Tuesday 23 July 2019


I'd earmarked today as the best day for a bike ride – it was due to be warm and dry (and was). We put the bikes on the carrier and drove up through Uttoxeter to Denstone Hall farm shop and café. As these establishments go it was pretty impressive. The environment was open, busy and friendly and the coffee wasn't bad. I liked the lampshades over the counter.

Then we walked with our bikes across the road, through the churchyard and dropped down onto the Oakamoor – Denstone Greenway. From there it would be just under 5 miles to Oakamoor, along the path of an old railway track.

It was very pleasant, with just one station on the way that had been converted into someone's house. The map indicates that it follows the Churnet Valley as it curves round the edge of the Alton Towers estate, but we didn't see much of the river until we reached our destination. In Oakamoor there's a notable bridge over the river…

and a large recreational area with a car park and picnic tables.

All in all, a good place to have lunch!

From there on, it was all downhill – and I don't mean in terms of ease of cycling. As we started back along the track I noticed that my front tyre had split, and a few seconds later, so had the inner. My puncture repair kit had only patches, and nothing for an outer tyre. I didn't think Elastoplast from the first aid kit would do the trick. After considering our options, my best beloved walked my bike back to the picnic carpark, while I cycled hers 5 miles back to the café where we had started. Since I didn't want to change her bike's geometry it was an uncomfortable and energetic ride with my knees up around my ears. But no doubt it was very good for the muscles. I put her bike on the carrier, set the satnav for Oakamoor and found myself on an extraordinary journey through the Staffordshire ups and down which included passing through Alton village and a rather nervy trip down a very long, windy and steep single track road to Oakamoor village.

Tomorrow a trip to Halfords in Stafford beckons, to see what can be done about my own bike's tendency to acquire punctures when we are out in the countryside together.


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