Sunday, 11 June 2017

A trip further afield: The Manifold Trail

With Spring well in progress we decided to try a new cycling experience a few weeks ago.  Having done the Monsal Trail a couple of times we decided to try the Manifold Trail.

The trail starts north of Ashbourne at either Waterhouses or Hulme End.  Waterhouses is on the road between Ashbourne and Leek (A523) whilst Hulme End can be accessed via the Ashbourne to Buxton road (A515).

Thor's Cave overlooking the trail
We decided to start from Waterhouses and found the car park with ease.  There is a good amount of space at the car park which is on the site of the old station.  There are toilets there but the cycle hire centre was closed when we visited.  The cost of the car park for over 4 hours is £4.50 so ensure you have the change with you as the owner of the local shop doesn't like giving change and as it is remote, there are not a large number of options for change.
The information at Hulme End was useful

Alternatively, if you don't have any bikes there is a farm hiring bikes that offers free parking for customers in the village.

The Manifold trail (also known as track or way) follows an old railway line.  Unlike the Monsal Trail which is an old mainline carried high through tunnels and over viaducts, the Manifold follows the rivers at the bottom of a valley.  The light railway was the Leek and Manifold Valley railway which did not prosper.  The route follows the river Hamps and then the Manifold, hugging the river as it curves it way through the scenic valley.  Find out more via Wikipedia.

The joys of Spring
The length of the route is just under 9 miles (8 miles and 8 chains in old railway language) and is mainly level, perhaps slightly uphill going north.  There are brief on road sections though these are 20mph roads and as the route is part of NCN549 the signing is clear throughout thanks to our friends in the White Peak rangers group.

Don't worry - we'll go around the hill!
It is slightly narrower than some trails which may cause an issue when it is busy.  However, we visited on a brisk Sunday and had few problems between us even with the tag along.

There are a few food outlets on the route as well as toilets.  The cafe at Wetton Mill looks very popular as did the cafe at the station at Hulme End.  These are both easily accessible by car whereas the farm cafe we stopped at on the way back to Waterhouses was a bit more remote.  Wetton Mill is a pleasant spot at the side of the river slightly more than half way along.

Hulme End Station - Time for packed lunch
Being at the bottom of the valley you are not exposed to the wind too much, although it wasn't very windy.  We cycled on a fine Spring day and the field were full of young lambs which was nice for my daughters.

We managed the whole 18 miles in around 4 hours including a few stops for food.  I would have liked to have locked the bikes up and discovered one of the caves by foot but will do that next time.  The station at Hulme End has some good information on the area and the trail including some very useful Geological and Geographical information.  This facility may not be open on Mondays.

With stunning scenery, plenty of facilities and a nice steady gradient, this is a great family cycling experience and within an hour of Swadlincote.

New National Forest Group is looking for volunteers

Are you interested in becoming a Sustrans Volunteer Ranger?  We are actively seeking new rangers following a review of the ranger group.

Our group is commonly known as the West Leicestershire group but we cover parts of South Derbyshire, Warwickshire and are going to incorporate Burton-on-Trent, hence Staffordshire too.  With the combination of counties and area it has been decided to rename the group the National Forest ranger group.

Burton on Trent falls between the Derby Rangers to the north and the Lichfield group to the south.  Burton is a large town and is a key destination on the National Cycle Network so it makes sense to ensure the town is covered by a group.

The area covered by the National Forest is similar to the area covered by the ranger group, albeit not exact but it gives the group a name that people may be able to more easily identify with.

If you are interested in joining Sustrans as a ranger in this area click on this link.  To find out more about volunteering for Sustrans in general click here.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

New Country Park in Swadlincote gets Planning Permission

On Tuesday 11th April the Planning Committee at South Derbyshire District Council passed 2 applications relating to the site in the Cadley Hill area of Swadlincote.  A new country park is planned as well as pub/restaurant, another restaurant, a golf related retail unit and car parking & access.  It also features cycle and walking paths, hence it's appearance on the blog.

The site has been under development for several years with a municipal golf course being planned for many years.  The golf course will still go ahead but in a reduced size from original plans with an 18 hole course now replaced with 2 smaller 9 hole golf courses with the country park in between.

The illustration shows the cycle paths in purple through the site.
The above illustration is taken from one of the documents held within the planning application information on the SDDC website.  For further information click here to link to the planning application documents.  On this drawing the roundabout in the bottom right hand corner is the roundabout at the Bison concrete factory at the end of William Nadin Way and appears to indicate that there will be a path on the northern side of William Nadin Way which will link to one of the new housing developments near Park Road in Newhall.

This will then form an important part of the link between Swadlincote and Burton.  Further parts of this link are steadily growing.  The below pictures show some of the link from Darklands Lane through to the new Development off William Nadin Way (Cobblestone Drive).  They currently finish at the perimeter of the development about half way down William Nadin Way.
New section of path at the end of Darklands Way looking towards William Nadin Way
Looking back towards Darklands Lane

Whilst the path is not fully linked up and care will be needed crossing Cobblestone Drive it is a positive step in route development.  Meanwhile, there are developments further up the route as along Civic Way in Swadlincote due to redevelopment of the Fire Station.  Read more about the new Community Fire Station development.

