Where: Ashover, Derbyshire.
Distance: 28.7 miles.
Ascent: 3,613 ft.
Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer OL24
Parking: There is a free car park in Ashover by the village hall SK350632.
Overview: Further south than the areas the majority of people usually ride in the Peaks, this area is well worth a visit. There is quite a lot of tarmac on this route, but it is used to link up some excellent bridleways. Typically climb on tarmac then descend on great rocky Peak District trails. Rideable all year round but there are a couple of sections which can get boggy in the wet. Some of the high moor sections can also be very exposed.
Map: (click the symbols on the map to view photographs of the route)
Details: (click on a grid reference to centre the OS map above on that point)
1. (0 miles) SK348629 Next to the Red Lion (or Poets Corner as I think it has been re-named) pub is a narrow lane. Descend this, quickly leaving tarmac and going down some steps. The lane is paved in places with gritstone slabs. Update (April 2007): this trail now has new anti-motor vehicle features. Watch out for them when descending! Follow it round the bends at the bottom and up a very difficult climb. At the top of the climb turn left, then a few yards further, right onto a gravel track. Follow this to a cross roads. Go straight over to continue following the bridleway that is still gritstone paved in places. Continue climbing on the obvious trail through the wood and diagonally across the quarry. A tarmac finish to the climb brings you to a road.
2. (1.5 miles) SK341609 Turn right onto the road. Follow this to a staggered junction on the A632. Go across this and then take the next right turn. Descend to a left hand bend. There is a gated gravel drive entrance on your right . Enter this and continue to another set of gate posts.
3. (3.9 miles) SK325637 The bridleway goes to the left of the gate. This is the first good descent of the ride and is rocky and twisty. The fun doesn't stop once things level off with a couple of bridges to test your skills as you follow the obvious trail until it joins a lane just outside Kelstedge. A few yards along the lane, just before the first house on the left, there is a short bridleway that cuts a corner to avoid going into the village. Take this and turn left at the other end as you exit (carefully!) onto another lane. There now follows a few lanes to get you to the next off road section. The first to look out for is a right turn into Oaks Lane.
4. (5.1 miles) SK333642 Follow Oaks Lane up around a left hand bend then past a junction with another lane from the left and up to a staggered junction. Turn left and follow this lane to a T-junction. Turn right onto Cullumbell Lane and follow this to a cross roads. Go straight over and on to a T-junction. Turn right onto the B5057.
5. (7.3 miles) SK327668 Go past a farm and then take the first left into Hungerhill Lane (it has a dead end sign post). Follow the lane until the surface becomes gravel. Ignore the bridleway carrying straight on and bear round to the right past the farm. Update (April 2007): The next descent has been covered in very deep loose stone and ruined from a technical perspective. The straight on bridleway might be a better alternative? This is the start of the second good descent of the ride. The farm track turns into a similar style of descent to the one you have already done with the added bonus of some excellent rock steps on the s-bend towards the bottom. At the bottom carry on, climbing up to a road. Turn left onto the road and follow it until a bridleway sign is seen on your right.
6. (9 miles) SK315680 Take the bridleway which climbs up on singletrack then crosses a field (possibly boggy) at the top following marker posts. This brings you out on a road opposite a T-junction. Turn left onto the road and follow it until you come to a cross roads. Turn right and continue to a T-junction. Turn right again and descend to the start of a track on your right just before the wood.
7. (11.5 miles) SK286680 Take the track. This is a long, very fast descent mostly on gravel. Towards the end it turns to tarmac. Make sure you scrub off enough speed before you come to the T-junction with the B6012 at the bottom. Turn left onto the road and head for Beeley. Take the second left into the village. There's a pub here which is handy for a pint and a bite if you need it as there's not really anywhere else on this route. Climb out of Beeley on the road you are on - Chesterfield Road. About a mile up the road, just past the wood on your right, there is a bridleway.
8. (15 miles) SK279675 Turn right onto the bridleway which starts as a farm track. Follow it through gates and to a farm. In the farm yard the bridleway goes off to the right. Descend to a gate then continue to a bridge.Over this the trail is fast and fun (if dry) until it begins to climb slightly to rejoin the farm track which then descends to it's end on Chesterfield Lane. Turn left onto the road and climb steeply up the hill and round an s-bend. Just the other side of the s-bend is a bridleway on your right. Take the bridleway, which in the right conditions (Spring - with the bluebells flowering), has to be one of the prettiest in the Peaks. Anytime of year it's a great bit of singletrack contouring through the wood. About half way along you will come to a gate and track. You need to turn left and go up slightly to pick the bridleway up again on the right.
9. (17.5 miles) SK270647 The bridleway finishes at a T-junction with another. Turn left and go up round the corner. There is a large rooty step up here that you'll need to carry up. The next section of bridleway can have some very boggy sections. Follow it as it climbs steadily through gates and later alongside a wall until you exit via a double gate onto a road. Turn right onto the road.
10. (19.6 miles) SK295666 Take the second right into Flash Lane. This is the start of another fast descent. When the tarmac lane turns sharply left carry straight on down the track in front of you. You will emerge on tarmac next to a farm, follow this to another sharp left turn. Again you want to take the track that carries straight on. The best and rockiest bit of the descent is saved for the end just before you arrive next to a house in Two Dales.
11. (22 miles) SK284631 Turn left on to the B5057 and begin the long climb! At the top of the hill turn right into Jaggers Lane. At the fork go left staying on Jaggers Lane. You will come to a cross roads. Turn right and follow the road to the staggered junction on the A632 that you crossed on your way out. Cross in the opposite direction. The rest of the route is simply a matter of reversing your outward route to this point. The descent back down that was described in section 1 is a fine finish for the route. However don't forget to save enough energy to ride up the steps at the finish!
Possible extensions: The obvious one would be to carry on over the bridge near Calton Lees at the bottom of the descent to Beeley and take the bridleway to Calton Houses. You can then loop round on bridleways through Manners Wood (which contains an excellent descent) and rejoin the route via Rowsley.