Having taken the estate car with us, myself and my partner in lycra-clad crime were able to get both bikes safely inside the car for the week and it helped teach me a thing or two on packing lightly… Well, lighter than I usually do anyway haha. (Not much room left in a car when full of mountain bikes!)
The first bike ride we did was easy and not too long, taking us back down memory lane of walking part of the trail one Xmas a few years previously. We did The Monsal Trail, which follows an old steam train line through the Wye Valley and heads from Topley Pike (just east of Buxton) to
It’s a perfect ride for anybody, especially families as the tunnels are exciting for the kids (big AND small!) and there are lots of old train stations, outbuildings and platforms along the way, it can be walked or cycled, it’s very popular indeed with dog walkers. This particular trail is approx 9 miles each way (just over 18 miles in total) with lots of panoramic views along the trail, minding the path edges as you go, as some very steep hills below you… Not sure the grazing sheep and cows would appreciate being disturbed by unannounced offroading ; )
Take a picnic and enjoy a stop along many of the points of interest along this route, or stop at Bakewell and enjoy something from there many different places to eat.
Not forgetting Bakewell is also home to the infamous Bakewell Pudding. It’s similar to the more famous Bakewell Tart, however it’s much more dense and buttery, too fatty & stodgy even for a queen of the sweet stuff. I tried some the last time I was in the area and it wasn’t as nice as I had imagined, but maybe I just ate too much at that time.. More than likely!
The next bike ride we did was the Upper Derwent Valley Reservoirs Circuit, starting in Fairholmes which is where the RAF’s Dambusters practiced their low level flying techniques during 1943. It was a very interesting place to ride and I enjoyed learning a thing or two about this historic British landmark.
The loop is 14 miles, give or take, with a real mix of terrain to keep it exciting and energetic throughout. It is a circular and starts off along a road, so must be wary of cars as you go, although it is closed off to traffic during peak times I believe. You start the ride along the dam, up hills to the top of the walls and you can get some pretty dramatic views straight down this huge feature (careful not to drop your camera in the water whilst stopping for the obligatory photos ; ) before heading off around the upper reservoirs, enjoying some ups and downs along the road as you go. You can’t help but smile at the scenery, it’s stunning, especially at this time of year, autumnal colours in the forests and woodland surrounding you, mini waterfalls with clear water, it’s simply gorgeous.
You can even extend the ride with Ladybower, should you wish, however as we got back towards the car park, the heavens opened and we decided to call it a day, heading back to our cottage and dried out under blankets with a roast dinner (Sirloin from the butcher a few doors down from our cottage) to warm the cockles.
The further you go, the higher the inclines on either side of you, so be sure to be careful and although it’s highly rated to keep your eyes on the scenery around you as you pedal, our must keep your wits about you when passing other cyclists, walkers and horses as the landscape looks fairly dangerous should you take a fall. It’s common sense really ; )
On returning to Ashbourne, you will come back on yourself all the way if sticking to The Tissington Trail (downhill most of the way, which is great fun on the steeper parts ; ) however, you can also branch off if feeling more adventurous on to The High Peak Trails… I fancied that part another day!
We were told this was an easy route, family friendly of which it would be if kids were in tow, however, even with a summer full of rides to prepare us a little for the Peaks, we still found this one a slight challenge on our fitness levels on the uphill. The tracks are fairly sandy/muddy, so with a bit of rain, these are soft and can slow you down a little. I think we averaged at around 7/8 miles per hour on the inclines and I loved every minute of this one, with Ashbourne being a great market town to explore after your ride if you fancy a nosey. Just head down the old train tunnel in the car park here and turn left over the bridge for the main market and high street, which has a few nice looking pubs and cafes to grab a bite should you fancy it.
The car park we parked in at The Ashbourne end of the trail (which is Brown signed and takes you down to Mapleton Lane) cost £3 for a few hours, assuming Parsley Hay end is about the same and you can gain cycle hire at both ends of the trail if you need this.
We settled on the fact that Newcastle and surrounding areas must have pretty bike rides, as all locations north of Birmingham seem to ; )
Most importantly, be safe and as organised as possible with your rides, especially with winter on the way.
We thoroughly enjoyed cycling in the Peak District, but where to next?…..