Currently the link from Swadlincote town centre in direction of Darklands Road is provisionally signed down the footpath on the north side of Civic Way past the Health Centre then turning through a link next to the Police Station and onto Toumlin Drive.  The path along Civic Way is not wide enough to be a proper shared path and with several junctions it is not ideal in the long term and hopefully increased numbers of cyclists.

The Fire Station development looks to address this with a link along the side of the site and a further link through past the back of the site to Toumlin Drive which will be more freeflowing and possibly make a good link to nearby Eureka Park.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Work done in the Winter and Early Spring

Fortunately the recent Winter was relatively kind to us in South Derbyshire and surrounding area.  Our regular route checks did not find any significant issues although some of the surfaces are worn and muddy in some of the more rural areas, particularly towards Measham.

We have noticed that some work has been done around the cycle paths by Forestry Commission volunteer groups near Castle Gresley and also by Leicestershire County Council between Donisthorpe and Measham.  Much of the trackside foliage has been cut back which hopfully means that the cycle of dropped foliage mulching into the surface an becoming muddy will cease.  The extra light may also help to dry sections out more.

There are also some other sections of path that are starting to show signs of being covered which we may look to improve on a work day such as the section between Swainspark Wood and Spring Cottage.  The tarmacked surface needs brushing back before the foliage is embedded over time.

Aside from the path we have also been looking at signing and have concentrated on the area between Church Gresley, Albert Village Lake and Spring Cottage.  We have put some more destination patches onto new signs.  Regular cyclists in the area will be familiar with the routes but new cyclists and tourists will hopefully find the signing useful.

The next stage of the signing review will concentrate between Conkers Discovery and Moira.  Some of this will be to replace some of the current ageing signs but we are also looking at options for signing the future link to Hicks Lodge Cycling Centre.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Derby Cycling Group produce Tube style cycling map

The Derby Cycling Group has recently produced a novel new map in a similar style to the London Underground tube map to show cycling links around Derby.

The map has different colours to define the perceived quality of the links as shown in the picture below.

For a more detailed look at the map and further links to the Derby Cycling Group, click on this link.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

New Cycling Hub planned at Calke Abbey

One of South Derbyshire's most popular tourist attractions is Calke Abbey.  Set in an estate of woodland and parkland around Ticknall, the estate, house and gardens are on of the biggest local attractions managed by the National Trust.  To find out more about Calke Abbey visit the Calke Abbey page on the National Trust website.

The National Trust, along with English Heritage, are supportive of Sustrans and the National Cycle Network.  On both of their websites, directions to the attractions feature a link to the local cycle network via the Sustrans website.

Further to this, the National Trust are looking to expand the existing tramway paths through the Calke estate to create an outdoor hub to attract families wanting to enjoy outdoor activities.  The National Trust are great advocates of ensuring children enjoy active lives - most notably via the book "50 things to try before you are 11 and 3/4 - An outdoors adventure handbook", one of which is to go on a long bike ride.

The former tramway was used to transport goods from the quarries at Ticknall through to the canal basin at Willesley on the Ashby Canal, not far from the current route of NCN63 near Donisthorpe.  The tramway closed in 1915 but some sections have been restored for walking and cycling purposes within the Calke Estate.

Calke Abbey features in some of our longer rides in our mapped rides page.  The rides feature the entrance drive through the estate as opposed to the tramway tracks.  The local terrain and road network makes it more suitable for adult cycling, hence why this cycling hub will be very valuable for families wanting to cycle.  That said, Calke is quite close to Melbourne and access points to the Cloud Trail (NCN 6)

We wish The National Trust and Calke Abbey well with the new hub and look forward to seeing it develop. We will post updates on this exciting new project - learn more about the proposed outdoor hub.

The plans can be seen in more detail on the National Trust Website - see the plans for the new hub.

Updates on Derbyshire Cycling Plan and local perspective.

Earlier in the year the blog featured an article on the launch of the Derbyshire Cycling Plan.  Thid ambitious plan has the aim of making Derbyshire the most connected County in terms of sustainable transport.

Further blog articles have highlighted some of the work done locally via the cycling legacy here in South Derbyshire.

Whilst we are now away from the summer months the work continues here and in the rest of Derbyshire.  Recently an update was published and this can be found on the Derbyshire Sport website.

Click here to read about updates to the Derbyshire Cycling Plan

An important part of the updates is the publication of the South Derbyshire Cycle Action plan.  This exiting and detailed document highlights the current scenario, the aims and an idea of how the plan will be achieved.  One of the key aspects is involvement of those who have a passion to make the plan work and advocate the benefits of walking and cycling around South Derbyshire.

Click here to read about the South Derbyshire Cycle Action Plan (and link to download)

If you have read this article and the Action plan and feel that you can contribute, you cn contact South Derbyshire District Council on the followng email: