Cycling in the Peak District - day & multi day cycle routes
Cycling in the Peak District
21 routes in and around the National Park by Chiz Dakin
Guidebook to cycling in the Peak District National Park, on road or trail bike. 20 day routes and one multi-day cycle tour. Easily accessible from Sheffield and Manchester. Routes right across the park on quiet roads and off-road trails. All graded by distance, gradient, terrain and ascent from Easy to Hard. More...
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The Peak District, Britain’s first and best-loved national park has long been well known for walkers but now it is a popular cycling destination too. Its network of quiet lanes, gentle off-road trails and stunning upland views are perfect for two-wheeled exploration. This guidebook describes 20 varied day routes right across the park, suitable for a range of abilities, as well as a 3-5 day (255km) ‘Tour de Peak District’ circling the whole area and stopping at charming Derbyshire towns and villages.
The region has a great variety of trails available to the cyclist from easy-going trails that use former railway lines, to narrow, winding and often hilly country lanes, to bridleways and byways that use former turnpikes and jaggers’ paths over rougher terrain. Of course, there are occasions where the only route available to cyclists is on a busy A road – in these instances the quality of route; landscape around, width and nature of road are all taken into consideration as to whether the route justifies it. Every effort was made to ensure that A road sections are downhill, keeping time on them to an absolute minimum.
The routes in this guidebook are intended for anyone of average fitness or better. This is not a technical mountain biking guidebook; it uses many of the region’s quiet lanes, bridleways, byways and ancient paths. Riders will need traffic sense, as the routes do use open road, but most of the routes are suitable for families with older children who have mastered the rules of the road. Many of the routes in this guidebook make use of National Cycle Network routes which are often waymarked via signs on lampposts and other street furniture.
The routes have been subjectively graded Easy, Moderate and Hard.
Easy routes are relatively short (no more than 25km), not overly steep and don’t climb one hill after another (cumulative ascent no more than 400m). They don’t use A roads at all (although you may have to cross them). The terrain is suitable for anyone who has never ridden off-road before and they use trail-type surfaces as much as possible.
Moderate routes are longer (range between 18 to 50km), have steeper but not extremely steep ascents and more hills in general (still less than 1000m total ascent over the route); there are also steep downhill sections. Busier roads are tackled where needed to join up parts of a good circular route, and riders will encounter rougher terrain – expect some mud, loose stones, lumpy but solid surfaces or sandy patches. The rough patches won’t last too long, and (in dry conditions) the rough sections should not be unrideable to someone who has limited experience of off-road riding on surfaces other than easy-going trails.
Hard routes tend to be the longer routes in this guidebook (ranging from 35 to 60km) and rarely have less than 1000m of ascent over the route as a whole. Although they edge towards mountain biking in places, they are never out-and-out technical off-road challenges. They may contain sections that some cyclists will consider unrideable.
The Tour de Peak District deserves a category of its own. Although no stage is tougher than a ‘hard’ route, riders should not underestimate the cumulative effect of fatigue on a multi-day route if they have never attempted one.