The Edale Enduro (19.5 miles / 31Km)

Best ridden with paracetamol and ibuprofen taken first: this ride could well hurt! The climbs are unrelenting; the descents are fast, rocky, brutal and scary; but the scenery is gorgeous. This is what mountain biking is all about! This is a super ride, and being where it is: just that bit further west, it’s also a route that will take you to trails that are lesser frequented in the Peak District. The ride includes the infamous Jacob’s Ladder, and while it is famed for it’s technical nature in descent, on this ride you will need to climb it. It’s a tough ten or fifteen minutes, but well worth the effort. Also, as great as this ride would be in the clockwise direction, I can’t help but think this is the best direction to take it. And while I describe this ride for the E-biker, for what it’s worth I ride it on my hardtail! (Hardcore!)

Superb Dark Peak views as you ride by South Head

mountain biking near the top of the first ascent in New Piece Wood on the Chatsworth Estate in the Peak District

Route details

Turn right out of the public car park in Edale and ride a couple of easy miles along narrow country lanes towards Barber Booth. Past the nice cottages and through the gate and onto an easy-going trail. The scenery ahead looks great already! Follow the track until you cross a fjord and then you have a choice to either go up Jacob’s Ladder using the footpath to the right, or the bridleway to your left. Given that you won’t be riding this, you may as well push your bike up the slightly shorter footpath. At the top continue up and eventually take the left fork that will lead you to Edale Cross.

If you aren’t already back in the saddle, get back on your bike now. Apart from a short rise ahead, it’s pretty much down hill now all the way to Hayfield. Drop your saddle, keep your eyes peeled, and your heels dropped, the next 5km or so will be skin of your teeth fast downhill. (I ride a hardtail and I must confess that more than once I wished I had a full-sus rig on this long sustained rock-strewn descent).

Arms and hands aching, brakes burning, you land in Hayfield. Stiop for a brew and a butty or ride on! The picturesque Sett Valley Trail now leads you west out of this small town. It’s an easy mile or so before you turn left up a bridleway – don’t miss the turn! Over the road and then up the next calf-burning unrelenting hill, initially on a well surfaced track. Through the gate and on a grassy bridleway, up, up, up until you can go up no more.

Have a drink, have a snack: you’ve only just begun! Turn left down this hill, up a bit and down a short satisfying descent towards the A624 at the bottom. Turn left along the road, and quickly turn off right along an obvious track/bridleway. Very quickly you’ll come to a cross-roads: turn right along the Pennine Bridleway (I think).

This next section is wonderful. (Already you will be thinking what a great ride it’s been – this next bit is my favourite section of the ride). The climbs are never that bad and the descents, whilst fast, technical and rocky, are just hanging in there on the safe side of what’s comfortable. The scenery is FABULOUS.

Follow the bridleway all the way to the road, which now has a dedicated bridleway leading you round to the left and onto the next byway! Up up up another hill, manageable and not too long. At the top of this take the left fork, and then onto another junction. From here take the right turn down Chapel Gate, a swooping resurfaced trail. Take care – there are loads of drainage channels along the way that will rip off the front forks of the unwary mountain biker!

More brakes burning and you reach the road. I implore you, do not be tempted left down the tarmac back to your car. Wind your way back up hill and take the left turn down the bridleway just before the summit of Mam Tor. As you pass through the gate stay high, stay left. Take this bridleway that leads you to Hollins Cross and then a left turn back on yourself for a final kilometer of brilliant mountain biking downhill towards Greenlands and finally back on the tarmac and onto your waiting car.

General Information

Start / Finish LocationEdale Car/Coach Park, Hope Rd, S33 7ZQ

Distance: 19.5 miles / 31 km

Height gain: 1207m

Time required: 3.5 – 5 hours

How tough? The hills are long and steep, the descents are fast and scary. It’s physically demanding this one! (But a lot easier on your E-Bike!)

How technical? On a hardtail this ride needs you to keep your wits about you. On a full-sus MTB you will find this pretty straight forward.

Nearest bike hire: The Bike Garage – Bamford/Hope Valley

Local pubs we would recommend: The Old Nags Head, Edale 

MTB riding from Edale Head towards Hayfield

mountain bikers on a trail near Bakewell

The Edale Enduro MTB

Peak District mountain bikers on a trail near Bakewell

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.

Further reading / information