Mountain Biking Mecca: White Peak

by Richard Jones

In the second of our blogs on Peak District mountain biking, we look at the White Peak, the limestone area south of the Hope Valley. The steep-sided dales are interwoven with bridleways and byways, with staggering runs along the stunning Curbar and Froggatt Edges and across the rolling hills connecting the many attractive villages in the area.

The White Peak may be less well-known than its Dark Peak sibling, but still provides a wealth of excellent trails for all mountain bikers to enjoy.

White Peak Mountain Biking

White Peak Mountain Biking: Bradwell Edge DescentOur 76-mile White Peak mountain bike route is designed to be ridden over three or four days, and starts from Hathersage, close to the start of the Dark Peak mountain biking route in Bamford. Both could be ridden consecutively for a longer route covering the full Peak District.

After leaving Hathersage and skirting the south side of Bamford, the White Peak mountain biking route climbs up onto Offerton and Shatton Moors, ascending past the mast and circumnavigating the head of Overdale to plunge down the brilliant singletrack descent from Bradwell Edge, which will have you hanging on as it steepens towards the bottom!

Riding the Historic Peak District

A climb to just below the glider club at Hucklow Edge continues to Eyam Edge, giving superb views south towards Longstone Moor and beyond from the Barrel Inn at Bretton. A fast, stony switchback descent drops into Eyam, well-known as the 17th Century plague village. The route then climbs out past the Riley Graves, where a mother buried her husband and six children over the course of one August week in 1666. From the top of the climb begins a cracking descent in two parts all the way down to Stoney Middleton.

The steady, two-mile-long climb up Coombs Dale brings you to Black Harry Gate, named after a notorious 18th Century highwayman who preyed on travellers taking the old packhorse route. A wide track leads to a road section north to Foolow and a fun descent down ‘Silly Dale’, before taking the road through the attractive village of Litton and into Tideswell, known as the ‘Cathedral of the Peak’, due to its impressive, 14th Century St John the Baptist church.


The Ride On Into Bakewell

The climb above Monk’s Dale leads to a good descent snaking down into Millers Dale, before rising out the other side to Priestcliffe. A long track winds its way through the glorious views to Brushfield, before a riotous descent into Monsal Dale, to pick up the Monsal Trail viaduct and into Headstone Tunnel.

This is a chance to cruise along for a short distance before climbing an excellent walled track to descend to the edge of Bakewell, before circuiting around to the top of the ‘Golf Course’ downhill. While the bridleway heads downhill, locals have also cut in some trails off to the left of the main path, giving several options for the route down into Bakewell itself.


Youlgreave and Chatsworth

After exiting Bakewell through the showground, another good walled track climbs Intake Lane to cross Haddon Fields and shoot down a brilliant little switchback drop into Lathkill Dale, climbing out the other side up to Youlgreave.

At Birchover, a high-speed descent has you careering down to Darley Bridge to join the cycle path between Matlock and Rowsley. From here, the route climbs to a track, then a bridleway that climbs steeply up through the singletrack of Manners Woods before descending to the magnificence of Chatsworth House.

A good climb from Edensor takes you up towards Pilsley, for a well-surfaced descent to cross the A619 and onwards towards Hassop to cross a stream before a tricky, rocky climb towards the farm in Hassop and up to the eastern edge of Longstone Moor and a clattering blast down into Calver.


Technical Descents and Man-Made Trails

Out of Calver, a steep road climb ascends to fantastic trails running along Curbar and Froggatt Edges, upgraded to bridleway status in recent years through the work done by the Eastern Moors project.

Cycling Curbar Edge

Blacka Plantation Mountain Biking The trail crosses White Edge Moor onto Totley Moor for a rooty, technical descent through Blacka Plantation.

Back up onto Houndkirk Moor, the White Peak mountain biking route passes Lady Canning’s Plantation. It’s well worth dropping in to ride the two purpose built trails here. Blue Steel is the original trail, entering on the left, which twists downhill through the trees, over small risers and around berms. Cooking on Gas is to the right, a flatter, more pedally affair at the top gaining speed as it pings you round a series of berms. A bridleway runs back to the top between the two, making for an easy return.

From the Ringinglow Road on the other side of Lady Canning’s, a long descent via road and track awaits back into Hathersage and the end of this awesome loop of the White Peak.

Book your White Peak mountain biking holiday.

A More Leisurely Approach

If cruising along traffic-free trails and quiet lanes, taking in the White Peak's stunning scenery, is more what you're looking for, keep your eyes peeled for the last of our Peak District cycling blog posts. Or you can jump ahead and take a look at the White Peak Leisure Cycling route today!

Contours Holidays pride ourselves on our expert knowledge of the UK’s trails. We regularly set out to check our routes and directions and to make improvements on the holidays we offer. You can find several write-ups of staff expeditions in our Trail Diaries.

Originally published 06/07/20

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Routes on this trail

White Peak Short Break Mountain biking
3 nights
53 miles
Moderate / Demanding+
From £390 per person
A self-guided mountain biking holiday over 53 miles through the White Peak. Find Out More
White Peak Mountain biking
4 nights
76 miles
From £510 per person
Explore the White Peak on a circular self-guided mountain bike holiday, beginning and ending in Hathersage. Find Out More