I’m Dave Robinson, a mildly immature 64 year looking forward to his 65th birthday when his pension rights kick in.
I’ve been riding since I was 16 years old when I started my two wheeled experience on a 1958 Lambretta LD150, which I bought for £10 and sold a year later for £20 – if only all my two wheeling since had been so fiscally efficient! Most of my riding is road orientated but I do enjoy both trail and trials riding.
My first memories of riding the ‘Peaks’ was back in the day, travelling down from Huddersfield to the Strines-Snake Pass-Holme Moss loop on my RD350 with the girlfriend on the back. Back then the roads had little speed restrictions or double white lines and you could have a blast.
The beauty of the Peaks is that it is so accessible; a short ride from Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Derby etc. But this really is a double edged sword because at the weekend the area is swamped with walkers, cyclists, caravans, sightseers, coaches and other traffic. For this reason my first piece of advice is to avoid weekends if at all possible. Book a day’s annual leave, throw a sickie. Trust me, you’ll have a much more pleasant ride.
There are plenty of roads where you can make ‘good progress’, the problem is that there are plenty of white vans and yellow boxes that are keen to measure your rate of progress. So my second piece of advice; the speed limits are there, they are regularly enforced, so you might as well embrace the situation and settle for the fact that you are going to have a bimble around. Getting rid of your chicken strips can wait for another time and place.
The route I am going to recommend to you more or less circumnavigates the Peaks. I thought I would do this so no matter which direction you approach the area from, you can link into the circular route at any point, do the run and then drop out at the point at which you joined in.
Think of the route as the tyre and rim of the area, there is still much to enjoy by travelling up and down the spokes, with the added benefit that you will be using roads less travelled and therefore quieter.
We are going to start off in Holmfirth, Last of the Summer Wine country. We leave the village on the A6024, direction Holme. The road will take you over Holme Moss from which you will (on a good day) have spectacular views of West Yorkshire with Castle Hill in the distance. The road itself is a cracker, plenty of ‘shell-grip’ and twists and turns that would not be out of place on an Alpine climb.
Drop down the other side, turning right onto the A628, turning off after a mile or so onto the B6015 to Glossop, passing the Woodhead reservoirs on your right. Drop down into Glossop, past the railway station, through the lights and stop at Glossop Cafeteria if you’re hungry. This is a brilliant place that serves super food at frankly ridiculously low prices.
From Glossop ride south on the A624, taking care on the Hayfield bypass with the two speed cameras. At Chapel-on-le-Frith take the bypass (A6) and after about a mile take the A623, first turn off the roundabout. This road is very popular with the speed detector vans!
After about five miles look for a turning left to Tideswell. From Tideswell on to Millers Dale, left onto A6 then quickly right to Taddington then onto Monyash. These are minor roads in the great scheme of things, so keep your eyes peeled for the road signs. In the centre of Monyash is a delightful little café that is a popular biker stop. Cake or ice cream, the choice is yours.
After a personal refuelling leave Monyash in the direction of Longnor, crossing the A515, straight on through Longnor and on to the A53 Buxton-Leek road. This really is a brilliant road, starting with alpine bends and then on to sweeping bends, rises and drops. If your bimbling restraint has faded by this point you might find yourself getting some air under your wheels. Not that I would condone that of course!
When you arrive at the A53, you can take time to admire the Roaches rocks and if time allows there are nice walks to be had in the area.
At the A53 bear left, direction Leek, then immediately left again, back onto the moors and pick up the signs for Warslow. Ride through Warslow and on to Hartington, another picture perfect Peak district village with plenty of coffee and cake opportunities. Leaving Hartington follow the signs for Newhaven, turn right on the A515 then left on to A5012, down to Cromford and ultimately Matlock Bath. More advice – Matlock Bath and the subsequent road to Chatsworth House can be a nightmare at weekends.
Again, a double edged sword, as if you want to look at all the bikes and be part of what is a great atmosphere then you will have to bite the bullet and put up with the crowds. If you want it quieter then midweek is the advice.
Matlock Bath itself is a nice place to stop and stretch your legs. There are plenty of chippies and cafés. However there was talk of parking restrictions on bikes and I am unsure as to how things stand at the moment. Check!
Take the A6 north out of Matlock Bath. Warning, there is a plethora of speed cameras on this stretch of road. Travel up through Darley Dale turning right at the sign for Beeley. Follow this road and it will take you through the grounds of Chatsworth House, where you could take advantage of the photo opportunity. It is all a great place to take a break if either you or your partner would like a bit of culture. When leaving Chatsworth travel in the direction of Pilsley, through the village, merge on to the A619, then quickly right on the A6020.
About a mile on this road is a roundabout where there is an old railway station with a coffee shop, book shop and a cycle hire facility. Consider hiring a bike to do the Monsal Trail. Obviously, if you are in one-piece leathers this might have to wait for another visit. The trail takes you up the gentle gradient of the old railway line, past the spectacular views of Monsal Head, through several tunnels in the direction of Buxton. A two hour hire period will give sufficient time for the return journey.
Leave the station north on the B6001, travel via Hassop, Calver, Grindleford to Hathersage where you turn left on the A6187 to the Hope Valley then right on the A6013 via Bamford to the Ladybower Reservoir.
Now at this point you might see the sign for Snake Pass and think, ‘Let’s go left here.’ Honestly, it is not worth it, with all the speed restrictions, traffic, double white lines. It will double your blood pressure by the time you get back to Glossop.
Instead, turn right on the A57, direction Sheffield and after a couple of miles turn left, signposted ‘Strines’. Trust me, you will enjoy the road much more, with its twists and turns up and down several valleys until you reach the A616.
At the A616 go left through Langsett (speed cameras!), straight across a major then minor roundabout, drop down a steep hill and up the other side, as the road begins to level out turn left on Bents Road and this will take you over the moors and back to Holmfirth.
If I was to pick my favourite five things about the Peak District it would be a mixture of roads and places:
#1 Holme Moss summit (on a clear day).
#2 Castleton and the caverns.
#3 Matlock Bath (on a quietish day)
#4 Chatsworth House (keeps the wife happy).
#5 Strines road (keeps me happy).
If you want to explore the area a little bit more then I would suggest you base yourself in Bakewell. It has a nice central position in the Peaks and we have never had any problems finding a place, even when the annual Bakewell Show was in progress. And it has a super pizzeria! You could also ride some of the TET from there (see page 22). For accommodation, www.booking.com is your friend.