Sunday 16th January 2022
The route started in Ashbourne on the Tissington Trail and headed north to the High Peak Trail before heading south east towards the High Peak junction on the Cromford Canal. From here it was northbound through Matlock on to the Derwent Valley Cycle Trail and up an old drovers lane to Coombs Road. Then onto the Monsal Trail up to Millers Dale where we join the Limestone Way to link to the Pennine Way and finally back onto the High Peak Trail back into Ashbourne.
- 69 miles (111km)
- 2663 ft Elevation (811 metres)
- Total Time 8 Hours 13 minutes – Moving Time 5 hours 26 minutes
- Average Speed 12.7 mph (20 km/h)
Setting off from Ashbourne at 9am the first 14 miles is a steady 2% climb up to Parsley Hay. The trail was fairly empty of walkers so we were able to cycle along two abreast chatting most of the way on this first section.
2% is not much but after 14 miles you can feel it in the legs so stopping for a quick coffee at Parsley Hay was a nice bit of relief for everyone. Who was riding I hear you ask, well it was the usual suspects, Dave, Simon, Rod, Gina, Les, Karl, Gus and Stewart who was out on his new gravel bike.
From Parsley Hay we head back down the trail to pick up the High Peak Trail. Which has a steady 2% decline most of the way to the Cromford Canal, 14 miles of fun ahead. The pace increased to around 18mph and we soon munched through the miles. About 2 miles before the canal there are two descents of 16% that are much more enjoyable going down than they are to climb up.
A quick photo stop at the High Peak Junction before heading down the canal to the café for our second coffee stop.
Feeling refreshed we headed on the road through Matlock Bath and Matlock before picking up the Derwent Valley Cycle Path which runs up an old train line with the River Derwent on your left and the A6 on your right.
Back on the road for about 200 yards before turning up a steep lane which climbs up to an old drovers lane called Coombs Road. The climb up is tough but has been made easier since they have resurfaced the lane. reaching the top we turned right onto a farm track to descend back down towards Bakewell and our lunch stop.
Now at Bakewell and all tucking into Fish & Chips it was decided to make our way up to the the Monsal Trail and to push onto Millers Dale for our last scheduled stop for coffee.
From Millers Dale the route was to find and ride up the Limestone Way. Dave had researched it online and with Google maps and believed it to be rideable and probably a bit steep to start with.
Leaving Millers Dale on the road and heading up the hill we found the Limestone Way which was mostly tarmacked albeit broken up in places, and yes it was steep maxing out at 18%. Karl & Stewart both managed to cycle all the way up where everyone else had a bit of a ‘Hike a Bike’. It was tough but we gained height quite quickly. This spat us back out on a back lane before crossing over the A6 at the side of the Waterloo Pub before climbing again on a gravel track. This one was not as steep but did have a couple of technical sections in.
Cresting the summit we were greeted by blinding sunlight and an awesome view which may have been lost on some who were focused on the terrain and the big puddles that were doing their best to throw you off balance. Happy to say that nobody got wet feet this time.
From here we met up with the Pennine Way and back onto a familiar route. Now over 50 miles in and a couple of riders were starting to feel it in there legs. But from here it is downhill all the way back onto the High Peak Trail and eventually onto the Tissington Trail.
The group picked up speed heading down to Ashbourne along the last 14 miles now running with the gradient. I think it was a mixture of fading daylight and cold hands that pushed us on. reaching speeds of 21mph we motored onto the end.
An epic route that is as enjoyable in an anti clockwise direction as it is the other way round. Another great day gravel riding in the Peak District.