Cycling the Monsal Trail

A few weeks ago I visited the Monsal Trail in The Peak District. It’s near Buxton and Bakewell and is well worth a visit if you are a cyclist or walker. The Trail is part of the old railway line that ran between London and Manchester. It was completed by Midland Railways in 1863 when the Monsal Viaduct was finished. For over 100 years the railway line remained open but it was eventually closed in 1968.

In 2011 the tunnels of the Monsal line were re-opened after being refurbished and now you can cycle or walk from Bakewell to Blackwell Mill near Buxton. There is a small car park at Blackwell Mill which gets very busy at weekends or you can park near the old Bakewell station where there is a bigger car park. You can hire cycles as well if you don’t want to take your own.

The Monsal Trail is fantastic for cycling. It’s flat and fairly wide although there are a lot of walkers that you will need to respect You will travel alongside the River Wye at times as well as through several tunnels so it’s a really entertaining cycle ride with plenty to see. The Monsal Trail cycle route is perfect for children and adults alike. You will, of course, have to cycle back the same way unless you can arrange for someone to pick you up at the other end.

Here are some photos that I took of The Monsal Trail on a very cloudy day.

Cycling the Leeds/Liverpool towpath

I love riding my bike along the canal tow path, especially when the weather is warm. Yesterday I did a bike ride and this morning I was up early and riding my bike by 09.00am. The weather was sunny and it was nice and cool. Perfect for riding.

These are some pictures I took on the Leeds/Liverpool canal on a beautiful warm and sunny day. Away from traffic and past some of Britains industrial heritage. Highly recommended !




My Top 10 Board Games of All Time

What could be better than playing a great board game with your family and friends. When I was a kid we used to play for hours and we always had a great laugh and I can also remember getting upset when I lost and I can also remember the buzz I got when playing Monopoly and I had a pile of money and loads of houses and hotels. Obviously I always tried to get a hotel on Mayfair but owning property on Mayfair, whilst good, did not always bring in the most cash when someone landed on it. Thats why if I could get houses or hotels on the “reds” I was happy as I always found that this brought in the most money for me !

I still play board games to this day and I think more families and friends should start playing. It’s much better than watching TV and you can have a great laugh and some serious fun by playing a board game. It brings families together and in these days when each member of the family tends to do their own thing playing a board game is a great way to get the family bond going again and spending some quality time together. Of course, Christmas is a good time to get the board games out if you are bored of all the Christmas repeats on TV.

Here are my all time favourite board games:

1. Monopoly

Monopoly is the absolute timeless family game. It’s a game about strategy, chance, luck and ultimately about greed.

Invented during the Great Depression in 1934, Monopoly has since been translated into 26 different languages and has sold over 200 million sets worldwide. It’s a small wonder that most people have grown up with Monopoly.

Monopoly, with its thrilling property-owning rules and objectives, is highly educational. For early Monopoly beginners of seven years, it encourages arithmetic skills. At the same time it teaches older players about money management, property management, basic economics, the art of negotiation and compromise (just how much are you prepared to trade for Mayfair). In many ways Monopoly also mirrors the lessons of life–chance and luck can throw even the best-laid plans astray, and if you ‘re not prepared to take the big risks you’re unlikely to be life’s big winner.

Yet Monopoly is also great fun and for some reason its simple rules don’t tire or become dull from repetition–truly the mark of a timeless classic.

The only significant downside to Monopoly is that the full game can be a very lengthy event easily lasting hours, but Monopoly will probably be the most played board game you will ever own.

2. Trivial Pursuit

Trivial Pursuit is a classic board. Answer trivia questions on general knowledge, sport, history, geography and many other categories. The game is suitable for between 2 and 36 players so you can have great fun with the board game. You may even suprise yourself with how much trivial information you actually know!

3. Pictionary

I last played Pictionary last New Years Eve. We started about 1am and finished about 3am. Pictionary is the game where your pencil does the talking. You and your team try to guess words by sketching clues to each other. It could be a place, a person, something you do, something easy, something hard. Its a race against the clock as you try and sketch what you want them to say, or scribble it down in a series of clues – tease it out until they shriek it out ! This is a great game for a laugh and is guaranteed to get everyone involved.

4. Scrabble

I started playing Scrabble many years ago and its a game that once you are into it is a really good game. Of course, you will get your oponent trying to invent a word that does not really exist so have a dictionary to hand to avoid any dispute! This game is probably for those people who like doing crosswords and such things but anybody can play and its really good fun.

5. Deal or No Deal

I first played this newcomer to board games about 2 years ago and I was really impressed. It’s part gameshow, part psychological thriller. Who can stay in the game down to the last two boxes? Who will succumb to the lure of the Banker’s crafty offers? Who’s got the bottle to go to the wire?

If you’re a fan (and currently up to 4 million or more viewers tune in to Channel 4 every weekday – and Saturday evenings as well) you’ll know that every day 22 expectant contestants pair up with 22 sealed boxes, each containing a sum between 1p and the top prize of £250,000. Then one player is chosen – he or she carefully selects one box at a time, to reveal and eliminate a cash prize until all but two are left. The tension mounts as the sums are struck off the scoreboard. During the game, the Banker rings the telephone on host Noel Edmonds’ desk and makes an offer to buy the player’s own box. Will the player gamble that their box contains a higher amount? Will it be ‘Deal or No Deal’? !

6. Risk

This is a fantastic game. It must be the board game of all board games. Risk is good because it involves skill and strategy rather than just luck. Do you want to conquer the world ? If so this is the game for you! Beware though, it can be a long game. A game of world domination, where the object is to conquer the world. To win, you must attack and defend attacking to acquire territory, and defending to keep it from you opponents. The game board features a map of six continents divided into 42 territories. It’s a game of strategy as you battle to win by launching daring attacks, defending your territory, and moving across continents with your cunning plan! This is a must have game. It’s fantastic !

7. Cluedo

Cluedo is another classic boardgame. I think it’s about 50 years old and I can remember playing Cluedo with my sister when I was about 10 years old. (I always used to win!) The game has thrown off some well known catch phrases such as “Was it Colonel Mustard in the Conservatory with the Revolver?” Its a game of chance but also skill because through a process of elimination you try wo work out who commited the murder ! Cluedo is gear fun for all ages.

8. Chess

If you are stuck in a log cabin on a freezing night with nothing else to do and there is only two of you and you really are stuck for something to do ! …then Chess could be the answer. I honestly think that everybody should know how to play Chess. I learn when I was about 12 years old. Nowadays I rarely play although I sometimes do play against the computer. Chess is included in Windows Vista. Chess, of course is the ultimate game of strategy. It is not a difficult game to learn but it is a difficult game to play well. Try Chess for yourself. You will be pleased you learnt how to play !