Stanton Challenge

Stanton Moor is a big lump of a hill that sits at the confluence of the Wye and Derwent rivers. It’s a mystical place with several stone circles and a few villages and hamlets dotted around the massif.

It’s also got a cracking selection if shortish lung bustingly hard climbs to get to the top. The challenge is to to all of them in one ride. No prizes, stickers or patches on offer, just the kudos of knowing you’ve conquered the massif.

First of several climbs that finish at Pilhough. This one takes no prisoners and has a relentless start and finish.

This climbs a little less popular than most of the climbs on Stanton Moor, mainly because it takes a bit of effort to get to it. It is a cracker though with a maximum gradient of 26% and a few lovely switchbacks thrown into the mix.

One of the most popular climbs onto Stanton Moor. Painfully hard at the start and finish and ends in the pretty village of Stanton in the Peak.

This climb starts in the pretty hamlet of Stanton Lees. At the time of writing it’s closed to traffic due to a landslip but accessible to cyclists. Whilst this does stop you getting a full effort in due to having to stop at the barriers it does mean that it’s traffic free. There’s nice views from the top looking down the valley towards Matlock.

Blisteringly draggy climb that goes through the village of Stanton Lees. One of those where you think you’re pedalling squares for most of it.

What this climb lacks in length it makes up for in brutality. The further you go, the harder it gets, maxing out at around 19%. It has a Flemish feel to it with it’s length and being a holloway and reminds me of the Koppenberg but without the cobbles.

This is a steady climb that ramps up just before the village of Birchover. Reward your self at the end with a socially distanced pint in one of the two pubs.

Ashover – The Climber’s Paradise

Despite being based so close to the Peak District many of our favorite places to ride are on the strip of land that lies between the M1 motorway and the national park.

It’s not that we don’t love the architecture and landscape that the Peak District has, it’s just at times it’s a victim of it’s own success and a tad too busy for our liking.

One such place that we frequently visit is the village of Ashover. This picture postcard spot was one of the places used for the TV programme Peak Practice along with nearby Crich. It’s a wonderful place with several pubs and a post office that also runs a cracking cafe called Stamp.

Ashover sits near the head of the Amber Valley. It’s long been popular with walkers and mountain bikers, but we’re going to focus on what it has to offer for road cyclists.

The answer is, besides the road that runs along the bottom of the U shaped valley – lots !

The area is criss crossed with punchy climbs that’ll leave you gasping for air when you get to the top. The roads are fairly quite compared to the Peak and twist and the views are worth a visit if nothing else.

Here’s a selection of what’s to offer. There’s also a miriad of smaller lanes so you can mix and match these routes for even more fun.

Slack Hill

It’s often asked what the Roman’s did for us. Well one of the answers is Slack Hill. Made famous as it features in the 100 Climbs books. It’s as straight as a die and a bit of a killer. Best done early in the morning as it’s a popular road with motorists.

Jaggers Lane

A real thug of a climb. A little to long to stand up out of the pedals and punch your way to the top. There’s no false flats or downhills either.

Robridding

Where Jaggers Lane starts there’s also another cracker of a climb called Robridding. Like Jaggers, the route has a hard start. It then flattens (slightly) before ramping up to join the main road at the top.

Milken Hill

Starting on the edge of the village, Milen Hill is a real punchy ramp test of a climb. The climb heads beneath Fabrik rock which is a local beauty spot and view point. The climb starts hard and then gets harder.

Hillside

This climb starts outside Stamp cafe so means you can have a pre-ride fuel. It begins easy enough heading through the village, then you turn right and the fun starts. Half a kilometre of pain.

Eastwood Lane

Eastwood Lane’s on the gravelly end of the spectrum. Despite it’s shabby road surface it’s a little cracker of a climb. The real fun starts when you’ve gone through the farmyard.

Stubben Edge Lane

This is one of the areas steadier climbs. It’s however quite pleasant and combined with Hunt Lane (below) is a nice way to get out of the valley.

Hunt Lane

What Hunt Lane lacks in length it makes up for in fun. The further you get up it the harder it gets.

Milltown

Milltown’s a lovely little climb up throigh Ashove Hay. It starts down by the river and heads past the Miners Standard pub. From there it’s a steady longish climb up a quiet little lane. It’s one of those climbs that’s not lung bustingly hard but you’ll know you’ve done it by the end.

Butterley

A natural extension of the Milltown climb. Not one for tired legs this is a thundering climb with a few false flats. The hardest (19%) section is at the start just to kill your legs before you move onto the rest of the climb which is above 10% for most of it.

The Ashover

This is a combo platter of several local lanes that add up to a third catergory climb. Not particularly hard, the route starts on the edge of Clay Cross and finishes besides Fabrick Rock. A nice warm up if you are heading over to the area from the south.

Five Miles

The pandemic of 2020 has brough many challenges, one of which is the restrictions on travel. However like most things in life you’ve got to deal with the hand you are given and make the most of what you’ve got.

