CYCLING IN THE PEAK DISTRICT
By Chiz Dakin
Published by Cicerone, second edition 2017
232pp, including maps, charts and photographs
Paperback Gloss Laminated
Reviewed by Steve Dyster
With a cycling guide to the Cotswolds and a guide to outdoor photography (the latter with Jon Sparks - himself author of the Cicerone guide to the Lancashire Cycle Way), you’d expect a guide that offers a lot - even to a cyclist, such as I, who thinks they know the Peak District. I haven’t been disappointed and I doubt if you will be either. This is a guide that not only offers great routes into places off the beaten track, but gives fascinating insights along the way.
Subtitled “21 routes on lanes and tracks in and around the National Park”, the first twenty chapters of Cycling in the Peak District cover day or half-day or shorter routes (which depends on you, but the Dakin way is to enjoy the ride and the scenery, to look around). The final chapter covers a 157 or 158 mile tour of the Peak District - fundamentally a circumnavigation.
The routes utilise lanes and track wherever possible - short sections of main road are inevitable, (there is even a warning about a short section on route nineteen) - including elements of the famous, and growing, network of former railway tracks. The author offers a very good grading system for each ride - though all are aimed at riders of moderate fitness or better. Equally, it is well-worth reading the detail of each route and the initial general advice on “what bike” before setting off. Road bike alternatives are shown on the maps and described in the text.
There are elements of easy technical mountain-biking on some routes, whist others can be completed on a performance road bike. A tourer would be ideal for most, but, remember descents can be as tough as ascents. In the photographs, you’ll see a variety of machines. Don’t worry too much, just read the guide and decide what suits you best. A bit of a walk is not always such a bad thing for the leisure or touring cyclist!
By the way, the advice on crossing the ford at Bradbourne is excellent. Narrow road tyres are best kept for the bridge, in my opinion - so speaks the voice of experience!
Although we now associate the Peak District with beautiful scenery and tourists, the routes take you away from the crowds and into the nooks and corners rarely seen by the hordes who prefer Bakewell high street to the high moors. Fauna and flora have their place in the guide, but I was especially pleased to see a photograph of an obscure set of walls, once a canteen for workers in the remote industrial sites that peppered the area.
Living in Staffordshire, it was encouraging to see that the wider Peak District, including Cheshire and Yorkshire, gets a good deal of coverage, as well as the popular parts of north Derbyshire.
Details of accommodation are given for the Tour of the Peak District - there is so much in the Peak District that it is no possible to cover all, so use the general contacts for a base convenient for the day routes. If you are set in a particular spot it is well-worth booking well in advance. There are some very sensible comments on accommodation for those who have not done a multi-day tour before.
Of course, refreshment stops, where available, are covered, along with getting around and finding places to park a car. Equally, remember that many of these routes include remote sections. Take note of the suggestions for bike maintenance and repair. Whilst opportunities to find a mechanic have increased in recent years, a few basic checks can avoid a long walk or, at worst, a bad crash.
With routes ranging from 8 miles to the full tour - and a variety of options, this guide will take you somewhere new - even if you have climbed many Peak District hills already. Many of the tours can be combined.
So, come autumn, I shall be stuffing this guide into my jersey pocket and heading over Axe Edge to enjoy even more of an area I thought I knew.
REVIEW PUBLISHED JULY 2017