The self-catering kitchen at Eyam youth hostel is in an outside building, which meant a chilly walk to prepare our breakfast. It was another very cold morning, but we managed to get away a little earlier than yesterday, at 10.40 or so, for the four mile ride over Eyam Moor. We got some great views to Hathersage from Hazelford, then had to wait a while at the bottom of the hill while John took a phone call.
Riding on towards Hathersage we came across the David Mellor cutlery factory. David Mellor was one of the best known designers in Britain, renowned for his cutlery designs and also for designing bus shelters and the traffic light system still used in Britain today. We were cold already so it was inevitable that we would pop into the associated café, museum and shop. Working traffic lights surrounded us as we sat in the luxurious modern café enjoying delicious but expensive coffees and cakes. We managed to get even warmer walking around the linked shop, which boasted an open fire as well as a huge range of David Mellor’s products.
The forecast for tomorrow had settled on snow coming in overnight, as we had feared on Friday, so now we had to make some plans about how to prepare. We decided that it might be too difficult or dangerous to ride back to Flash tomorrow in the snow, so Will and John kindly volunteered to ride to Flash today and bring the cars back to the hostel. We all road the mile or so up to the town, then Will and John set off at a good pace for Flash while the rest of us decided that the café by Ladybower Reservoir might not actually be open and returned to Hathersage to fund lunch.
Michael checked out several cafes and, after looking in the Go Outdoors shop and trying on a few hats we settled in the upstairs café of the “Outside” mountain shop that turned out to be nothing short of ideal. There was a huge range of hot snacks and meals available to order at good prices, a large area of seating and a warm and cosy atmosphere. We bought a full lunch there as well as coffees and felt it was the best find of the tour.
We left at 2.50 and rode the few miles to the village of Castleton, where an old fashioned sweet shop proved irresistible - edible bank notes were fun, and after a careful search we managed to find a few sweets that didn’t contain gelatine. We wandered on through the village to Peveril Castle, expecting to be able to scramble up the hill and enjoy the view, but there was an English Heritage ticket shop barring the way that wanted £6.90 per adult, so we gave that a miss. Nobody wanted a café stop here, so we decided to head on to the hostel.
We had a choice of going part of the way back towards Hathersage, at Hope, or taking what Google described as a shortcut over Barker Bank. Well we always like circular routes, so we tried the shortcut, which first took us along Hollowford Road and then dumped us at the start of a stony track lined with high hedges. The track had been washed away in places so resembled a muddy trench more than a track, but eventually, after a bit of a struggle, it brought us out onto the hillside.
We looked around to try to work out where we had to go next. A rough path headed up over the hill to the left, and it looked like it could be quite hard work with our bikes and luggage. Michael suggested that it might actually be better to go back to Castleton and take the road, but everyone liked the idea of a challenge and an adventure so we pressed on up the path, having to push the bikes on several occasions. The views were spectacular though, and we stopped more than once to catch our breath and enjoy the scenery.
We finally reached the top – Hollins Cross – at 5.10 and were rewarded with great views down the other side into Edale. We had been warned by some walkers that the track might get a bit muddy down the other side, so we didn’t hang around too long in the chilly breeze before starting down towards the road. It started with a stony track, then turned into a grassy path over the moorland, but then deteriorated to a sea of mud across the next field. As Dillan and Michael looked back from the gate they managed to catch George picking himself up from a muddy fall on the grassy section, and then saw Jude slip up in exactly the way he had warned George to avoid!
We found a slightly less muddy route around the quagmire, but when we got to the final farm track there was no avoiding the mud: Dillan set off bravely, but none of us could avoid getting bikes and shoes plastered in mud before we reached the road. It was 5.42. We shook ourselves down, stamped off the worst of the mud and assessed our bruises and sore muscles. But when we realised we had made it we all felt it had been a great adventure and one of our more challenging and interesting tour rides.
The last couple of miles to the hostel were relatively easy so we arrived around 5.55, cold and muddy but feeling quite pleased with ourselves. Will and John did not arrive with the cars for another hour, so we had time to enjoy a very tasty coffee in the hostel lounge before showering and settling down in the hostel dining room for pizzas made to order by the resident chef.
The latest weather forecast suggested the snow would turn to rain by 9.30am tomorrow morning and Michael felt reasonably sure we would have no problem getting home by the end of the day. John, however, was worried, as he had to be home for work on Tuesday. After thinking about it for some time he made the decision to leave the Peak District tonight and stay with relatives at Stafford, so he could guarantee being home by the end of tomorrow. George decided to stay with us and take his chances, but we helped Will and John load the bikes into their car and said farewell to them as they headed off into the darkness.
We rounded off our evening with some games of pool and table tennis in the games room, when Michael astonished George by actually beating a few people! When we eventually settled down to sleep at 10.45 we wondered what drama the night would bring.
John and Will rode 25 miles to Flash with a climb of 631m.
Preparing to leave Eyam youth hostel
Riding through Sherriff Wood, Grindleford
View to Hathersage, from Hazelford
Coffee at the David Mellor Design Centre cafe, Hathersage
The David Mellor Design Centre
An open fire in the David Mellor Design Centre
Preparing to leave the David Mellor Design Centre, Hathersage
The David Mellor Design Centre, Hathersage
George and Dillan try on the funny hats in Go Outdoors, Hathersage
An obligatory stop at the Memory Lane Sweet Shop, Castleton
Returning from the rather expensive Peveril Castle visitor centre
Hollowford Road, Castleton, leading to the Google-recommended shortcut over Barker Bank
The stony track from the road deposits us on a rough hillside
Where do we go from here?
Dillan admires the fabulous views back to Castleton, from the path up Barker Bank to Hollins Cross
The going gets tough
The climb gets harder but the views just keep getting better
The Hollins Cross viewpoint at the top, looking back towards Castleton
Hollins Cross, looking forwards towards Edale
George takes a tumble on the very rough descent into Edale
The track deteriorates
The final section of the track to the Edale road
Dillan tackles the muddy track bravely
We finally reach the road near Edale, muddy and tired
HD video footage from today's ride