Extending from the Hemlock Stone on the outskirts of Nottingham up through the Peak District to Mam Tor, the Derbyshire Portway is an ancient track thought to have originated in the Bronze Age. The route, which historians believe may have gone as far as Manchester, takes in many historic locations including Robin Hood’s Stride, Dale Abbey, Nine Stones Close and Alport Heights.
Today, the Derbyshire Portway is enjoyed by hikers as a long-distance walking route, linking the Trent Valley to the open expanses of the White Peak, before finishing over the moorland of the Dark Peak at the popular Mam Tor. Although parts of this route are for foot traffic only, it is easy to follow for the majority of the time, with a few diversions to stick to bridleways, byways and small lanes. This route is an ideal alternative for folks who’d rather take in this breathtaking Peak District crossing by bike: ideally a gravel bike, mountain bike or sturdy tourer.
Broken down into three stages, the Derbyshire Portway can be ridden at leisure over a long weekend, with the first stage being the longest at 23.4 miles (37 km). These distances may seem short, but with sometimes rough terrain and plenty of hills to challenge you, don’t underestimate this route. Really keen riders might even aim to link these three stages together into a single day’s ride! Whichever you choose, be sure to stop regularly to take in some of the historic landmarks, wide-ranging views and quaint towns you’ll find along on the way.
If you’d like to get up close to some of the historic monuments en route, you’ll need to be prepared to dismount and push your bike along the footpaths, such as to Robin Hood’s Stride and the Nine Stones Close stone circle.
If you’re touring the Derbyshire Portway, you’ll find plenty of accommodation and camping options between stages in Belper and Bakewell, as well as a good selection of places to eat, drink, and shop for supplies. It’s well worth booking in advance though, as these are very popular areas, especially in the summer season.
Although officially the Derbyshire Portway extends from the Hemlock Stone to Mam Tor, I’ve extended the route at either end to link it up to the nearest train stations, which is the best way to access the route. At the start, it’s an easy 6-mile (10 km) ride from the central Nottingham train station to the Hemlock Stone in the west of the city, mainly on cycle paths, starting along the Nottingham Canal. At the end of the Portway, it’s plain sailing from Mam Tor down to Chapel-en-le-Frith, which has regular services from the train station just outside the town.
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Last updated: November 10, 2021
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Although the official Derbyshire Portway doesn’t start until the Hemlock Stone on Stapleford Hill, I’ve routed this first stage from the central Nottingham train station to this point, starting out on a cycle path alongside the Nottingham Canal. It’s not entirely scenic as you take more cycle lanes alongside…
Starting from Blackbrook, just outside Belper, the second stage covers 20.4 miles (32.8 km) to the well-known Peak District town of Bakewell, most loved for its traditional puddings.
It’s straight up the hill to start, on the brilliant Longwalls Lane. This certainly is a technical climb with some rocky…
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The final stage takes you from Bakewell to the top of Mam Tor in the Dark Peak, characterised by the layer of millstone grit of the area on top of the underlying limestone. After reaching Mam Tor, I’ve added a section to lead you to the nearest train station at Chapel-en-le-Frith to the west for easy…
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