Sunday, 22 June 2014

Cycling the railway lines

Several of the railway lines in the Peak District which were abandoned by British Railways in the 1960s have been converted for pedestrian and cycle use and what a boon they are! I love the mixture of industrial architecture and scenery. 
The High Peak Trail is the trackbed of the former Cromford & High Peak Railway and wriggles its way around rugged outcrops of rock, passing over the largest limestone mine (not quarry) in Europe.  The first time that we rode along this track we gorged ourselves on a bank of wild raspberries. This time we found one of the original fish bellied rails which had been preserved in a wall.

Original fish-bellied rail preserved in a wall on the High Peak Trail. You can just read the initials of the Cromford & High Peak Railway on it.
This pattern of rail was typical of the early horse-drawn mineral tramways of the late 18th century.

Starting from Ashbourne for our night trip up the Tissington Trail, a storm seemed to be threatening...

...but as we rode towards Buxton the sky cleared and the sun began to set. 

On both sides of the track the animals in the pastures were settling down for the approaching night. Sheep and lambs were calling to each other, calves were nestling up close to their mothers.

Taking advantage of the dry spell, a few miles away a farmer was cutting grass for silage. We watched the sun set whilst we ate a banana and then we pedalled downhill, the white surface of the trail glowing eerily in the beams of our cycle lights.

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