Singletrack: Classic Dark Peak

Ride level Experienced cyclist
Distance 19 mi / 31 km
Type of bicycle Mountain bike
Traffic free
Circular route

This route features in Singletrack magazine issue 148 as part of its Classic Rides series which Cycling UK supports. Cycling UK members can enjoy 50% off a print and digital Singletrack subscription

Why bother?

It’s written up there – “Some of the best riding in the UK.” The Dark Peak, all stiff climbs, epic descents and spectacularly grippy Millstone Grit, is truly an exceptional place.

Pretty much any guide to the Peaks will tell you that they’re within an hour’s drive of colossal swathes of the UK population, and the National Park was the first one set up in 1951. So there are pretty touristy towns and villages aplenty, all stuffed with accommodation options and cafés.

Once you’ve ridden this loop, strike out west and ride the other, all-time classic that takes in Jacob’s Ladder and the frankly incomparable Cavedale. Or head south to the White Peak limestone for a different experience again (and get some Bakewell pudding for me while you’re at it). Honestly, the riding in the Peaks is so, so good, there are people who’ve never ridden anywhere else – and, with trails this good on their doorstep, why would they?

The knowledge

Distance: 30km

Total ascent: 1,031m

Time: 3-5hrs

Map: OL1 – The Dark Peak

Getting there

With a bit of planning, you can get the train to Bamford with your bike. The usual honeypot areas charge for car parking, of course, but there are more out of the way places to park if you’d rather not pay. Rule one applies - don't be a plonker and park inconsiderately. 

Bike shops

Bike Garage at Bamford – James Irwin, trail maintainer extraordinaire, et al. – has everything to keep you rolling (including rentals), and a workshop too. 18 Bikes in Hope – all of the lovely, lovely swag (and custom frames too).

Food and drink

Seemingly everything is available, everywhere. The Upper Derwent Visitor’s Centre is a good mid-ride stop, as already mentioned. The Yorkshire Bridge in Bamford has excellent food; or the Courtyard Café, next to 18 Bikes in Hope (01433 623 360) or Café Adventure – a personal favourite – also in Hope. There are loads of good pubs in the area, as well as plenty of little places to buy chocolate and whatever else.


The Peak District is festooned with places to stay. The Yorkshire Bridge Inn in Bamford does a good B&B or the region is full of campsites – try Heatherhill Farm or Hardhurst Farm (01433 620 001).

Thanks hugely to Chris Maloney of the Keeper Of The Peak and Peak District MTB, and everyone else who contributed ideas.