Stage 1: Nottingham to Wirksworth — ORTLIEB Escape Routes UK
Includes a segment in which cycling is forbidden
You will have to dismount and push your bike.
68 yd in total
Bike Touring Highlight
Mountain Biking Highlight (Segment)
ORTLIEB waterproof planned a gravel ride.
April 16, 2021
Start your bikepacking trip in the Midlands, from the central Nottingham train station. It's an easy start, riding out of the city on a cycle path alongside the Nottingham Canal. It’s not entirely scenic as you take more cycle lanes alongside busier roads to reach the outskirts of the city to the west, but moving away from such a bustling urban environment into the rural idyll of the Peak District National Park makes the contrast even more noticeable.
Soon you'll pass by the Hemlock Stone, which marks the start of the historic Derbyshire Portway, an ancient track thought to have originated in the Bronze Age. This towering sandstone form is partly blackened by the history of the Midlands’ industrial past.
Start out on the road to cross the River Erewash and Erewash Canal, joining the Derbyshire Portway through Sandiacre and then to the west up No Man’s Lane. After a short descent you’ll find Dale Abbey, a village named after the former abbey that was destroyed during the Reformation, leaving only an impressive stone archway.
After crossing Spondon Road you’ll take a bridleway to Stanley, then more off-road tracks over the shallow Stanley Brook crossing. There’s a bridge here too if you don’t want to get your feet wet! Climb to Morley and enjoy the views from before dropping down on the track named Toad Lane to cross under the busy A38 onto Alfreton Road.
Follow the road north to Holbrook before a challenging climb out of Milford on North Lane, a rocky dirt track. Be prepared to push in the steeper parts here! Along the top the bridleway, you’ll get great views over Belper before joining Green Road down to Blackbrook.
It’s straight up the hill next, on the brilliant Longwalls Lane. This certainly is a technical climb with some rocky features, and is likely to be quite mucky after bad weather.
Take Wilderbrook Lane to the west and steadily climb Chequer Lane to Alport Heights, the highest spot in the area. Managed by the National Trust, you can push your bike up to the very top to get extraordinary views on a clear day as far as The Wrekin in Shropshire.
A fast descent into Wirksworth follows to finish the stage, both on paved and unpaved lanes, down to the centre of this pretty market town. There are a few different guesthouses here to stay the night, or campsites a short (uphill) ride from the town too.