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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.

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Peak District Gravel Climbs

If it doesn’t kill you….

Some would say it’s about the glory through suffering, others as just a way to get where you want to go. The Peak has quite a few iconic climbs that have been used in both road races and the national hill climb championships.

There are also some absolutely belting gravel based climbs for those who enjoy that type of thing. Climbs on the road in the Peak are tough. Doing it on gravel just turns the notch up a couple. Here’s a few of our favourites.

Mam Tor

One of the Peak’s most famous climbs. This former A road is slowly heading towards the valley floor which leads to a dramatic post apocalyptic landscape.

Longstone Edge

Longstone’s rightfully a popular climb with local roadies. A tough little number, but you are rewarded with a fantastic view at the end, The gravel version is relatively easy and goes via a working quarry with quite an impressive hole !

Shatton

Shatton’s one of those climbs that you don’t find in many guide books. It’s steep and a lot of it’s not gravel – it’s on precast concrete slabs that were put down so that vehicles could get to the transmitter mast at the top. However it’s a bit rough on a road bike and once you are the mast it’s full on gravel so it’s ignored by those who like lycra.

Beeley

We used this on the Hardcore100 and got quite a bit of ‘customer feedback’ on it so it’s must be a toughie ! A good alternative to the normal road route, the first steep bit is on tarmac. Once you’ve got to the farms half way up the gradient settles down however the surface becomes very sketchy just to make up for that.

Stanage

Stanage has a big mountain feel to it. The route has always been a fave descent but it also makes a cracking climb. There’s also one of the best views anywhere at the top.

Rowsley

Rowsley’s got a bit of reputation in road riding circles and this little climb that links Rowsley Bar to Beeley keeps that aura going.

Church Lane

This is Rowsley’s other climb. One of our fave’s that we’ve been using a for years and is a good ‘back way’ into Bakewell.

Bar Road Baslow

We used this towards the end of the Brutal Tootle. It’s a climb that just keeps on giving.

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GHB

The man who was never lost never went very far – GHB Ward

All of the events in 2019 start in the village in Holmesfield. Whilst it’s a lovely place and has several nice pubs, it was also the home to one of the original champions of access to open land GHB Ward.

Without GHB and those early pioneers we probably would not be able to run our events.

George Herbert Bridges or GHB or Bert Ward was born in the middle of Sheffield in 1876. In 1900 he put an advert in the Clarion newspaper for a walk around the highest hill in Derbyshire Kinder Scout. Back in those days you could walk around the plateau but the summit was private land.

On the back of this walk he formed the Sheffield Clarion Ramblers, the world’s first working class rambling club. This organisation became the chief organisation for campaigning for greater access in the Dark Peak. As early as 1907, 25 years before the famous mass trespass, they were organising walks across privately owned shooting moors.

In 1923 Ward was served an injunction to prevent him setting foot on land on the western, Hayfield side of the Kinder plateau which would have prevented him taking part in the mass trespass 9 years later.

Ward was also a Freemason. This may seem strange from a man who was a committed socialist. It however did give him access to some of the major local landowners.

Federation of rambling clubs were starting to form in northern cities like Liverpool and Manchester. In 1926 GHB was instrumental in forming a federation of the 18 Sheffield Rambling clubs.

A year later a meeting of all of the ramblers federations was held in Hope with the aim of forming a national body.

In 1931 another meeting was held at Longshaw Lodge, which had recently been purchased from the Duke of Rutland using an early version of crowdfunding. This established the National Council of Ramblers Federations, which in 1935 became the Ramblers Association.

In 1941 GHB retired to Storth Lodge on the edge of Holmesfield. Folks that entered the Brutal Tootle passed the entrance to this house.

Without the pioneering work of GHB we probably would not have had the access to the uplands we do at the moment.

Great advocacy work has been done locally to us by groups like Ride Sheffield and Peak District MTB, working with local landowners to improve access and help them maintain local trails.

The short MTB route below passes GHB Ward’s house and takes in several concessionary bridleways across the Eastern Moors Estate.

