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Saturday, 29 April 2017

Events in May

Our next Informal Lunch is on Thursday 4th May at Don Amott's Café in Hilton.  About  12.30pm.
The next Derby Rangers Meeting is on Monday 22nd May at The Eagle on Agard Street, Derby. 7pm.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Sustrans Milepost Painting

On our patch we have half a dozen or so of the cast iron mileposts which were funded by RBS in the early days of the National Cycle Network.
Most have been painted in a variety of styles and colours, by our own Rangers, but this was a long time ago and most could do with a repaint.
We understand that Sustrans now have an artist who is willing to carry out this task. Having seen an example of her work (see below), I think that we should be asking her to pay us a visit and suggest that she might repaint the post at Mickleover Station on NCN Route 54/68 (for a start) and that we should treat her to a meal at The Great Northern PH nearby when the job is done.

This newly painted post is on NCN 5 as we approach Chester and with due regard to our faithful Rangers who have painted our posts previously, I think that this effort puts the job on a different level, adding a real touch of class to the National Cycle Network.

Hardwick Hall family ride Sunday 21 May 2017

White Peak Sustrans Rangers' Group
Providing guided public rides
Join us for a guided family cycle ride to Hardwick Hall
 Ride location:  The Phoenix Greenways, starting at Teversal Visitor Centre.
Date & start time: Sunday 21st May – 11.00am
Approx length: 10 miles taking around 3 hours (inc stops)
Suitable for: Family groups, including accompanied children who have reasonable proficiency at riding a bike. Appropriate to riders of all ages.
Terrain: Tracks and Trails.
Ride description: This is an "out and back” ride along the traffic-free Terversal and Rowthorne Trails, taking us into the spectacular Hardwick Park. The Trails are shared by walkers, horses and other cyclists so can be busy at times with walkers, joggers and loose dogs, so basic riding safety etiquettes and protocols will be observed.  The ride is mainly level apart from a very gentle incline on the outward leg in the grounds of the Hardwick Estate, but it should not provide a problem to anyone with a degree of basic fitness.
The ride will be fairly leisurely and ride leader will facilitate a number of stopping points to take in the views on the outward leg.
Facilities: There is free parking at the Teversal Visitor Centre. The Café and information Centre opens at 10am so refreshments can be bought before the ride.  When we arrive at the National Trust Hardwick Estate, we will have approx. 30- 45minutes relaxing time to enjoy a drink/snack etc, at the NT café and picnic area, alternatively you can bring your own refreshments.
Entrance to the estate is free, but this ride may inspire you to visit Hardwick Hall another day and discover how Bess of Hardwick acquired her wealth and built Hardwick Hall.

Ride leaders: The ride will be led by a member of the Group who has will provide some information about the history of the trail and the Hardwick Estate. He will be supported by other members of the group to ensure that the ride is conducted safely. All members of the group are qualified to lead rides of this nature and are approved to do so by Sustrans.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Action on Graffiti

Some months ago the underpass of the A516 bridge at Etwall was attacked by mindless vandals who sprayed graffiti over a large area of the walls.

Our policy is to paint over such unsightly spoilage of our Greenways, but due to difficult weather conditions we have only just got round to fixing the problem.
Today our crack team of graffiti obliterators turned out with rollers, brushes and a large bucket of white paint to overpaint the eyesore.

                                                 And here they are - in action.

Within a couple of hours,  using surprisingly little paint, the job was done, and although we need to do a bit more tidying and perhaps a second coat of paint, at least the graffiti is gone.
After a break for coffee tea and snacks, kindly provided by Mavis and Sue, we had time to
attend to a few other minor problems in the immediate area. The 33 wooden steps at Sutton Lane Bridge needed a good clean, some pruning of overgrown vegetation was required and locks on the gates needed lubrication.

Phil, Sue and Mavis here making a nice job of cleaning the steps which lead down from Sutton Lane Bridge to the R549 path below.

Mavis checks the steps on completion of the job.

And Phil points to another problem on the bridge, that being two empty bottles precariously  perched on a ledge. He was unable to dislodge them by throwing stones at them, so watch out when you next pass beneath the bridge as they will surely come down one day.

Thanks also to Nick Potter who came along later having represented us at the meeting with Huub Events regarding the Great Northern Run. He also did some pruning of nearby vegetation and carried out maintenance of the nearby gate locks.

