemade cordial in my water bottle.

Rode off into a cool morning towards Stratford-upon-Avon. Lovely riding again, it became more hilly, but not too hard, the sun came out and the wind was behind us.

Halfway mark was the picturesque village of Bourton-on-the-Water. It nestled on either side of the tiny, shallow and very clear Wind rush river. The Brits were out in their hundreds along the grassy banks, basking in what they thought was a hot day.

We had good meal and an ale at the pub and strolled along admiring the ancient little stone bridges and wonderful cottages and gardens.

Back on the bikes and we were glad our route took us down leafy little country lanes. The countryside gradually changed from large fields (the wheat often had red poppies flowering in it) to smaller fields and more woodlands. Still hilly, but the wonderful scenery drew us on. Just love these Cotswold villages with their ancient stone cottages, climbing roses all over them and gorgeous gardens.

Wildlife so far: heard a cuckoo, saw several pheasants running along the road, saw a squirrel, and, sadly,several dead badgers.

Found Stratford rail trail and our way to the YHA at Alverston, by 6.30. Distance 83.65 k. The YHA was in a huge converted Georgian mansion, and, even better, had a bar and a restaurant. Ate, showered and slept!

Love the long days, light until 9.30, but morning is too early. I am waking up at 6 or 6.30.

Jane

This was another longer than anticipated day. Spectacular countryside. Warm weather. Navigation is not easy.

P

2013
06.29

The 11.30 train trip to Bristol was fast and comfortable and the weather started clearing. Still pinching ourselves that we were finally here, we arrived at the stupendous Bristol Temple Meads station.

The day was fine, we checked in at the Novatel, and then set off to explore.

Down by the river we found a bike shop, of course. Needed a couple of little items and were helped by a friendly young man who was from Mt Maunganui!

Further along the river was a crowd admiring a group of individually decorated Gromits. They were about 1.5m tall, for fundraising for the hospital, looked amazing.

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The cathedral of St Mary’s Radcliffe was next. Built in the 1100s, a towering edifice with wonderful stained glass windows and a massive organ.

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What a wonderful day, but we were tired and needed to eat and sleep.

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2013
06.29

Heathrow to Bristol

Friday 28 June 

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Early morning at Heathrow

Arrived Heathrow at 5.50 am and were out with all the bags and big boxes by 6.30. Took over a quiet corner of the waiting for departure area to assemble the bikes. Glad we started early, the hall filled up with hundreds of people. Had time for a coffee and sandwich, freshened up, and caught the Heathrow Connect to Paddington. The day was cool, cloudy and damp, Londoners thought it was summer.

Jane