Peak District Mountain Bike Route Guide
Ladybower, The Dark Peak
(Requires advanced skills and fittness)
OS Landranger 110
Route Text Download:
GPX and KML
(available via the full MapMyRide page for this route, on the right hand side of the page)
Ladybower Loop Route
This is a 28.3 mile mountain bike route that starts from the Upper Derwent Visitor Centre on the northern most tip of the Ladybower Reservoir in the Peak District. It heads out though Hope valley and returns via Edale valley following some of the best trails the Dark Peak has to offer. With adrenaline inducing descents and tricky, technical climbs this ride will push the limit of your skills and stamina.
1. Start from the car park at the Upper Derwent Visitor Centre (GR172893). Follow the exit road out of the car park to where it ends at a junction. Turn right and follow the road to the roundabout behind the Visitor Centre. Take the second exit, a gated lane directly to the left of the Visitor Centre entrance. Descend the road left to the bottom of the Derwent dam then bear right and climb to a junction at the top (GR174894). Go straight on, keeping Ladybower Reservoir on the right. After a while the lane descends, bearing left, and becomes a wide gravel track. At the bottom the track bears right over a bridge across Mill Brook then goes up a short climb to a gated junction (GR184887).
2. Go through the small gate on the left and climb the rock paved singletrack. The climb gets increasingly steep as it reaches a gate at some buildings. After the gate turn right then go through the next gate and descend a short way to a stream. Cross the stream then push up the steep rocky climb. The push doesn’t last long. The trail becomes ridable again before reaching a gate. After the gate follow the trail left, where it becomes rutted with multiple line choices, and go through two gates on the way up. When the climb finishes, directly after the second gate, turn right and traverse the hillside on the rutted singletrack. The trail finishes with a short climb to the open junction at the Whinstone Lee Tor (GR198874).
3. Turn 90deg left and take the wide gritstone track that descends gently across the moor. The track contains many big rounded boulders that are great for weaving through or riding over. Keep your eyes peeled for walkers as this is a popular track but they are normally easy to negotiate as the track contains multiple lines. Eventually the track comes to a section with large drainage ditches (trenches?) as it bears right then left into Highshaw Clough. The track then becomes quite rocky and bears right before coming to a junction with a singletrack trail climbing off to the right (GR213875). If you end up by the main road you have missed the junction but it’s not too far back up the trail.
4. Turn right then bear right on the singletrack to the next junction a short distance later. Go straight on along the flat, rocky double track. Eventually the track descends a short way to a gate. Go through the gate and cross the stream then go down a fun rocky descent to the next gate. Go through this gate for more rocky descending that ends at the Ladybower Inn on the main road, A57 (GR205865).
5. Go straight ahead on the A57 and descend to the junction with the traffic lights. Turn left and follow A6013. Go across the road when safe and onto the cycle path, on the right. Follow the cycle path to the Ladybower dam. Turn right onto the dam, dismounting to cross over. The next parts are concessional and the only thing asked is that dam is not ridden.At the junction on the far side of the dam (GR197854)turn right and follow the track along the edge of Ladybower Reservoir. The tarmac gives way to gravel and bears left, still by the reservoir, before coming to a junction with a sign posted singletrack trail on the left, approx ¾ mile from the dam, at a crest in the track (GR188860).
6. Turn left and climb the singletrack into the trees. Stay on this track as it climbs through the forest. After some time the track comes to a junction directly after a right hand bend. Go straight on for a long and steep climb. At the top the trail flattens off somewhat and continues straight on before reaching an open junction with a gated track on the left in a cleared area of the forest (GR173862). Turn left through the gate and climb the rocky track. After a while the track turns 90 deg left then bears right and climbs to a gate at the top of the hill on the edge of the forest (GR173861).
7. Go through the gate then follow the track straight ahead to where it ends at a junction. Turn right onto the wide grassy track. Descend this rutted track along the ridge, keeping the trees on the right. After some distance, at a forked junction, bear left and follow the wide rutted track down to a gated junction with a gritstone trail (GR169862). Don't go through the gate but turn hard left onto the gritstone Roman Road. Go down a short descent before traversing the hill. After a while the track goes down a longer rocky descent that ends at a gate. Go through the gate and descend the tarmac lane. Follow the lane right at Fullwood Stile farm and descend to a junction at the bottom (GR168845). Turn left and follow the road into Hope. Just after passing the bike friendly Café Adventure, on the left, the road ends at a junction with the A6187 (GR172835).