So, a good job done by all. Don't forget to record work hours on the Sustrans Volunteers Web Site.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

The Emperor's New Signage

The Emperor of the New Forest was very proud of his cycle routes and wanted only the very best signage for them, so that his cycling subjects could find their way about in the forest. He searched far and wide but could never find quite the style of signage that he liked.

One day, two wicked Rangers came to him and said, “Sire, we have the just the thing for you – the very best signage that has ever been devised, but you will need to give us lots of money so that we can put this project properly into effect, and also it will take some time, so difficult will be our task. Moreover, this signage is magic: only wise cyclists will be able to see it; fools will see nothing at all!” The emperor was dead impressed and told the rangers to start work immediately. He said, “I only want clever people working for me, not fools.” When they were alone, the wicked Rangers laughed like drains. “All the cyclists in the forest will pretend to see the signage. Nobody will want to look a prat!” Next day and for the next few weeks they beavered away on the non-existent signage but everyone who watched them at work pretended to see the most beautiful signage in the whole world! Even the Emperor of the New Forest could not see any signage but he did not want to be thought a fool. The emperor was very happy and he gave the two wicked Rangers lots of money.

The day came when the new signage was ready to be installed on all the cycle routes of the New Forest and this ‘task’ was carried out by the two wicked Rangers who, after their final payment, disappeared and were never seen again. Then the emperor and his subjects cycled in the forest and said, “This new signage is amazing!” for they didn’t want to look like idiots, but in truth they rode round and round and got totally lost. And so it is that to this day that, despite the Sustrans online mapping which shows Route 2 passing through the New Forest and notwithstanding the fact that you should be able to follow any route of the National Cycle Network without a map, much of it has in fact only magic signs which can only be seen by clever cyclists.

Context: I have just ridden Route 2 from Dorchester to Southampton. It was fortunate that I had fed the route from the online mapping into my Garmin gadget before setting out. Otherwise I might still be in the New Forest together with the emperor’s subjects, riding round and round forever! A beautiful route, nevertheless! (Recommended – but take a map with you!)

Monday, 3 April 2017

The Peregrines are back

The Peregrine Falcons are back to their nest site on Derby Cathedral. To follow their progress on the webcams fixed to the tower click HERE
This connects you to the Peregrine Blog which has links to the cameras.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Easter Sunday cycling treasure hunt


Meet at Matlock station at 10:45 for a prompt start at 11:00 (Derby train arrives at 10:30)

Fun for all the family! We will ride to Rowsley along the new multi-user path to Darley Dale and Rowsley, stopping at a number of places to search for clues and answer questions. At each location children will look for a letter which after rearrangement will spell out a well-known word. Adults will answer a few questions. There will be prizes for the winners! We will be passing through the delightful Whitworth Institute Park - and expect to see steam trains en route! Refreshments will be available at Caudwell Mill, Rowsley, after which we will ride back without stops to Matlock, arriving at about 14:00. Most of the route will be traffic-free, off road path consisting of tarmac or Toptrek (crushed stone - like the Monsal Trail) surface. Almost any bike will be appropriate for this ride. Parents, please look after your children when riding over the (very short) road sections. 

Organized by the White Peak Sustrans Ranger Group

Rangers Meeting 27th April 2017

Notes from meeting

Notes from Derby Sustrans Group Meeting

27th March 2017 7pm

The Golden Eagle, Agard Street, Derby


Martin Aldred, Mavis Ratcliffe, Ian Dent, Les Sims, Dave Clasby, Dan Robertson


Peter Ford, Steve Adams, Jerry Evans

Group Roles & Structure

The following people were identified as currently holding the following roles:

Ride Leader – Ian Dent
Signing Champion – Peter Ford
Wildlife Champions – Ed Derby, Esther Cranston, Jo Sheldon

Volunteers are sought for other roles highlighted in the proposed structure that was circulated with the agenda, namely Event Co-ordinator, more Ride Leaders, and Task Days Co-ordinator.

