There have been some requests recently for more of my cycling videos. I’m not quite sure why folks seem to like them so much, but there’s definitely an interest in the places I ride. So this year, I thought I’d expand my occasional canal video habit and document some of the more unusual or lengthy rides I undertake.
One of my great loves is the Peak District. Since I was ill over the new year, I’ve been itching to get back into condition for the spring, so I can start doing my long dayrides into Derbyshire again. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve spent some time away from work, gradually undertaking longer and longer rides to see if I can still cut it. As readers of my 365daysofbbiking Tumbr will be aware, last Friday I did a century, a ride of 115 miles. I’m very pleased – hard work, my speed isn’t quite right yet, but not bad.
I’m very interested at the moment in the Monsall trail. Just before last Christmas, I took a train to Matlock, cycled the trail from Bakewell to Wyedale, and returned via the Tissington Trail and Ashbourne. Although it was wonderful, I felt I was undertaking the route the wrong way round, as I was heading uphill all along the Monsall Trail. So last Friday, I took a train early to Cromford, and headed up the High Peak Trail from Cromford Wharf on the Cromford Canal. After a 300m climb to Harboro Rocks, I cruised the 12 mile, almost perfectly flat High Peak Trail to Parsley Hay, Then northwards on the Tissington, at the end of which, I joined the Penine Bridleway. This climbs gently to 440m at Fivewells, where commanding views of Chee Dale and Buxton can be enjoyed. From there, I dropped into Wye Dale via the A6, absolutely blasting down Topley Pike, then onto the Monsal Trail.
I stopped for lunch at Hassop Station – a top notch bookshop and cafe, converted from a former station, then energised, sped down to Bakewell, back on the A6 into Derby, through the Amber and Derwent valleys. After a break, I joined national cycle route 54 and headed home through Mackworth on another traffic-free Sustrans trail, through Etwall to Burton, then Sinai Park, Barton Under Needwood, Lichfield and home.
The initial climb onto the High Peak Trail is a killer – sweat was pouring out of me and I was in shirtsleeves, but that climb is rewarded with a flat, beautiful route through High Peak, past the beauty of Minninglow great barrow and beautiful places like Gotham. The climb starts again at the Tissington Trail, but it’s gentle and enjoyable. As I reached Fivewells, the beauty was incredible. Views of the Wye Valley, Chee Dale and Buxton spread out before me, and the descent that I was rewarded with – no real climb again until well south of Derby – is just splendid.
This was a great ride, and although the weather was dull and misty, I really enjoyed it. Although not back on top form, I was better than I thought I would be. I had to take long breaks in Hassop, Matlock and Derby, but that was no bad thing. This is certainly the direction to do the Monsal trail.
If you fancy doing it yourself, if only partially, theres parking along the trails, and parking and bike hire at Parsley Hay, Wye Daye and Hassop. These are great route to do with kids, or if you’re a nervous returnee to cycling. The High Peak Trail is easy going (if you start past Cromford…) as is the Monsal and Tissington, and they’re all traffic free. Why not give it a go? I love these places, and think you would, too.