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Cycle Trail Reviews

Please submit your reviews and views! Trails, facilities, views, bike friendly cafes and accommodation - all good to know (or the ones to avoid!)

The High Peak Trail 

By Andrew

Summary
This is another superb cycle way in the Peak District National Park. Running from Parsley Hay to Middleton Top and then a very long steep drop to High Peak Junction and on to Cromford, a worthwhile visit on its own. The total length is 28 miles but leaving out the last section from Middleton Top to High Peak Junction makes it a 23 mile ride.

This is one of my favourite rides. I usually start from Parsley Hay to Middleton Top, probably because Middleton Top is a very pleasant turning point with Cafe, Toilets and cycle hire. The views are excellent and scenery superb on this route, particularly the huge embankment midway. The surface is crushed limestone and in excellent condition with few ruts or rough sections

Parking - The various parking venues allow the Trail to be completed in sections if its a bit too much in one go or with children. Middleton Top is remote with a small car park, so even in Summer rarely gets overcrowded. There is also parking at Parsley Hay, Fridden, Minniglow, Black Rocks and High Peak Junction. I don’t find it practical to go beyond Middleton Top as the descent is extremely steep and rocky and unless you are mega fit is impossible to rid back up. Similarly from Black Rocks to High Peak Junction.

Cycle Hire - Parsley Hay and Middleton Top Contact 01629 533294

Toilets - Available at Parsley Hay, Middleton Top and High Peak Junction. Please check that the facilities are open

Cafes - Middleton Top and Parsley Hay. The cafes tend to close from October to March as do the cycle hire centres.

Rest and Viewpoints - Benches are provide along the route so you can have a stop and pause and soak up the scenery and enjoy the tranquility.

The Route - Riding from Parsley Hay take the left fork after half a mile or so which is signposted and simply follow the trail. There are a number of swing gates over various farm tracks and there is a crossing over the A5012 which is a very fast road and maximum care must be taken when crossing this particular section. There is a further minor road to cross before Longcliffe, then there is a fairly steep descent from Longcliffe heading to Middleton Top - and obviously a steep climb back up.

The route is generally uphill from Middleton Top but less steep than Ashbourne to Parsley Hay, however most of the climb is at Longcliffe which helps flatten out the rest of the route.

There are various old small stations and quarry workings on the way and overgrown small platforms previously used for goods loading, also the rear of several factories producing products from the local limestone, all worth a stop and look.

It does get busy in Summer both with walkers and cyclists and possibly its best avoiding the weekends or arrive early.

Extra sections (may require a map and more challenging).There’s an off-road turning that runs over to the Tissington Trail and on to the village of Hartington - then a section using minor roads to Hurdlow which is at the very North end of the trail.
A further turning just before Middleton Top takes you to Hopton and on to Carsington reservoir and we will be looking at these routes in a separate review.

The Tissington Trail Cycle Route

By Andrew (on pedal only bike)

Summary
Beginner (1) to expert (5) depending on section(s) taken. Shortest section 4 miles Parsley Hay to Hurdlow
Best on a hybrid off road bike with dual terrain tyres.
I used a Boardman Pro with 1.9 Continental Duellers (and mud guards in poorer weather). Take a water bottle!
The Tissington trail is a brilliant ride and suitable for all levels of fitness. The full length is 35 miles, if you include the leg from Parsley Hay to Hurdlow and back which puts an extra 7 miles on the Parsley Hay to Ashbourne section. Generally fairly level, or gradual steady climbs. Mostly follows an old railway and is gravelled. No road crossings or travel.

The scenery is excellent from Parsley Hay to about 5 miles out from Ashbourne where it becomes a series of cuttings and wooded banks - so if riding initially from Ashbourne North it isn’t very exciting but improves.

Parking - at Parsley Hay, Hartington Station, Alsop, Mapleton Lane and finally Ashbourne (both at the cycle hire station and by the Swimming Baths in Ashbourne itself). If you visit the Peak Park website www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/visiting/places-to-visit/trails/tissington-trail then you can pick a section to do. It isn't a circular route so remember that you need to ride both ways unless using 2 cars which defeats the object really.

Cycle Hire - There are hire centres at both Ashbourne and Parsley Hay but please check they are open as October to March they tend to be closed. A full range of bikes are available for hire - a good range of conventional straight bar 15 - 18 speed gears bikes and e-bikes - adult, teens, children bikes, plus clamp on tow bikes, trailers for small children or dogs. They also have disabled cycles and powered small all terrain battery vehicles, especially at Parsley Hay.
Cafes - Ashbourne and Hartington Station have cafes but they do tend to close in the off peak season. Parsley Hay cafe is usually open most of the year and is probably the most popular destination for walkers/cyclists.

Toilets - At Ashbourne, Mapleton Lane, Hartington Station and Parsley Hay, but check for access during the winter months.

Rest stops and viewpoints - Along the route there are various benches and seating areas to stop and have a rest and admire the far reaching views of the surrounding counties.

The Route - Largely downhill from Parsley Hay to Ashbourne. If attempting the whole ride for the first time it is probably best to depart from Ashbourne and then go uphill then return downhill. It was previously a railway line, so there aren't any steep inclines to tackle, but rather a steady climb all the way. There is a short very steep section just out from Ashbourne where an old railway bridge has been removed and it is best to walk up and down here.

There are no roads to cross which improves the safety aspect hugely. The trail is laid from crushed limestone but beware that there is a section midway where there has been some erosion due to heavy rains, plus the regular humps to help control surface water run off.

The rest of the trail is very smooth and its possible to cruise at 10 - 12 miles and hour, although a lot of folk prefer the 5 - 8 mile an hour speed. It can get very busy with walkers in Summer and I prefer to avoid the weekends and ride during the week. The weekends in the Winter still have a few hardy souls out and about which makes it a bit more populated but is very quiet mid week in Winter.

For those who want to go further there are legs off to the Manifold Trail and Carsington Water that we will cover in another review.

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