The Cat and Fiddle is a very popular road, it's not only a really great, long, challenging cycling climb (listed in the 100 Greatest Climbs books too!) but it's also a popular road with those on Motor Bikes. This means it can be a bit challenging with the traffic, but it's an epic and you have to ride up it at least once!
The problem with this route at the moment is, it's missing a cafe stop since The Cat and Fiddle Inn closed.
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. We start with a rapid descent into Hathersage. This is another nice fast flowing descent, take care at the speed trap or you may set it off!
At Hathersage the route carries on down the Hope Valley. This can be a busy road and the cycle lane is often full of debris. But it's a nice road to get a chain gang going, or at least work as a group to get a good turn of pace down this flat. Once you get to Hope, the route turns right to head towards Edale. The Penny Pot Cafe at Edale station is a favourite calling point, but you're only just getting going today, so don't bother!
After Edale we hit the first of our 100 Greatest Climbs for the day, Mam Nick, which is a steep start before swinging left and continuing to climb through twists and turns. This is a favourite climb for me, it's really rewarding to suffer up. I once even snapped my chain on it. Chain must have been worn/faulty. I don't put out that much power. Great views out the other side before you ride along the ridge and descend at speed towards Chapel-en-le-Frith. Out of Chapel is a mixed section. It would be quite nice roads, but it's a bit of a run between small towns so you can't really enjoy it as much as you should.
Just as you're leaving the towns though, you turn left to climb up some stunning back roads. The first time I came this way it was described as a short cut. It's not. You're adding distance and climb. But it's really great climb with some brilliant views, some cracking bits of road. Really, really lovely up here. You can drop into the valley and ride along a reservoir before a long, steady climb up to the Cat and Fiddle, but, that's the back way up. You want the iconic climb, so you instead drop back into the main road for a flowing descent to Macclesfield.
Macc is a bit of a pain to navigate, you're not in the nicest bit of it either! There will be a point you come to a dead end and have to pavement hop onto the main road and turn left. You're now on The Cat and Fiddle. So don't stop till the pub (that's closed!).
This is a long climb, some dips in it. Once you're getting up you'll see why it's so iconic. Lovely!
The long, tough climb is rewarded by an equally long and fast descent. At the t-junction we usually cross over to the Shell garage to grab food since the pub shut. At some point I'll find a better place!
After this, the ride has no more really remarkable hills till the end. It s however a lovely series of descents, little kickers and stunning back roads through some nice remote places in the Peak! The descent into Miller's Dale is absolutely brilliant before a strong, rewarding climb up to Tideswell, where there are a number of great cafes and shops.
The final stretch is another flowing ribbon through Grindlow, Foolow and Eyam (again, nice cafe, but you're nearly home!) before your final treat of the day, a cracking climb up Grindleford! Very similar to Froggat, Surprise or Owler Bar climbs, it's long and goes in and out of woods. There's an ice cream van part way up if it's a hot day, but, at the very top is the Fox House, where you've parked and can get a beer...
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!