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New Mills, Saturday 8 December 2012

February 9, 2013
“No Frills, Handy for the Hills, That’s the way you spell New Mills”
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
P1000490We awake to scenes of tundra as far as the eye can see, and  rumours that the main road to Glossop  has been closed.  Undaunted, we embark on the day’s work – a mere 20 miles across the moors.  The initial plan to start off on a disused stretch of railway line is abandoned in the name of good sense, and we stick instead to main roads.  Just before Dunford Bridge we pass an electricity substation where, heedful of the public information films of the late seventies and early eighties, we decide not to have a game of frisbee.
At the junction with the main A628, a fellow wheelman, who’d managed to tackle the Glossop road that morning despite its apparent closure, informs us that this main road is open and free of ice, so we have a speedy descent off the moors, marred only by the proximity and velocity of a series of large trucks, one of which, from Romania, has a good go at killing all of us in turn.
At the western edge of the moors is Hadfield, where they filmed ‘The League of Gentlemen’.  It’s every bit as sinister as Royston Vasey.   We don’t have much luck on spotting Little Don’s Roundabout Zoo, although there is a butcher that looks like they’d sort us out with some of the special stuff.
For some reason, there’s a Dolly Parton-themed café here, where we stop for lunch, fortunately avoiding the Royston café (hygiene rating = “Major improvement necessary”)
Hogging the comfy sofas and eating large slabs of cake (not Dolly-Parton themed in any obvious way), we observe the locals with interest, particularly a man who looks like he’s come here to celebrate his 137th birthday and has the thickest, most incomprehensible Derbyshire accent we’ve ever heard. A local cafe for local people
The staff take everything in their stride.  There’s a tense moment when a customer comes in and asks for a tuna and sweetcorn bap – an item which she should have realised isn’t on the menu.  But unlike the man who works in the 24-hour garage, the waitress a model of helpfulness:  “Well we’ve got tuna, and we’ve got sweetcorn, so I’m sure we can do tuna and sweetcorn!” she says, displaying the can-do spirit that will surely pull this country out of recession.
One consonant down the road is Hayfield where, much preferring some Arthur Lowe to some Arthur Lee, we make a pilgrimage to the Blue Plaque that marks the birthplace of Captain Mainwaring and adeptly perform the famous “Don’t tell him Pike!” scene.
We resist the temptation to deface a nearby sign that says “Children’s Christmas Party – All Welcome!” by adding “Not you, Stuart Hall!” before a quick drink at the Kinder Lodge,   where we overhear a child saying he’s just been up his nan’s chimney. It’s good to learn that common sense Victorian values still hold sway in many parts of Broken Britain.
Don't tell him, Pike!
As the evening sun goes down, we’re nearly at our next placename. Dropping our bags off at the Waltzing Weasel, which is en route, we proceed to New Mills.  Handy for the hills it may be, but it appears to lack any other features of merit, and it’s dark and raining, so we turn our steeds round and return to the Weasel. I have a bath in my large room while musing on the remarkable news that Arsenal have won a game of football.  Then we drink Scotch in large, comfortable chairs, exchanging stories about HMHB and cycling like retired colonels, before an equally large, comfortable dinner.

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