Saturday, 28 July 2012

'Steppers' step out again

Nestling in the wooded Churnet Valley, next to the railway line at Consall Forge, is a delightful pub called the Black Lion. I've seen it many times from passing trains on the heritage railway, and visited it about three decades ago when we were on a narrow boat on the Caldon Canal (the River Churnet, Caldon Canal, and the railway share the valley here. Indeed the Caldon Canal joins the river between Cheddleton and here). Our intrepid group of bikers was looking for an interesting place to visit today on our step-throughs (steppers), so I suggested the 'Black Lion'.

Tony, Malcolm, and myself set off this morning via Chelford, Marton, Bosley, Leek, and Cheddleton. Tony and Malcolm were on Yamaha Townmates, me on my Honda C90 Cub. The last few miles to the pub are along a narrow road down into the valley, that deteriorates into a gravel track, and finally a footpath over the river and canal. This is the only access to the Black Lion other than by canal boat or train, walking from nearby Consall station in the case of the latter.

Just poor quality phone photos again, I'm afraid.

Our 'steppers' parked on the grass just across the railway line from the Black Lion

The step-throughs were easily able to negotiate the footpath and footbridge, and we parked by the railway line, just short of the pub and walked to a table in the pub garden. A pint of superb hoppy golden bitter was just the thing on this warm summer day; but no more than a pint as we still had quite a bit of riding to do. I met David English from Stockport Walkers who was on a mini-bus pub crawl! Almost as daft as what we were doing!

Malcolm and Tony, the Black Lion in the background
After a bite to eat we set off through Kingsley, Frogall, Ipstones, and up into the White peak past Onecote and Warslow to Longnor, enjoying the fabulously clear views across this dramatically sublime hill country.

 The Dragon's back hills - Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill, near Longnor

At Longnor Tony did his usual trick of getting in front and missing a turn-off. He went straight on at Longnor instead of turning left for Axe Edge and the Cat & Fiddle. Malcolm and I waited about 15 minutes at the junction, but he didn't come back so we headed off without him.

Down the sinuous Cat & Fiddle road, through Macclesfield to Alderley where we stopped for fuel, our next port of call was the Victory Hall at Mobberley for the beer festival. Tony was there when we arrived, and we were soon joined by Ivan who rode across the short distance from Wilmlsow on his Puch moped.

Ivan arrives at Mobberley Victory Hall on his Puch, and parks it next to Malc and Tony's Townmates, and my C90. Note the rainclouds building. We soon 'enjoyed' a few short but heavy showers.

By now the rain showers had arrived. We sat outside in an open-fronted shelter as Tony and Malc wanted to smoke, with a pint of 'Wizard' bitter from the Merlin micro-brewery at Arclid, an excellent way to end our day out.

I think we'll be visiting the Black Lion again soon!


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