C Selden asked how the condition of the routes in Derby were monitored and suggested that each ranger took responsibility for checking a route near to them or which they used regularly. The rangers would then report back any issues to the Group Co-ordinator and Task Days could be organised to rectify any problems. The following routes and people who could inspect on a monthly basis are:

Route 6 from Derby City Centre to Long Eaton – Christine Selden
Breadsall Greenway –
Route 54 to Longford –
Mickleover Greenway – Mavis Ratcliffe
Route 549 –

Action: Rangers to contact C Selden with the route(s) that they can inspect regularly


Les Sims has agreed to keep updating the blog and this will continue to be the main method of external communication. There has been some difficulty in keeping email lists up to date so C Selden will set up a closed Facebook Group for those Rangers who prefer to keep up to date by social media.

Action: C Selden to set up Derby Sustrans Facebook Group


Several future task days were identified:

Signing of Route 66: This would potentially take 4 days with a maximum of 3 people. Day 1 inspection of the North Side, Day 2 signing, Day 3 inspection of the South Side, Day 4 signing

Bench Painting & Repair: Mickleover Greenway and Breadsall Greenway

Graffiti Removal: A516 underpass at Etwall. M Ratcliffe to organise a date

Glow Worm Count on the Mickleover Greenway: this will take place on Wednesday 28th June, starting at 10.30pm and Mickleover and Etwall

Milepost Painting: All 5 posts in the Derby area need painting. Dan suggested that 1 or 2 be chosen for Pat, an artist volunteering with Sustrans, to come along & paint. This would be accompanied by a stall where Rangers can talk to passing members of the public. Alvaston Park and Darley Park were identified as the 2 most suitable mileposts.

Actions: D Robertson to contact Pat with the suggested locations and firm up some dates. M Ratcliffe to organise a date for graffiti removal. M Aldred to organise the Glow Worm count. All Rangers: volunteers needed for the signing of Route 66 and bench painting & repair


D Clasby spoke about a proposed ride for 18th June. The Big Lunch ride will take place on the last Saturday of National Bike Week and will also fall in National Clean Air Week. The Big Lunch this year will be a tribute to Jo Cox, and Dave has already had confirmation of attendance from Amanda Solloway MP, former MP Chris Williamson, and Ranjit Banwait, and the Liberal Democrats, UKIP and the Green Party will have representatives. The themes of the ride will be ‘Diversity, Democracy, Cycling, Clean Air & Food.’ Local Faith Groups and the British Red Cross have already agreed to promote the ride. The ride will start at the Council House and will proceed along the riverside path to Elvaston Castle for lunch and then follow the same route back. Dave has asked that the Derby Rangers provide marshals for the day, ride leaders (if qualified) and promote the ride.

Action: Rangers to contact C Selden if they can help with the ride

In addition to The Big Lunch ride, it was suggested that Rangers Rides be organised to the County Show at Locko Park on the 25th June, and to the Elvaston Steam Rally on 1st July.

Dan also asked if the group could support the White Peak group at ‘Belper Goes Green’ on the week-end of the 3rd & 4th June.

It was agreed that an Events Leader needed to be sourced from the group and an audit of the events kit in the trailer needed to be made. The group could then be more proactive in attending local events such as ‘The Big One’ in Chaddesden Park and Etwall Well-dressing to promote Sustrans

Action: Rangers to contact C Selden if they can attend ‘Belper Goes Green’ and/or if they wished to be involved with Events.


Dan will be organising training in the forthcoming months on the following topics:

Organising Task Days
Ride Leaders
Talking to people at events
Habitat surveying


Les Sims suggested that bird boxes needed replacing

The next social lunch will be on Thursday 6th April 12.30pm at Don Amott’s café, Hilton

Next Meeting: 24th April 2017 7pm, Golden Eagle Pub, Agard Street, Derby

Monday, 13 March 2017

Ranger's Meeting

Chris Selden has arranged a meeting of new and old Derby Rangers for 7pm on Monday 27th March at the Golden Eagle PH in Agard Street Derby. The room is upstairs and folding bikes can be taken in.
This is an important meeting to decide future policy and events for the Ranger Group, so please come along if you can.
Agard Street is just off St. Alkmund's Way and runs parallel to Friargate, so is pretty central.
Street car parking nearby and bikes can be parked at the pub.

The next informal meeting is at Don Amott's café is on Thursday April 6th at 12.30pm.

Friday, 10 March 2017

DON'T MISS TV Programme

Next week BBC TV are showing an hour long documentary on the history of the Raleigh Cycle Company.