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Moss Valley

This is another route which is a fave of ours and part of it is the commute we do into Velotastic HQ. It starts and finishes at Chesterfield railway station, so there’s no excuse to drive to the start.

The route heads off down the Chesterfield canal which is a nice traffic free way out of the town. After a few miles there is a short climb through the village of Whittington followed by a bridleway to the quiet village of Hundall.

On a good day there’s a panoramic view over to the Peak and down the Drone valley. From here it’s onto Apperknowle and down a bridleway that’s just beyond the Travellers Rest pub. The trail goes round the back of an airstrip. It’s rarely used, so if you do see a plane it’s a bonus. Then it’s a short road section through Troway.

Next is a fun descent down into the Moss Valley which is followed by an inevitable climb. Using a set of bridleways the route traverses the valley onto Mosborough.

Then it’s more downhill to Eckington and off road to Barrow Hill. From here we rejoin the canal and take the Transpennine Trail towards Inkersall. Then it’s a fun descent through Westwood and onto Brimington Common. The ride returns to the start following the Transpennine Trail across Tapton golf course.

The route takes 2-3 hours so is an ideal Sunday morning or weekday evening ride. There’s plenty of places (pubs) on route to get a drink.

If you like this why not check out our events ?

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Chesterfield to Lincoln

To the flatlands.

One of the most useless pieces of trivia about Chesterfield are that the hills to the edge of it are the highest point on that latitude to the west of the Urals in Russia. The other factoid is that, on a good clear day, you can see Lincoln cathedral’s towers from the top of them.

There also used to be a railway between Lincoln and Chesterfield. Back in the Victorian era there was an ambitious plan to build a railway from Lincolnshire to Lancashire. All was going well until they reached Chesterfield and realised that things were going to get both tricky and expensive to cross the Peak so the plan was abandoned. Part of this route follows this line across a disused railway viaduct over the Trent.

The route starts by Chesterfield railway station and follows the canal for a while. From here it goes up the Clowne Branch Line which is a fantastic newly created shared use path.

Then the route heads past Cresswell Crags and through the Welbeck and Clumber estates. Then it’s off towards the Fledborough viaduct and into Lincoln itself. The route finishes with a cobbled climb up to the cathedral door.

One of the great things about this route is that there is a station at both ends which makes the logistics of it a bit easier. It’s also slightly downhill !

Enjoy this route ? Don’t forget to check out our cycling events.

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Bakewell & Monsal

The re-invented former railway lines in the Peak are popular with tourists and locals alike. This short route explores a couple of them .

Starting at Bakewell station, the route heads off down the traffic free Monsal Trail. Be careful, especially at weekends to watch out for dogs and children off their leads ! The route goes down the route of the former Derby to Manchester line and has some spectacular views, a few tunnels and a viaduct to keep you entertained.

Once you’re warmed up and have reached Millers Dale station, a short but brutal climb takes you up towards the hamlet of Priestcliffe. From here it’s across the A6 and onto a combination of sections involving gravel tracks and quiet roads and over to the High Peak trail.

We follow this trail for a while passing the former Parsley Hay station which has been converted into a bike hire and food kiosk and head south for a while.

From here we head off down a long green lane and off towards Middleton and Youlgreave. Here we head up another off road section and make our way back to Bakewell.

Instead of heading back to the start, there’s a short section along the A6 which takes us onto a bridleway that leads to the beginning of the Monsal trail.

If you love this route, don’t forget to check out our events that we are holding throughout the year.

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Stanage

A Game of Two Halves

In the week when we lost arguably England’s most famous goalkeeper and Sheffield lad, Gordon Banks I thought I’d put up a local route that begins on the edge of the city.

Sheffield markets itself quite rightly as the Outdoor City. A big chunk of it is in the Peak District and the national park is easily accessible. This route starts (and finishes) at the Norfolk Arms. A popular watering hole with cyclists. From here it heads across the edge of the Mayfield valley and round the Rivelin Dams.

From there there is a punishing climb up to Stanage, which featured in the start of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightly. Another hard climb (this time on road) follows round the bottom of the edge to one of our fave spots in the Peak – the Burbage Valley.

