I'd had a bad week at work when I put this route together. I wanted to ride through some of the prettiest places in the Peak District to cheer myself up. You really do go through some stunning places on this ride.
Of course the problem with Pretty Places is that generally Pretty Views come up hills. So this is a tough amount of climbing. Multiple cafe points though!
The route starts at The Fox House, a popular base for outdoor pursuits near Sheffield. Free parking can get busy, but there's a load of other places to park nearby. The route starts with a short warm up undulating over the top before turning onto Froggatt. This is a nice fast sweeping descent, but do look out for conditions under the trees, the blind bends and the cars!
After this a nice steady ride down the valley through Baslow before turning off just before Chatsworth Park. Here we start to climb out the back of Pilsley a nice quiet little climb up with some steep sections and little to no traffic at all. Some good views as you go up to the sides.
The descent from here has a sharp bend in it and can have a gravel/muddy surface at times, so take care. This pops you out into the back of Bakewell. Slip through the traffic to the roundabout, take the left and immediately right to a steep climb up and out of Bakewell past Lady Manners School. Out of here we hit the edge of Over Haddon before a bit of a drop to head down the steep descent of Quiet Lane and climb again to cross to Youlgreave.
From here it's great little back roads with some kickers as we head round to Elton, which is a pretty little village, and then descend to Longcliffe and onto a screamingly goo descent. Don't miss the turn though as we don't go all the way down! There's a right hand turn to look out for and a ford to cross. Use the footbridge, the ford is treacherously slippery!
After the ford there's a great little climb before working through the estate grounds to Tissington. There's a good set of facilities at Tissington. Cafe, toilets etc. From here, across to Thorpe is a nice little ride before the descent from Thorpe Cloud, which is steep but good surface. You're now entering Dove Dale which is beautiful, but that means that there may be walkers and their cars to deal with.
Snake through Dove Dale, admiring how brilliant it is. But you'll notice the descent in was steep and all the climbs out look the same...
The cafe stop is at the end of Ilam in Ilam Hall. By the school, just before the climb starts, you turn left into the estate. The drive is quite long and the cafe is round the back in the stables. The climb out afterwards is long and tough in places, and with cafe legs, maybe not the most fun!
From here, we crack on to Stanshope and Wetton, there are brilliant climbs and descents on the route and some lovely places to pass through. On the way out of Wetton there's a cafe at the village/church hall. From here we drop into the Manifold Valley, which is a gorgeous place, great descent into it too. Once you're in at the bottom, there's another Cafe. Limited options here, but a popular stop. The run through the valley from here is great, before a more gentle climb out the other end.
Longnor is the next chance for a cafe, 2 in the village, both are great, but, after Longnor there's a fast descent into the Crowdicote climb. Crowdicote is one of my favourites in the peak, hairpins and steep bits and a sustained finish. Cracking. Maybe just not so great after too much in the cafe. In which case you may wait a little longer as after Crowdicote it's just a short hop to Monyash where there's The Old Smithy, which is one of my favourite cafes in the peak. Always a good choice of stop.
Along from Monyash there's some undulation over to a brilliant descent to Ashford in the Water, before steadily climbing to Great Longstone and heading up Great Longstone Edge. Great Longstone Edge is my absolute favourite climb in the peaks. The views are brilliant.
Dropping down the other side, we cut across the backroads to Follow and then Eyam. Eyam Village Cafe is very cycle friendly and would be higher up my list of favourites if it wasn't just that bit too close to home for me. We go out of Eyam on a road closed to traffic (but open for cyclists) and drop down into Gridleford for a final climb back to The Fox House.
Tons of cracking climbs, loads of great cafes and some really stunning places to see en-route!
The Fox House is a regular base for outdoor adventures in the peak. If you use the free car park, then make sure you use the pub! Failing that, there are other car parks and on-road parking nearby. But it can be busy parking!