PEAK DISTRICT & SOUTH PENNINES
OFF-ROAD CYCLING MAP
Published by Excellent Books 2019
isbn 9 781901 464382
Reviewed by Steve Dyster
Richard Peace and Excellent Books have a reputation for producing imaginative and detailed guides and maps. The South Pennines and Peak District Off-road Cycle Map is a tool for planning and on the trail, with sufficient detail to find days out, follow signed routes, go family friendly or more adventurous. Coverage is roughly from the edge of Sheffield, in the south-east, to Whaley Bridge, south west, Todmorden, in the north west, and Halifax and Huddersfield, in the north east. As such it covers an area of outstanding beauty and fascinating history, close to the homes of many thousands of people.
Waterproof paper is just that. Waterproof, that is. I’ve poured
various fluids on it and not managed to damage it so far. Even better, that clumsily spilt coffee wipes away, rather than leaving a stain that may or may not be mistaken later for a topographical feature.
The downside of waterproof paper is that it is stiff. This is a double sided-map, so folding over needs a bit of care and benefits from a firm fold. This has not led to any damage on the corners of the fold, so far. Mind you, it is a small price to pay for using the map without a case and cycling in the knowledge that it is safe when abandoned to its fate in a jersey pocket when the rain starts.
Space is used imaginatively. With no cycle tracks over Kinder and Bleaklow, the overview insert is plonked right across the A57 Snake Pass road. Don’t worry, you can make a pretty good guess where you are in you find yourself on the A57, but this is an off-road map. The area is criss-crossed by routes originating from different eras, from Roman roads to packhorse tracks. What you can be sure of is that these are fully and extensively researched and ridden.
Height is shown by shading, rather than contour lines. There are spot heights, too. Along with this is all the usual detail of railway stations and so on. Needless to say, café’s, pubs, bike shops, are shown, along with other useful utilities.
There’s sufficient detail for on route navigation, for those who have some experience in map reading, but there are also downloadable .gpx files to supplement this. Even so, for the really remote rides, I’d be tempted to stuff the appropriate OS map into the bottom of my bag, along with my first aid kit, and other basic mountain safety gear, just in case the need to bail-out or seek assistance should arise.
Some of the routes are signed, more or less. As you’d expect the map shows National Cycle Network routes, national and regional trails (Pennine Bridleway and Mary Townley Loop, for example) within the area covered. The key differentiates between different types of surface – and indicates possible cycle routes that have not been surveyed.
Conveniently, key, family friendly and suggested surveyed routes, accommodation list, and campsites are shown on each side. The suggested routes each have an outline of distance, technical difficulty, and a brief description of what to expect. Mind you, you’ll spot the occasional exclamation mark on the map – green for surface deterioration, red for busy road crossings.
The map covers very lumpy territory. Don’t let that put you off. Canal towpaths, valley routes, former railway lines, reservoir service roads, and so on, offer relief form some of the longer climbs. I’m pretty familiar with the Peak District’s northern moors – on and off-road – so have especially appreciated the South Pennines side of the map. I’m looking forward to doing even more cycling there. Thanks Richard.
Where navigation gets difficult, there are some info boxes. I found these quite small and indistinct, but then my eye-sight is not as good as my legs and lungs. In any case, it is a very minor point, and should not deter anyone.
A well- thought out, well-executed, very detailed map. No, it is more than a map. It is a mini-guide.