8 ways to get active in Derbyshire and the Peak District
- Credit: Archant
From challenging climbing routes to gentle cycle rides, there are facilities catering for everything from the easy to the extreme in Derbyshire and the Peak District.
WALKING: The public has access to over 500 sq km of open access land in the National Park and walkers can follow national or local trails, circular routes, or the long-distance routes of the Limestone Way (46 miles), Pennine Way (268 miles) – which starts/ends in Edale – the Derwent Valley Heritage Way (55 miles) or the National Forest Way (75 miles). The Monsal, High Peak and Tissington Trails along former railway routes provide relatively flat, linear walks. Discover the best of the area on a ranger-led walk organised by the Peak District National Park Authority or a guided walk with Peak Walking Adventures or Sally Mosley Guided Walks.
CYCLING: The dedicated 65 miles of off-road cycle trails in the Peak District are ideal for families and highlights include the tunnels of the Monsal Trail or the rugged routes of the Upper Derwent Valley. Some of the most popular cycle routes are along the Tissington, High Peak and Monsal Trails. The bridleway network around Edale, the Hope Valley and Upper Derwent reservoirs provides some great circuits for mountain biking. In the south of the county, the Horseshoe Trail is a 15 mile-trail for cyclists, horse riders and walkers, which starts/ends from Foremark Reservoir or Ticknall. Cycle hire centres can be found at the southern end of the Tissington Trail at Ashbourne, at Derwent in the Derwent Valley, at the junction of the High Peak and Tissington Trails at Parsley Hay, at Waterhouses in the Manifold Valley, at Middleton Top near Wirksworth. Derbyshire’s cycle scene also has an impressive asset in Derby Arena – a state-of-the-art velodrome and fitness hub.
CLIMBING AND CAVING: Some of the most challenging and popular rock climbing routes include the gritstone faces of Stanage Edge, Froggatt Edge, Windgather Rocks and The Roaches. The British Mountaineering Council provides news on access and advice. Below ground, caving is one of the best ways to discover the area’s hidden beauty and local outdoor activity providers who offer rock climbing and caving experiences include Dolomite Training in Bakewell, Aspire Adventure Activities in Darley Dale, Blue Mountain Activities in Chesterfield, and Peak Instruction in New Mills. Equally thrilling is a visit to the awe-inspiring show caves of Peak Cavern, Speedwell Cavern, Treak Cliff Cavern and Blue John Cavern at Castleton – home to the famous Blue John stone – and Poole’s Cavern at Buxton, located in the beautiful Buxton Country Park where there’s also a Go Ape zip-wire course.
HORSE RIDING: There are almost 600kms of Public Rights of Way open to horse riders in Derbyshire and over 200kms of Greenways, or countryside trails. Horse riders are welcome on the numerous shared use trails in the Peak District and both the former Hartington Station (SK17 0AZ) on the Tissington Trail and Torside car park (SK13 1JF) on the Longdendale Trail provide horse box parking and tethering. The Pennine Bridleway starts from Hartington Station and heads along the Tissington and High Peak Trails, then on bridleways and quiet roads over the moors to Hayfield and Glossop. The Monsal Trail has a firm, level surface from the car park at Bakewell Station (DE45 1AE) south to Coombs Road viaduct and north to Blackwell Mill, and there’s a network of bridleways in the Macclesfield Forest and Upper Derwent Valley. In the Longstone Edge area, the Black Harry Trails are ideal for horse-riding and mountain-biking. An up-to-date list of approved riding schools in Derbyshire can be found at www.bhs.org.uk and www.abrs-info.org.
WATERSPORTS: Sailing clubs operate on many of the area’s reservoirs including Rudyard, Combs, Ogston, Staunton Harold, Swarkestone, Errwood, Dovestone, Burton and Glossop. Carsington Water near Ashbourne provides rowing boat and canoe hire, windsurfing, kayaking and lessons. Keen swimmers should visit the open-air pool at Hathersage, set amidst the glorious Hope Valley scenery.
GLIDING: There are several British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association schools in the Peak District (www.bhpa.co.uk), plus a gliding centre at Great Hucklow (glidingclub.org.uk) which offers everything from a single experience flight to a five day beginner’s course. If you simply want to watch the action, Mam Tor at Castleton is a major local hotspot for hang gliding and paragliding.
FISHING: Widely regarded for their beauty, excellent river fishing is available on the Wye, Derwent, Trent and Dove – the inspiration of The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton and Charles Cotton in 1653. Bakewell is renowned as the ‘home of dry fly fishing’ and fine fishing for wild trout can be found on the River Wye at The Peacock at Rowsley. Many of the waters are controlled by the estates of Haddon and Chatsworth and by clubs and associations; subject to licences and permits. Coarse fishing enthusiasts should head to Ladybower and Carsington Reservoirs, where day tickets are available.