Sheffield has long had a reputation as a city for the outdoors. Nestled as it is hard up against the eastern flank of the Peak District, it's been a Mecca for cyclists, mountain bikers, climbers, walkers and other outdoorsy folk for generations. It's also a vibrant, exciting city in its own right, with a thriving culture all of its own, which makes it even more enticing as a place to visit for those of an adventurous disposition.
Here are a handful of reasons why Sheffield is spoken of in reverent tones by mountain bikers across the UK. Whether you fancy getting the train to Hope and riding back into the city, or you'd rather start and end your loop in the city itself, these routes include some of the most testing climbs, fantastic views and best descents the entire country has to offer.
Due to the porous quality of the regional sandstone (Millstone Grit) lots of trails in the area drain remarkably well in the winter (although it can, of course, still get extremely boggy in places), and even when the weather is rather inclement, there's loads more grip available under tyre than there is in, for example, more limestone-based regions. Thanks to all that grip, riding some of the sections on these routes can be much more straightforward than they initially seem.
And to top it off, there are also directions to get to and from the Peaks on quiet roads, gentle woodland and as much tranquility as possible, so you can head out, ride some truly exemplary trails and quietly wind your way back into the city before stopping off for a coffee at one of the many excellent cafes.
So grab your bike, don your helmet and get set for some great times ahead!
This route follows trails that have become firm favourites with many Sheffield locals, which easily link into the city via the Sheffield Links routes elsewhere in this Collection. Describing a lazy figure of eight, this circuit incorporates a fair amount of road work, especially at the beginning, but the views are great and the rewards are fantastic, as the best riding is left until last - full-bore helter skelter rock'n'roll downhill action. In particular, the final, technical descent down through the Stanage Plantation is a rocky delight!The route leaves the car park below Stanage and gain height easily (well, for a given value of 'easy') on tarmac, passing through picturesque terrain. The trails keep you pedalling as you enjoy the views as you swing by the Burbage Valley (optional route - see below), dropping slightly to Ringinglow and then head out across the ancient byways on Houndkirk Moor. A swift rocky descent and another brief section on tarmac lead to one of the Peak’s tighter bits of steep and technical singletrack, down through Blacka Plantation. The route then climbs back up to the Roman road across Houndkirk Moor before it takes in the truly excellent Lady Cannings blue trail, and another leisurely road section that weaves round to Redmires Reservoirs. The route leave the road here once again, and climbs to Stanage Pole (the climb gets more fun the higher up you go, you'll be pleased to hear). At the top, you can rest and enjoy the views before a quick blast on a wide track leads to a choice of two contrasting descents – narrow, steep and technical on ancient flagstones, or wide and fast. Here, the the route drops down the front of the edge for a spicy and steps slab of rocky singletrack, but if that's not your cup of tea just continue along the Long Causeway, which is a great fast descent back onto the road and an easy spin back to the car.The optional route mentioned above involves leaving the road at the Upper Burbage Bridge, and dropping below Burbadge Rocks and riding along the A6187 until you rejoin the route and head down the Devil's Elbow trail on Blacka Moor.Although the starting point here leaves arguably the very best descent to until the last, there are of course plenty of optional places to park up dotted along the route, or you could ride from Sheffield City Centre, or Hathersage (both of which possess train stations).
