Cycling in the Peak District
21 routes in and around the National Park
By Chiz Dakin
Guide to cycling in and around the Peak District National Park, on road or trail bike. 20 day routes and one multi-day cycle tour of the Peak District. All easily accessible from Sheffield and Manchester with routes starting from charming Derbyshire towns such as Ashbourne, Matlock, Bakewell and Buxton. Includes route profiles and 1:100000 mapping.
SeasonsBest in the drier months - later spring to mid-autumn; difficulty grades and route description all assume dry conditions
CentresMacclesfield, Middlewood, Ashbourne, Waterhouses, Leek, Tideswell, Bamford, Buxton, Whaley Bridge, Marsden, Holmfirth, Penistone
DifficultyRoutes are graded from easy to hard taking account of distance, hills, terrain and A-road riding. While technical mountain-bike skills are not essential, some short sections of easy to moderately-technical off-road may be encountered. For moderate and harder routes, there are road alternatives for all of these off-road sections, and you can choose which option best suits your individual preferences (and bike!) on a section by section basis. Average fitness and reasonable road-confidence is required.
Must SeeA gentle short route around the canals and bridleways of Chesterfield; a moderate ride along Morridge; a tough ascent of the old Mam Tor road then on tracks over Shatton Moor; the 5-day Tour de Peak District
The scenic Peak District boasts an abundance of country lanes, tracks, towpaths and railway trails that are perfect for two-wheeled exploration. This guidebook presents 20 graded day rides in the national park, along with a challenging 250km route, the 5-day 'Tour de Peak District'. With a focus on quiet lanes, gratifying downhills and not overly technical bridleways, tracks and trails, the routes are ideal for gravel/adventure bikes (or hybrid/cross), though an alternative route option for road bikes is given for all off-road sections on moderate or harder routes.
Each ride features step-by-step route description accompanied by 1:100,000 mapping. Overview stats are provided to aid route selection, along with details of refreshments, parking facilities and cycle hire, and full accommodation listings for the Tour de Peak District. The guide also includes tips for cycling the routes and advice for novices.
Easily accessible from Sheffield, Manchester, Huddersfield and Stoke-on-Trent, the Peak District is famed for its big skies and rolling moors. These carefully chosen routes showcase some of its best bits, from the picturesque Derwent Reservoir (particularly resplendent in autumn) to wide views from the old Mam Tor road. With rides to suit most abilities, what further inspiration do you need to discover this beautiful area?
Plants and flowers
Art, culture and local festivities
When to go
Food and drink
Bike setup/choice of bike
What to wear
What to take
Waymarking and access
Emergencies and first aid
Using this guide
Route 1 Ashopton loop via Derwent Reservoir
Route 1a Ladybower west and Thornhill extensions
Route 2 Rail Trails loop from Friden
Route 3 Chesterfield loop via Transpennine Trail
Route 4 Carsington Reservoir loop
Route 5 Middlewood loop via Lyme Park
Route 6 Ashbourne loop via Hognaston
Route 7 Chesterfield loop via Holymoorside and Leash Fen
Route 8 Tissington loop via Elton
Route 9 Wirksworth loop via Hartington
Route 10 Bakewell loop via Hartington
Route 11 Buxton loop via Bakewell (White Peak loop)
Route 12 Waterhouses loop via Morridge and Longnor
Route 13 Penistone loop via Holmfirth
Route 14 Tideswell loop via Peak Forest
Route 15 Leek loop via the Roaches
Route 16 Grindleford loop via Edale
Route 17 Tideswell loop via Mam Tor
Route 18 Middlewood loop via Pym Chair
Route 19 Marsden loop via Saddleworth Moor
Route 20 Macclesfield loop via the Roaches
Tour de Peak District
Day 1 Matlock to Dungworth
Day 2 Dungworth to Marsden
Day 3 Marsden to New Mills (main route)
Day 3a Marsden to Whaley Bridge (road route)
Day 4 New Mills (or Whaley Bridge) to Blackshaw Moor
Day 5 Blackshaw Moor to Matlock
Appendix A Route summary table and distance chart
Appendix B TdPD facilities table
Appendix C Accommodation on the TdPD
Appendix D Cycle maintenance
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The early bit of the Matlock to Rowsley link has finally opened! Info here https://www.peakimages.co.uk/cycling/new-matlock-to-rowsley-cyclepath-changes-start-of-tdpd-route/.
With a cycling guide to the Cotswolds and a guide to outdoor photography (the latter with Jon Sparks - himself author of the Cicerone guide to the Lancashire Cycle Way), you’d expect a guide that offers a lot - even to a cyclist, such as I, who thinks they know the Peak District. I haven’t been disappointed and I doubt if you will be either. This is a guide that not only offers great routes into places off the beaten track, but gives fascinating insights along the way.
The routes utilise lanes and track wherever possible - short sections of main road are inevitable, (there is even a warning about a short section on route nineteen) - including elements of the famous, and growing, network of former railway tracks. The author offers a very good grading system for each ride - though all are aimed at riders of moderate fitness or better. Equally, it is well-worth reading the detail of each route and the initial general advice on “what bike” before setting off. Road bike alternatives are shown on the maps and described in the text. There are elements of easy technical mountain-biking on some routes, whist others can be completed on a performance road bike. A tourer would be ideal for most, but, remember descents can be as tough as ascents. In the photographs, you’ll see a variety of machines. Don’t worry too much, just read the guide and decide what suits you best. A bit of a walk is not always such a bad thing for the leisure or touring cyclist! By the way, the advice on crossing the ford at Bradbourne is excellent. Narrow road tyres are best kept for the bridge, in my opinion - so speaks the voice of experience!
Although we now associate the Peak District with beautiful scenery and tourists, the routes take you away from the crowds and into the nooks and corners rarely seen by the hordes. With routes ranging from 8 miles to the full tour - and a variety of options, this guide will take you somewhere new - even if you have climbed many Peak District hills already.
Steve, Seven Day Cyclist
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Chiz Dakin's cycle touring adventures almost happened by accident, when after a local photography trip by bike she realised that she'd done 50 miles in a single day with a reasonably heavy load. This led to the disconnected logic that if she could do that once, she was now ready to tackle multi-day cycle touring, and two weeks later set out on the Land's End to John o' Groats route.
Since then she's done several other multi-day trips including a pioneering Welsh coast cycle route (600 miles and 16km of ascent) but still maintains that you don't need to be seriously fit or fast to enjoy long multi-day routes. (She certainly makes no claim to being either!) She has also recently won an award for her photography.
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