Fog. That's right, fog. On what was billed to be the hottest day of the year so far we awoke to fog. Still, never mind. A-pedalling we will go anyway.
The plan was to go through Hartington, Warslow, up to the Mermaid, along Morridge, drop into Butterton, return to Hartington then home via Long Dale, Parsley Hay and Long Rake.
Breakfast and a couple of coffees saw away the fog but it was still a bit hazy as we hit Hartington, passing the Red Lion and Royal Oak, previously described here and stopping briefly to get rid of the coffees and to top up our water bottles in case the meteorologist's threat did come true.
The climb out of Warslow seemed easy enough and before we knew it we had arrived at the Mermaid. Theoretically it is in Thorncliffe, but in reality it's in the middle of nowhere. A former coaching inn, built in 1638 as Blekemere House it was an inn by at least 1851. Presumably it was named after the mermaid that is supposed to inhabit the nearby Bleke/Blake/Blackmere. Seems that you just pay your money and pick whichever name you choose.
I drank in here on occasions in my student days when I'd venture to the Peak District to climb on the Roches and Hen Cloud, foolishly believing that gritstone might make a pleasant change from the rhyolite of Snowdonia. I have to agree that it was a change, but I recall having a massive mental meltdown near the top of one of those pieces of Staffordshire Shitstone. Pleasant? Let's just say that it was one of the occasions when I offered to give away all of my climbing gear to anybody who'd like it.
But I digress. The Mermaid Inn had stopped serving, Robinson's I believe, by 2012 and is now self-catering holiday accommodation.
From the Mermaid it was along Morridge...
...and then down into Butterton.
There wasn't as much water in the ford as I'd thought there might be, but still enough to take the dry, higher route.
I thought that here we'd be passing another bygone boozer as Butterton's Black Lion was shut last time I cycled through and I believed that it might've been gone for good. However, some good news. Today was to be its first day of reopening after refurbishment. The bad news was we were too early to sample its wares.
Deprived of the opportunity to rehydrate in Butterton it was on to Hulme End for some caffeine and then reversing our tracks through Hartington and on into Long Dale. For once there seemed to be a bit of wind assistance up here, which was pleasant. As was the sudden lack of people. I really like Long Dale. With my bladder not needing to stop at Parsley Hay it was on to Long Rake, down into Middleton, past the former Bateman Arms and home. Home to a power cut, so I suppose that shower will have to wait. Still, forty sunny miles, over 3,000' of climbing and one non-bygone boozer. Not a bad day overall.