Moors Above the Holme and Colne Valleys loop

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Moors Above the Holme and Colne Valleys loop

Richard Peace

Richard Peace is Cycling UK's expert on e-bikes, he has ridden extensively in the Peak District and Pennines and this is one of his favourite routes. 

This area was the backdrop for Last of the Summer Wine filming and as well as its obvious charm appropriately offers the opportunity to visit a spectacularly located vineyard. 

We start at Holmfirth as it’s a favourite spot for local and visitors, with its attractive centre backed by steep hills and many cobbled streets. It also gives access to the lovely track over Cartworth Moor. This is the longest of the five rides featured here but is a lovely combination of sweeping moorland vistas and homely Yorkshire mill towns. After steep gradients out of Holmfirth and across the Holme valley at Holme you pick up a wild-feeling track above Digley Reservoir, which hairpins back to the A635 (care needed as you use a short section of it.) The descent down the Wessenden Valley is a freewheeling glory as the track has been much improved with drainage works and stone setts, meaning you can sit back and enjoy the glorious scenery for much of the way.

At Marsden you can briefly head west on the canal towpath to visit the entrance to the Standedge Tunnel – the deepest, longest canal tunnel in the country – and take a cafe break and look in the visitor centre. Heading back east on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal towpath (can be badly eroded and with short steep drops at locks) arrive at attractive Slaithwaite.

Between Slaithwaite and Meltham the roads and tracks are much easier and though the gradients are still challenging you are crossing much lower moorland. A final testing off-road climb out of Meltham heralds a minor road return to Holmfirth, cruising above the Holme Valley.  

Type of Bike: Mountain bike with low gearing. Full suspension not vital (though it will be more comfortable and make for easier riding) as we use mainly reasonable quality tracks here – it’s more a combination of some very, very steep climbs and the length that present the main physical challenge. Regular to experienced cyclists.
What to Bring: Clothing suited to a change in weather to cooler or windier on the moorland. Plenty to drink - it’s a physically challenging route with remote sections.
Eat and Drink: Lots of choice Holmfirth, Marsden and Slaithwaite. Just out Holmfirth you pass the remarkable Holmfirth Vineyard with its beautifully located cafe and restaurant.

Level of ride 
Type of bike 
Mountain bike