- Where can mountain bikes be ridden in the Peak District?
- Conduct for mountain bikers in the Peak District
- What to do when encountering horse-riders?
- The difference between mountain biking in the Peak District and a trail centre
- Peak District Maps
- Information about trails and mountain bike routes in the Peak District
- Bike shops and mountain bike hire in the Peak District
- What to take on a ride in the Peak District?
- What to do if something goes wrong when riding in the Peak District?
- Night Riding, Dogs, Fires, Sustainability
- Statistics on legal riding in the Peak District
Paths with access rights for mountain bikers
Paths without access rights for mountain bikersSources: Natural England: Waymarking public rights of way, Ordnance Survey: Everything you need to know about Rights of Way.
Bridleway SignsIn reality the use of the ‘official’ way-marking symbols varies greatly on the ground as these examples of Peak District bridleways signs show below:
A Countryside Code for Mountain Biking:
- To support, in whatever way is appropriate and possible, the upkeep and development of rideable mountain bike routes in the Peak District National Park.
- Respect the other people using the countryside and the local community
- Stick to appropriate paths and follow advice and signs
- Leave gates as you find them (or as signs say)
- Take your litter (& blown inner tubes!) home
- Slow down
- Make your presence known clearly and early. A simple shout of “bike” will suffice, but don’t wait until you are close to the horse.
- Try and keep a distance of 2m between bike and horse where possible.
- When there are multiple mountain bikers, you should all move to the same side of the trail. If the horse is startled it has nowhere to go if maintain bikers are on both sides of the trail.
- If approaching a blind corner or brow of a hill you should expect to encounter horse riders and adjust your speed accordingly.
Natural trailsMost of the trails in the Peak are ancient paths that have been naturally shaped over many years by the elements and use by people and animals. Those that have been surfaced pre-date MTB use, so may have challenging sections or vary in width and have a number of possible (or not) riding lines. For many, this is one of the great attractions of riding in the Peak District.
SceneryMany trail centres are, by necessity, in large pine forests with limited views. By contrast, the Peak District offers many superb views and varied scenery for mountain bikers to take in as they ride.
Shared trailsAll paths in Peak have access rights for walkers and paths with access rights for mountain bikers also have access rights for horse riders and sometimes off-road motor vehicles.
No trail gradingSince the Peak trails have not been built to any standard for biking, they vary in difficultly and even a generally easier route may have some very difficult sections. It is not unusual to see riders who are new to the terrain walking their bike through some difficult sections on a ride.
No marked routesRoutes are not marked or signed as MTB loops. A map, guidebook or knowledgeable companion is a good idea. Most junctions and paths have signs showing the type of right of way and some have place names, but they aren’t always useful or don’t appear on the map.
Distance back to the carMost trail centres cram a lot of length of trail into a relatively small space, so you’re never normally that far from the car if something goes wrong (a mechanical problem or injury), and they normally have forestry access roads that can be used as a shortcut. This is not the case with most Peak District routes, which could mean 10 miles of pushing your bike. When choosing or planning your route it’s useful to think about possible shortcuts to reduce the length of the ride if you get tired or have a problem. Some paths go a long way from civilisation, depending on the location and time, it could be a long time before anyone passes by (let alone with the right bike tool). On rare occasions getting lost and bad weather have resulted in death. It is important to consider and take responsibility for your safety.
Exposed heights and weatherA lot of Peak District routes go over high ground, which can be much colder and windier than in the valleys, especially in winter. The weather can change quickly. Snow and ice can stay on some sections long after it has gone from the lower ground. Most paths are not surfaced to be weather resistant and drain quickly, unlike trail centres, and can be boggy or prone to heavy erosion in winter or after lots of rain.
Ordnance Survey Explorer maps have great detail and clearly show rights of way and elevation. There are two Explorer maps covering the Peak District; Dark Peak area (OL1), including the Hope Valley and north, and White Peak (OL24) area, covering south of the Hope Valley. If you’re new to map reading, see Ordnance Survey: Map reading. See the Monkeyspoon.com OS Tracks Map for route planning and info on the tracks in the Dark Peak.
18 Bikes, HopeBike sales and servicing www.18bikes.co.uk
Bike GarageBamford: Mountain bike hire and ebike hire, sales and servicing www.bikegarage.co.uk
Blackwell Mill Cycle HireMonsal Trail, Nr Buxton: Basic bike hire www.peakblackwellcyclehire.com
Derwent Cycle HireFairholmes, Ladybower: Basic bike hire www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/visiting/cycle/cycle-hire-centres/derwent
Monsal Trail Cycle HireHassop Station, Monsal Trail, Nr Bakewell: Basic bike hire and servicing www.monsaltrail.co.uk
Parsley Hay Cycle HireParsley Hay, High Peak Trail, Nr Buxton: Bike hire www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/visiting/cycle/cycle-hire-centres/parsleyhay
- A mountain bike; well maintained, with good brakes (disc brakes are better) and at least 80mm of front suspension is recommended.
