Cycling UK supports new off-road route launched in Tameside

Rider test the newly launched Tame Valley Loop
Riders test the newly launched Tame Valley Loop
A new waymarked off-road riding route has been launched in Tameside, Greater Manchester, thanks to years of hard work by Cycling UK affiliated Community Cycle Club, Tame Valley Mountain Bike Association

The Tame Valley Loop - the brainchild of local resident and community cycle club Chairperson Phil Allen - launched on 19 March 2022, thanks to support from Tameside Borough Council, British Cycling ‘Places to Ride’ funding, and Cycling UK. 

Starting in the centre of Stalybridge, the Tame Valley Loop consists of three routes (3.5, 10 and 18 miles) so there's something for all abilities. Bringing together existing paths, off-road tracks and trails, the Tame Valley Loop even links up to the Pennine Bridleway which forms part of Cycling UK’s Great North Trail

Turning an idea into reality

The idea for the route began back in 2016.

"The idea came from riding the Rolling Boar routes which were set up by the Pennine Mountain Bike Association in Rossendale which linked up bridleways creating off road cycling routes," said Phil. "After living in Stalybridge for most of my life and riding in the area ever since I could ride my bike, I thought we could do something similar in Tameside and the Tame Valley. I used my knowledge from riding in the area and an Ordnance Survey map to create the route and contacted Tameside Council."

We hope the route helps with people's physical and mental health and people visiting the area enjoy riding the route and seeing what the area has to offer

Phil Allen, Tame Valley Mountain Bike Association

The process of getting the route formally set up and promoted hasn’t been an easy one for Phil and the Tame Valley Mountain Bike Association.

The group has spent years lobbying and campaigning for the route, debating rights of way, completing various funding bids to pay for the route creation and dealing with numerous setbacks, including the global coronavirus pandemic. 

Throughout all their hard work the group has been supported by the local council, Cycling UK and other organisations to make the route a reality.

"It's taken a while to get to the launch day with a lot of knock backs but with a great team behind the idea, we're really happy with how it’s come together," said Phil. "With sections of the route being opened up to cyclists for the first time, the work that’s been done on the route, maps and the amazing waymarking that was done by the council.

"We hope the route helps with people's physical and mental health and people visiting the area enjoy riding the route and seeing what the area has to offer, not just for mountain biking but a large number of other outdoor activities and that they continue to visit the area."

Cycling the Tame Valley Loop

Getting more people cycling

In 2019 Phil contacted Cycling UK to ask for support with getting the local council onboard and realising their Tame Valley Loop dream. 

For the last three years Cycling UK has been supporting the project in various ways; meeting with the local council to support and advise on the project, helping to promote the route locally, and providing funding to up-skill local volunteers to maintain the route.

Cycling UK has also provided Tame Valley Mountain Biking Association with funding to train ride leaders and first aiders, who are now able to run regular rides along the route, introducing new people to the ride and building their confidence with off-road riding.

Cycling UK funding has also paid for helmets, locks, bike tools and a few pool bikes for the club's bike hub. This equipment can all be borrowed from the club by people who don’t own a mountain bike or other cycling kit, to help increase participation in mountain biking. 

Most recently, through a partnership with the Sport England Tackling inequalities programme, Cycling UK has provided the club with a grant of funding to work with 12 foster children in the local area; teaching them bike maintenance skills, improving their confidence on a bike, and providing them with access to a bike to ride independently, an opportunity often missed out on by looked after children. 

Getting ready to ride the Tame Valley Loop for the first time

Launching the Loop 

The Tame Valley Loop was launched on 19 March. Over 100 people attended an event to mark the occasion, including 70 riders who joined for a mass inaugural ride of the route.

The event attracted riders of all ages and abilities, from experienced riders visiting the area from further afield to try out the new route, to local families new to cycling but interested to find out more about what’s on their doorstep.

The launch event was part funded by the Cycling UK Big Bike Revival programme, which helped ensure a mechanic was on hand to provide free bike repairs to those in need of them. 

"We were over the moon with the turnout for the launch event," said Phil. "There must have been over a hundred riders out during the day who gave the route a go and we really appreciated their support. It was great to show off what the Tame Valley area has to offer.

"The Big Bike Revival Dr Bike went down well with plenty of people taking advantage of the service before and after rides."

Interested in riding the route?

The loop starts and finishes in Stalybridge town centre and has three different route options; 

  • Beginner – a flat, 3.5 mile there and back traffic free route perfect for families
  • Intermediate – a 10 mile circular loop that introduces riders to some more technical terrain
  • Advanced – an 18 mile technical blue grade mountain bike route

The route backs onto the South Pennines and links up to the Pennine Bridleway which forms part of Cycling UK’s Great North Trail, so riders can either make a day of the Tame Valley Loop or incorporate it into a longer route.

The Loop is also easily accessible from Manchester by train or from a range of local campsites. 

Download the GPX files for the Tame Valley Loop. 

Download the route