Pedalling the Peak

Alastair Clark, one of our fantastic leaders tells his tale of leading a Guided Cycling holiday at Dovedale:Dovedale

“Wow – what a great three day experience based at Peveril of the Peak.

Saturday 2nd August
On Saturday evening I met up with two Mikes, Kathy Christine, Phil, Riss, Denise, Indera, Karen and Mark. We checked our bikes and were ready to set off for three good rides.

Sunday 3rd August
Setting off from the village of Thorpe we hit our first uphill almost straight away but once over the cattle grid we plunged downwards very fast to the village of Ilam.

A great start to the day but then came the sting with 4km of uphill towards the village of Wetton. Here the old police station has become private house but the garden houses some very weird carved wooden figures – some looking rather sinister.

Snaking narrow roads took us down down down to Hulme End. There is a great little cafe here at the end of what used to be a narrow gauge Leek and Manifold light railway.

After the coffee we made it to Thor’s Cave. We clambered up with our packed lunches and enjoyed the lovely view you see above.

The Manifold Track is a great off-road ride. We took a break at Waterhouses and then – well then it had to be a steep uphill on a busy main road! Happily not for too far and we escaped into a quiet road to Calton at the top of the hill.

Then there was the downhill of the day – back into the Manifold Valley. The road sweeps right through the a farm yard and we took a pause to look at the remains of Throwley Hall – said to have been a meeting place for the strange Muggletonian sect.

The National Trust always does a good cup of tea and the cafe at Ilam Hall did not let us down. And then after that long descent we crossed the River Dove and in the shadow of the hill called Thorpe Cloud we tackled the last hill of the day.


Monday 4 August
Today we tackled Tissington Ford. Legendary for cyclists in the area and it was enjoyed so much that (almost) everyone went through twice!

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The village of Bradbourne had just marked its status as a ‘Thankful Village’ – one of only 52 communities in Britain which lost no-one to the Great War. 18 young men went to the First World War and 18 came back.

We stood in front of the plaque exactly 100 years since Britain went to war. We marked the losses of the war with two minutes of silence by the plaque.

We clambered to the top of Harboro Rocks to see views of the hill-top circle of trees, making the Minninglow barrow. After a snack we joined the High Peak Trail, converted to a cycling and walking track from one of England’s oldest railways. We made our way through Longcliffe, past the ‘Y Not’ Pop Festival and on to the picnic site at Parsley Hay for lunch.

One of our two Mikes was riding his folding Brompton. Considering it has small wheels and only three gears he did really well in keeping up with us. But he was worth a picture as we set off south past Hartington on the Tissington Trail.


The Tissington trail is very gently downhill all the way. Tissington provided a great cup of tea and then we drifted on back to the Peveril of the Peak house where we stayed.


Tuesday 5 August
Today there was no time for drifting! We had 76km to ride and 900m of ascent so I ‘mustered the troops’ and we set off earlier at 9.10.

We splashed the ford again but then had our first long grind up to Longcliffe. That gave us the height and we enjoyed some lovely runs down to Elton and Youlgreave, or is it Youlgrave? It’s a village which spells its name two ways!

Conksbury is a village which was abandoned in the Middle Ages but there is still a steep hill down and an even steeper hill up the other side!

Bakewell was busy and no time to sample the famous puddings but after a short stretch on the Monsall Trail we found a cafe at Hassop station which had coffee and Bakewell Puddings – so we ate in peace. (delighted to say there was not a cherry or Mr Kipling in sight!)

Mike had driven up to meet us on the trail – a great advantage of the folding bike. He had to finish early today for family commitments and this did give him the chance to sample the huge improvement on the trail since the 7 tunnels were opened and given lighting.

Monsall Head viaduct appears on many railway posters and 1000 postcards, but the view still ‘blows me away’ every time I emerge from that tunnel.

But from here on every gap between every tunnel is its own scene of limestone gorge crammed with trees.

Millersdale was the loo stop but lunch was at the final point of the trail at Topley Pike.

The sky was looking grey and the wind gathering in the way it does as a rain front approaches.

The plod of 2km up the A6 hill and the ride through rain swept Chelmorton may not have been moments of joy, but by gum they meant we really enjoyed the hot drink at Parsley Hay.


Despite the rain all should have been plain sailing for the 15 km back to Thorpe but sadly Phil managed to have the team puncture! In the rain! Nothing seemed to get him down and we found the spanners to release his wheel and pop in a new tube. (That rain was no place for messing around with patches!)

Our bikes needed rather more hosing-down than normal – but I was soon enjoying a Guinness in the bar.”


Thank you for sharing your tale, Alastair.


For more information about taking this holiday yourself
call 0345 470 8558, email us or visit our website.


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