One of England's many national parks, the Peak District offers a lot to cyclists of all disciplines, although be prepared for a challenge!
Hills, hills and more hills
If you’re averse to riding uphill, the Peak District is probably not the place for you. Even roads that look flat actually turn out to have a slight gradient, so a day in the saddle in the Peaks is always a challenge.
Not only are the hills plentiful, some of them are also incredibly steep. Find yourself at the foot of Winnats Pass and you’ll get a strong urge to turn back. It may only average 11.7 per cent, but when it ramps up to over 20 per cent on one of the bends your legs will be screaming out for a break.
The advantage of having such a rolling landscape is that when you get to the top of a climb the views are pretty breathtaking.
Undertake the climb out of Hathersage on a sunny day and you won’t be disappointed with the scenery you are greeted with from one of the many viewpoints at the top.
The unpredictable weather
Don’t ride in the Peaks without a rain jacket stowed in your back pocket – the weather in the area is notoriously changeable.
Even in the fog and the rain, the Peaks holds a certain charm. Climbs and descents appear from nowhere out of the mist, while the steep ascents are made even harder by the slippery road surface.
It’s not just the fields, the rivers and the trees that you can look at on your rides – what lives in them is just as interesting. A huge number of birds, fish, mammals and invertebrates have been spotted in the Peak District in recent years, including the wonderfully named Grasshopper Warbler and Southern Iron Blue Mayfly.
Granted, you’ll see a lot more cows and sheep than you will Bilberry Bumblebees, but keep your eyes peeled just in case.
Take your binoculars!
A ride isn’t a ride without a café stop, and many cafés in the Peak District will tempt you in with locally made Bakewell Pudding.
A stop in the Derbyshire town of Bakewell will allow you to visit the Original Bakewell Pudding Shop, where you can indulge your sweet tooth to your heart’s content.
Be warned, though – whichever direction you head out of Bakewell you’re likely to encounter a pretty steep hill, so make sure not to weigh yourself down too much with the local delicacies!
The cycling-friendly accommodation
The Youth Hostel Association has recently invested over £250,000 in making 25 of its properties around the UK cycling friendly, including some in and around the Peaks.
The hostel in Hathersage, for example, is one of those benefiting from the money, while there are plenty of other hotels, B&Bs and guest houses in the area that don’t mind you bringing your bike with you.