I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the peak district is not a small dull version of the Lakes or Dales. It has lots to offer
and makes for a great weekend cycle tour. I started in Doncaster and after a loop ended in Manchester taking about 120 miles over two days. I ended up on a lot of enjoyable quiet roads.
As I was going down to Sheffield for the film festival, I was keen to get out on the bike and explore the surrounding area. Having had the chance to preview my pick of the films and not knowing anyone else at the event, I finished my session and jumped on the bike. I had already ridden a long roundabout route from Doncaster to Sheffield in the morning, sadly that experience will be remembered for the shear volume of litter on display: wrappers, garden waste, tyres, white goods, dodgy DVDs, children’s space hoppers etc etc. It was reminiscent of cycling in India or Albania, countries where in large parts organised rubbish collection is an aspiration rather than a frivolity we can’t be bothered using.
Anyway I navigated using my useless miniature Google map print outs aka a mouse’s road atlas. It was too small to read so I used the sun and the wind, and road signs helped a bit to find Rotherham. The city announced itself with a sign proclaiming Europe’s largest Sex shop within a dreary grey out of town retail park, a deserted carpark meant it was either closed down or just unpopular.After some short hills and few busier roads Sheffield seemed to merge into Rotherham. I don’t want to sing my map reading praises but I honestly didn’t go wrong once and rolled up to the cinema in Sheffield and the festival pretty early!
The event was fun but after the cycle touring forum ended I hopped on the bike and headed west. I knew the A57 headed towards the peaks, a sign saying Manchester road looked promising.
I was quickly out of the city on a very busy A57 an altogether unpleasant cycle route, a quick glance at the mouse atlas showed a vague looking dark line by a large reservoir, I took what was a quieter road to Bamford then along the Hope valley to Hope, not the home of Hope tech bike kit I should add!
My plan was to find a pub dinner not far from a stealth wild camp spot.
If ever there was a place that fitted this description it was Castleton. There were more pubs than houses in the village. An area made popular by vast caverns with good old English names like, Johns Cavern, Smithy’s Cave etc
I reached the insanely impressive Winnats pass road. It is a twisting steep sided green gorge flanked by vast rock out crops and huge black cavernous holes. It was very lord of the ringsesque. In fact it goes into number one spot for most lord of the ringsesque location in England, bumping honister pass and the mines of touristdore into second place.
So I rode up the pass, particularly enjoying a rather patronising car driver who slowed down and clapped telling me “Just keep going, you can make it, not far to go now”. It was a bit steep but really? I rode back down just because I wanted to show off and do it again after deciding on a wild camp spot. In Castleton I called by the second pub I saw and had a nice pint and watched England win but lose the six nations rugby. I sat with a older couple who had eaten in 6 pubs here during their week in Castleton and this was the best! It really is prime pub walk territory here!
I confused them by heading off to my campsite that wasn’t even signposted! It was then I found out I forgot to pack my head torch. It was dark, really dark, owl tooting creepy dark. I headed up the pass walking and using my rear light to navigate. If only the patronising car driver could see me now he would be disappointed!
I camped just past the access land and near the disused mine shaft warning signs. I had a cold but decent night hoping I hadn’t accidentally put my tent on a disused mine shaft as the red LED light was not up to the task of surveying land well. I had dreams similar to glacier camping whereby myself and tent disappear into a crevasse!
After breakfast I ran up the hill behind my tent:
The next day was a loop up to Edale via some great climbs and quiet roads. I reached Chapel en le Frith for a pomme de terre e baguette.
I then meandered along quiet roads in the hills. I detoured along the Sett valley bike trail before detouring back on route before back off route. I got lost then saw this sign which couldn’t be any more appropriate:
I entered Manchester from Glossop to Broad Bottom then got lost and ended up in Marple before reached Bredbury in pleasant sunshine. I rode past the Etihad stadium before relaxing in the city centre by the station.
Altogether not a bad weekend! It is so easy to hope on a train in one place and ride somewhere else, that I wonder why it isn’t more popular. Driving takes so much adventure out of, well adventures!