Peak District Trip – Lady Bower Reservoir

We all headed to The Peak District for my boyfriends Mum’s 60th Birthday. We stayed in Darwin Lake Holiday Village which offers a range of cottages to accommodate different party sizes. The accommodation was great, it had everything we needed for a weekend away. The weather was bright and sunny which meant we could make use of the hot tub and the outdoor area overlooking the lake.

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Darwin Lake Holiday Cottages

The cottages were brilliantly situated in the Peak District with tonnes of activities in the surrounding area.

Everyone thought it would be a great chance to cycle since there were so many cycle routes nearby. We looked online and found the two closest cycle routes;

1) The Monsal Trail ( A railway route )
2) Dark Peak reservoirs

We opted for the second option as there was a lot more to do for some of the party who didn’t want to cycle. We chose to tackle the lower of the three reservoirs; The Lady Bower. A great place to spend your day walking, jogging, biking or even just admiring the views. Closely situated next to Derwent Dam, home of the dam busters for those after a history fix.

The bike hire shop was close to the car park and offered a wide range of bikes including e-bikes. We opted for standard mountain bikes that were £15.00 each for the afternoon. We chose the easiest route as everyone was different abilities and some of the group hadn’t been on a bike since they were children.

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All set with our hire bikes

Considering this was the easiest route it was defiantly a challenge! The ride started off mainly uphill although it wasn’t too steep and the ground was quite smooth. Midway through there were small sections with loose rocky terrain and a few small steep climbs. The views along the way were spectacular and everyone enjoyed the long descent at the end.

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First stop after the first uphill climb
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The Birthday girl and her son

The route was about 15 miles and it took us around 3 hours to complete. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the ride and left feeling very accomplished. Some even said it inspired them to want to start cycling again, so the day was definitely a success!

On the way back to the cottage we stopped in a lovely pub called The Plough Inn, we didn’t get a chance to try their food but it smelt and looked great and they even have rooms if you want to stay in the area.

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The Plough Inn

There is so much to do and see in the Peak District so we didn’t get to explore it all but here are some highlights from our trip;

Bakewell

Famous for the Bakewell Pudding. A beautiful small market town idyllically situated on the banks of the River Wye. There is a lot to see and do including gardens, museums,  pubs, coffee shops, and numerous shops selling books, clothes, and gifts. I would definitely recommend The Peacock Inn for some delicious pub food. 

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Bakewell Pudding Factory

Lea Gardens

We loved spending the day exploring Lea Gardens. A woodland garden specialising in rhododendrons, azaleas and kalmias. The garden is on the site of a medieval millstone quarry. Parking is free and it’s £6 to enter in May and only £3 in June. The onsight cafe overlooks the gardens. Perfect for families of all ages.

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Our first visit to the Peak District went even better than we anticipated, we already can’t wait to go back!

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Happy Birthday Jo

Our trip to South Wales with a Guided MTB Tour of The Brecon Beacons

Where: Brecon Beacons, South Wales
Price of Half Day Guided MTB ride for 2 people: £75
Price of Bike and Helmet Hire: £35 each
Level: Medium
Most challenging section: Riding on different terrains

For my boyfriend’s birthday, I knew he would want to do something mountain bike related. We’ve done a lot of cycling in North Wales so I thought South Wales would be a fun adventure for us both! My Nan used to live in South Wales with her husband and they happened to be visiting family in March, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to combine the two activities together.

I started looking for things to do around Merthyr Tydfil. I knew there would be plenty of trails but since I was not familiar with the area I was really keen on getting a mountain bike guide. I found a company online called Treads and Trails and contacted the owner Hue on their Facebook page to see what they had to offer.

I told him that me and my boyfriend had different levels of ability (Simon is a lot better than me) and that I wasn’t sure if we wanted to bring our own bikes as we travelling by train. Hue was very helpful, he told me that I could hire bikes through Treads and Trails and that he would find a route suitable for both of us. I was so excited and managed to keep what I had planned a surprise!

We got the train from Chester to Abergavenny with a suitcase and two helmets in hand. Simon was still clueless as to what was going on but I’m sure the helmets gave a slight clue. When we arrived we walked around the town centre and visited the Old Fish Market where we found a load of vintage action figures and Disney dolls! When the sun started to come out we found a nice beer garden where we sat and enjoyed a shandy. (It was St David’s day after all!)

We were then picked up and taken to Merthyr Tydfil by a family friend, this was great as there are no direct trains from Chester to Merthyr and it helped me keep the destination a surprise. We had a great night in Merthyr but we we were careful not to get too drunk with our big bike ride the next day.

Hue from Treads and Trails picked us up from the Travel Lodge where we were staying for an additional price which worked out a lot cheaper than hiring a local taxi firm. We had a pleasant journey to the Brecon Beacons and once we arrived at Talybont reservoir we were given our hire bikes. We were pleased with the quality of the hire bikes and they had been kept in excellent condition.

All set to go, we started on the first uphill climb. It was a few miles long but with a very shallow gradient. I started off confidently but after a couple of miles, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. Runners spored me on who were passing in the opposite direction promising me I didn’t have much longer to go with this motivation I pushed on and I was very proud to make it to the top without stopping!

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We travelled on a lot of different terrains, from very loose rocky paths to very wet areas. This was a great experience for me as I have only ever ridden on neatly curated trails when mountain biking before. It took some time to get used to the loose terrain and I noticed my bike moving around a lot beneath me. I was assured this was normal and told to keep looking ahead as I have a habit of looking at what I am about to ride over. This is a bad idea and guaranteed to make you wobble more and possibly fall off! Hue was great giving tips and encouraged me throughout the ride.  When we reached the top we were rewarded with some spectacular views of the reservoir.

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Now for the fun bit; making our way down. We first rode down a big winding road which evolved into a narrower off-road trail. I dismantled my bike for only one part of the downhill section; a short steep descent made up of solely big rocks. I wasn’t brave or skilled enough to try this section and Hue suggested I walk down. I watched Simon whiz down the rocks and it looked like great fun which he confirmed when we met him at the bottom. I did manage to ride all the other downhill sections which included fords and loose rocky sections. I left the ride not only having had a great time but also feeling very accomplished. The whole experience was fantastic and I loved some of the challenges I came up against. Although the ride was not as challenging for Simon he thoroughly enjoyed the route and what it had to offer. Treads and Trails did a great job at creating the perfect day for both of us.

Here is a flyover of the ride;


We deservingly ended the day at the Crown pub in Merthyr. We met family and friends and told them all about our adventures over some great food and drinks. If you are ever in the area and want some great pub food then this is the place. Later in the night, a band called The Platinum Band performed and they got everyone dancing.

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