Millthorpe MTB – East of the Peak (8.8 miles/14.3 km)
Green pastures, fast descents & a tasty finish. This is a gem of a ride just east of the Peak. The climbs are on tarmac, and the descents are down super flowy trails – what more could you want from a quick-fix mountain bike ride!? It was only after years and years of riding the trails in the Peak District and Sheffield areas that I discovered this awesome ride. (And that was only because my family bought me the latest edition of the Vertebrate Publishing White Peak Mountain Biking guide book, where a longer version of this route resides!) This is the perfect evening ride, where time is short, and you’re looking for maximum bang for buck. Just 14Km, but with three super flowy descents and wonderful countryside scenery adorning the ride throughout, this is an absolute gem!
From the pub, head west along Cordwell Lane, in the direction of Cordwell. About half a mile later, take a right turn up the bridleway. A bit tricky and a bit steep all the way, but this is completely rideable the whole way up. At the top take a right turn along the road, enjoying some relief for your thighs. About 1Km later take the right turn down the bridleway. Take care – it’s easy to go fast down this trail, but always be ready for any horse-riders and dog walkers coming the other way.
Almost disappointingly this first descent drops you about 100m up from where you started the day! Don’t let this put you off, take a left turn up the hill and plod on up seeking the next thrill. Up, up, up, (it never ends), past a footpath, and then at Cartledge Lane, turn left, and quickly on down the ensuing bridleway. If you thought the first downhill was super, this is even better! (And longer too). Once again, be careful of other users, be nice say hi!
At the bottom, head down to the road, and turn left. Keep left and up this next short hill. Right turn up a byway (great also for riding down), and if you are truly strong and skilful you’ll make it to the top of this byway without the need for a break. (Good luck with that one).
From the top of the byway, take a right turn along the road. It might be tarmac but there’s an ethereal beauty about being in this environment, encased in this rural idyll. At the bottom of a fast hill take the right turn up the bridleway. The climb up the single-track is short lived before you’re once again enjoying lovely countryside vistas, rolling along the trail in true Enid Blyton “Five go Mad” style.
This leads you down to a slightly technical and rocky section before throwing you across a bridge, where you take an immediate right turn in the direction of Common Side. Into Common Side, right turn, down the hill, over the river and left turn up Far Lane. This road seems to go on for an age, but in reality its only about 2 miles. You’ll eventually get to the summit of the hill, and then just over this summit you’ll see a byway on the right. Turn hard right, down here, through the gate and go for it. Down through the woods, and if you’re lucky it won’t be too muddy and you’ll pick up some decent speed.
When you get to the road, the fun isn’t over yet: pedal on. 500m later you’ll see a house on your left, and just beside this is the final bridlepath which turns left off the road. Follow this, very quickly picking up speed, (some rocks too), and losing what space there is as you realise this final single-track has a bit more spice than all the previous descents. At the bottom you’ll see a flood of water, don’t even think about avoiding this, just ride on through. Pedal, a bit of front-wheel lift and out the other side.
Down the trail and very quickly you’ll see that this is where you left your car. And if you’re lucky, and have read this through, you’ll have some dry clothes waiting for you too!
Start / Finish Location – The Royal Oak pub, Millthorpe, S18 7WJ (parking spaces just down the road)
Distance: 8.8 miles / 14.2 km
Height gain: 403m
Time required: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
How tough? Wonderful flowy descents linked with some steep climbs
How technical? Three brilliant fast descents, but generally easy enough. The finale that takes you down from Johnnygate to Millthorpe is however a fast and rocky singletrack with little space to think or manoeuvre yourself out of trouble with a great wet finish!
Local pubs we would recommend: The Royal Oak Pub, Millthorpe, S18 7WJ
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. On this route though – I reckon you could even get by on a … gravel bike. Eek! (But it would never be as much fun).
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