High Peak Trail

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High peak trail/ Tissington trail, Derbyshire. What can I say, to all you wannabe cyclists give it a go, there is no excuse whatsoever for not doing these. The high peak trail starts at Dowlow, near Buxton and runs down to High peak Junction and is 17 miles long. Running along the old railway track the end of the trail is picked up off a farm track, heading south, it is 4 miles to Parsley hey, the first stop. There is a large car park at Parsley hey, toilets, café and bike hire/ bike shop. The bikes on hire here cater for just about anyone and everyone, there are hand cranked bikes for those who cannot pedal, electric buggies and bikes, tricycles, wheelchair bikes, tandems, hire starts at around £16 per day, family tickets are also available saving a bit. The next decision is which trail, this is the junction for both the high peak (4 miles into it) and the start of the Tissington which runs 17 miles down towards Ashbourne, we have done both recently and both offer outstanding countryside views. The trail surfaces are gravel and, being on the old railway beds, fairly level, just bear in mind that it is slightly downhill to Ashbourne and you have to come back, it may be a slight gradient but you may well feel it. We headed off on a fine June day towards High peak junction, the first part of the trail is fairly level and easy going, sailing serenely through the glorious Derbyshire countryside passing a few picnic sites en route, as we approached Middleton top we reached the first descent, a 1 in 14 hill, it was great to get some speed up and blast down this section as the path was clear, it was through Hopton tunnel and on to Middleton top. Middleton top is serviced by a café, shop and toilets, there is further bike hire available here. There is also a large preserved winch which used to haul the trains up the 1 in 8 slope, most cyclists stop here and return, not to be put off though we descended the 3/4 mile 1 in 8 hill which isn't for the faint hearted and headed to Black rocks, past a café and car park and then onto the last downhill which is a 1 in 8 hill down to High peak junction, again, you need good brakes and a bit of nerve, The descent is 1 1/4 miles long so watch out for brakes fading. Once at High peak junction it was time to relax by the canal with a picnic. We did the last section from Middleton down to the junction, please bear in mind these are steep inclines and it isn't easy going, I found it worth while for the views, but it is very hard work going back up to Middleton top. Once back at Middleton we headed off back to the far end of the trail followed by the pub! The trail down to Ashbourne lacks the steep inclines the high peak has, again, the countryside is lovely, if not dramatic and the national park have done a brilliant job of opening the countryside up to visitors, able bodied or otherwise. The beauty of both these trails is that you can turn around at any point, both are well catered in terms of refreshments and picnic spots and you get to see the land being worked as well as part of our industrial heritage. I would suggest the Tissington trail for larger bikes and trikes, the paths are wider than the high peak and there is a lack of inclines on this trail. Saddle up and give them a go.

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