Friday, 3 June 2016

Fun Friday Solo Ride

I'm not blogging absolutely everything these days but this ride really does deserve a write up. Not because of any epic athleticism on my part but due to the quality of the route and the many features.

Rushton Hall

For starters within the first ten miles I'd already passed the impressive buildings of Rushton Hall and Pipewell Hall. Rushton Hall has featured in my blogs before but if you haven't seen it check out this link Gunpowder plot, Charles Dickens, Triangular Lodge...pretty stunning!

Pipewell Hall

Pipewell Hall is only a couple of miles from Rushton and unlike it's more famous neighbour I know very little about it. It's pretty hidden too, so the image above is all I've seen of it apart from gatehouses in the village. There are some pretty amazing facts about Pipewell. For starters Richard I held his midlands parliament there and it holds the smallest church in Northamptonshire! In more recent history the Hall was owned by the Lloyds family as in Stewarts & Lloyds who were massive in the Corby steel production when that was a thing. Now, like most of these places, it's a wedding venue!

A few miles on from that I passed East Carlton Park on my way into Middleton. East Carlton is one of Northamptonshire's many excellent country parks. However it also has a massive House in the grounds. Predictably called East Carlton Hall you can read the wikipedia link here The house was at one point also in the possession of Stewart's and Lloyds and now the park has artifacts to commemorate our long gone steel industry. 

The thing I find most fascinating is that during the last century the Northamptonshire landscape would have looked quite different in places due to the steel industry. From where I live in Rothwell, through to Corby, giant buckets took an aerial route carrying iron from many open cast mining quarries. I walk my dogs through woods most days which are a former ironstone quarry. You can find parts from the bucket line but I've yet to find a picture, so I only know about because people have told me.

Another place I went through was Lyddinton. Great pub, the Queen of Cakes and I had a superb meal there once and to top it all it was half price night. Anyway there's a realpoint of interest I've pictured before. I now know the 'hole in the wall,' thing is the "Bishop's Eye," and is part of the Grade 1 listed Lyddinton Bede House. More here:

Finally on this little local history tour I had a good view of Rockingham Castle despite not braving Rocky Hill on this occasion. I've also mentioned Rockingham before but if you want more you can check out their own website

 Right enough of this history malarkey let's talk cycling shall we. I didn't plan this route as such I just went out with the intention of getting some good hill practise in (and boy do I need the practise.) My only real aim was to make sure I went up Cottingham Hill because we missed that on Monday. I'll also summarise the pain slopes for those who like a bit of uphill  (I don't, I like downhill but due to Newton and Einstein and all those other smartarses one has to follow the other!)

View over the Valley at Bringhurst

The first incline that got me huffing and puffing was at Rushton. It's a dishonest hill that looks insignificant and then drags on a bit more than you'd expect. I hate his type of hill, I prefer my hills to look like they'd hurt if in fact they're going to hurt. After that it's pretty easy bordering on exhilarating, especially the descent into Middleton. The next hill of note is Bringhurst. By hill of note I actually mean anything that makes me breathe hard and gets me out of the saddle. I realise we haven't got any big climbs in Northants. There are some Cat 4's but even they are bizarre, for example Scaldwell is Cat 4 and is easier than ride in a taxi. Anyway Bringhurst, proper hill, just what I was looking for!
Red phone box in Bringhurst

There's a bit of up and down before getting to Eyebrook Reservoir but nothing hard. Eyebrook itself is very nice. As a bonus I managed not to run over any twitchers of which there is an excess. I'm all for a bit of ornithology but what is it with their camouflage gear and telephoto lenses?  

Beautiful Eyebrook Reservoir

Coming out of Eyebrook is the climb through Stoke Dry. A hill of much significance and my first visit to granny gear. I know my limits and for me this is get low and grind it out. At the top I had the banana break pictured above. Then it was a lovely whoosh through Lyddington and onto Gretton. The aforementioned Cottingham Hill was next and it is pretty lung busting for a fat lad like me. During these climbs I berate myself for not sticking to the diet and then when I get home I decide I deserve a pork pie for all my hard work! The descent through Cottingham into Middleton was ruined by a horse. They have a right to the roads too just if I've gone to the bother of getting up a hill without either EPO or a hidden motor then they could at least never go downhill ever. 

As far as my inexpert climbing legs were concerned this next bit was total overkill. I went to Ashley, did the climb from Ashley to Stoke Albany and then onto Wilbarston. Really good hill training...I hope. My last hill of the day was at Harrington as used as the QOM for the last ladies tour.

So there you are I did what I set out to do. I'll never be the best climber, I'm always going to prefer downhills but hey I'm trying. It's back to the very flat again tomorrow because SuperSam has sailing, I do like a spin round Pitsford though! The downside is another Saturday ride missed with C&D Cycles CC. I think they're off to see the flying Scotsman go across the 'Welland Owd' viaduct tomorrow. Here's a picture of that iconic structure on an actual sunny day when we rode that way!

Happy Pedaling!

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