- A helmet (it sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised…)
- Waterproofs and extra clothing layer(s) (more so in winter)
- Suitable shoes; with good grip on the pedals and the ground and water resistant (and warm enough if in cold weather)
- More water and food than you expect to need.
- Spare inner tube and pump (don’t rely on a puncture repair kit), tyre levers, tools to remove the wheel (if it isn’t quick release)
- Map or GPS navigator with good battery life
- Light(s) in the winter or near evening (if you are delayed you might not finish before dark or have to ride on the roads)
- Phone and wallet in a water proof bag
- Bike tools; allen keys, spanner(s), chain tool, lubricant, cable ties and cutters
- Emergency kit; First aid kit, survival bag, compass, whistle, glow stick, heat pad, kendal mint cake or similar
- Bike gloves; they give better grip, keep your hands warm and reduce grazing on your hands if you come off your bike
- Toilet paper in a water proof bag
Bike problemsPunctures can be common, but should be easy to resolve, if not it’s pushing time (you might be able roll some smooth descents, but rocks could damage the wheel rim). The chain snapping or the dérailleur (rear mech) being snapped off by a rock can happen, the solution is to shorten the chain (if you have the tool) and still be able to pedal with 1 gear or to cable tie the chain or mech out the way of the wheel so you can still roll on the bike. Brakes can fail, but since there are two and they’re independent, you can still ride, but must take it easy on descents.
InjuryDon’t panic, assess the situation with a clear mind. Can you make it back to your car on foot or to somewhere a friend can pick you up? Do you have mobile signal or can you get to somewhere that does have it? If it is a real emergency and you can safely get to a road you can call an ambulance (provided you have mobile signal). If it is a real emergency and you can’t safely get to a road, you will need to call for the Mountain Rescue Team (who are volunteers). In both cases it’s important to know where you are so they can find you.
LostDon’t panic. Use your map and reassess where you might be or where you might have gone wrong. Look at your surroundings and for landmarks that appear on the map. Look for junctions with signposts. Passers by can help and will probably know where you are. Only call Mountain Rescue as a last resort in severe weather or if it looks like you will face a night on the hills.
Night ridingRights of Way can be used at any time of the day and night riding offers many MTBers the opportunity to get out in the countryside after work or outside of weekends. The trails are a lot less crowded, it helps spread the load, reducing congestion at the busier times of the week. But is it important to be sensitive to local residents and farmers who live nearby to the paths, as bright lights and loud noises at unusual hours can cause concern. This is particularly true when for groups. Sounds travel further at night. Unfortunately night use is not an uncommon complaint and has even contributed to permissive MTB access revoked in one case. Rural crimes of sheep rustling and equipment theft are an increasing problem these days. If do you see suspicious activity call 101 (the police non-emergency number) or 999 if you’re certain a crime is currently taking place. Similarly, it’s important to stay well away from agricultural buildings and equipment at night, to prevent false alarms.
DogsThere are some times and places where it’s ok to take your dog when out from a ride, provided they are always kept under close control (so they can’t disturb wildlife or farm animals). However, in fields with farm animals that means keeping them on a short lead. And on moorland dogs must be kept on a short lead from the start of March til the end of July (for the protection of ground nesting birds). Unruly dogs can also be a problem for other path users, in particular horse riders and other mountain bikers. Extra care should be taken around cattle, especially if they have calves. If chased, release the dog to run freely to make a safe exit. Most serious injuries caused by cattle on rights of way involve dogs. As with anywhere else, dog poo needs bagging and taking a bin (no matter how far that may be).
FireMoorland fires have been a huge problem in the countryside in recent years. Whilst land managers do routinely performed controlled burns (typically between September and April). If you see unattended moorland fire, call 999 and give the location. Since the consequences of accidental fires are so dire, it is best not risk to having a fire or BBQ in woods or moorland during the summer or dry periods.
SustainabilityWhilst all recreational users leave their mark on the countryside, as the newcomers, mountain bikers are often singled out for criticism on erosion. Some tracks stand up to use after wet weather and winter, much better than others. Rocks are harder wearing than soft peaty soil. Riding through puddles often causes less erosion than the going around and widening a path. Mountain bikers’ choices of routes and of lines, over a large number of riders and rides, could make a significant difference to levels erosion in the Peak District. Since water is the largest factor in erosion, simply kicking out a drain, can make a big difference.
Aims and Objectives. (Statistics calculated from a 2008 Peak Park document: *2001 **2005)