Having determined to gain his mountain biking permit, Marlon organised a fantastic weekend in the Peak District for some Leaders, Networkers and Explorers which led to us all meeting one Friday afternoon in Scout Park. After meeting and greeting, and with all the food, kit and bikes loaded, we set off. It was the smoothest of journeys, with a most welcome stop at Annie’s parents’ house in Long Eaton for tea and cake. We arrived at Glenbrook at 10:30pm (after the minibus managed to drive past the entrance twice), set up camp, feasted on hot dogs and went to sleep in preparation for a full day of cycling through the surrounding hills.
On Saturday morning we filled up on baked beans, eggy bread and tea/coffee, met the assessors (Neil and Tony), checked the bikes and left the campsite, cycling along the main road, then past Pindale Farm and on into Castleton. Despite a few initial gear troubles, all the bikes ran well, and we made it up Mam Tor, to be greeted by wonderful views across the valley. The long cycle up the ‘Broken Road’ was totally worth it for the downwards ride, which the experienced mountain bikers thoroughly enjoyed and the new-comers used to build up experience and daring.
We stopped for lunch at the Penny Pot Café by Edale’s Railway Station, ate our sandwiches and filled up on much-needed water – we really were lucky with the weather. Rested and ‘ready to roll’ (I still don’t get the pun), we got back on our bikes and cycled past the YHA Edale Activity Centre. The rest of the afternoon passed in much the same manner, with steeper uphill treks and steeper descents.
One hill was particularly challenging, before which Marlon confidently offered a Mars Bar to whomever could cycle the whole way up. Neall’s response was to do just that! And he claims he didn’t even know about the challenge. At one point, Thomas and Tony sped on ahead (waiting at the gate but deciding we were too slow after just two minutes) and, after following them through mud and over rocks, we found them casually waiting by the side of the road. It was then just a short ride back to camp (with a slight detour for Neall to the garden centre in search of wire for Thomas’ bike).
Back at the campsite we were able to rest, shower and have a great dinner of chill con carne, though some people really need to learn how to chop onions. Thereafter followed many bad jokes (have you heard the one about the ex-tractor fan?) and a camp fire, for which we most definitely did not destroy the guides’ self-made shelter, while Neall undertook his navigation assessment in “poor” conditions.
On Sunday morning, we were greeted by very bright sunlight and everyone (except Marlon!) was slightly annoyed at having been woken up by planned engineering works on the railway line at four in the morning! However, we breakfasted well and set off for the morning, cycling along the same route to Castleton, but breaking off and working our way up a very long ascent.
Marlon and Neall were put to the test on the technical ground coaching us on how to balance our weight and use our brakes and then we tackled a very rocky slope. Everyone reached the bottom successfully and, in great spirits, we wound our way back through the woods to the campsite, where Marlon and Neall received their MTB permits and, after packing up, we bundled ourselves back into the vans.
The return journey almost as smooth, with strawberries from Annie’s parents and only one emergency stop to fill up the tank with diesel. After a great weekend and (can you believe it?), no punctures (!!!!), we reached Scout Park and, having unpacked and washed the bikes, we said our goodbyes.
Thanks for such an amazing trip 🙂