Cycling the Peak District - Hope Valley horseshoe
PUBLISHED: 00:00 16 June 2020
A stunning ridge ride exploring the Hope Valley horseshoe. Mam Tor awaits the intrepid, while the delights of Castleton and Edale tempt at either end.
For many, the Hope Valley area of the Peak District is the crown in an area already boasting an embarrassment of riches – a verdant valley enclosed by spectacular lines of hills, it feels like a world apart (although in the aptly-named ‘peak season’, this part of the Peaks can get especially busy). Winding through it all is the Hope Valley Line – one of the most scenic railway routes in Britain.
During the summer months you may be able to jump aboard the Folk Train, which runs from Sheffield.
You can enjoy live acoustic music on the journey there and then further entertainment and refreshment at the Rambler Inn, Edale - although this experience is best not combined with the strenuous cycling tour here!
For now, we begin our tour by alighting at Hope - always a good place to begin an adventure. There follows a pleasant, level cycle ride to Castleton, with its many splendid attractions and hostelries. You may be tempted by the various watering holes (although the same caveat as above applies), or the famous hole of the Blue John Cavern, where the world-famous ‘blue john’ stone (Britain’s rarest mineral, apparently) is mined and turned into myriad souvenirs for the memento-hungry tourists. After plumbing the depths of Blue John (and the other caves), ascend to the heights of Mam Tor (also known as ‘Shivering Mountain’ due to its predilection for landslips), to enjoy the spectacular views. From here, you can access the dramatic ridge route – which is worth the effort, affording panoramic vistas down into both the Hope and Edale valley.
It is to the latter you head next, using the pass to descend to Barber Booth, then along to Edale, where two pubs, a café, and a good chippy await to cater for the ravenous, thisty cyclist. You can always break the trip here to spend a peaceful night in one of the campsites of the area (Fieldhead offers lovely streamside camping), bunk in the youth hostel, or even B&B, before pushing on in the morning, fortified by a hearty breakfast and a good night’s sleep. The quiet(ish) lane makes its way back towards Hope, where your adventure began, and now, for the time being, ends.
1. Starting at Hope railway station head right towards Hope village, then Castleton on the A6187.
2. From Castleton head west and take the right fork of the Mam Tor Road.
3. Follow signs to Blue John Cavern. Even if you don’t visit the attraction, the Blue John Café is worth a pitstop.
4. From here, head up the ridge to Hollins Cross (you may need to push!). The masochistic may want to lug their bikes up the steep path on the left side of the combe to the popular trigpoint (1696ft/517m).
5. From here, there is a hairy plunge down to the ridge, where you can rejoin the ‘low level’ route at Hollins Cross. NB Respect other users of the trail. Safety first.
6. From Hollins Cross, follow Barker Bank towards the right of Lose Hill. Turn back before you lose too much altitude, enjoying the ridge ride a second time!
7. Head back towards Mam Tor, dropping down just before the big climb to the right (into the Edale Valley), skirting the ramparts of an old hill fort before joining the road.
8. Follow the winding country lane down towards Barber Booth - you won’t be able to get a haircut there anymore, but the hairy bends will keep you on your toes!
9. Turn right onto the road to Edale.
10. At Edale, turn left into the village, and push up to the Old Nags Head. Check out the Packhorse Bridge over Grindbrook Clough behind it. There is an excellent chippy (Coopers) in the yard opposite, by the official start of the Pennine Way.
11. Return to the main road, and turn left, heading back to Hope via Nether Booth.
Kevan Manwaring is an author and creative writing lecturer. His books include Turning the Wheel: seasonal Britain on two wheels; Lost Islands; and Pen Mine: itinerant thoughts of a Pennine Wayfarer. He is a keen walker and cyclist.
Before undertaking any journey, please check gov.uk for advice and updates on Covid-19.
OS Map: OL1 The Peak District (Dark Peak Area).
Map of route: https://gb.mapometer.com/mountain_biking/route_5039137
Visit Castleton: www.visitpeakdistrict.com/explore/towns-and-villages/castleton-p679701
Blue John Cavern: www.bluejohn-cavern.co.uk
Visit Edale: www.visitpeakdistrict.com/explore/towns-and-villages/edale-p682991
Fieldhead Campsite: www.fieldhead-campsite.co.uk
YHA Edale Activity Centre: www.yha.org.uk/hostel/yha-edale-activity-centre
Visiting the Peak District: www.visitpeakdistrict.com
Hope Valley Line: www.scenicrailbritain.com/lines/hope-valley-line
Old Nags Head, Edale: www.the-old-nags-head.co.uk/about-us
With thanks to Kirsty Hartsiotis and Chantelle Smith for photographs of Castleton.