Three counties for oatcakes by Helen Pidd

Three counties for oatcakes by Helen Pidd

Helen Pidd

Helen Pidd is the Guardian’s North of England editor and the author of Bicycle - The Complete Guide to Everyday Cycling, this is her favourite road ride. 

This challenging but rewarding ride starts in the Cheshire town of Poynton, climbs up to the Derbyshire Peak District then meanders over to the spectacular rocky Roaches for lunch. The start is tough but worth it. After a gentle incline to the village of Pott Shrigley, get in your lowest gear and stay there as you grind up Blaze Hill (max gradient 14.9%) and then Pym’s Chair, which tops out at a painful 24.6%. There. You’ve done the hardest bit of the ride already. If you’ve lucked out you’ll be able to see right across the Cheshire Plains towards Wales.

Then it’s a lovely descent down into the peaceful Goyt valley and up the one-way road to the Cat and Fiddle, which connects Macclesfield and Buxton. Soon you’ll come to my favourite bit of the ride: a tiny lane just before the Buxton speedway track which I call the Cornish pasty road: it affords the best views of Chrome Hill, which either looks like a sleeping stegosaurus or a delicious baked snack, depending on your viewpoint. Then head towards the Roaches, a rugged gritstone ridge which boasts my favourite cafe in Staffordshire: the Roaches Tea Rooms. We can’t be friends if you won’t try the local delicacy: Staffordshire oatcakes, filling pancakes topped with bacon, cheese, mushrooms or beans. Just bear in mind you’ve got a climb a few miles after lunch (Gun Hill).

The return leg is slightly easier but still with a fair bit of climbing. You may be tempted to pop into the Wincle brewery bottle shop on your way back. It’s just a shame it’s at the bottom of a hill rather than the top. A more sensible option, just a few miles from the end, is the Vale in Bollington, which has its own brewery and incredible homemade pies. If there aren’t too many of you the bar staff usually let you stash your bikes safely in the adjoining alley. Cheers!

Further information

Climbing: 2027m (6650ft)
Bring: plenty of snacks. It’s 57km to lunch.

Level of ride 
Type of bike 
Road bike