Don't miss it.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Later that day................

After the Great Northern Run we had intended to do a Litter Pick at Mackworth, where there is usually a plentiful supply of the stuff.  It had actually stopped raining and we did not wish to disappoint Dan, whose idea it was, so we did actually pick up a whole black bin liner full and that warranted the alongside photograph.

Left to right - Chris, Les, Dan, Milepost.
Foreground - Bag of Litter.
Photo on Dan's phone by unknown young lady who happened to be passing.

This Sustrans Milepost at Mackworth has always been of interest as it was painted by Graffiti Vandals of whom we know nothing, and they made quite a passable job of it.
How things have changed from those far off days.
Sustrans now have an artist to do this job and she will be coming to our area in the foreseeable future.
Watch this space.

The Great Northern Run 2017

In spite of the grim weather forecast which turned to reality just before the races started, hundreds of keen runners set out to race along the Mickleover Greenway this morning. The consistent heavy rain flooded the path in places, but the faster runners paid no heed, and ran straight through the puddles. One of the slower runners at the rear said, as she struggled on, "I'm past caring now".

All photos shot from the relative comfort of my fishing umbrella fixed to the fence at Bannel's Gate.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Derby Arena

A free 5 day pass for the gym at the Derby Arena is on offer.

Check it out  HERE  if you are interested

Monday, 20 February 2017

Forthcoming Events

We are helping with the Great Northern Run on Sunday March 5th, by unlocking all the gates on the Mickleover Greenway and marshalling at Bannel's Gate and Bearwardcote Gate.  The racing starts at 9.30am and we expect the leading runners to be in sight by 9.45am.

In the afternoon we meet at Sainsbury's Café at Kingsway (1.30pm) for a litter pick on Route 54/68 between there and Mickleover. This is in conjunction with Derby City Council's Tidy-up Campaign and we hope to get some useful publicity for Sustrans on this occasion.

Also on Thursday 9th  March (12.30pm) we meet at Don Amott's Café in Hilton for the second of our Informal Lunches for just a chat and something to eat and drink.  All welcome.

21st February
Note above change  of date for Informal Lunch

Wednesday, 15 February 2017


A warm welcome to the new volunteers who are joining the Derby Ranger Group, and in particular to Christine Selden who is taking  over as our new Group Co-ordinator. A future meeting will be an opportunity for all to meet up to decide on future policy, duties and events.

This blog had been our main means of communication for a number of years and has therefore become a historical record of the Group, events, and our local NCN Routes.

For the benefit of our new volunteers I am proposing to post information about the routes, this being the first, dealing with the Mickleover Greenway which runs 5.25 miles from Station Road in Mickleover to Egginton Junction Bridge on the A5132 Hilton to Willington road.

This off road path is designated as NCN 54 leading to Burton, and NCN 68 leading to Ashbourne and eventually to Berwick-on-Tweed, a distance of 350 miles. Fortunately (!) none of our routes go past the Derbyshire County Boundaries.

Route 549 is mainly on country lanes and runs along the Dove Valley through Hatton, Scropton, Sudbury and Doveridge, to Uttoxeter.

The Mickleover Greenway is part of the Great Northern Greenway, the other part being the Breadsall Greenway, of which more later. Originally the Great Northern Railway, it is flat, passing through pleasant farmland and has some unique features - more public seats than any other NCN route, a flagpole, and is accurately marked at each mile point. We have a colony of glow worms and lots of badger setts.  We have a box car trailer (used for tool storage) this being parked at Mickleover Station which is the home of Stefan Czuplak who is one of our Rangers and main contact with Derbyshire County Council who are landowners of the path.

The path was opened in 2001,  originally just as far as Etwall, with two later extensions which took it to Egginton.

This is our trailer, parked inside the locked gate at Mickleover Station.

The contents may look like a load of junk, but are in fact the following;
bike trailer, two strimmers, a gazebo, telescopic ladder, signs, paint, and a variety of hand tools.

At Mickleover Station is one of the cast iron mile posts, one of 1000 sited across the National Cycle Network. We have several others on our other routes.
They were donated by the bank RBS which subsequently went bankrupt but not for this reason.
We have painted them but many of them are in need of repainting, perhaps with a change of colour.
Any volunteers for this task?

