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Two by Two.

Sunshine. Warmth. Where's it to be then? Shops and cafés are still shut so there's a limit imposed on distance. And not only by the supplies that can be carried but also by the state of the legs. Miles have been rather limited so far this year.

South. Let's go south. Haven't been south for ages. So it was down Brassington hill, round Carsington Water and through to the edge of Kirk Ireton. I'm still trying to avoid passing through places of habitation so I'll have to wait a little longer before I return to investigate the bygone pair of the Bull's Head and the Wheatsheaf.

Trees. Hedges. Haven't seen hedges for ages. Pedalling north through the dales of Derbyshire all I've seen around the perimeter of the pastures have been dry stone walls and the only trees have been stunted hawthorns. Now the vistas were giving oak, ash, sycamore...

and hedges.

Look! Hedges.

Down to the main road, turn right and in a couple of minutes turn off it again and head up through Shottle. The legs are beginning to notice their lack of miles as I pass a house called The Chequers. Hmmm? I'm on Chequer Lane. A bygone boozer perhaps. Something to look into later.

Up to Alport Heights and a short break to admire the view. The legs have no need of a rest, you understand. The view just has to be admired. Admiration over, banana and homemade flapjack munched, and it's crack on to Wirksworth Moor where the Noah's Ark used to supply thirsty travellers such as me with the odd beer or two. If only...

The former Noah's Ark Inn, Wirksworth Moor.

Bagshaw's guide informs us that Joseph Jackson was supplying thirsty folks with their beers in 1846 and the census five years later tells us that Joseph was also a stone mason. The last record that I can find of it being a beerhouse is the 1901 census with Francis Butler, farmer and beerhouse keeper in residence. Francis died in 1907, so perhaps the Ark sank then too.

If so, it didn't sink without trace as there are mentions of it as an address, for example Gertrude Gould can be found as a shopkeeper at Noah's Ark but I've found nothing to suggest that it was operating as a boozer after Francis's demise.

On past the still operating Malt Shovel and down through Bolehill to the main road. At the T-junction at Steeple Grange used to be the Railway Inn. To be totally accurate, the Cromford & High Peak Railway Inn, or at least that was how it started out.

The former Railway Inn, Steeple Grange, Wirksworth.

I've seen reports that the inn was built by the Arkwright family and that the 1821 edition of Pigot's directory gives Joshua Weston at the Cromford & High Peak Railway Inn. If correct, someone must've been quite a visionary, for the Cromford and High Peak Railway wasn't given the go-ahead by parliament until 1825 and wasn't completed until 1831.

I have seen the 1829 edition of Glover which shows that Joshua is still there. He's there in 1835 too, but by the time that Pigot produce their 1842 guide the inn has entered the hands of the the Houseley/Howsley family and they're there for seven decades. James was first, followed by his widow Ann, then son William and finally his widow Dora. The 1912 Kelly directory shows Dora still being there and that's the last mention of it as aboozer that I can find. It's a farm by the 1920s.

The Railway Inn at the time of Dora Howsley.

Onwards across Carsington Pastures, onto the High Peak Trail for a few flat miles, getting off by the old Jug & Glass at Longcliffe, and home for a shower, food and a nice cool bottle of Hot Frankenstein Porter. I'll probably have a bit more to say about that sometime later.

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