Surly Troll shakedown ride – Pennine Bridleway

The long weekend gave me an opportunity to take my newly-completed Surly Troll our for a shakedown ride.

It seemed appropriate to go for a rattle along the Pennine Bridleway. This runs near to my home and features a variety of terrain. While there’d be plenty of mud and snow following last week’s near blizzard conditions, rock-strewn tracks, filling-rattling cobbles and rotor-deep puddles would be the order of the day.

A shakedown ride it would definitely be… an opportunity to shake off one or two components along the way, too.

The day started along canal towpath but I was soon climbing above Walkerwood Reservoir. My initial plan had been to hit the Woodhead Valley first before heading back to the bridleway for a lumpy route to Greenfield.

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Dove Stones – keeping the festive tradition alive

In recent years the festive season has been marked thus: a ‘stolen day’ on Christmas Day when the other half and I get the chance to spend some time together, juggling various family commitments, making a festive pie and other ‘delights’ from leftovers, riding my bike as much as possible and getting into the hills (all the rest permitting).

The latter usually comprises some grand plan in the Peak or Lakes with an overnight camp. However, the weather and other commitments invariably get in the way and I settle for a trip around Dove Stones reservoir. Every year I grumble to myself that this is second best, every year it seems to offer something new. Continue reading

Cycling back roads

Thorn Audax on the lanes above GreenfieldCycling is a superb tonic. It allows you to pedal away from stress: the rhythm of the cranks and the rumble of tyre on tarmac provide a simple mantra for the mind while the sense of freedom can lighten the heaviest heart.

Motorised traffic can easily nullify this euphoria, though. As a road cyclist, cars, lorries and motorcycles are common currency but I do try to avoid them as much as possible and that’s where the back roads help me maintain that delicious cycling equilibrium.

In the south Pennines, there are back roads aplenty and they have one chief advantage over the minor roads I pedalled when living in Chelmsford, Essex. Continue reading

Manchester’s moors: planes, police sirens and pylons… but grand all the same

Saturday night should have been another in the bivvy bag. It seems silly to travel to the Lakes every time I wild camp as there are some perfectly good hills on my doorstep.

So, inspired by the idea of a mini-adventure, I stepped out at 5pm with the sun still shining. I walked a familiar route through housing and to open ground. The bruised foothills near my home soon gave way to a lovely secluded valley which led onto the moor. Continue reading

The importance of being early

The alarm clock warbled and I stealthily left the bedroom, trying to avoid disturbing the other half.

My clothes were laid out in the office, camera packed and ready. I carefully closed the front door, avoided slamming the car door and made good my escape.

I was only dropping down to my usual haunt… Dove Stones. The light had been fantastic yesterday and I didn’t want to miss out. I’d hopefully have the hills to myself for a precious couple of hours before the cry of the curlew was drowned out by quarrelling kids. Continue reading

Out a snappin’

Got my Nikon D90 over the weekend. It’s a present from someone very special and I know I’m going to gain a great deal of satisfaction using it [Many thanks again 🙂 ]

Like a boy with a new toy, I had to take it for a spin yesterday in far from ideal conditions – very bright, contrasty, with loads of haze.

So here are some early efforts. All are taken using the standard 18-105mm Nikkor kit lens. Work in progress…
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A dirty day getting high

…not literally getting high, of course, although some of you may feel I’m in need of a little lift after last week’s litter rant.

View above Ashway Gap, Dove Stones Reservoir

Saturday was gloomy and the conditions were affecting my mood. I couldn’t face another day pottering around the house, doing odd jobs and punctuating my day with the grunts and groans of yet more physio exercise.

Bugger it: I needed to get out and stretch my creaking limbs. Continue reading