Distance = 44.7 km (27.7 miles); off road = 30 km
Total Ascent = 1063m
Ride Time = 3 to 4 hours
Map = OS White Peak (OL 24)
A long route that is strangely satisfying. It is difficult and slow to start, but gets more and more enjoyable the further you ride.
Leave Brassington via the uphill road heading north to Longcliffe. After 700 metres, turn right in front of the telephone exchange onto the road to Wirksworth. This soon levels out and passes in front of a large factory (Hoben’s Industrial Minerals) behind which are the looming crags of Harborough Rocks. Immediately after the entrance to the factory is a stile and sandy path leading to the High Peak Trail. Reach the trail and turn right.
After 1.1 km, just before Hopton Station, is a large wooden gate on the left. Go through the gate and across the grass field keeping close to the left hand wall. Continue on the same line over the summit of the hill and down more grass to a T-junction with a wide, gravel track – the Chariot Way. Turn left and follow this for 1.8 km of fast up and down riding (more down than up) to a sharp left hand bend with a gate. Don't go through this gate, instead go through the gate below and to the right. The trail now follows an interesting, diagonal path across a grassy field, not really contouring and not really descending either, but kind of doing both. On the far side of the field is a muddy patch and beyond this is another grass field. At the bottom of the hill is Grangemill.
Go straight across the main road (care) and make a start along the road signposted to Bakewell. Almost immediately though, take the narrow road on the right signposted to Ible. After 300m of gentle uphill, turn right again and follow an alarmingly steep and narrow lane up the hill. Thankfully this soon levels out and leads to a narrow, tarmac track heading off left up the hill. Go up the track.
At the top of the hill is a crossroads – go straight on. The now unsurfaced track continues across the moor to another crossroads. Go straight across again onto the rock-strewn Blackmere Lane. Climb a short hill and follow the main track where it bends around to the left and becomes Blakelow Lane. Go up and over the hill to a crossroads.
Go straight over the road and through the left hand gate (not the large, metal gate on the right). At the bottom of the hill turn right and follow the track up and around the top of a quarry to a large, wooden gate. Here is a nice view of the Derwent Valley with Chatsworth in the distance. On the other side of the gate, an ill-defined bridle way heads diagonally across and down the field. Aim for the far corner of the field and go through a 'gateway'. In the next field, head diagonally leftwards towards the metal gate that can be seen on the far side. The field beyond this gate is huge and the route all but disappears amongst the hummocks and thorn bushes. It is best to take a straight, slightly descending line to begin with. Upon reaching the far upper corner, turn and head down the hill. Part way down, a farm track of sorts is crossed and this can be followed to the far lower corner and exit onto the road. The exit is a bit contrived and involves passing through the gate in the corner of the field, curving around to the right and passing through 2 more gates onto the drive of Trogues Farm. This area can be shin deep in liquid mud (is it possible to ride a bike in wellies?). Turn left up the road to Winster.
Just beyond the old market house in Winster, turn left up the narrow lane passing the Bowling Green PH. This lane winds its way up the hill and comes out near the Miners Standard PH. First turn left, then cross diagonally over the main B5056 and go 100m to the start of a track on the right. Follow this track for 1.4 interesting kilometres to the Elton – Winster road. Go straight over and head down Dudwood Lane to the B5056 in front of the castle-like Robin Hood's Stride. Blast down the main road for 1.5 km to where Stoney Ley Lodge just comes into view through the trees. A bridle way goes off left here, through a small wooden gate.
Cross the grass field to a 'three billy goats gruff' bridge over the stream. Climb up the other side of the valley and bend around to the right. The path now becomes narrow, rocky and steep and it may be necessary to walk. At the top of the hill, the path levels out and crosses a grass field to a road. Go straight over and across yet more grass to a narrow, tarmac lane which is followed down into Alport Dale. In the dale, there is a footbridge in front of a bench beneath a small crag. Cross the bridge and go up the steep, walled path into Youlgreave village.
Turn left by the church onto the main road through the village. After 1.2 km, turn left again for Middleton. At the village 'square' in Middleton, turn right and go up the hill for 500m to a sharp left onto Whitfield Lane.
Although this lane has a tarmac surface, it is in reality little more than a farm track. It has grass growing down the middle and virtually no traffic. It also gets quite sh*tty going past Kenslow Farm – literally. The lane exits onto a main road, turn right here and go 600m to the drive for Mere Farm on the left. This is the start of the superb Green Lane.
Green Lane is 2.8 km of up and down riding along a rough track with a variety of surfaces. Quite often there is a muddy lake in the middle to tiptoe round. At 1.5 km from Mere Farm, the lane crosses an old Roman road (look out for the Latin inscription) and at 2.2 km it crosses the High Peak Trail. At the far end, the A515 is reached. Cross this very busy road with great care and continue up the track on the opposite side. Go over the summit and down the other side. Where the track joins the road, turn right and carry on down the hill. Immediately before the bridge though, turn left to join the Tissington Trail at Hartington Station car park.
Follow the trail south for 2.5 km to Biggin and turn off at a bridge over a minor road. Head left up the road, following the signs for cycle route 54A to Minninglow. Cross straight over the main A515 (care) and use the cycle path that leads to the start of Cardlemere Lane, 100m to the right. This wide lane is surfaced with limestone chippings and is easy riding up a slight gradient to the summit of the hill. Where the track to Pikehall turns off left, go straight on through the metal gate.
Stop at the next gate to admire the wonderful panoramic view. From this point it is downhill virtually all the way to Ballidon – 180m vertical drop in 6 km distance. Begin this stunning ride by following the track down the hill through various gates to The Nook. Cross straight over Parwich Lane (watch out for cars) and onto Minninglow Lane. After 600 metres turn right at Roystone Cottages and follow the lane down through Roystone to Ballidon.
At the bottom end of Roystone is a huge limestone quarry. Avoid the heavy traffic by using the short gravel pathway along the left hand side of the road. The path rejoins the road at the grass triangle in Ballidon village. Turn left and follow the track up the hill until it veers sharply left. Keep straight ahead, go though the gate, over the summit (nice view) and steeply down the other side to Hipley.
Take great care crossing the busy main road (B5056) and climb gently up Pasture Lane to the corner in front of Rainster Rocks. Turn right, go down the hill and turn left at the T-junction for Brassington.
28th October 2008
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