Tour de Peak District


The Tour de Peak District (TdPD) Route  is a challenging 3-5 day cycle route, which roughly follows the boundaries of the Peak District National Park. The TdPD originated from the casual observation that the defined eastern boundary of the Peak District happens to follow some delightful quiet roads in very scenic but less well-known areas – and so the idea of turning the Peak District boundary into a circular route was born. Enter a 250km (155-mile) multi-day challenge that takes ‘the nearest nice line to the Peak District National Park boundary”.

It is a challenge though – particularly on Day 3 – and not a gentle route in every part, so if you’re new to cycling it’s best saved until you’ve got a reasonable amount of experience under your wheels!

Upper Midhope (Chiz Dakin)

There are now two variations of the TdPD route – the main route which has some lovely (and occasionally quite challenging!) off-road sections in it. And a road variant which avoids off-road sections, but tackles some more urban roads on the western boundary. Other than day three, where the routes diverge more widely, most of the road alternatives are quite short, and you can choose whether or not to take each one as it comes – according to your preference for terrain, and the capabilities of your bike.

The TdPD is a pleasant multi-day cycling challenge that anyone with moderate fitness and reasonable cycling ability can achieve, but those new to cycling are well advised to tackle a number of easier and shorter routes before working up to this route – ideally with at least a single overnight trip beforehand to work out what (isn’t!) needed on a multi-day trip! Also, do note, a few of the off-road sections – particularly on Day Three – are quite challenging and are entering into mountain biking territory. But none of the really challenging off-road sections are individually very long. Likewise on Day 3 the road version does venture more onto busy or fast A roads and is often in more urban terrain – there simply isn’t a better alternative at present.

Distance: 255km (150 miles)

Total Ascent/Descent: 6200m

Recommended Duration (either main or road route):

  • Moderately fit person with good off-road cycling experience/ability to handle A road alternatives: 5days (roughly 50km/30miles a day)
  • Regular and committed cyclists: 3-4 days (roughly 80km/50miles a day)
  • Superfit enduro types: your challenge is to do it in 24hrs (Is this possible? I don’t know, but I’m not an ultra-fit enduro-type – that’s why it’s your challenge!).
    If using an ultalight performance “best” road bike, please note the road version does use some sustrans trails – you may need to detour onto busier roads of your own choosing if this is not to your liking.

Recommended access points/Overnight stops:

  • Matlock (access point and overnight stop)
  • Dungworth (overnight stop 5 dayer)
  • Marsden (access point and overnight stop 3 or 5 dayer)
  • New Mills (access point and overnight stop MAIN route 3 or 5 dayer)
  • Whaley Bridge (access point and overnight stop ROAD route 3 or 5 dayer)
  • Macclesfield (access point and overnight stop 3 dayer)
  • Blackshaw Moor (nr Leek) or Waterhouses (overnight stop 5 dayer)

Click here for a map showing potential refreshment stops along the route.

The route

It should be noted, the route does not stick absolutely religiously to the boundaries of the national park. In some cases there is no permissible path for cyclists along the boundary, in which case the nearest “nicest” route is taken. In other cases, where a nicer off-road route or quiet country lane exists near to one running along the boundary, the nicer route is also used. And the route cuts across the gap created by the exclusion of Buxton from the national park.

Purists may disagree with these choices, but they are welcome to devise their own variation!

The route is described in full in Chiz Dakin’s Cycling in the Peak District guidebook (published by Cicerone Press).

Chiz Dakin is a member of the Gritstone Publishing Co-operative – a co-op set up to help authors join forces in marketing their work. The link above takes you to Gritstone’s website – and if you use this link to buy a copy, Chiz Dakin gets a bit more commission which helps her research and write the next guidebook 🙂