UK Ride – Peak District

UR­BAN ROADS SOON GIVE WAY TO RUGGED HEATHLAND SWATHED IN HEATHER

Bikes Etc - - CONTENTS -

A tough loop fea­tur­ing one of Bri­tain’s most no­to­ri­ous cy­cling climbs, Win­nats Pass.

DIS­TANCE: 90.1KM EL­E­VA­TION: 1,641M DIF­FI­CULTY: 7/10

Where is it?

Our start­ing point this month is Sh­effield, once the cen­tre of the Bri­tish steel in­dus­try, now a re­ju­ve­nated mod­ern city. But we’re not here to sam­ple its ur­ban de­lights, this is sim­ply the launch pad for a loop that takes us into some of Bri­tain’s finest coun­try­side in the heart of the Peak District Na­tional Park, in­clud­ing a fair amount of climb­ing along the way. In fact, al­though it’s only around 7km from our start point near the city cen­tre to the bound­ary of the Na­tional Park, the climb­ing starts straight away, with the sub­ur­ban High­cliffe Road likely to catch out the un­wary with its gra­di­ents nudg­ing 10% (re­mem­ber that Sh­effield is fa­mously built on seven hills and the sub­urbs are packed with punchy climbs, pop­u­lar with the lo­cals). Once you’ve tack­led that lit­tle warm-up, you’ll be ready for the rolling coun­try roads that lie ahead, and it’s not long be­fore you’re leav­ing the city be­hind, ur­ban roads giv­ing way to farm­land, which in turn gives way to heathland, where car­pets of heather swathe rugged slopes and sheep wan­der the verges.

What are the high­lights?

Per­haps the most fa­mous spot on our route – and de­servedly so – is Win­nats Pass. With the im­pos­ing peak of Mam Tor ris­ing to the north, this cleft through the craggy rocks is a stun­ningly scenic climb, and hugely pop­u­lar with cyclists – over 15,000 at­tempts have been logged on Strava, and it’s twice been used for the Na­tional Hill Climb Cham­pi­onships. The 1.7km climb starts off gen­tly enough, with a long, grad­ual drag from the vil­lage of Castle­ton, but once you’ve crossed the cat­tle grid to hit the climb proper, the gra­di­ent pitches up­wards, hit­ting 20% at its steep­est and stays there for the next few hun­dred me­tres. The lime­stone cliffs loom­ing up on ei­ther side of the road will keep you fo­cused on the nar­row, twist­ing road ahead un­til the junc­tion at the top fi­nally looms into view. Luck­ily, the next 15km to Glos­sop will give you a chance to re­cover, as the rolling road mainly fol­lows the con­tours of the val­ley. The next big chal­lenge comes on the road out of Glos­sop, the 6.5km climb of Snake Pass. Com­pared to Win­nats, this is more of a ‘sit down, find a rhythm and keep ped­alling’ kind of climb, as the wide road snakes sky­ward.

Sounds tough. What’s the re­ward for all that climb­ing?

As well as the ma­jes­tic views from the sum­mit of Snake Pass, you can en­joy the fact that of the fi­nal 30km of the route, all but 7km are down­hill. As the road weaves through the ex­posed heathland, sand­wiched be­tween dry stone walls, you’ll be able to get your head down and en­joy one of the long­est stretches of con­tin­u­ous des­cent in Bri­tain, fol­low­ing the course of the River Ashop and for 4km along the shores of the Lady­bower Reser­voir.

Where are the café stops?

We chose the Seven Hills bak­ery on Shar­row Vale Road, on the out­skirts of the city cen­tre, as our start­ing point – a great place to get a fix of caf­feine and a pas­try be­fore set­ting off. Along the route, the towns of Chapel en le Frith and Glos­sop ( just over half­way) have a se­lec­tion of eater­ies and ser­vices.

How do I get there?

As a ma­jor city, Sh­effield is well served by the road net­work, be­ing just off the M1, and easy to reach by rail. See wel­come­tosh­effield.co.uk for more in­for­ma­tion on places to stay and the many at­trac­tions the city has to of­fer.

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