The Derbyshire Circuit 21-06-2006

Report by John, photo by Barry.

A few years ago Barry asked me to recommend some good roads in Derbyshire. I marked off my favourite roads on a map and realised they could be linked to form a superb circular route taking in some of the finest biking roads in Cheshire and Derbyshire. A mixture of Cheshire country roads, Derbyshire switchback roads and tiny, winding roads to entertain and challenge, with a sense of achievement at the end.

Since then I’ve ridden this route many times, it’s about 115 miles and takes 2 ½ to 3 hours, so is an ideal evening ride out.

Myself, Barry, Roger and Kev left the Boar’s head at 7:30pm as arranged. Kev agreed to lead to start with and we took a well ridden route through Congleton and up to Bosley crossroads. From here the road climbs steeply and the countryside changes quickly to the typical Derbyshire hills with small stubby trees, de-formed by the constant winds in the area.

This is one of my favourite roads anywhere, very challenging with steep hills and tight bends and the occasional sudden drop that leaves your front wheel airborne for a few moments. We slowed down past the usual sheep which are found towards the end of this road. Sheep have so much more road sense these days, and completely ignored us as we rode past.

I intended to take a short cut along a short single track road that links the Congleton and Leek roads but couldn’t attract Kev’s attention in time. So at the end of the road I took the lead as agreed and picked up the route from the Buxton end of the Cat & Fiddle road.

A nice mixture of A and B roads eventually took us to the side of Ladybower reservoir where we stopped to give Roger a fag break. We discussed the flooded village which still remains below the water only yards from where we were standing. I remember passing as a child when the church steeple was still visible standing eerily out of the water. Just out of sight is the Derwent Reservoir where the Dam Busters practised for their historic attack on the dams of the Ruhr Valley in Germany.

A short trip up the Snake Pass took us to the start of another of my favourites, Strines. What can I say about Strines ? Bumpy, narrow, twisty to the extreme, loose gravel, steeply inclined corners…puts a smile on my face every time. Roger wished he’d fitted knobblies.

20 minutes of careful riding along this tricky road brought us out onto the bleak and wind swept Woodhead Pass. This couldn’t be more different and it was a delight to be able to use the performance and handling of the bike after the restrictions of the previous road.

A pain during the day when it’s choked with lorries, in the evening the occasional car only adds to the pleasure as you sweep through 80mph corners, passing over the famous Woodhead Tunnels and running alongside Woodhead Reservoir before turning off again, across a dam and onto a winding B road down into Glossop.

From there it is a pleasant ride to Chapel en le Frith, lots of speed camera signs around so we needed to be observant.

We stopped here for Kev to fill up with petrol and to stretch our legs, and as we left encountered the only rain of the evening, but this had stopped by the time we climbed out of Whaley Bridge towards Taxal.

Continuing down into Macclesfield, we were beginning to lose the daylight, so the easier choice of route home was taken through Chelford. From here, as tradition has it, it was every man for himself as we finished off the evenings run with a brisk ride into Holmes Chapel and then on to Middlewich.

Thanks to the others for a memorable run, we only got split up once when Roger needed to stop and powder his nose, but the “wait for the person behind” rule meant that wasn’t a problem. We got back to the Boar’s Head at about 10:15pm, said our goodbyes and went home.