Peak District cycling - general information
The Peak District covers much of Derbyshire and parts of Staffordshire, Cheshire and Yorkshire. There are many interesting features, such as wild flowers, well dressing, lead mining etc
Apart from mountain biking, the main centres for cycling are the trails set up along former railway tracks, plus the Upper Derwent Valley and the area around Carsington reservoir. There are six trails - the Longendale Trail, Sett Valley Trail, Monsal Trail, Tissington Trail, Manifold and Hamps Trail and High Peak Trail - ranging from the north of the Peak to its southern and eastern edges.
Longendale Trail provides a simple route along the valley with fine views but no pleasant or safe return route other than retracing your route along the trail.
The Sett Valley Trail runs from Hayfield to New Mills, along the route of the former railway. It is mostly fairly level cycling with some nice views, though much of the area is quite built-up.
The Monsal Trail has recently had £2.5 million spent on it to open it up fully for cycling - mainly opening up closed tunnels - and now makes a spectacular route along the Wye valley from Bakewell to a few miles east of Buxton. The best return route is along the trail itself. Cycle hire is available at Hassop Station (near Bakewell) and at Blackwell Mill (the Buxton end of the trail).
Tissington Trail is more interesting and quite a long trip from its northern end near Crowdecote to the southern terminus just north of Ashbourne. Cycle hire is available to the former stations at Parsley Hay (opposite the junction of the Youlgreave road with the A515) and Tissington and may also be found at Ashbourne and Thorpe village. It is also possible to make quite pleasant circuits from Biggin and Hartington (for example) using the trail as an outward route and returning along fairly quiet country lanes - something which is not always feasible elsewhere.
The High Peak Trail is perhaps the most interesting of the trails because this railway was not level but had several quite steep inclines, which now provide variety for the cyclist - even though you are advised not to cycle down them. It is also much less straight than other railways, with sharp curves which seem to give frequent changes of view. Cycle hire is available at Parsley Hay and Middleton Top.
To the west, the Manifold and Hamps Trail runs from Hulme End to Waterhouses, with cycle hire available at the old station in Waterhouses. Like the Tissington Trail, this offers possible round trips using the trail as the outward route and quiet country lanes for the return.
Further north, the Upper Derwent Valley is a popular venue for cyclists, with routes for both mountain bikers and other cyclists. A simple route from the Fairholmes centre up the valley following the small road alongside the reservoirs is a pleasant ride - especially on Sundays when most traffic is banned. A circuit of the reservoirs is also a fine excursion, but it is a long way and much of it is rough going on unmade roads and tracks, so it is best done on a mountain bike.
Finally, in the south of the region, the area around Carsington Reservoir offers good opportunities for cycle rides. There is a marked-out trail around the reservoir which follows a mixture of cycle ways and small roads. This is a fairly long ride (approximately 10 miles or 16 kilometres), but there are also plenty of opportunities for shorter rides in the area.
Maps required are the Ordnance Survey 1:50000 sheets 110, 118 and 119, or the White Peak and Dark Peak 1:25000 Outdoor Leisure series.
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