Surrounded by some of England's largest cities, the Peak District is a surprisingly diverse destination for mountain biking, writes local enthusiast and cycling tour organiser Christian Newsome.
There are trails to suit all abilities. The Peak District attracts a lot of riders seeking the thrill and challenges of some of the most classic mountain bike trails (or to give them their correct name, bridleways) in the country: Jacob's Ladder, Mam Tor and Doctor's Gate, to name but a few, should be on every rider's to-do list.
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Christian Newsome has been a keen mountain biker for 20 years. He started riding North Wales as a teenager and has taken his mountain bike all over the world in search of adventure. Along the way he trained as a chef and now combines the two activities to offer cyclists chalet-style breaks in the UK with his company Hit the Hills.
Check out the website for some free routes and maps, or...
The most rewarding mountain bike routes are located on the northern side of the national park – the Dark Peak as it's known. There are four main regions to explore:
Derwent and Ladybower reservoirs
This is a great place to start mountain biking in the Peak District. From Ladybower reservoir you can ride the trails in any direction and will not be disappointed. The climbs can be range from a steep packhorse trail to a long grassy trudge or technical singletrack. The descents, by comparison are generally wide, rocky and fast.
Go on - test your climbing skills and give it a go! If you can make it to the first corner then you must be a pro. It eases off in the middle but ramps up again at the end and goes to 11 at the very top. Good luck!
The Beast of Hope Cross
This dark, twisty and damp rock fest will test the nerve of the most hardy riders, so hold on tight and let go of the brakes if you dare. This is an absolute blast - and to think people were riding this before bike suspension was invented!
Rushup edge, Mam Tor and Hollins Cross
Quite simply magical riding. Wonderful views, great singletrack and a steep technical finish down to the Hope Valley. Take the northwest trail off Hollins Cross with three drops in quick succession to begin with - and be sure to watch out for walkers.
Short, fast and twisty sums up this descent. The corners feature natural berms - banked edges - so you can hit this at full pelt: just make sure you can stop at the bottom because there is a gate!
Great for experienced riders. Starting at the Ladybower Inn, ride west up the Snake Pass, north onto Doctor's Gate, east to Langsett and then south down Cut Gate back to the Ladybower Inn. If you want more then take the packhorse trail up Derwent Edge and down Whinstone Lee Tor to finish behind the Inn.
Best times to go:
Spring, summer and autumn are all great seasons in the Peak District.
The winter can be tough as the ground gets wet, very muddy and erodes easily. The terrain and the trails are best avoided on a mountain bike unless you are super-keen. Kinder Scout and some of the trails to the west of Derwent and Ladybower reservoirs are the best place to come if conditions are wet.
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