This is my second DIY Audax route of three which I created over the winter. The first was the Ashbourne Loop (100km, 1.5AAA) and the third is The Peak Punisher (100km 3AAA). This route is really a straight out and back to the Goyt valley. I was blessed with excellent sunshine, which got a little too much in the afternoon and a gentle breeze. The gradual climb from Cheadle to Ipsotnes was uneventful and at this time of the morning, there was very little traffic on the road which made it a pleasant ride. Crossing the main road (A523) at Bottomhouse always seems like a transition into the Peak District for me and a kilometer up the climb you see the stone wheel of the Peak District. As you edge your way over the top you are rewarded with a panoramic view of the Peak District which stretches out in front of you.
The next section which takes you to Longnor offers a very steep and fast descent but be careful of the loose grit on the corners and oncoming cars! There is a significant climb which starts off gradual but quickly becomes steep which continues to the top. A pleasant ride through the country lanes takes you to Longnor (Cafes (cash only) and corner shop). As I crossed the junction I saw signs for a time-trial cycling event and a few organisers emptying the boot of their car.
As I past-though Longnor my brain told me to turn left but the bike computer told me to keep going to the next left which I dutifully did! I wished I had ignored it, human programming error! I had intended to follow the road which I used on a West Peak (100km) Audax last year, instead, I had to contend with the muscle bursting gradient on the Hollinsclough road. However, this error did offer some amazing vista’s of the Peak District, which made the vertical wall of tarmac which I scaled pushing my bike seemed worthwhile.
To be completely honest by the time I made it to the main road (Leek-to-Buxton – A53) my legs were telling me that they wanted to call it a day and the little roadside cafe (Flash Bar Stores) was very tempting but I promised myself lunch at the Cat and Fiddle cafe which was a few more miles over the next hill. So I pushed on up the hill following the A54 to Buxton. Turning left on to the small tarmac road over the tops on the A537 (Buxton-to-Macclesfield road) and more uphill to the Cat and Fiddle pub at the top of the moors. It was finally nice to wave at the Cat and Fiddle pub as I cycled by.
A kilometer descent leads to the Cat and Fiddle Cafe which had eleven bikes abanded around the seating area, creating a fort where they can safely have their tea and cakes! The food was excellent if a little expensive for me but the vista was amazing. Sitting having lunch in the baking sun I had already realised that I was becoming dehydrated so I sipped at my water bottle before asking for them to be filled. Leaving the cafe was great as I had a long and fast descent to my next turning which took me past the Lamaload Reservoir (another section stolen from one of Peak Audax’s rides) and to the climb up to Pym Chair Car Park which was horrific. My legs had all but given up after the tarmac wall experience on the Hollinsclough road earlier. I came to a grinding stop and had to walk the last 30 meters to the top.
The descent down into the Goyt valley and the reservoir was fast and steep with a few potholes which needed to be avoided. Arriving at the reservoir I took a minute to take in the vista before starting to ascend my favorite pass from last year, which returns me to the A537 below the Cat and Fiddle pub.
Retracing my route back over the moors to the A53 which I followed to Blackshaw Moor and the Three Horse Shoe’s pub. Along the way, I was constantly overtaken by time-trialist (I am assuming that they were on the Longnor event which I passed earlier). The fast descent down past the Roaches and Hen’s Cloud to the Three Horse Shoe’s pub was excellent but I had to slow for a turning car! A left turn just after the Three Horse Shoe’s pub led to a steady climb to the top of the moors before popping out at Bottomhouse and the long descent to Froghall, Cheadle and home.
I had far too many stops taking photos and enjoying the vistas along the way but to be honest I am rarely in the Peak District when the weather is this lovely.