In some ways I thin we’ve not faired too badly on our liberties compared to countries like France where you are only allowed to go within a certain distance of your home.

The thought of which got my grey juices going on where you could ride if you were only allowed to go within a nominal distance from where you live. I decided to choose a distance of five miles from Chesterfield crooked spire and plot a cycling route that was a mix of urban and country riding so I could utilise the areas extensive network of cycling paths.

Being a closet grimpeur I also wanted to include a few climbs in the route just to spice things up a bit. I also wanted to visit a few of the areas lost lanes that are now nothing more than tracks and some of the towns fantastic urban art.

The route’s suitable for MTB’s in wetter weather and gravel / cx bikes when we’ve had a few days dry weather. It goes without says, ride responsibly, don’t be an idiot, be nice to walkers and smile at motorists.

Outer Edge

One of the great things about living and working in Chesterfield is it’s proximity to the Peak District. It means if I’ve got a few hours to spare I can dip in and out of the park using some of the lesser known trails that are on its border.

The route below is one of my favourites and also has the advantage of being rideable all year round. It’s a mix of farm tracks, quiet roads, old railways and even a little bit of singletrack thrown in.

If you like this and our other routes. you can always buy us a virtual coffee to motivate us to ride and write some more.

Dambusters

The name of this route gets it’s inspiration from the daring raid that happened by the RAF in 1943 to breach some German dams. The 617 squadron practised their flying skills on the Derwent Dam in the Peak District.

The routes best done after a couple of days of dry weather. It’s one of those routes which is on the harder end of the gravel bike spectrum and we’d advise you take a waterproof and spare clothing if it’s not high Summer.

The route starts in Hathersage and heads up the south side of the Hope Valley and over Shatton Moor. From there it drops into Bradwell and onto Hope and up the Edale Valley. From here it heads up Hope Brink and up to an old Roman Road at Hope Cross. The next bit of the route is on a concessionary bridleway that’s construction has been delayed due to the Covid pandemic past the ruins of Elmin Pits Farm (it feels a bit cheeky as at the time of writing there is still a stile instead of a gate at the top and has an off piste feel to it).

Then it’s on and over the Snake Pass and up one of our fave gravel climbs past Rowlee Farm. Then it’s across some high pastures and down into the Derwent Valley. In one of the towers of the Derwent Dam is a small museum that’s about the history of the dam complex. If you want to stretch route out you can head round the Derwent and Howden Dams,

Our route heads under the Derwent Dam wall and down the east side of the Ladybower Reservoir to the Ladybower Inn. Then it’s down the main road for a short while (there is a cycle path on the reservoir side of the road), over the dam wall and past the famous plugholes that drain the reservoir when it’s full.

You then head off down the Thornhill Trail which is the former trackbed for the railway built to carry the stone during the construction of the reservoirs. At the bottom of the track turn left past a Quaker commune and into the bottom of Bamford village. Then it’s a climb up Satergate and Hurstclough Lanes back to Hathersage.

If you like this route and would like to buy us a much appreciated virtual coffee that would be awesome.

The Road to the Peak & Full Hemlock

The Peak District has been populated since neolithic times and is covered in ancient tracks. One of the oldest is the Portway which stretches from Mam Tor to the Trent.

The route was in use until Medival times and it’s original line has been lost by both agriculture and development and the building of other roads. Evidence of it’s existence can still be seen with village names such as Alport and barrows and cumuli along some of it’s original route.

We used the Portway as inspiration for the Road to the Peaks route. Starting at the Hemlock stone just outside Nottingham. Our route passes places such as Dale Abbey, the Portway at Holbrook, Alport Heights and finishes at Mam Nick. It mainly consists of quiet lanes, byways and bridleways and is suitable for gravel bikes and MTB.

The nearest railway stations to the start are at Ilkeston, Long Eaton and Nottingham. Edale station is just down the hill from the finish and trains can be got back to the beginning from there via Sheffield.

Whilst doing recon for the Road to the Peak, we rode to the start in Nottingham and from the finish back to Chesterfield. We’ve added a couple of kilometres onto the route we’ve used to make it just over 200 km and a suitable DIY Audax contender – think of it as Gravel Audax or GrAudax ! It’s a proper day out but certainly do-able in Summer months.

Like what we do ? Why not buy us a virtual coffee.
Don’t forget to check out our other site – the Peak District Guide.

The Velotastic 300

We’ll make no apologies about this route. It’s long, it’s tough, in wet weather you’ll lose the will to live on it and it’s not for the faint hearted. 300 kilometres of prime Peak District tarmac, gnarmac, dirt and gravel. Ladies and Gentlemen this is the Velotastic 300.

Ideally done over a couple of days (one if you’re hard, three if you enjoy your cake stops), the Velotastic 300 takes you over some of our fave trails in one big loop.

The route starts at the ranger station in Linacre Woods, Chesterfield. This is only 3 miles from the local railway station, so there’s no excuse to bring your car.