Also we have a flagpole, originally the property of British Rail when the area was a development site.
Time for a new flag, I think.

Here a view of the path just West of Mickleover Station, showing one of the 12 seats which we have sited along the route.  Several have been refurbished recently.

Plenty of trees line the route  Shown here, our Christmas Tree, which is decorated by the public every year, and in the background a 300 year old oak, one of several veteran trees hereabouts.

Opposite another of our seats, a great place for birdwatching with bird feeders across the path.

This is the "Curved Seat".

This is the first mile marker. one of four heavy coping stones. Miles accurately measured from the Mickleover Station Gate. There is not one at 5 miles as the gate there is exactly 5 miles along the path, and we only had 4 stones.

There are three sets of double gates along the path, sited where there were originally farm crossings.
The large gates are kept locked and we have keys. The pedestrian gates alongside are kept closed, being secured by looped chains.

This Winter DCC have felled quite a few of our tress and flailed the pathside undergrowth.

This is the point, near Etwall, where Route 54 and Route 68 diverge. R54 goes left, beneath the  A516 road, and Route 68 goes straight on to Ashbourne and the Tissington Trail.

Sutton Lane Bridge which carries Route 54 into Etwall village. From this point the Route is numbered 549 and leads on through Hilton, to Uttoxeter and Waterhouses,

Finally we come to Egginton Junction Bridge which carries the A5132 Hilton to Willington road.
This area is prone to flooding.
Above the bridge, left for Burton via Eggington (on road) and right for Hilton and Uttoxeter.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Great Northern Run

One of our great local athletics events comes to Mickleover  again this year on Sunday 5th March, that being the Great Northern Run organised by Huub Events. It consists of a Half Marathon and a 10km Race, both starting from Spinneybrook Way off Station Road in Mickleover, the route going out along Radbourne Lane to join the Greenway at Heage Lane and returning to finish at Mickleover Station.

As in previous years the Derby Rangers will be assisting with the marshalling and all Rangers are welcome to come along. We will be on duty from 9.30am at Bearwardcote and Bannel's Gates having earlier unlocked and opened all gates.

The photo above shows the huge pneumatic finish gantry at Mickleover Station.

This year it will be further back along the path as last year there was some congestion as runners arrived.

Here we are at Bearwardcote Gate last year. It was bitterly cold, so flasks of hot coffee were good, but a small bonfire would have been better, although the runners did not seem to feel the cold as we did.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Informal Lunch Date

We are proposing to have a monthly informal lunch at Don Amott's café for rangers, ex-rangers, friends and relatives. The first one will be on Wednesday February 1st at 12.30pm.
There will be no agenda, minutes or official business - just a bite to eat and a chat.
No bookings, just turn up.
See you there.

26th January 2017
Feb 1st is not a good date for many people but will stand and future informal meetings will avoid Wednesdays. Please comment on more suitable weekdays for you. Next informal meeting in the week commencing Monday 6th March.

1st February 2017
Proposed date for the March meeting is Tuesday 7th March.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Santa Comes to Mickleover

Well, what a Christmas it looks like being.
Tonight The Great Man Himself came past our house.

See the video on YouTube HERE

Actually it was Rotary Derby making their annual charity collection with Santa sitting in the illuminated trailer towed by a 4 x 4... I think that the reindeer were having a night off.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Moonrise over Mickleover

On a recent homeward bound train trip from Crewe, I got off the train at Tutbury/Hatton and cycled home in the rapidly gathering gloom. By the time I got to Egginton Junction Bridge it was almost dark and by Bannel's Gate there was a wondrous sight as the "super" moon rose above Mickleover.
 Here is the best photograph that I could get of it.

The moon seemed so large, and I thought to myself  "Just imagine how large it will be by the time I get to Station Road".
Then I thought "Hang on a minute - it's a quarter of a million miles away, and getting a mile closer isn't going to make much difference".
Needless to say - it didn't.

"Moonrise over Mickleover" - what a wonderful title for a song.

Friday, 16 December 2016

The Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree which stands on the Mickleover Greenway about half a mile from Mickleover Station, grows naturally on the path-side verge and has been dressed by the general public for several years. It is now about six feet tall and each year carries more decoration. Also this year we see for the first time another tiny tree has sprung up nearby and this has also been dressed.