The White Peak Loop will connect up the High Peak Trail, the Tissington Trail and the Monsal Trail to provide 60 miles of scenic off road cycling. Making use of the disused railways of the Peak District, the trails cross the high moors on gentle inclines and follow dramatic valleys through Victorian tunnels. Crossing this dramatic landscape with the minimum of climbing is a gift for cyclists and ideal for families. With bunkhouse and hostel accommodation available on the Peak District cycle trails the White Peak Loop provides ideal off road cycle holidays with easy rides and stunning views.
Accommodation on the White Peak Loop
Accommodation in bunkhouses and hostels on the White Peak Loop Peak District cycle trails.
The Peak District Cycle Ways group have achieved an immense engineering feat in opening the Monsal Trail from near Buxton into Bakewell, to the applause of Derbyshire’s residents and visitors, who have voted with their feet and wheels. Completing the connection though to Matlock and connecting the Monsal and Tissington Trail to Buxton will soon create a cycle loop. “The White Peak Loop” is sure to bring many more visitors and their bikes to the Peaks.
The uplands and valleys of the Peak District are blessed with railways beds. They were built for the industries which once thrived in this now rural landscape. The railway beds cross the high moors using the “cut and cover” technique. The technique was pioneered by the railways to provide flat or consistently gentle inclines. This makes ideal Peak District cycle trails with easy rides and stunning views.
High Peak Trail
The High Peak Trail climbs up from the Derwent Valley at Cromford along two serious inclines. Here the steam trains were attached by cable to Engine Houses at the top of the hill and the trains were pulled up by stationary steam engines. The Engine Houses and winding mechanisms are still present and at Middleton Top Engine House there is also a cafe, cycle hire and a large car park.
These first two inclines are steep and a good challenge for mountain bikers. For the more relaxed cyclist they are a walk up. The third incline, just after Middleton Top, is an easy climb for anyone with gears. This makes Middleton Top a great place to start a ride along the High Peak Trail. The GLENORCHY CENTRE in Wirksworth is just over a mile by road from The High Peak Trail at Black Rocks and two miles from Middleton Top. Glenorchy Centre provides great value self catering accommodation for groups of up to 26 people. It’s an ideal first night stay for anyone exploring the Peak District Cycle Trails.
The top of the easy incline finds you high on the Derbyshire Moors and from there you can cycle along a flat railway bed with stunning views of the moors. The High Peak Trail continues for 11 miles and joins the Tissington Trail at Parsley Hay. There is a cafe, bike repair, cycle hire and large car park. A map of these routes can be seen a little further down this blog.
From Parsley Hay the Tissington Trail can be followed south through Tissington to Ashbourne.
For those looking for a weekend of easy scenic cycle touring on the Peak District cycle trails, ASHBOURNE GATEWAY would provide a great night’s stay for a group cycling from the GLENORCHY CENTRE along the High Peak Cycle Trail. Where you have the option of visiting the beautiful village of Tissington en route. To reunite cyclists at the end of the weekend with cars left near the Glenorchy Centre on the first night, Yourbus 110 can be used to get from Ashbourne to Wirksworth. It runs roughly every hour on weekdays, and four times a day at weekends. This website shows hostels in the Peak District ideal for cycle tours.
The Tissington Trails branches north at Parsley Hay. This 3.5 mile arm takes you past Hurdlow and then comes to an end near Grinlow Quarries. Here the original train track continued into Buxton before it was quarried away. Cyclists can, however, pick up NCN68 at this point which takes you into Buxton.
This is part of a larger project which includes extending the Monsal Trail to create a 60-mile round trip using the High Peak Trail, the Tissington Trail, the Cromford Canal, and The Monsal Trail. The new loop will be called the White Peak Loop, Derbyshire County Council are heading this project which still faces some significant hurdles before the loop is completed.
The Monsal Trail
The Monsal Trail was opened in 2014 and has tremendous popular appeal. It uses an old railway bed from just outside Buxton to Bakewell. Then it passes through long tunnels connecting Cheedale, Upperdale, and Millers Dale. It passes over the stunning Monsal Viaduct and has glorious views of the valleys. Despite passing through valleys and hillsides the Monsal Trail has an easy consistent gradient so slight that you do not realise you have been cycling uphill towards Buxton until you turn round to sail back down again.
The Monsal Trail is accessible from the grounds of THORNBRIDGE OUTDOORS on the flat traffic-free route between Bakewell & Blackwell Mill near Buxton. Groups that stay at Thornbridge can bring their own bike and explore the surroundings or hire an instructor. Alternatively, you can ride down the Monsal Trail with one of the centre’s instructors and then abseil off the bridge! Popular with visiting groups is to walk down the Monsal Trail to the Hassop Station cafe, enjoy a drink and some food and walk back. Thornbridge Outdoors also offers other activities on and off-site. Find out more here.
The extension of the Monsal Trail through the grounds of Haddon Hall to Matlock is the next stage on the agenda of the Peak District Cycle Ways group. From Matlock, an on-road cycleway is planned through Matlock Bath to Cromford. The Cromford Canal towpath connects cyclists to the base of the High Peak Trail. But you will have to be ready for those steep inclines up to Middleton top. Here the White Peak Loop would be complete if only the Tissington Trail and Monsal Trail connected to Buxton.