In September the holiday crowds begin to dwindle as schools start their new term. Schools highlight one of the reasons people come to Ashbourne to live, although QEGS has been through a tough time over the last couple of years. After building up a reputation for decades it has struggled over the last couple of years culminating in a negative inspector’s report last time around. At one point it was in the top echelon of state schools and still has an excellent sixth form. Despite the current issues it has a very good core of an academic attitude and a supportive environment for Creative Arts and sport. The feeder schools are a combination of the local Parkside and St Oswald’s primary schools and the pretty village schools in Clifton, Osmaston, and Longford. Either way visitors will notice the long stream of pupils through the town in the morning and evening as they make their way to QEGS.Ashbourne is an active town and the sports teams are all either starting or finishing their seasons. There are good memberships and a good standard played at football, cricket, rugby, tennis, golf, bowls, hockey and squash underpinned by good quality and enthusiastic coaching from youth level. The impact for visitors is that they will see the Rec being well used and hear the whistles from the games being played. If they want to participate we are fortunate to have the sports centre which has a good gym and a full programme of classes throughout the day for spinning, aqua aerobics, boxercise etc which anyone is able to join. It also has a skate park outside. With the inevitable occasional rainy day it is a nice place to relax and retreat with the family.
As the tourists diminish and the town returns to everyday life one of the last events of the sporting summer is the Ashbourne Half marathon – usually on the same day as the Great North Run. The event normally attracts a couple of hundred runners and is noted in the specialist magazines for its friendliness, it’s scenery and its severity. The run starts in the middle of town and has a number of steady inclines. It begins with a slow rise up to Windmill Lane and then heads out into the countryside. The first challenge is the long hill up to Thorpe which is rewarded with stunning views over Dovedale before dropping down to Ilam. The climb out of Ilam up to Blore is brutal – approximately nine miles into the race. From then on it is a long steady drop back down to the town before ending on the Rec.
September is a nice time of year for walking as the temperature tends to be slightly lower. Ashbourne is located in the countryside and so it is possible to do some walks from the town and leave the car at home. A walk across the bypass, through Gateway caravan park and out to Osmaston (through the estate there if you have time) across the fields makes a nice circular walk bisected by the excellent Shoulder of Mutton pub for a nice pint, good lunch and no driving. A similar walk incorporating a visit to the Shrovetide goal at Sturston can be broken at the Red Lion in Kniveton.