Big Weekend Bivy in the Peaks

The bank Holiday weekend was spent doing a bit more kit checking combined with a long endurance session ready for the Kielder 100. I wanted to make camp somewhere interesting but not to batter myself getting there, a long road ride to the Peaks on the Pegasus was the decision.

An interesting ride to the South of Leicester and Derby picking up some Sustrans trails knocked off plenty of miles. An eventfull trip meeting some colourfull characters not least around a concert near Ibstock that had the Eels headlining, and 3 ladies in PVC police uniforms on bikes…..nice.

Great remote pub Mid afternoon pub stop as the constant fight against the headwind was much needed. Quiet spots were you can just tuck the bike away down the side are a bonus of sticking to roads and a huge coffee and round of sandwiches boost me on the way North.

Ashbourne was my target for some fun trails, and at around the 90 mile mark I hit the Tissingtaon trail and started to realise how tired I might be. The first time on the Peg in bikepacking setup hadn’t proved trouble free. For some reason I can’t fathom the frame bag is a touch too small for the frame it was designed for; A slip up on my part not checking this when it arrived, oh well making the most of the unused space I made a pole holder sock and found both that and a spare tube filled the “gap” by mounting under the bottom velco wrap section.

Edge of White Peak
Pegasus ready for anything in the White Peak

An Alpkit 8 Litre Airlock bag on the bars proved perfect and held my Sleeping bag, silk liner, mattress, Bivy bag and tent outer skin. The problems came when it got really bumpy downhill, the upturned stem on the Peg’ and my preference for soft fork set up, meant the front wheel kept hitting the bag. Well that’s what setup rides are for, I’ll have to mount the Lioness support up really high next time.

The ride out of Ashbourne proved a killer, it just climbs and climbs, bike weight of about 45lb’s add that to the growing exposure and the headwind and I was seriously flagging. Some of the engineering in getting this train track through the valleys is amazing to see, and provides shelter at times.  The cafe just after the High peak/Tiss junction was a spot too good to miss, the throng of tourists drifted away leaving me scoffing in solitude a big dinner of jackets,beans and added sausage sandwiches. At roughly the same price as the packet dehydrated meal I was carrying, I decided to save that for another day. heading back on the High peak trail towards Matlock all thoughts turned to a spot for the night. A good view and shelter from the wind couldn’t be mated together so I was happy to find a small dip up high and took my chances with the wind abating. 

Bivy at Harboro Rocks
Camp Harboro Rocks

The plan was to test out using the tent outer in fast fly mode, with the bivy inside. This allows the opportunity to tie back the side door for good views,combined with the effect of a through flow of air to prevent condensation. The tent seemed huge inside with just the fly and worked well, a totally overcast night didn’t offer much scope of sky views though.

Breakfast time
Brew time

Bank Hol Monday and a cuppa and a bit of a disastrous experiment with dried milk, muesli and hot water combined with the rain wasn’t the start I’d planned. It was a great feeling to be out here as I messaged friends to show them what they were missing.

An early start meant untroubled fun on the trails, ripping down the incline after Middleton Top was brilliant. It’s lucky know one was around, jumping all the waterbars means you just keep on speeding up as brakes are not much use in the air. this and a few fast direction changes just showed the wisdom of the bikepacking experience. Generally the weight didn’t detract from the quality of the ride at all, brilliant.
Heading South I hit the roads again and was quite surprised just how built up most of the area is, has its bonuses though as a great breakfast roll and coffee in a top cafe in Heanor made up for my poor breakfast and prevented making like the bears for the comfort break. Another Sustrans rail route round Ilkeston and soon its some familiar territory of Donnington Park.

Mallory on way out, Donny return Both Mallory on the way out and Donny were busy with the sounds of motorsport but after a brief stop watching a jet fly feet above me into the airport, it was back to another off-road section at Tonge.

From here the trip hit some low points, the roads through Bradgate park were straight dull grinds and then the heavens dumped on me, big time. For the first time ever I took full advantage of the hood on my Finisterre waterproof, so good not having the bucket loads of water trying to flow down my neck. even so when a teashop at the Rothley Station on the Great central railway was spotted it was caffeine boost and food time again.

Hiding from the downpour coffee
Sorry Smiffy I missed the steam train that went through, so here’s some old chugger. very busy place despite the weather and apparently a long section of restored line. Would have made an ideal track into Leicester for me though, ahem.

Skirting through Birstal on another park trail it was home via familiar trails for a total epic two days of 115 miles for day 1 and 101 for the return. Proving to myself that it’s possible to make an interesting trip from home to attack the Pennine Bridleway one day, without the need for trains to link it up.


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