BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘Churnet’

#365daysofbiking Getting the abbey habit

Sunday, October 25th 2020 – I’m enjoying the long rides this autumn, which is making the whole experience of the season much nicer, I must say.

This grey Sunday I wrapped up warm and headed back to the Churnet Valley, and caught the area in a lovely sunset golden hour. On the way I took an alternate route bypassing Willslock and Uttoxeter and found myself passing through Croxden, where the immense and beautiful ruined abbey took me fair by surprise: I must come back and spend time looking around it. I’ve never seen a lane actually run through a set of ruins before…

The Churnet Valley was as beautiful as it tends to be, but I had a different target in mind. Crossing the valley by Lord’s Bridge, up  the gorgeous Barbary Gutter and past the dreadful Alton Towers, I pressed up past Star Bank and Threelows, looping back over the Weaver Hills, to catch them just as night fell.

I returned via Ellastone, Marston Montgomery and Sudbury, blasting down the A515 for a fast run home.

Another beautifully autumnal ride that really lifted my spirits.

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#365daysofbiking The long valley road

Sunday, October 11th 2020 – My wish was granted: It was a great day when the sun shone and the countryside steamed in the warm October sun. Sadly I didn’t get out until late afternoon, but still managed 70 miles.

I’d been wanting to do the Churnet Valley in autumn for years: The cycleway from Denstone on the old rail line, and Red road from Alton to Oakamoor were made for the season. I came back down the valley via Farley and Wootton Deer Park to Ellastone which was an absolutely magical golden hour ride on lanes I’d never ridden before: Thoroughly gorgeous and captivating. I must return.

The Churnet Valley – best known for the execrable Alton Towers theme park – is actually one of Staffordshire’s most wonderful places and is so much more than the gimcrack fairground attraction and is almost – with that imperious castle overlooking – a mini Loire Valley.

I came back via Ellastone, Marston and Sudbury, then blasted with the wind behind me down the A515. I just wish there had been more time.

What a difference a day made.

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#365daysofbiking Churnet up

June 29th – Since it was to be the hottest day of the year so far, I went for it again: Another ride out.

I rode up over Chorley to Armitage, and then up through Blithbury and Abbotts Bromley to Denstone, then up the Churnet Valley Trail to Alton, which always gives gorgeous views of the castle at Alton, evoking Bavaria or the Loire Valley.

From Alton to Oakamoor on the wonderful valley-floor lane called Red Road, then a quick break in the village and up Star Bank for a drink at the Old Star pub to cool down/ From there a loop round Windy Harbour and Caldon Lowe over the Weaver Hills, and back home through Ellastone, Marston Montgomey, Sudbury and Yoxall.

A fantastic ride on a perfect day.

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April 18th – The Churnet Valley is beautiful – no ifs and no buts – it’s like Staffordshire’s equivalent of the Loire Valley. Featuring a canal, a river, a preserved steam railway, a castle, several beautiful villages and steep, beautiful slopes, the reason it’s generally overlooked is because it contains Alton Towers, the theme park people seem to come to without visiting Dimminsdale or any of the other beautiful places here.

The old Flint Mill at Cheddleton is stunning.

The castle is now a school and religious retreat, an is extraordinary. 

The Churnet Valley does, however, eat cyclists. The 16% and 17% hills in and out of the valley between Oakamoor and Froghall nearly finished me.

But I have to come back.

April 18th – It was a beautiful but tough ride. Only 91 miles, so shorter than a usual dayride, but with over 2000m of vertical climb. I came from Macclesfield to Sutton Common, looped through Allgreave to Wildboarclough, then back to Wincle. Through Bearda to Gun, then down to Meerach and Tittesworth. After Lunch, back through Leek, then onto the Caldon Canal into the Churnet Valley. 

From the end of the canal at Froghall, out of the valley and back in to Oakamoor, along Dimminsdale to Alton then the cycle trail to Denstone, and home via Uttoxeter and Armitage.

It was a great ride – including the beautiful purple cowslips are Bearda, but it was exhausting. That was a hard journey and no mistake.