Hayfield – Jacob’s Ladder

Peak District Mountain Bike Route Guide


Hayfield, The Dark Peak

(Requires advanced skills and fitness)

17.5 miles

OS Landranger 110

Route Text Download:
Hayfield – Jacob’s Ladder

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(available via the full MapMyRide page for this route, on the right hand side of the page)

Hayfield - Jacob's Ladder Route

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This is a mountain bike route of 17.5 miles starting from Hayfield. It is the classic Dark Peak route that takes in the Jacob's Ladder, Rushup Edge and Roych Clough descents. The main climbs are directly to the back of Jacob's Ladder from Hayfield and up to Rushup Edge via Hollins Cross and Mam Tor. Although the route is not exceptionally long the rocky terrain, combined with difficult climbs and steep technical descents, makes this a tough one.

1. Start from the Visitor Centre car park (GR035869)and head towards the centre of Hayfield in the direction of the church. Use the pedestrian crossing to get across the main road. On the far side, with the church on the left, go straight ahead down the road to where it ends at a junction. Turn left and go over the bridge. Directly after the bridge follow the road to the second junction on the right (GR037870). Turn right and climb the lane between the houses then go straight on at the next junction a short distance later. Follow the lane through a couple of bends to the top of the climb. After reaching the top of the climb continue along the lane and descend to a junction with a lane on the right, which goes over a bridge, just before the Bowden Bridge Quarry car park on the left (GR048869).

2. Turn right and go over the bridge then on the other side follow the lane left. Continue along the lane as it bears right to the second junction (GR052867). Turn right and cross the bridge to continue following the lane. Climb the lane to a forked junction, with a cattle grid on the left and gate on the right (GR053865). Go through the gate on the right and continue climbing. After reaching the top of the climb stay on the tarmac as it bears left, past some tracks on the right, and descend steeply to a gate at the bottom (GR054860).

3. Go through the gate follow the lane ahead as it bears left and starts the long climb to the top of Jacob’s Ladder. At the junction where the lane turns sharply right continue straight on up the wide, steep gravel track to a gate (GR058859). The long climb lets you know what to expect straight away by starting with one of the steeper sections, which is covered in loose gravel. At the top of the gravel the track comes to a gate. Go straight on through the gate and climb the much less steep rocky double track. After a while the trial kicks up and climbs two steep sections of technical bedrock that mark the start of the last third of the climb, which is the most difficult part. While it is possible to clean the whole climb it will have most walking at some point. Continue following the track ahead to the summit at Edale Cross. Go straight on across the summit then down a short, rocky descent that leads to a gated junction at the top of the Jacob’s Ladder descent (GR081861).

4. Go straight on through the gate and cross the junction to start the descent of Jacob’s Ladder. Again the trail lets you know what to expect straight away with a rocky drop and loose boulders on a sunken singletrack. At the end of this the trail bears right and heads down a very steep section of bouldery cobbles. The cobbles finish with a big drop that leads on to a slightly flatter section of more natural rocks and boulders. After a while the track bears left and descends a short, steep section of big rocks (there is a smoother line on the right) then at the bottom turn hard right to a gate (GR086862). Go through the gate and descend the criss-crossing ruts covered in rocks and drops, to a tight left hand bend. After the left hand bend the trail becomes extremely loose and rocky all the way to a gate and stream crossing at the bottom (GR088861).

5. Go across the stream, using the ford or bridge, then follow the hardpack double track on a gentle descent down the valley that ends at some farm buildings (GR096855). At the farm go straight ahead and descend the tarmac. After a while go left then right through a dip, and across a bridge, then go up a short climb to a farm at the top. Continue ahead down the lane. The lane bears right a while later before climbing to a junction with Upper Booth Farm, on the right. Turn left and descend the lane. On the way down go past a car park on the right then under a bridge before the lane finally finishes at a T-junction (GR113847).

6. Turn left onto the road and immediately go through a right hand bend to head in the direction of Edale. Follow the road for about 1 mile to a junction with a lane on the right at the bottom of a small dip, directly before the 30mph speed limit signs on the edge of Edale (GR123851). Turn right and go down a short descent before climbing the lane ahead. After a while the lane enters the trees before going through a left then right hand bend. After the right hand bend climb to a gated track on the left directly before reaching the house ahead (GR125845).

