I was expecting a noisy night but everything went quiet around 23:00. I still didn’t get much sleep, the ground was hard and I kept slipping down the tent. The rain started at 06:30 so we had to breakfast in the tent and pack up in the wet, departing at 09:15. Lovely quiet roads and lush woodland around Dimmingsdale and we paused for coffee at the Ramblers Retreat. Soon after, we were caught up in the traffic queues for Alton Towers as we took a wrong turning and ended up at the main entrance. We had to turn round and drop back to the valley, where an abandoned railway station lay by the trackbed of the Churnet Valley line. A section further north has been preserved as the Churnet Valley Railway – it’s a friendly little railway and well worth a visit, but what a pity the original line was closed.
We climbed up the other side through the pretty village of Alton as the motor traffic came the other way from the motorway to the theme park. Away from this madness, the countryside was very pleasant, undulating farmland and woodland but the mist and rain restricted visibility. It was not a day for a picnic so we stopped for a pub lunch and Jennings Cumberland Ale in Hilton. After that we were back out into the wet and bisected Derby and Burton on minor roads, passing through Repton, home of the famous public school.
Around Melbourne we saw lots of motorcyclists and then encountered a long queue and traffic control – there was a big motorbike event at Castle Donington. This was an unpleasant interlude and the racket gave me a headache, we eventually shook them off and after a spell of quiet minor roads we finished off with a head down plod along the A6006 into the wind to Melton Mowbray. We didn’t see any B&B signs in the town so tried two hotels which were both full. Luckily the Sysonby Knoll on the edge of town had two rooms and space for our bikes so we booked in. We enjoyed dinner in the hotel which also served Beaver Ale from the nearby Belvoir Brewery, very welcome after a long day in the rain.