Sunny Sheldon.

Sunshine again. Knee's settled down again. Let's go out again.


At a couple of minutes after nine, having left just enough time for the breakfast to settle, it's up over the moor we go. Along the Via Gellia to Newhaven, a zig onto the A515 and a zag off it again followed by a cooling descent through Biggin. At the T-junction just beyond the Waterloo it's a right and up to a deserted Heathcote Mere. Not even a coot in sight.


Heathcote Mere.

Down again, and across Hand Dale, before the gradual ascent of Long Dale into the teeth of the inevitable headwind. The must be something peculiar about this dale's topography, for no matter what the time of day or season of the year it's always a headwind when pedalling up Long Dale. Always! Each time I've ridden down it it's been into a headwind as well. It must have truly strange topography.


A sunny, but breezy, Long Dale.

On over the gonad-rattling, acned asphalt outside Custard Field Farm - what a great name - and as we are about to turn out of the dale we are passed by four lads from Dronfield's Fusion CC, all in short sleeves. It may be July but this wind is COLD and there's a lot of it. I'm in long sleeves, two layers of long sleeves, and I'm just warm enough. I can only put it down to the hardiness of youth.

As we pass under the High Peak Trail the sound that the country is returning to normal becomes obvious. The drone from the A515, which has been almost empty on a Sunday morning of late, is audible from a way away. We find a gap in the traffic and with another zig and zag we're pedalling past the council's grit dump – nice to see that they're getting prepared for winter – en route for Monyash where there's further evidence of the nation's awakening. Plenty of bikers, both petrol and pedal-powered, are sitting outside the Old Smithy cafe soaking up the sun's rays, if not its warmth.


No stopping for us, I'm still supposedly shielding, so it's on past the Old Bay Horse (I'm still working on that one), skirting Flagg to arrive in the old lead mining village of Sheldon. Evidence of the influence of Cornish miners in the area remains with names like Wheal Lane, Wheal Farm and Over Wheal. Perhaps some of them quenched their thirsts in the former Devonshire Arms.


The former Devonshire Arms.

The Devonshire Arms was a typical farmhouse pub and was run by at least four generations of the Gyte family. The earliest record of it that I've come across so far is in Glover's 1829 directory which names the pub and one Thomas Gyte as the victualler living there. He continues to reappear in directories and censuses, sometimes a farmer, sometimes a publican, sometimes both, before he joins his wife Mary in the churchyard in Chelmorton, aged 86, in 1865.


After Thomas came Thomas. Thomas junior poured the pints and cared for the cows until his own demise in 1878 when his brother Anthony, along with wife Louisa, took over. Anthony only lasted in the job for five years, but Louisa continued without him for another decade.


Upon the death of Louisa her son, also Anthony, became at least the third generation of the Gyte family to run the pub and farm and he's at the reins from 1893 until he dies in 1945.


The place looked much the same in Anthony's day.

The pub itself died in 1972 when his daughters called time for the very last time and stopped serving customers in their front room, leaving Sheldon publess. However, it's not publess today as in 1995 the barn next door was converted into a pub and it is hard to tell that it's not a genuine 18th century inn.


The Cock and Pullet with the former Devonshire Arms to the right.

And speaking of next door, it's my next-door neighbour's brother who's currently running it. Closed today, but the Cock and Pullet will be reopening, post-Covid, next weekend. Another sign that things might be returning to normal.

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