Ride the Peak's Traffic Free Cycle Paths to see Stunning Scenery

The Peak District is a classic cycling destination due to both the stunning scenery and history. Its allure has grown in recent years thanks to the Eroica Britannia vintage cycling festival, which highlights the diverse riding found in the area.  In 2018 the event is being held on 15-17th June near Buxton and is a wonderful mixture of cycling heritage with music festival-style eating and drinking but you’ll need a bike built before 1987 to be able to take part.

Owning a classic bike should not prevent a visit to this national park where riders can choose to take on some of the UK’s toughest routes. However, it is also possible to enjoy the Peak’s grandeur without having to grind away in your lowest gear thanks to the finest Victorian engineering. The area is permeated with many flat cycle ways built on disused railway tracks from the industrial revolution when vast wealth was made through transporting cloth from the mills.

There are lots of options if you want to take a more leisurely ride through the Peak District or connect quite country lanes and make a circular route, although if you stick to the cycle paths they are actually great to ride as an out-and-back route. For a weekend stay or short break, look at staying in Ashbourne, Bakewell , Buxton or the neighbouring villages.

Our two-day trip took in both the Monsal Trail from Bakewell (pictured above) and the lesser know Manifold Way trail from Waterhouses. Time ran out before we had a chance to ride Ashbourne’s 13-mile long Tissington Trail but it really should be included when planning a trip.

Perhaps the queen of all the dismantled railway tracks in the Peak District is the magnificent 16-mile (there and back) Monsal Trail. It is joy to ride, from the jaw-dropping views on the viaduct overlooking the Wye Valley as it sweeps a horseshoe curve, to the wild and narrow cliff-lined Chee Dale at the northwest end.

It’s great fun to negotiate your way through the six dimly-lit tunnels (see above) on route and Hassop Station Café is a great spot for lunch with its long terrace overlooking the trail. Likewise, Blackwell Mill with its hamlet of riverside cottages and humped bridge is worth a stop.

Another dismantled railway, the Manifold Track, (see image below) climbs gently through nine spectacular miles of scenery from Waterhouses to Hulme End. Perhaps not as well know as other trails, the columns of rocks rising out of the steep-sided hills makes for a dramatic ride nonetheless. Make sure you stop at the bottom of the path that leads up to the great mouth of Thor’s Cave  and again at Hulme End with its charming engine-shed Tea Junction café – or drop into the Manifold Inn for a well-earned drink.

The Peak trails can be ridden on a road bike with normal tyres, although in damp conditions a cyclo-cross or mountain bike with grippy tyres would probably feel more stable. Although the trails appear flat they have a deceptive gradient and the hard-pack surface offers more resistance than tarmac, so be prepared for some moderate effort.



1 comment

  • I recommend riding the Peak District trails to anyone wanting to enjoy autumn riding away from the hussle and bussle of traffic. Definitely going back to ride the Tissington Trail next year, especially now I’ve got my Sasha shorts!


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published