From the steep limestone valleys like Dovedale to the stark moorland plateaus such as Kinder Scout, the Peak District is a wild and magnificent wonderland – especially when on two wheels!
One of the “must ride” locations for mountain biking in the UK, the region blankets a large area in central England that is hugely varied in its undulations, foundations and scenery. Roughly split into two halves, the southern region of the National Park is known as the White Peak, characterised by the afore-mentioned limestone, while the northern more wild area, the Dark Peak, is defined by dramatic gritstone ridges.
Our guide chooses five of the best locations in the Peak District for mountain biking – from difficult, hardcore routes to family-friendly jaunts.
This is a route that is a little over 28 miles and requires advanced skills and a high level of fitness. It starts at the top of Ladybower Reservoir and heads out through Hope Valley, returning via Edale Valley, and follows some of the best trails that the Dark Peak can conjure. It will push you to the limit of your stamina and skills with tricky technical climbs and adrenaline-inducing descents to bomb. For more knuckle-biting detail, click here.
Difficulty (out of five): ⛰️⛰️⛰️⛰️⛰️
Bakewell – Beeley Hill
You’ll have earned those Bakewell Puddings after this one. Designed for experienced riders, but not on a par with our first route, this trail covers almost 21 miles. The ride begins in the town of Bakewell in the White Peak, as the limestone hills provide good riding surrounded by fabulous scenery. Beware, however, as it mentions in here, it can get quite muddy, very slippery and dangerous with exposed wet roots. Take care during inclement weather and watch out for those trail fairies.
This is a mostly flat and traffic-free trail that runs for approximately eight miles along the line of a disused railway. The railway closed in 1967 and they have recently opened and lit the old tunnels, which adds great excitement and glorious echoes to the journey! Passing through some of Derbyshire’s most beautiful countryside, and you can uncover some fascinating heritage along the way.
The Monsal Trail can be enjoyed by anyone who is able to cycle, although it can get very busy in the summer months, so our advice is to start early and stop for refreshments along the way at one of the two cafes.
Carsington Water is a two-mile-long reservoir where cyclists can complete a circuit that measures eight miles, perfect for a day trip. It crosses the dam and goes through the villages of Carsington and Hopton, with wildlife viewing points along the way. There is a large visitor’s centre to finish at, with a children’s play area, a water-sports centre, a restaurant and some shops – a great day out for the family.
Leek, South West Peaks
True North Adventures cater rides from your perspective
For absolute beginners through to regular cyclists, routes can be tailored to your needs with True North Adventures in Leek in the South West Peaks. They are a guided biking company for any cycling discipline, including electric bikes, and are the first company in the UK to do so. They have a fleet of full-suspension e-bikes, as they are known, specifically for use off-road.
Difficulty: ⛰️ through to ⛰️⛰️⛰️⛰️⛰️
If you prefer to walk instead of a cycle, have a look at our recommendations for 10 fantastic walks in the Peak District.
And for those who are already set on an adrenaline-fuelled adventure in the Peak District, check out our Peak District cottages to find a great place to stay at the heart of the action.
Thinking of taking the whole family on a cycling trip? Check out our cottages for February and October half terms.