8. Turn right and follow the A6187 out of Hope and all the way to Castleton, the next village. Follow the main road through the village, bearing left then right before descending to a mini roundabout. Go straight across the roundabout and climb to the junction near the Speedwell Cavern, just outside of the village (GR144828). Bear right and climb the road, past all the parking bays, heading towards Mam Tor and the Treak Cavern. At the end of parking bays continue straight on where the road becomes steeper and broken. After a while the road bears left to a gate (GR132839).
9. Go through the gate and climb the broken road below Mam Tor, on the right. Because of the subsidence that gives the road its name there are a few big drops to have a go at, if that's your kind of thing, if not you can go round them. At the top of the broken road go through the gate and climb past the Blue John mine on the left. Continue climbing to where the road ends at a junction (GR128830). Turn right and climb the road past a car park on the right to a junction with a lane on the right directly after. Turn sharp right and climb the road through the trees to a gated track on the left at the end of the trees, just before the road bears left to the crest at Mam Nick (GR124834).
10. Turn left 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).
11. Turn right and follow the wide track across the top of the hill to the top of the Chapel Gate descent. The loose gritstone track, with a number of stone pitched water bars, bears right then left on the way down to a gate at the halfway point. Go through the gate and continue down the second half of the descent to a gate ahead, at the bottom. Go straight on through the gate and follow the rutted double track to a junction with a road (GR113842). Turn left and descend the road to a junction at the bottom. Go straight on thenimmediately follow the road right 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).
12. 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).
13. Turn hard left to descend a steep grassy track back down into Edale valley. After a rocky and grassy start the trail bears right and becomes rutted before reaching a gate. After the gate traverse the hillside for a while before dropping through some deep rocky ruts then a left then right series of muddy hairpin bends. The trail then becomes rocky again before finishing at a gate, by a house on the left. Once through the gate go straight on down the lane then, after crossing a bridge, bear left and climb to a junction with the road that runs along the bottom of Edale valley (GR137855).
14. Turn right and follow the road under a railway bridge, then through Nether Booth. Not long after leaving the village the road comes to a junction with a small gated track on the left at the start of a line of bushes and trees (GR145864). Turn left through the gate and climb the singletrack through the tunnel of bushes and trees. At the back of Clough farm bear right through a stream and gate then, at the junction directly after, take the track on the left that climbs across the side of the hill. After a long gradual climb bear left through the gate at the top then descend to the stream crossing at Jaggers Clough. Go through the gate and across the stream then up the very steep and loose track ahead. The gradient soon decreases to a more manageable level for the rest of the climb all the way to the Hope Cross crossroad junction, at the top (GR160876).
15. Go straight across the junction to descend the track known as ‘The Beast’. This descent starts out as fast double track but soon becomes rocky and technical just before reaching a gate. After the gate the technical level of the trail makes a huge jump as it becomes a jumble boulders and stepped bedrock. The big rocks continue for some time until reaching a junction, with a gate ahead (GR163881). Turn left before the gate and descend to a bridge, on the right. Go across the bridge then up a very steep gravel track to a junction with the A57 (GR162886). Go across the A57 and climb the lane on the other side to a junction at the Hagg Farm outdoor education centre. Go straight on through the gate for a tough rocky climb, which will be a push for most. On the top half of the climb go through a number of hairpin bends before reaching a gated junction at the top (GR163890).
16. Go through the gate then straight ahead up the rocky trail. At the next junction, a short distance later, go straight ahead for a gentle descent on a wide dirt track. Soon after the track goes through a left then right hand bend before climbing past Lockerbrook farm. Just after the farm go straight on through a gate for a final rocky climb to the top of the hill. At the top continue following the trail straight ahead for a fast descent through Nabs Wood that gets rockier as it descends. After a tight right hand bend the track finishes at a gated junction with a lane, on the banks of the Derwent reservoir (GR167910). Turn right and descend the lane back to the roundabout at the Upper Derwent Visitor Centre (GR167910). Take the second exit to enter the Visitor Centre and return to the car park to complete the ride.