White Peak Cycling Loop moving a step closer to completion

I came across the folks responsible for trying to create a really useful loop link between Buxton and Matlock/Cromford last year, while doing research for my new Cycling in the Peak District guidebook. John Grimshaw (the founder of Sustrans and highly energetic spirit behind the idea) was extremely helpful in providing very detailed plans of sections of the Monsal Tunnels route and extension which meant I was able to include the newly opened tunnels into the route description.

I then met Jeremy from Peak Cycle Links (the charity responsible for getting the White Peak Loop planned, constructed and available for use) at the press launch of the Monsal Tunnels extension link and was impressed with his quiet enthusiasm and obvious dedication to opening up more areas for all cyclists to enjoy – whether using the route for leisure or as a utility route. I’ve just rediscovered the Peak Cycle Links website, and there’s some really useful updates on it, particularly detailed info on where the whole loop route is planned to go, and some progress made on some of the planning applications.

Andy Hayes cycling along the lovely permissive path alongside the River Derwent near Rowsley (Chiz Dakin)

Cycling along the lovely permissive path alongside R. Derwent near Rowsley-sadly Peak Rail want this track back

Some of the useful things it mentions:

  • The Harpur Hill to Ladmanlow extension to the High Peak Trail has received planning consent. This will link the minor road running north of Earl Sterndale towards Grin Low woods past the Health and Safety Labs over Staker Hill, and avoids quarry traffic and sometimes busy roads through Harpur Hill and the trunk A515 road into Buxton.
  • The Grin Low woods planning application is under consideration by High Peak Council and needs support from as many people as possible to ensure it’s success when a decision is made in the next few months. Without this section the only alternative for the route is to use the A53, which would clearly be a disaster in terms of encouraging novice/family cyclists to cycle out from Buxton and proves challenging even to experiences cyclists. (They also need some better images of the Grin Low woods on their site 😉 )
  • Work has clearly been taking place investigating the Haddon Hall tunnels. But it may be that an interim route follows the steep but very pleasant bridleways past Coombes Farm. I rode on these bridleways last week with a friend on my way to the excellent cafe at Hassop Station, and these weren’t half as steep as I was expecting. However, it currently has surprising deep gravel on the highest section – which was an unexpected and not entirely welcome surprise – the rest of the bridleway was pretty good fun though!
  • There’s an inaugural ride (2 days, with camping at Cromford, entry fee payable) around as much of the loop as possible on 20-21 August.
  • They need help with as many people as possible supporting the four remaining planning applications – to ensure the loop can follow a safe route into and out of Buxton (A53/A515 avoidance), around Rowsley (A6 avoidance). It’s not immediately clear how you support the application, but if you follow the link to open the planning application, and click on comments – there is a radio button to click to say you support the application. You don’t need to enter any comments on the planning application site if you don’t want to – you can just click the button to support it without a comment – but anything positive you have to say on the issue can only help!