Rocester & The Mermaid Inn (DIY, 100km, 2.5AAA)

This blog combines photos from two seperated rides.

This route is a variation of the Ashbourne loop and takes in the Elkstone valley climb twice. Another early start (3am) which I love as it means the roads to quite and I am home for midday to spend time the Campbell clan. The weather forecast is for dry and 10mph winds until about 11am when the wind increases the risk of rain just to 50%, so I should have a dry ride! I had made to Rocester (16miles) and the first of the many monsoon rain showers hit, this resulted in flashed floods and debris being washed into the road.

The climb from Blore to the A52 along Marten Lane provided an excellent view of Ilam Valley and Derbyshire plains. Although the excessive number of signs indicating that there are bulls in the field did begin to worry me. As I cycled past the bull, he just looked at me with those eyes, “idiot.” The short climb along the A52 is quick and when you turn right off the road the descent is very quick on wide roads. Keep an eye open for the deer in the field just after turning off the main road. This is the only time you will see deer during the daylight hours.

Be careful you do not miss the left turning to Ilam as it arrives very quickly. This leg is also fast as you descend into Ilam valley but be careful of the sharp corners as you approach the bottom they had a lot of tiny gravelly like ball-bearings that can catch you out! Just before you arrive in Ilam village you pass over a lovely stone bridge, see below.

Climbing out of Ilam, it was clear that the wind had grown in strength and it was going to cause me issues along the exposed moorlands. The little detour to Milldale was lovely as there was no one else there and the sound of the river slowly falling over the stones was very peaceful. The climb out to Alstonefield was another very steep climb which just keeps giving all the way but the tree on the village green was amazing. From here a quick and sharp descent into the manifold valley and the long climb out to Grindon. I stopped at Grindon to look at the church which is very grand and a little larger than I was expecting considering how few people live in the surrounding area.

The rain came back as I was climbing out of the manifold valley and on the open roads, the wind was whipping the surface water up and driving it directly into my face. Yes, I was having fun, I think!

The second half of the ride (Bottomhouse to Bottomhouse) was more about dealing with the wind and rain than it was about cycling. The climb out of Elkstone valley was hard but I made it this time. When I last did this climb on a Peak Audax I had to walk. The second attempt at the climb I had a little walk on the first steep section but rode the rest (a few weeks later I did the ride again and rode it this climb both times without stopping).

Along the top road (Blakelow Road) heading back to Bottomhouse, the wind was gusting and pushing me across the road into the other lane. The last time I experienced such winds on my bike was when I did the End-to-End in 2012. Although the wind reduced as I descended to Ipstone it was a constant battle all the home.

This route is excellent as there are lots of vistas and special places along the way. However, some of the smaller lanes are rotten with potholes, tree branches and gravelly (I think that this was responsible for the crack in my rear wheel). Also, at the start, there are sections on major roads which are very busy during the day. Alongside this, the climbs are often steep.