Sitting tight against the eastern boundary of the Peak District National Park, and only a few short miles from Sheffield, the trails on Blacka Moor are popular with locals who ride them often as quick evening blasts, even in winter – get your lights out! It’s no exaggeration when we say there’s about a zillion ways (okay, maybe a *slight* exaggeration) of linking the trails on Blacka Moor, Totley Moor and Houndkirk Moor. Some trails lend themselves to being ridden in either direction, while some are very much a one-way affair, such as our preferred drop through Blacka Plantation.Making the most of the fine riding in the area, this loop is a bona fide Peak District classic. Kicking off from the Norfolk Arms, halfway up Ringinglow Road, the route begins on the byway over Houndkirk Moor. This classic, wide (yet surprisingly interesting) track leads across the moor, with expansive views from the summit towards the Derwent Valley and Kinder Plateau. Brief road work then leads to a bridleway and track on Totley Moor and a fine piece of hidden narrow singletrack that contours around Wimble Holme Hill. If the weather's bad, instead of turning off onto the bridleway, carry on the A625 until it intersects with the A6187 and use that bridlepath; it's a little less boggy!A quick climb leads back to the road and a highlight of the route: the bridleway drop down through Blacka and the Devil’s Elbow. Serpentine singletrack leads to rock gardens, roots and a few tight bends before you emerge on Shorts Lane with a massive grin. A winch back up the hill - first on tarmac then on rough byway - leads to the final descent on the recently developed Lady Cannings blue-grade trail. Berms, rollers and jumps ensure you finish on a high after a job well done.The Norfolk Arms is an excellent place to start and stop - large carpark, food and drink, and rooms are also available.
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One of the great things about living in (or close to) the glorious city of Sheffield is the mass of mountain biking right on your doorstep. Here’s a route for a car-free day: take a train out, then ride back! Of course you could get dropped off by car, but that wouldn't really be in the spirit of the ride! This route is a reasonably tough challenge as it stands, but if you were feeling particularly masochistic you could throw in a few more loops to make a proper day of it – up and around Ladybower reservoir, for example (the climb from Ladybower up to Derwent Moors and the subsequent descents come highly recommended).From Hope Station, the route follows back roads to a bridleway up Win Hill. Quality singletrack along the ridge leads to a rocky descent from Blackley Clough to the A57 along the legendary Potato Alley, so named for the size and shape of the rocks. Easy tracks strewn with sheep swiftly gain the height needed for the classic Hagg Farm descent before a mild cruise alongside Ladybower reservoir and a grind up the road below Bamford Edge - the views more than make up for the effort. There's now a chance to catch your breath before the route heads up (the sadly resurfaced) climb up Stanage. A fast descent to Redmires Reservoirs then leads to quiet lanes and a choice of descents into Sheffield. You can follow the route here, which takes a heading south and towards the more off-road way back along the Sheffield Return Route. Alternatively, heading north down the Wyoming Brook Drive will deposit you neatly on the Manchester Road.For train timetables, please visit: thetrainline.com
So, so many rides in the Dark Peak can be considered classics - but in the minds of many, this is the one that immediately springs forth. It encapsulates so much that's fantastic about riding in the area - great views; long, grinding climbs; short sharp shocks; technical descents - and all on the Millstone Grit geology that eats drivetrains and brake blocks for breakfast.The initial spin from Hope doesn't last long; you're soon hauling your way up some very steep slabs as you climb up towards Hope Cross. It’s a swift climb along the road before the route joins the Thornhill Trail and climbs up to Hope Brink, drop down to the Roman Road and heads to Hope Cross. Here's where the first descent takes hold, and it's something of a famous one. The Beast, as it’s known, is perhaps not the dread-fest it was 20 years ago (thanks to modern mountain bike design) but it's still a hugely stiff challenge. Wide, for sure - but hugely rocky, and very, very thrutchy. It eases off at the bottom a little, but it's still up there as one of the gnarliest descents in the Peaks. Of course, after all that down, there's a need to go up again. The Hagg Farm trail is also a lot of fun ridden as a descent, but here it's a serviceable climb - just keep an eye out for people hurtling down. It's possible to detour up the road to a slightly more forgiving climb at Rowlee Farm instead, but it adds little to the experience - and you have to ride along the road for half a mile or so.The next descent down from Lockerbrook Heights