Rainster Rocks, Longcliffe, High Peak Trail, Minninglow, Gallowlow, Rockhurst Farm, Pikehall, Cardlemere Lane, Roystone, Ballidon, Hipley.
Distance = 24 km (14.9 miles); off road = 17.6 km
Total Ascent = 403m
Ride Time = 2 to 2.5 hours
Map = OS White Peak (OL 24)
This route asks the question “what have the Romans ever done for us?”. It takes the best bits of ‘Roman Holiday’ and rebels by adding a further 10 kilometres of fun.
Head out of Brassington in a westerly direction on the road to Bradbourne. About 300m beyond the final house (Hipley Farm), turn right up the road signposted to Ballidon. Go up and over the hill to where the road turns a sharp corner to the left. The first off road section begins here. The obvious crags ahead are Rainster Rocks, at the foot of which is a settlement of Roman age.
Go through the right hand of the two gates and follow the bridle path across the grassy field with ridge and furrow. On the far side of the field, a steep, rocky ridge appears to block the way on, but the path manages to squeeze through by sticking close to the wall. Escape into the field on the other side of the wall via the wooden gate. Continue north past some farm buildings to emerge on the main road (B5056).
Turn right up the road towards Longcliffe and less than 50m after passing under the bridge, go through the stile on the right to join the High Peak Trail. If you reach Longcliffe crossroads, you have gone too far.
Loop around to join the trail proper at the bridge over the main road. Look for the concrete sign indicating the gradient of the trail ahead and pride yourself in the knowledge that for the next 3 kilometres it is all uphill. Turn right, cross the bridge and head northwest towards Minninglow. After 3.1 km, an obvious track crosses the trail and nearby, to the right, is the distinctive summit of Minninglow Hill. Leave the trail here by turning right onto the track of Gallowlow Lane.
Gallowlow Lane is bleak and inhospitable and seems to suffer from perpetual bad weather. Forward progress can be a real battle when the wind is blowing and the deep mud is revolting (like those Roman slaves perhaps?). Pick the wrong day in winter and the whole experience can have you crying for your mummy. Some may consider it gladiator training. Everyone else should plan to do it on a warm, calm day when the ground is dry.
At the other end of Gallowlow Lane, turn left and be grateful for the respite offered by the tarmac of the road to Rockhurst Farm.
Where the road bends right at Rockhurst Farm, keep straight on and follow the superb, gently undulating track for 2 km to where it meets a tarmac road (Mouldridge Lane). Go straight over with care, through the gate and down the continuation track to Pikehall. This short section of track is a Roman road.
Very briefly join and follow the main road (A5012) towards Newhaven. Turn left after 100m onto the minor road to Parwich (signposted). This bends first to the right and then to the left. Take the obvious, wide track heading uphill away from the second bend. Over the top of the hill, the track descends slightly and crosses the High Peak Trail before climbing another, longer hill.
At the top of this hill is a T-junction with Cardlemere Lane. Turn left following the sign for Minninglow and stop after 500m to admire the wonderful panoramic view. This is the highest point on the route and from here it is downhill virtually all the way to the lowest point at 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 500 metres turn right at Roystone Cottages (‘Roman Holiday’ is rejoined here) and follow the lane down through Roystone to Ballidon.
If you have time, stop at Roystone Grange to see the Roman farmstead and field system. Also, behind the church-like compressor house are the remains of a mediaeval grange.
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.
22nd March 2008
Map and Directions: Spartacus.pdf
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