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Mountain biking in the Peak District
Derwent Edge and Ladybower reservoir.
A completely legal mountain bike route in the Dark Peak. The route is not for novices as it includes challenging climbs and gnarly downhills. The route is mainly off-road. The on road sections are predominantly on minor roads although you do need to cross the A57 Snake Pass road a couple of times. The main road section has a cycleway if you want to stay out of the way of the cars (or at least it is as close to a cycleway as you ever get in Derbyshire - you are allowed to legally ride on the pavement! Usually, they just designate a couple of feet at the edge of the road in the gutter and claim that as being cycle friendly).
This is a great mountain bike route which is in places technically demanding and has a couple of really stiff climbs too. Park near the end of the dam of Ladybower reservoir. If you are a bit late and there are no places left, try the parking alongside the Snake Pass Road on the Sheffield side of the Ashopton viaduct.
Anyway, I will assume that you arrived whilst there was still space at the dam! Carry on towards the A57 and when you reach it in a couple of hundred yards, turn left. Here you will see the alternative parking if the Ladybower dam end parking is already full. After a few hundred yards cross the road immediately before crossing the Ashopton Viaduct. Turn right along the tarmac road behind the houses. The tarmac fizzles out after a couple of hundred yards and you come to a gate. On the other side, you find yourself on a cracking little section of singletrack bridleway. This follows the wall parallel to the A57 to a pub (The Ladybower Inn).
A bridleway leaves the pub car park where it joins the road. This takes you uphill on a reasonable surface to a gate, after that, the fun begins but hopefully your legs are now warmed up. A technical ascent brings you into some Woodland (a nature reserve) and the beautiful track takes you through this magical place, finishing a stream. I have seen some say that it is a tricky stream crossing, but see what you think. Only one of my mates has fallen off here! Enjoy the moorland stretch that leads you ever closer to the ascent from cutthroat bridge.
The interestingly named bridge is said to get its name from an incident many moons ago. A traveller was found by some locals from Bamford, having been attacked by person or persons unknown and left with his throat slit open. He was still alive and the locals attempted to nurse him back to life but sadly failed.
Anyway, if you like 6 foot drop-offs, keep straight on until the moorland bridleway reaches the one coming up from cutthroat bridge. Sensible riders will turn left and join the Cutthroat bridle track in a more civilised way! Anyway, the bridleway takes you up to the col below Whinstone Lee Tor. The first part is the most challenging, during or after wet weather, for a couple of hundred metres it does its best to prevent you from getting any sort of rhythm. At the col, if it is decent weather, you get some superb views and it is a good spot to pause a while and enjoy being up on high.
Descend from here, taking the singletrack bridleway to the right from the col. The first (wide) one heads off uphill and is a footpath, the one straight ahead is a footpath. A little way down, just a few 10s of yards, a stone built field boundary appears forcing the track round to the right. At the corner of the field, the bridleway turns abruptly left. The bridleway turns left through a gate and drops away across the moorland, please show respect to the walkers as you swoop down, enjoying gravity! At the edge of the plantation, you go through a gate and descend through a second gate to an interesting little technical section which terminates at a little stream. At the farm buildings, go through the gate, turn left and through a narrow gate onto a paves section. It is tricky to keep your speed down on this section, again, please show a bit of respect to other users. Too many times I have seen mountain bikers rattling down at speed, disregarding anyone other than themselves. Not good as it gets the rest of us who do show respect to others, a bad name.
Once you have finished this section, you pass through another gate on to reservoir road. Follow this northwards, past the base of Derwent dam, turning right at the traffic island at Fairholmes. About a mile further, where the road bends to the left, you will find a gated track which is the start of the Gores Plantation climb. Get ready in a low gear before you go through the gate! Follow this track to the top and on past Lockerbrook Farm (outdoor centre). I always find the first bend the hardest bit in wet weather. Also, watch out for the arrogant mountain bikers who descend at full speed, without respect for anyone else, this bit seems to attract them.
About half a mile after Lockerbrook Farm you arrive at a crossroads of bridleways. Take the one that goes through a gate and steeply down towards Hagg Farm. This is also a BOAT but the trail bikers usually decide they want to go straight up the field son the first section at least is usually free of that smelly menace. Hopefully you manage to stop before hitting the gate that takes you into the woodland section, gnarly and often damp. After the gate at the end of this section, you take a short steep section of tarmac to the A57 (steady, it ends at the road very abruptly). Almost immediately opposite is a track that descends steeply to the track that takes you back along the side of Ladybower reservoir back to your staring point.
Ladybower Enduro - follow this link for an challenging mountain bike circumnavigation of Ladybower Reservoir
Mountain biking and cycling books
The vertebrate graphics books are by far and away the best
mountain bike books I have used. The following mtb and general cycling books
are good too ...
The Peak District (AA 40 Pub Walks & Cycle Rides)
Mountain Bike Guide: Quality Routes in the Peak District and Derbyshire
More Cycling Without Traffic: The Midlands and Peak District
Off Beat Cycling and Mountain Biking in the Peak District (Paperback)
Mountain Bike Guide - Derbyshire and the Peak District
Accommodation within easy striking distance of Ladybower Reservoir
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Please respect wildlife, walkers and horses
Disclaimer (probably not really necessary but just in
This route is a suggestion only and should not be used in this form for navigation. It is up to your party to decide whether a route is suitable or not and to make sure that you are properly equipped. Navigation is also the responsibility of your party. We cannot accept any liability for injuries or other mishaps.
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