I’m afraid it’s not the Yorkshire Dales this time. It’s two Staffordshire valleys, Apedale and Silverdale, once busy coalmining centres and now transformed into country parks. We once lived in the nearby village of Miles Green, when Apedale was a large opencast mine and Silverdale still a working deep colliery.
This is a short loop, all off-road, to have a look at how the areas have turned out. Apedale has a visitor’s centre with mining museum, trips down the pit and even a tiny narrow-gauge railway:
Heading towards Newcastle it is quite hard to believe that you are only a mile or so from the town centre:
To my surprise I came across a newly built bike and pedestrian path that leads from the valley to the new industrial estate at Chesterton, with a branch to Knutton.
No sooner had I been admiring the new facilities than I was reminded how some of the locals treat their amenities…
The Bike path into Newcastle is pretty good except for this strange junction with a busy road where there is not so much as a pedestrian crossing:
Can anyone explain why there has to be an End of Cycle Route sign followed immediately by a Start of Cycleroute one?
A little further on I turned right near the new Newcastle College and got onto the Bike Path to Silverdale, emerging behind rows of miners’ cottages.
The Church in Silverdale is a sad sight, because it has to be protected by high fences and closed-circuit cameras.
The actual site of Silverdale Colliery is now a housing development. Although many of these are small and presumably social housing, I did wonder how many of the former miners who were made redundant would be moving in here.
A new track leads up past one of the last remaining signs that this was a mining area, some sort of gas flue. In the background are fenced-off toxic pools with warning signs against swimming.
No sane person would swim in here, but somebody has decided to take no chances and put in lifebelts anyway:
The track leads through the brand new Silverdale Country Park. Half way up I wondered about the odd green plastic fencing:
The answer appeared a few minutes later:
You emerge on Black Bank Road, where you cross back into Apedale Country Park. For some reason these gates were all locked and I had to lift my bike over.
Apedale has a magnificent viewpoint with a mining wheel memorial:
There is also a ring of wooden uprights resembling a neolithic stone circle, but each pillar has a hole drilled aiming at a distant view. Whoever dreamt this up is a genius.
This whole ride was only five miles, all off road, and with lots of interest all the way. The map of the route complete with 3-d fly-over can be found here.