Flagstone path on Derwent Edge - Peak District

The Peak District…

The mountain biking in the Peak District is awesome. It has everything you need from mellow scenic trails right through to steep, rocky technical scary singletrack – all in a very compact area within easy reach of a large percentage of the English population centres.

From a couple of hours night riding, through to a classic loop of Jacob’s Ladder, Hollins Cross, The Beast and Cavedale it has just what you need for a good day out. Whether you are after a manageable 20km trip or a 100+km epic, it is easy to put together an amazing route with endless top quality ascents and descents that will leave you buzzing and keen to return.

The Dark Peak tends to have more rocky technical trails whereas the White Peak has a lot more mellow flowing riding. Having said which, there are loads of great flowing rides in the Dark Peak and equally some monster challenges in amongst the limestone of the White Peak. You just need to know where to find them…

We’ve posted a few pictures below for inspiration, along with some brief notes on the best trail sections.

If you like the look of any of these trails, but aren’t sure where to start, how to navigate around, or just want a faff free day ticking off the classics then give us a shout and we’ll arrange an excellent day for you.

Descending The Beast with no problems at all.
The Beast
Descending the Beast of Hope Cross on a wet & slippy day

Located to the north of Hope Cross, this rocky downhill is known as a bit of a local testpiece. Split by 3 gates, each section gets slightly harder, culminating in the ledge infested right hander hairpin. On a wet day, if you’re not fully firing then it can be a real challenge.

On a good day, with the right bike and a relaxed approach, it can be feel a heck of a lot easier.

Can be combined with Hollins Cross, Potato Alley and the other local challenge: Cavedale, into a full day classic ride.

Scenic and easy cycle back up Elmin Pits  near Ladybower
How to do the Beast AND Potato Alley…

One of the frustrating things about the abundance of excellent descents in the Peak is that it is hard to work out a good way of piecing them together. The descents from Hope Cross are no exception. If you want to do The Beast and Potato Alley then the trick is to find the Elmin Pits path back up from the reservoir to the Cross. As uphills go it is actually very pleasant, passing various ruined overgrown buildings and some magnificent trees.

Descent to the stream midway along Cut Gate
Cut Gate

Cut Gate from Langsett to Ladybower is the best piece of singletrack in the Peak – full stop. Conditions underwheel vary enormously, but if you catch it right then every single bit of the 7km is rideable… the climb from North America to the plateau is absolutle bliss, if gnadgery difficult tech climbs are your thing. If not, then just walk a few short sections. The descent down the north side is also superb, not heinously difficult, but always interesting. The infamous “Bog of Doom” section on the plateau has been substantially improved by some much needed maintenance, but the plateau holds a huge amount of moisture, and to get the best from this ride it really needs a couple of weeks to dry out (or even better to be frozen solid).

At Ladybower you can head to the cafĂ© for a snack, visit one of the excellent pubs down by the dam or extend the ride with Derwent Edge, WLT, The Beast, Potato Alley or one of the other classic sections. Alternatively you could brave the traffic on the A57 up Snake Pass and take Doctor’s Gate and the Longenden Trail back to Langett for a challenging 60km.

Or just return back over Cut Gate. It’s so good that there’s no great hardship doing it twice. Though there are definitely a few sections that you wont manage clean in this direction.

Getting some air on the descent from Hollins Cross to Greenlands
Hollins Cross to Greenlands

The area around Edale and Castleton is riddled with excellent bridleways and any extended route in the Dark Peak is likely to include some of them. Hollins Cross area has 4 excellent bike routes dropping down near it. The easiest option is Greenlands Farm descent, with a couple of rock steps followed by amazing swoopy ribbons of packed earth and some excellent jumps. If you want slightly more of a challenge then do it in reverse as a climb. It all goes… just.

Riding the flagstones from Hollins Cross  up towards Mam Tor at night
Mam Tor

Above Hollins Cross the trail heads rightwards up the famous paved sandstone slabs. Depending on the number of ramblers, and your affinity for increasingly steep climbs, this can be a delight or a nightmare. To minimise the former, and give yourself the best chance of success, you could always go at night…

A great trick here, if you’re with a mixed fitness group, or the family, is to start your ride at Mam Nick and ‘finish’ down at Castleton. The group can stuff themselves at the cafe whilst the keen do the Broken Road climb to collect the cars. This ‘free’ 250 metres of descent will be much appreciated by the rest of the group, though perhaps not the guide allocated driver.

Riding down the steps on the Rowarth Descent in the west Peak District
West Side…

If you’re coming from the Manchester side, and short on time, the routes between Marple and Hayfield are just the thing. The descent to Rowarth has this excellent rocky stepped section and is easily linked with Lantern Pike, Shooting Cabin and other classics in the area.

Nightride onJacob's Ladder
…Night Ride.

As winter approaches, the options for weekday daylight rides decrease significantly. But don’t be put off, as some of the biggest advances in cycle technology are actually the bike lights themselves. The moderns LED setups give a phenomenal amount of light for the price and allow you much greater flexibility in route choice. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend Jacob’s Ladder (pictured) as your first night ride, it does give an idea of what is possible with decent bar mounted and helmet mounted combo.

Scenic cruising in the White Peak
Mellow White.

The White Peak (yep, limestone ) provides quite a contrast to the rocky gnar around Edale and Ladybower. (With the key glaring exception of Cavedale) the trails tend to be much less extreme, with more mellow gradients and much less rocks. This give the opportunity to get more miles in without feeling utterly damaged when you wake up next day.

River crossing near Calver

The Loop south of Calver gives a beautiful tour around the trails and lanes of the White Peak.

Riding below Curbar Edge
Curbar & Froggat Edges – Grit without the graft.

If you’ve had your fill of techie gnarr, or just fancy getting a few miles in without too much climbing, then the recently designated route around Curbar and Froggat is perfect. It contains very little climbing, minimal tech, but still visits some lovely areas with amazing views of the rest of the Peak. A perfect intermediate route, family route or a chilled out day.

Group ride at Curbar Edge
Lead in to the Stanage Plantation descent
Stanage Plantation.

Unfortunately most of the trails around the UK’s most popular crag are footpaths only. There are only two sections of bridleway: Stanage Causeway, which is currently best done up; and Stanage Plantation, which is only possible down. Though small, it is perfectly formed.. the initial exposed turn leading onto some slightly scary steps followed by more tech through the boulder field and down to the carpark. The two sections link together perfectly for an add-on to Curbar, Burbage South or the Bradwell Edge routes.

The hairpin on the Stanage Plantation descent