7. Turn left and go through the gate to the junction immediately after. Turn left again and climb the singletrack trail. Follow the track ahead as it goes through a number of gates and climbs across the hillside on the right. After going through a gate in a drystone wall the trail kicks up and becomes increasingly steep and difficult as it completes the climb to the Hollins Cross junction on the ridge (GR136845).

8. Turn right and climb the paved track along the ridge towards Mam Tor. After the second gate follow the natural, rutted trail on the right of the paved track. Continue climbing the trial by the fence on the right to a junction at the grassy plateau (GR128839). Bear right and follow the fence to traverse the hillside just below the summit of Mam Tor, on the left. This track eventually descends gently to a gate at the road at Mam Nick (GR125835). Turn left on the road for a short climb over the crest. On the other side descend the road right to a junction with a gravel track on the right directly at the end of the right hand bend (GR124834).

9. Turn right up the steep gravel track then go through the gate. After the gate continue climbing the steep gravel track to a forked junction at the top of the ridge (GR121834). Follow the left hand track, signed as a bridleway, through a gate then go straight on along the grassy singletrack in the direction of the ridge of Rushup Edge, on the right. Go straight on through the next gate where the trail kicks up for a short, sharp climb. At the top continue ahead, in the direction of the wall on the right, and descend gently down the dirt singletrack with numerous small boggy holes. The track eventually comes to a gate at the bottom of the field. After this gate the trail soon bears right to another gate (GR105831). Go through the gate and turn left then descend the rocky, gritstone track to a three-way junction (GR099829).

10. Bear slightly left and descend the boulders and rock slabs to a gate. After the gate continue descending the loose boulders and slab steps between the grassy banks. The rocks finish at a junction with the main road and a gate on the right. Go through the gate and follow the thin gravel track between the wall and fence to a gated junction a short distance later (GR092825). Turn right, heading away from the main road, and descend the wide broken track. At the bottom the track goes through a left hand bend in a dip. Follow the track out of the dip before descending to another left hand bend in a dip. After the second dip the track eventually comes to a gate by some trees in a walled enclosure on the right. Go straight on through the gate for the big descent into Roych Clough. The descent starts on a section of straight fast double track but directly after a sharp left hand bend it goes down a steep series of rock steps. After the rock steps the track bears right and drops into Roych Clough. The descent ends with some uneven rock paving that leads to a ford at the bottom (GR077837).

11. Go through the gate directly after the ford and climb the steep, rocky double track through a number of bends. After a while the track bears left before a steep and straight section that climbs to a right hand bend. After the bend the track reduces in steepness before coming to a junction just after a gate. Go straight on and climb the track to the next gate. Go through the gate and continue straight on for the final section of the climb using the rutted rocky track on the left or smooth gravel track on the right. Just before reaching the top the tracks merge then bear right then left up a tricky section of bedrock. Go straight on over the top then down a short rocky descent before traversing the ridge to a gate on the left of Mount Famine (GR056846).

12. After the gate go up a short gentle climb that ends with a rock step. At the top bear right and descend the rutted and rocky track straight ahead that ends at two gates set close together, making sure not to ride into the drainage ditch just before. Go through both gates then descend the wide gravel track to a junction. Bear right and descend the wide, straight gravel track. Try not to overshoot the next junction, where the track flattens out slightly at a short plateau and the Pennine Bridleway turns off through a gate on the right (GR050854).

13. Turn right through the gate and follow the thin track between the drystone wall and fence. After the next gate go up a short, rutted climb to a gate at the top. Once through the gate bear left and descend the steep gravel singletrack. This track soon opens out on a rocky double track that goes through a few tight, loose corners and over some water bars. After a tight left hand bend the track descends to a junction. Go straight on, past a track on the right, and follow the flat double track to where it ends at a junction with the previously ridden lane (GR053861).

14. Turn left and climb the steep gravel track signed posted as the Pennine Bridleway. The track soon flattens and traverses the hillside to a gate in a drystone wall straight ahead at the trees. After the gate go straight on for a rocky and rooty singletrack descent. The track bears left, then right, then left again before flattening off for a fun blast through the trees along the valley. The trail eventually finishes at a gate and a lane by the stream in the bottom of the valley (GR045866).

15.  Go straight on along the lane. At the next few junctions go ahead, bearing slightly right, until the lane finishes at a junction with the main road going through the centre of Hayfield (GR037868). Turn right and descend through the centre of Hayfield to the previously visited junction directly before the church (GR037869). Turn left and follow the lane, with the church on the right, to the pedestrian crossing at the main road. Go across the crossing and return to the Visitor Centre car park to complete the ride.