Seven weeks in and lockdown is eased. Slightly. For the last few weeks I've been restricting the pedalling. Not totally sure why, but the words of a trusted friend probably had a significant influence. The words of a trusted friend who just happens to be a respiratory consultant. “Stew, you really don't want to get this.” The same friend who advised against me going to an approaching respiratory outpatients appointment well before it was cancelled and replaced with a short chat over the phone. The same friend who suggested that it might be a good idea if I started social distancing before the term had entered the vocabulary of the general public. In short, I'd come to the conclusion that I really don't want to catch this thing.
Michael Gove's off the cuff remark of “about an hour” and the continual uttering of the mantra urging folks to avoid any unnecessary journeys seemed to resonate. In addition, I have to admit to feeling a little guilty that I could still go out to enjoy my sport/activity of choice whilst those who got their exercise from ploughing up and down a lane in their local swimming pool for an hour, or by chasing a leather sphere around a muddy field with twenty-one others or even from thwacking a small, dimpled white ball into a stream or pile of sand with a stick, were being deprived theirs.
So I decided that rides would be kept shortish and local. Even though they were not specifically outlawed there'd be no five hour, eighty milers for me. It didn't stop some grey-cell challenged individual, whose father and half-brother were probably one and the same, from shouting “F**k off home!” at me when I was less than two and a half miles from my front door and was doing exactly that. I excused his behaviour on the grounds that the third ear which sprouted from his forehead was probably interfering with his vision and so prevented him from seeing the Matlock CC top that I was sporting and that I therefore was at home.
Seven weeks in and lockdown is eased. Slightly. So it was time for a slightly longer ride. Over those seven weeks I had learnt a little more about the virus's mode of transmission and whilst still really not wanting to catch this thing felt that I could pedal a bit further, so I planned a route avoiding the centres of any villages and set off in the sunshine.
Five minutes of pedalling later and I stopped at the top of the moor to appreciate just how fortunate I am to have this sort of countryside to enjoy, so close to home, in these times. No worries about keeping two metres of seperation in a park for me. Then it's off down the other side where I appreciate something else. Whilst the middle of May can be sunny, the air can still be bloody freezing.
Skirting Parwich, it's a gentle climb up the dale to the A515. A short detour, a couple of minutes of not too sluggish pedalling along the unusually quiet main road, takes me to Bank House Farm – a bygone boozer. This one's been bygone for quite some time.
Sitting beside the main Ashbourne to Buxton road it was a former coaching inn which went by the name of the Dean of Hartington's Arms. The earliest that I can take it back to is 1829 when both the Pigot's and Glover's directories feaure it with Francis Newham in charge. He's still there at the time of the 1841 census and would therefore have been in residence when the Ordnance Survey called to map the area. The 1840 map shows the inn in place but it's labelled as the Dean of Arlington's Arms. The cartographer must've either been deaf or had trouble deciphering the Derbyshire dialect.
The 1851 census provides us with yet another name. Francis now finds himself at Bank Inn, but not for long as the Post Office directory published four years layer shows an R. Dain as the innkeeper, not at Bank Inn though, as it appears once more as the Dean of Hartington's Arms. But once again, not for long.
Whether or not the building was rebuilt or remodelled at sometime I don't know, but the crest that is featured on the porch is that of Thomas Bateman of Middleton Hall. It's dated 1856, which is around the time he acquired the property and it had its named changed once more. In 1857 it's now the Bateman's Arms and is still in the hands of R. Dain according to that year's edition of White's gazetteer.
In 1861 Ralph Dain is still there for the census, but there's no reference to the place being an inn, just Bank Farm. That 1857 White's entry is the last that I can find which gives any indication that it's operating as a hostelry.
No chance of a beer then, even outside lockdown days, so it's back to the ride. I had thought about joining the Tissington Trail for a bit but a brief count of the bodies using it persuaded me otherwise.
So it was a quick bypassing of Biggin, up Long Dale with its orchids and wheatears, Parsley Hay, back across the by now busier A515, along Long Rake by Arbor Low, down to the edge of Thomas Bateman's Middleton, passing that other bygone boozer that once bore his family's name and home. Not an eighty miler but a nice, enjoyable twenty. Perhaps the next one will be eighty, but I'm not banking on it.
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