Friday, 9 September 2011

Litton, Hulme End, and The Cat... on the Bonnie

Good biking weather forecast for today; dry, sunny intervals, a bit cloudy and a bit of wind - fine for an outing on the Old Tart (1979 Triumph Bonneville T140 UK Special). A run down to the petrol station revealed a none-working LH rear indicator, soon fixed by removing the bulb from Mr Lucas's indicator unit, cleaning the contacts, and replacing. Joe Lucas, eh; Prince of Darkness!

I decided to head up to the Red Lion at Litton, near Tideswell in the Derbyshire Peak. I routed out through Prestbury and Macclesfield then over the Cat & Fiddle road, which was still a bit damp in places from earlier rain so I had to take it easier than usual. At Ladmanlow I took the Harper Hill 'Buxton Avoid' route to Brierlow Bar, then the delightfully sweeping A5270 across to the A6 (briefly), before turning left through Millers Dale and on up to Litton where I stopped for lunch.

The Bonnie outside the Red Lion at Litton

I sat outside enjoying the day, and some excellent melt-in-the-mouth fish, washed down with a lovely refreshing pint of very hoppy and delightfully smooth Wild Swan from Bakewell brewers, Thornbridge. This is a new brewer to me, but that pint is among the best I can ever remember drinking. Pity I couldn't risk more than just one.... must come back by bus sometime and sample some more!

From Litton I headed back to Brierlow Bar, the A5270 having dried out a bit so I could enjoy its sinuous sweeping reverse curves. Down past the Dragon's Back hills at Earl Sterndale to Longnor, where I turned left to take one of my favorite (from a scenic point of view) Peakland roads, which climbs to run along the ridge top between the upper Dove and Manifold valleys. The visibility today was stunning, as were the views of the deep valleys and rolling hills of the White Peak from this road. This really is God's Own Country!

Down through Sheen to a brief stop at Hulme End visitor centre; many decades ago this was the terminus of the narrow gauge Leek & Manifold railway, which collected milk from the dairy farms of the area for transfer to the main line railway system at Waterhouses for onward distribution. The track bed today forms a narrow roadway along the valley bottom.

From Hulme End I looped back round to Longnor before turning left along another ridge-top road to join the A53 at Flash Bar. Climbing out of Hollinsclough there are side-on views of the Dragon's backs; Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill. These razor-edged grassy ridges used to be off limits to walkers, but are now 'access land' and well worth the energetic scramble to the tops.

View from the top of Chrome Hill, looking across to Parkhouse Hill, taken on a walk with 'Stockport Walkers' on 16th June 2010

A short blast up the A53 took me to the cattle gridded track across Axe Edge Moor to emerge on the Cat & Fiddle road, about a mile east of the pub. The damp patches had gone, so while remaining wary of the 50mph average speed cameras, I was able to enjoy the Cat's classic twistys with gusto. On one very tight left hander something on the Bonnie touched the road with a graunching sound. Never had that before - must be going well!

Back through Macclesfield and Prestbury to home, where I tried to discover what could have 'touched down' on that left hand bend. It had to be the side stand, but so great was the angle of lean required to get it to actually touch the garage floor that single-handed I could not lean the bike that far over without risking dropping it, though of course it would have been lower with my not inconsiderable weight and the cornering 'G' force acting on it. I must have been going some around that bend, and look at the road wear pattern on the rear tyre showed that I'd been enjoying the Bonnie's crisp handing right to (and it seems maybe a bit beyond!) the limit.

The Old Tart ran as well if not better than she ever has. She must have been enjoying it as much as I was!


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