“Now, is the seat ‘igh enough for you?” asks Cheryl from the cycle hire place, beaming at me with twinkling eyes. I’ve no idea, but quietly nod. She points up at a steep gravel track. At the top is the Monsal Trail. “Back by five at the latest, love,” she says. I don’t mention that I’ve never ridden a bike before.
Derbyshire is damp, but there are advantages. All around the trail lush, vibrant foliage shoots in every direction. It bursts with green, and plump leaves of every shade vie for attention: giant slug-nibbled water dock, thick grasses, ferns, mighty trees and tiny saplings. It’s green on green on tangled green – a cacophony almost too bright to focus on.
I wheel my bike up and stand evaluating the map – eight-and-a-half miles from Buxton to Bakewell along a disused railway line, recently renovated and opened for traffic-free wanderings. Then…
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