This is Cut Gate (22 miles/35 km)
Who knew? Who knew that a ‘there and back’ ride could offer so much variety, so much flow, and so much technical interest, BOTH ways!? Normally I steer clear of all ‘there and back’ routes, always looking for a circular ride instead. But this gem delivers its charms by the bucketful: it’s a top quality route that must be sampled by all mountain bikers visiting the Peak District. That said – don’t be too hasty, it rides best in a dry spell only!
Park your car at Fairholmes visitor centre by Ladybower Reservoir and head out so that you pass by the iconic dam wall, (the one with with the water flowing over the top and down its sides). Follow the trail round so that you join a minor road/track m& turn left so that the reservoirs are now to your left and the woods are up to your right. Follow this easy trail now for about four miles to Slippery Stones and Cranberry Clough. Cross this clough (stream) by the footbridge and head right following a prominent bridleway.
Soon you will be pushing your bike up a steep and technical trail. Don’t worry about having to push – everyone (I bet) does. Contemplate instead how GREAT the descent will be when you come back down here. Keep going up up up. Some sections will be on the new paving stones, some sections will be rideable, and some won’t. Eventually you’ll come to a prominent cairn which pretty much marks the end of the climb (woohoo!).
The top section follows single track, sometimes along, sometimes up a bit, sometimes down a bit. I find it easier to up on my pedals with the saddle low.
Soon you’ll come to a junction with a prominent trail heading off to the right. Ignore this and keep going. Soon you’ll be picking up speed and riding fast (maybe) down towards the western end of the Langsett Reservoir. Head round this in a clockwise direction on easy trails. You’ll come out onto the road for a very short stretch which is no bad thing since it will allow you to stop for a brew and something calorific at the Bank View Cafe – still resplendent in its polka dot colours, a reminder of when the Tour de France passed through back in 2012.
After the cafe, turn right down the road, over and along the reservoir head-wall and then take the first bridleway to your right. Just follow this round, keeping the water over to your right. Enjoy some woody trails through Thick Woods before coming back out onto the hill. An easy ascent now and you will come to junction of bridleways. You could do a left here and head back, or continue and take the next left. (My personal route of choice).
Either way you’ll now be following Cut Gate through the glorious single track and down some pretty fast trails heading back for the Derwent watershed. Finally, before you head back to Fairholmes I’d heartily recommend stopping for a swim in the pools. Washed, and sated, head back the way you came, now with the reservoirs on your right.
How good was that!?
Start / Finish Location – Fairholmes Visitor Centre, Bamford, Hope Valley S33 0AQ
Distance: 22 miles / 35 km
Height gain: 982m
Time required: 4 – 5 hours
How tough? It’s so much fun the miles will just fly by! (Plus on the steep bits, you’ll just push your bike anyway).
How technical? Some technical single track and fast flowy descents will mean this is best suited to experienced riders only.
Nearest bike hire: Derwent Bike Hire is at Fairholmes Visitor Centre – but these bikes won’t cut the mustard (or the Gate). Instead pay James a visit at The Bike Garage – Bamford/Hope Valley and hire a proper mountain bike that is up to the job!
Local pubs we would recommend: The Yorkshire Bridge Inn, S33 0AZ
(There are two pubs local to this ride, this is the pub, we would recommend, by far!)
What bike for this ride?
For all these routes I ride an On One Scandal hard-tail. Really, for 95% of mountain biking in the Peak District, a decent hard-tail will see you right.
Mountain bike hire in the Peak District
We’ve listed here a few places that offer higher spec mountain bikes for hire. Typically you can expect to pay around £35 per day for hiring a decent bike from these places. For families looking to do a circuit of the reservoirs, lower spec bicycles will be perfect and cost closer to £20 for the day.
- The Bike Garage – Bamford/Hope Valley
- Derwent Bike Hire – Derwent / Ladybower Reservoirs
- Peak eBikes – Hassop Station (near Bakewell) on the Monsal Trail
- Carsington Water Bike Hire (southern most White Peak)
Further reading / information
- 10 of the Best Peak District Mountain Biking Trails
- Peak District Accommodation
- Mountain Biking Skills Courses
- 10 Ways to Be Better at Map Reading for Mountain Bikers
- Ten GREAT Peak District walks to do
- The Tongue In Cheek History Of The Peak District
- Vertebrate Publishing – mountain biking guidebooks
- Peak District MTB – voluntary organisation that aims to preserve, improve and promote mountain biking within the Peak District National Park