is also a lot of fun, and will leave you refreshed and invigorated for the spin along Derwent Reservoir and a mid-ride snack at the Derwent Visitors Centre.We’re not finished with the climbing yet, though. After a flat spin along the reservoir for a bit the paved climb up Grindle Clough is a sharp awakening. It doesn't last forever (although it may seem like it) as things get a bit less steep up Grainfoot Clough, and top out as you approach Whinstone Lee Tor.And yes, it's all downhill from here - for a bit, at least. Lots of rocks, the odd ford, more rocks, and as much speed as you can muster. The descent doesn't disappoint. A swift blat along the road before the route joins the Thornhill Trail and drops back along the road to Hope.The trains from Sheffield to the heart of the Peak District run regularly, and it’s a short hop from the city centre to some of the finest riding the country has to offer. This Tour starts in Hope, but it’d be just as easy to modify it to start at Bamford if you so desire - they’re both easily accessible, and offer opportunities for refreshments.For information on train times, check out thetrainline.com
Jacob's Ladder is one of those climbs which has entered into legend amongst the UK's mountain biking fraternity (at least, those of a certain age). It's brutally unforgiving, with difficult terrain, hop-ups, bizarrely maintained sections and false summits. It's actually just as much fun run the other way (this is one of those rare routes which is good either way) and in fact, this is the approach this Tour takes. So if you like your descents fast and furious, then step right up!From Edale, the route takes the trail up to Hollins Cross along the old coffin road. It's a tricky climb in places, and there's a feeling of achievement if you can make it to the top without dabbing - so you can smugly enjoy the fantastic view.The climbing's not over yet, though - Mam Tor is next on the list to tick off, as the route crosses over the road and heads along the ridgeline of Rushup Edge. It soon drops down to the road, and joins the Pennine Bridleway. Don't trust the contours here; it's more brutal than it looks!Dropping down to Hayfield is an absolute blast, before the inevitable happens and the Tour takes in another long grind up to the Scheduled Ancient Monument of Edale Cross. And then there's another monster descent.Jacob's ladder, when ridden as a descent, is exactly as you'd expect. Very fast indeed, quite technical, with a couple of interesting corners and a ford at the bottom - which can be a trickle or (more often) a sock-soaker. But no matter, as it's all downhill (mostly) down to Upper Booth, and a spin along the road back into Edale.This Tour starts in Edale, which is a short train ride from Sheffield City Centre (it's the next stop along from Hope), but if you're driving there are a few other options; the carpark just below Mam Tor being an obvious one, and Hayfield being another. Edale's your only option by train though; Hayfield doesn't have a railway station. Edale is a tourist town, so there are plenty of places to get something to eat - but by the same token it can get pretty busy.For information on train times, check out thetrainline.com
This is a very useful way to ride from the city into the Stanage Circuit, or to link into the start of the Blacka Moor route and the awesome network of trails on Blacka and Totley Moor. It's also just a great way to get into the Peaks and strecch your legs, and it has views of its very own to enjoy. The entrance to Endcliffe Park at Hunters Bar roundabout is a traditional meeting place for the city’s mountain bikers, so it's a great place to begin.To start off with, there's a pleasant cruise of around 3.4 miles (5.5 km) which takes the route through leafy parkland to the steep uphill at Porter Clough. Formerly a brilliant, loose climb, this has been recently resurfaced by the city council. Nevermind - at least it makes for plenty of traction. And as the trail emerges at the top it's easy to see just how close to the Peaks you are - and their excellent trails. Important Note: Bridleways and footpaths often run parallel through the Parks - so please do try to keep to the bridleways only.
For those Sheffield dwellers who live a little further south, the Peak District can be accessed via trails in and around Ecclesall Woods. These trails are also an excellent return route into the city for anyone who has headed out through the parks – it’s certainly far better than spinning just on tarmac!The route is essentially pleasant riding through woodland, particularly when the autumn turns the trees a mix of yellow and orange, and in the spring when the bluebells dominate. No, it's not too technical, and as a result it's also a popular blast for night riders. The route leads to the link up to/from Hunters Bar roundabout, which is a popular meeting point for mountain bikers from the city.Important Note: There are plenty of bridleways and footpaths running close together in the woods; please keep to the bridleways only!