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Cycling in the Peak District - day & multi day cycle routes - a Cicerone guidebook

Cover of Cycling in the Peak District
Temporarily out of stock
15 Feb 2011
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.5cm
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Cycling in the Peak District

21 routes in and around the National Park

by Chiz Dakin
Book published by Cicerone Press

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.

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Size: 17.2 x 11.6 x 1.5cm
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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.

  • Seasons
    Best time in the drier months - later spring to mid-autumn; routes all assume dry conditions under wheel
  • Centres
    Macclesfield/Middlewood, Ashbourne/Waterhouses/Leek, Tideswell/Bamford, Buxton/Whaley Bridge, Marsden/Holmfirth/Penistone
  • Difficulty
    routes graded from Easy to Hard with factors such as distance, hills and main road usage affecting the overall grade; none of the routes require technical MTB skills but not all are suitable for road bikes or novice off-road riders; average fitness and reasonable road-confidence is required
  • Must See
    routes from a gentle short route around the canals and bridleways of Chesterfield to a moderate one along Morridge or a tougher one up the old Mam Tor road and on tracks over Shatton Moor; the 5-day Tour de Peak District


July 2011

Chesterfield Canal (Route 1)

Works on the canal basin have closed part of the route around Staveley for several months over 2011. These works are likely to last up until December 2011, and are currently (1 July) not signposted at all from the eastern side of the works, so check the Sustrans site for the diversion map  before you set out!

The additional diversion from Constitution Hill is likely to last until the end of August 2011. Both are promised to be open earlier if possible, but that is not guaranteed.

The areas affected are from Huntsman Road (turn left just after you pass the fire station just before the toucan crossing) to the bridge at Mill Green. Turn right at the end, then left onto High Street. While the secondary works at the bottom of Constitution Hill are ongoing, the diversion map on the TPT website is INCORRECT – as that often closes the footpath down Constitution Hill which is marked as the recommended route. So instead, continue down High Street to reach Morrisons. Turn right towards this, past the medical centre, then left off an access road onto a narrow dead-end road (Mill Green, signposted TPT, but it's easy to miss!) which leads to a bridge over the canal. Cross this and rejoin the route back to Chesterfield station.

May 2011

Monsal Trail Updates: (Route 15 Buxton to Bakewell loop)

The planned re-opening of the four abandoned railway tunnels (Headstone, Cressbrook, Litton, Chee Tor) went ahead yesterday (25 May 2011), meaning that the Monsal Trail now runs from Bakewell to WyeDale (just west of Chee Tor). This means that the new route can now be used, and the awkward descent and footpath across the river at Littondale on the interim route is no longer needed.

Cycle Hire Updates:

Trail Monkeys of Bradwell (routes 5, 14, 16, 17) has closed

Peak Blackwell Mill Cycle Hire have opened at the western end of the Monsal Trail (Route 15) at Wye Dale, extending the offerings of the long-standing Lazy Days tuck shop to include cycle hire and welcome refreshments at the western end of the trail.

Hassop station (listed in the book) is now fully up and running with a busy cycle hire base, thriving cafe, and bookshop.


Plants and flowers
Art, culture and local festivities
Getting there
Getting around
When to go
Food and drink
What to wear
What to take
Emergencies and first aid
Waymarking and access
Using this guide
The Routes
1 Chesterfield Loop via Transpennine Trail
2 Carsington Reservoir Loop
3 Ashopton Loop via Derwent Reservoir
4 Middlewood Loop via Lyme Park
5 Bamford Loop via Ladybower Reservoir
6 Ashbourne Loop via Hognaston
7 Chesterfield Loop via Holymoorside and Leash Fen
8 Tissington Loop via Elton
9 Wirksworth Loop via Hartington
10 Bakewell Loop via Hartington
11 Leek Loop via the Roaches
12 Waterhouses Loop via Morridge and Longnor
13 Penistone Loop via Holmfirth
14 Tideswell Loop via Peak Forest
15 Buxton Loop via Bakewell
16 Grindleford Loop via Edale
17 Bamford Loop via Mam Tor
18 Middlewood Loop via Pym Chair
19 Marsden Loop via Saddleworth Moor
20 Macclesfield Loop via the Roaches
21 Tour de Peak District
Day 1 Matlock to Dungworth
Day 2 Dungworth to Marsden
Day 3 Marsden to Whaley Bridge
Day 4 Whaley Bridge to Blackshaw Moor
Day 5 Blackshaw Moor to Matlock
Appendix A Cycle hire
Appendix B Cycles and trains
Appendix C Car parking
Appendix D Repair guide
Appendix E Route summary table
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