The Peak has more than its share of lovely cycle trails, but when it comes to action-packed excitement, the Monsal Trail comes up trumps. Running from Chee Dale, east of Buxton, to Bakewell, its nine mile length packs in scary tunnels, viaducts, abseiling bridges, bat-infested lime kilns, limestone-dale nature reserves teeming with wildflowers and butterflies, rock climbers and of course the beautiful river Wye. It also benefits from a great surface, having only been fully opened to the public a few years ago. Even my mum, who has only ridden a bike once in 30 years, managed most of its pancake-flat length, from Blackwell Mill Cycle Hire to Hassop Station and back. And so did baby Ozi in his bike seat – three generations on one ride! There are no route notes as none are needed – just note there’s a 10 minute walk in from the parking at Blackwell Mill to the bike hire (if needed).
- AREA: Buxton/Bakewell
- DISTANCE: 7 miles each way (9 if you go all the way to its end, SE of Bakewell)
- FACILITIES: Bike hire, toilets, cafe and gift shop at Hassop; Bike hire and snacks at Blackwell Mill
- PARKING: Pay and display at either end
- GRADIENT: Flat
- TERRAIN: Smooth gravel surface, suitable for touring bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids and shoppers
- OS MAP: White Peak – or better still download one.