The route is lumpy to say the least. If you are planning on doing it over 3 days, we’d recommend you stay in Castleton and Hartington, two we’d recommend either Buxton or Hurdlow which are little bit off the route.

There’s plenty of cafe’s on route to chose from and we hope you manage to visit a few to support our local economy. If you do have a crack at this route don’t forget to use the hashtag #velotastic300 in your social media feed !

Neveresting

Whilst I admire the endeavours of riders who complete the the Everesting challenge, I do like to be home for lunch. I’ve been on the coffee and spent too much time alone at work and come up with the Neveresting challenge for the time crunched rider.

The rules are quite simple:

Ride up one hill in the Peak District. Repeat reps until you climb the equivalent of Kinder Scout (636 m).

The climb’s got to be off road as there’s no road up Kinder (or that other big hill in Nepal).

Bonus points for finding a Peak District climb with the least number of reps to stop you getting bored.

Naturally these rules are more guidance than something you should take seriously. I’ve only used the Peak District because it’s local and Kinder Scout is a reasonable height. There’s no reason that this challenge could not be adapted to the height of other notable hills and mountains that float your cycling boat.

Successful attempts will win bragging rights at any of our events, plus if you email me your successful attempt and I’m in a good mood I’ll send you some stickers.

The usual disclaimer applies with this challenge – don’t be a dick and don’t blame me if it all goes wrong. Fist bumps to Hells 500 for coming up with the original Everest challenge idea and yes, I know I’ve adapted it to suit my own more modest ambition.

C to Sea

It’s the strange things you miss during the Covid-19 lockdown. Mine is not plentiful supplies of pasta or toilet roll or the ability to go out for a beer but the sea.

Living in Chesterfield, we’re nearly as far away from the coast as you can get. On a good day it’s 90 minutes drive or around 5 hours by bike.

A few years ago I did the Dunwich Dynamo. A fantastic event that runs every July from London Fields in Hackney to the small hamlet of Dunwich. There’s no organisation as such, just turn up and ride for free.

Everyone picks their own pace and is self sufficient either taking food with them or stopping on their way. There’s no leader, no big pack, just roll along as you like through the night.

When I did it I thought wouldn’t it be great to do something from Chesterfield to the coast. One of my fave spots on the edge of the North Sea is Kilnsea outside of Hull. This made a logical destination. There’s not a lot there apart from a World War One fort that’s crumbling away and a caravan park, but to get to it gives the opportunity to ride over the Humber Bridge.

The plan is when life returns to whatever normal, to set off from the Market Pub in Chesterfield around eight and ride through the night to the coast. The adventure won’t be guided – you’ll choose your own pace and route and have to be self sufficient including getting back at the end.

Once the pandemic’s died down I’ll pick a date when I’m riding it and you’re more than welcome to join me for a pint at the beginning and then make your own way. One request though, make sure you’ve got a set of lights and leave your sounds system at home if you’ve got one – my two big bug bears from the Dynamo !

The on/ off route that’s suitable for gravelly type bikes I’ll roughly be following is below. Feel free to choose your own.

Like what we do ? Why not buy us a coffee !?

Clumber Rumble

Must admit whilst I love the Peak District, it’s good to head in the opposite direction and explore the trails to the east of Chesterfield now and again. This routes a great Winter route as it’s a bit lest wild than some of the ones I’ve created.

Clumber Park is a popular spot with locals. The estate which was owned by the Duke of Newcastle is now run by the National Trust and is great for walking, cycling and relaxing.

This route starts at Chesterfield station and heads down the Transpennine Trail roughly following the Chesterfield canal and then a disused railway line. It the climbs over a hill via some quiet lanes and re-joins the canal at Kiveton.

Then it’s over to Worksop and follows the NCN route 6 through Worksop to Clumber. Then it’s through the Welbeck estate and Cresswell Crags where there’s a visitor centre and cafe.

The route then heads down the newly opened Clowne Branch line and down to Poolsbrook country park. It’s then back along the Transpennine Trail back to the start.

The route is more ultra-CX than pure gravel – do able on a gravel bike but a bit muddy in places, but not difficult enough to require an MTB.

There’s also a couple of places that you may have to get off and push your bike. Please be sensible and share with care.

Eyam MTB Circuit

Most of the routes I’ve posted are gravel based but every now and then I like to mix it up and get my MTB out. This is a variation of an after work ride I’ve done with a mate.

It’s got a healthy mix of fast descents, killer climbs and postcard quality views on a good day. It’s a tough little circuit, especially if it’s windy, but we like our routes with a bit of gnarl as that makes it feel like we’re getting value for money.

The start/ finish I’ve chosen is at one end of the closed road at Eyam, but there’s nothing to stop you starting elsewhere.

Youlgreave Circuit

We’ve a soft spot for the White Peak. It’s often overlooked in favour of it’s bolder brassier Dark Peak neighbour, but has a wealth of trails that are worth discovering.

This gravel based route starts and finishes at Alport near Youlgreave. It’s a mix of gravel tracks, quiet roads and bridleways. There’s also a small section of the High Peak trail in there.