A frosty weekend in November welcomed our first Love Trails Family Trip - a weekend in the heart of the Peak District National Park, and the dramatic hills of the Dark Peak. Despite Derbyshire making headline news due to high flooding and severe weather warnings, eighteen adventurous souls turned up to the picturesque village of Castleton, our sleeping bags and trail shoes in tow.
We were welcomed in the cozy setting of the Adventure Pedlars bunkhouse owned by long distance mountain bike legends Alice and Pete McNeil (well known for their 2 year honeymoon cycle trip to New Zealand. Read all about it here!). Complete with an eight bed dorm, a garage full of fat bikes, and an outdoor area fit for two bell tents and a BBQ, the Adventure Bunkhouse formed the perfect setting for a weekend of muddy activities.
First up on the agenda was a welcome meal in the local pub, sitting by the fire with a pint of Moonshine under low lying beams, we shared stories of our journey to get here, many of us battling the floods and delayed trains to make the trip. After a hearty meal including a glass of questionable mulled wine and a free minced pie, we headed back to the Adventure Bunkhouse for our first night under the canvas. Whilst those in the cozy top floor of the bunkhouse had a warm and pleasant nights sleep, the hardy campers snuggled into a frosty sleep, when even two sleeping bags and a hat wasn't going to keep the cold out!
On Saturday morning we woke to the rising sun and cold Autumn air, threw on our trail running shoes and headed out onto the hills for our first guided trail run. After a steep ascent up Cave Dale, a deep limestone valley leading up above Castleton, we ran through rolling green fields, down muddy farm tracks, and arrived at a deep disused quarry with a fresh blue pool still at the bottom - perfect for a wild swim! Not even the two degree air temperature could stop us wading in wearing our bobble hats and embracing a one minute dip in the cold waters. It was a very, very cold breath of fresh air.
After a hearty breakfast in the National Park cafe, we swapped our trail shoes for two wheels and headed out on a mountain biking adventure through the Peak District. Lead by Pete, Adam, and Karen, the Adventure Pedlars team lead us along single tracks, deep fjords, up muddy trails and over rolling hills. We were a mixed group, but what we lacked in mountain biking ability we made up in fitness and were able to stick together, splashing around in the water and sharing biscuits in the mud.
We travelled 22km, suffered one smashed knee, one puncture, countless stuck wheels, but it was smiles all round when we arrived back at the bunkhouse, tired but happy after a different type of trail adventure.
As the night began to creep in, it was time for one more activity before food, and a small group of us donned our SILVA head torches and set off for a night run up Loose Hill. Making our way up the steep climb, the twinkling lights of the Hope Valley below us, we pressed on up, Skipper the dog guiding the way up to the summit at 476m standing high above Castleton and Hope, and the Edale Valley.
What's special about the Love Trails Family trips is the small intimate group. With a group of eighteen, you really get to know and connect with people over the weekend, creating a unique and friendly atmosphere. As we sat round the fire under the canopy, we listened to Pete tell his inspiring story of the Silk Road Mountain Bike Race. As the fire crackled you could make out people's faces transfixed on his story, taking in every word and feeling the warmth of the fire. Pete's story was one of adventure, endurance and resilience, as he gave an insight into what's it like to take part in a long distance mountain bike race, and the challenge of completing the longest bike race in the world through Kyrgyzstan.
The night wouldn't have been complete without another trip to the pub, so we finished off our day with a pint by the fire in the Peak Hotel.
Next morning we were up before the sun at 06:15 to enjoy another run up Loose Hill to catch the sunrise. We were welcomed with the most magnificent view of the Dark Peak, with snow capped mountains in the North and the orange hazy sun rising in the East.
Watching the sunrise from the summit of Loose Hill was perfect. We could see for miles across the Dark and White Peak and with the low lying cloud it made for an amazing light show of orange! We soaked it all in then took the Mam Tor Ridge and down into Castleton, finishing our last run of the weekend.
With tired legs, the group headed to the village of Hope, for a restorative yoga class with Alice McNeil. Alice is a yoga teacher, physio and mindfulness teacher with a background in outdoor learning and adventure. Alice's class was the perfect restorative way to end the weekend of adventure.
We hope to see you all at one of our Love Trails Family trips! Our next trip is to the far flung Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in April 2020, for something a little different and extra-ordinary. Watch this space!
See you on the trails!
Team LTF x