Then it’s onto the former country estate of Longshaw. From here you have two choices – cut the bottom of the route off and head off back to the pub or go south for some more exploring.

If you choose the latter it’s on to Moss Road, one of the few proper bits of gravel we’ve got in the area. Past the railway tunnel chimney and over Brown Edge over a little used trail. Then it’s across Big Moor and Ramsley Moor and up to Wellington’s Monument for a view down the valley towards Chatsworth (also in Pride and Pedjudice). Then it’s over to Curbar Gap and across the edges back to Longshaw.

From here pass through the estate and onto Houndkirk. At the end of Houndkirk (a short distance from the end) there is always the option, if time permits to go and have a play on the MTB trails at Lady Cannings.

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Hathersage Circuit

A ride with a view

Another shorter gravel ride that we like that can be done in a morning or evening. Includes the option of a play on Lady Cannings MTB trails.

Starting at the National Trust’s Longshaw estate which has a popular cafe on site the route heads over Houndkirk Road and past the Lady Canning’s plantation which offers an optional play down one of the blue MTB trails.

Then a road section round the Rivelin dams and up onto Stanage Edge for one of the most panoramic views in the Peak. Then it’s a lumpy (but mainly downhill) to Yorkshire Bridge and down the Thornhill trail which is on the track bed of the old railway that was used to build the nearby dams.

Then onto Shatton and a lovely quiet trail via Offerton to one of our fave climbs – Abney. At the ridge summit you are rewarded with a cracking view of Stanage edge where you were earlier. Then it’s onto the pretty, historic village of Eyam. A closed road section is followed by a steady climb up Froggatt and back through the Longshaw estate.

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Linacre

A gravel take on an MTB classic

The Linacre Circuit has been a Peak District classic since it appeared in MTB guidebooks in the 1980’s. It is a combination of mud, climbs and cracking descents.

We’re lucky enough to live a couple of hundred metres from the route and have ridden it more times than we can remember. It’s great for an evening or afternoon ride and is very accessible from Chesterfield.

We thought we’d put out our own spin on the classic route that’s suitable for gravel bikes. There’s still a little bit of mud along the way, but generally it’s rideable in all weathers.


The route’s suitable for gravel bikes and hardtail MTB’s.

The route starts from Holmebrook Valley park and heads up a green lane and off into Linacre. From there its a nice gravel stretch over to Chandler Hill. There’s a short section on Baslow Road, but it’s not too bad as the road is nice and wide. Then a bit of a tough climb and onto one of our fave local gravel sections.

After that it’s a ride across the tops and a descent into Cordwell Valley. Then follows the best bit of the ride a couple of fast descents back towards Barlow (watch out for horses). And then it’s back over to the start.

Our fave eateries on the way are Hackney House at Barlow and the Peacock in Cutthorpe.

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The Peak Divide

The Peak District is our back yard and where we do a lot of our riding. It’s one of the UK’s original national parks and has a very diverse landscape.

Like many riders of a certain age, for us time and money is at a premium. Whilst we’d love to have the funds and freedom to do epic tours, for the majority of the time we’re limited to a weekend away at the most. One of the great mountain bike rides in the USA , the Greatl Divide Route is the daddy of long distance MTB routes. It also passes through the neigbourhood of our fave bag supplier Oveja Negra. This got us thinking. How about a MTB route that goes from the northern most point to the southern most point in the Peak that could be done over a weekend ?

The northern most point of the Peak is on a bridleway just south of Marsden in West Yorkshire. The southern most point is a hedge bottom just of the A52. This didn’t sound to glamorous so we decided the end of Manifold Valley trail nearby was a better finish.

Above’s our idea for a suggested route. From a lot of experience riding in the Peak, we reckon the following.

  1. It’ll be a big day out in the saddle. Probably best done over a couple of days with an overnight stop around Eyam.
  2. You’ll probably need an MTB due to the section over Cut Gate and Hope Cross.
  3. The hardest bit is in the first half.
  4. It’s probably one for longer days and dry weather.

If you did not have an MTB alternatively you could head down the Trans Pennine Trail through Wharncliffe then head towards Bradfield and on to Castleton if you fancied a longer and easier route for a gravel bike.

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Gnarmac Attack !

Entries to our latest gravel themed reliability ride are now live.

The Gnarmac Attack will take place on May 12th 2019. This time we’ll be exploring some of the trails in the White Peak. To stop us getting lazy and regurgitating the same route and you getting bored in the process we’re using a fresh combination of some of our favourite trails.

The ride is suitable for MTB, cross and gravel bikes and takes in a mix of byways, bridleways and quiet country lanes. As usual expect some killer climbs and technical descents as we don’t do flat.

You can enter here.

Further details, including rules and FAQ’s can be found on the event website.

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Type 2 Fun

One of my mate’s jokes there are two types of fun. Type 1 is the instant hit that you get while you are doing whatever. The other, Type 2 is what you get when you’ve finished. That delayed buzz and feeling of satisfaction from pushing yourself.

When I came up with the idea of putting on a cycling event I knew I wanted to go for the type 2 option and organise something that would be challenging but achievable. An epic ride that could be done in a day, fit around family commitments and would feel like a big day out.

I was also aware of the number of other sportive type events out there and knew I needed to do something a bit different for a few reasons.

The first one of course was to try and stand out from the crowd. I’ve been riding mountain bikes for around 30 years and cross bikes for the past six or seven. I’ve also been walking in the Peak since I was a kid and know the area well so wanted to capitalise on that ‘local knowledge’. There was an opening for a ultra CX or gravel type event that did not just chug around the area’s disused railway tracks.

A lot of events that happen in the Peak don’t actually contribute much to the local economy. Riders follow the arrows, eat at feed stations and don’t get to experience some of our excellent local pubs and cafe’s. I think a lot of this comes from a compulsion to use the feed stations and stop nowhere else. Plus, having a timed ride and in some events a medal for different speeds of completion there is an encouragement to press on and not engage with the environment you are riding through.

One of my pet hates is event direction arrows. Fair enough they serve a purpose, but they also end up cluttering up our local landscape when they are not removed. In these days of GPS, why not just follow a map on your handlebars.

I also wanted to keep the route secret from entrants until the week before and change the route for each event. This would prevent the route from getting too much hammer and provide an added interest. It would minimise the environmental impact and allow me to make last minute changes if the route became unsuitable.

To keep that low key and special feeling I wanted to limit numbers. This would also minimise the chances of big packs of riders clogging the roads and trails up.

Back in the early days of cycling, clubs used to run reliability trials. The aim of these was to complete a set route within a set time. They were called reliability, because back in the day bikes were not and a lot of the time the challenge was to finish a ride without your bike dropping to bits. Many clubs still run these events, normally in late winter months as a low key warm up to the racing season.

This format exactly fitted what I was looking for in my events. Where riders had to rely not only on their cycling skills and stamina, but self reliance, an ability to read a map (or at least a GPS) and pace themselves, including how long to spend consuming cake so they got back in time.

After hours studying maps and working out whether suitable routes would be too hard or easy I settled on the 100 km mark as a suitable distance. I also decided that if I was going to do an on / off road route it should be around 30% off road. The reason for this is that you go slower off road so it would balance out and feel more like 50/50.

With the help and support of friends and family, I’ve run two events in 2018 – the Hardcore100 and Brutal Tootle which I’ve had really positive feedback from lots of people that have entered which is really encouraging.

For 2019 I’m planning on running three events.

The first two, the Gnarmac Attack and Ronde van Vegas will be in the on/off road ultra cx / gravel format that the previous events have been. The Gnarmac Attack will be heading off into the Peak and the Ronde will be doing a lap of our home town Chesterfield. I wanted to showcase some of the trails, byways and quiet lanes that are outside of the national park.

The third event which will be held mid-September, the Peak Grinder will be a road based event. This will take in some of the Peak’s iconic and best known hill climbs, plus a few lesser known local favourites.

I really hope you can join us for some Type 2 fun in 2019.

Paul