The Peak District National Park is steeped in history and our Blast Into The Past ride dips into that ancient treasure trove. We hope your find this ride guide of interest.
Grade Intermediate. Length 17 km. Time 3 hours
Our short but sweet Blast Into The Past loop links some of the ancient paths and trading routes around the beautiful Hope Valley and finishes with the fantastic descent of a potential film set. It’s a perfect route for a fine Summers evening or an autumn adventure. However, please bear in mind that it does get you well off the beaten track. Also, parts of it can be very exposed in poor weather.
Your starting point is Hope. This picturesque village in the heart of the valley has become quite a mecca for mountain bikers. It also has everything you might need as a riding base. Along the main road (A6187 Castleton Road) that cuts through the village you’ll find a small supermarket. There are a few local campsite and B&B’s. The village has a few brilliant cafés and there is a helpful bike shop (Eighteen Bikes). There is also a large central Pay & Display car park and limited parking on nearby roads. Please do be sensitive to local residents when parking in the village. If you travel by public transport Hope has a railway station and sits on the main Sheffield to Manchester Hope Valley line.
Time To Ride
Our Blast Into The Past ride starts by turning off the main road on to the Vale of Edale Road. Follow the road for a mile or so until you come to an obvious road bridge where the road bends back sharply to the left. At this point take the right fork onto Fullwood Stile Lane. Follow the tarmac road as it gradually climbs (going over the railway) to Fullwood Stile Farm. Then take the left turn onto Brinks Road. Follow this until you come to a gate at the start of access land.
Onto Technical Terrain
The road now starts to climb and you go through another wooden gate. Climb a little more steeply and the track surface gets more challenging but is still rideable. You are now leaving civilisation behind and the true beauty of the Edale valley starts to reveal itself. Eventually you will get to a point where the track flattens out and you enjoy fine views of the valley below and the Great Ridge to your left. It is worth taking note of the topography as you will be heading across to the Great Ridge later.
Please bear in mind that this track gets very very muddy in wet weather and the softer surface along the top section is prone to erosion. Soon you will come to a stone way marker that’s known as Hope Cross. You are actually on an old Roman Road that used to link Hope and Glossop and is one of many that criss-crosses the Peak.
Go through the wooden gate and continue along the technical track to another wooden gate. Once through this gate you need to immediately turn left and follow a less distinct path that soon starts to head downhill. Through another gate and you now have a lovely descent down to a stream crossing at the bottom. Take care as there is a very loose surface towards the bottom.
Blast across the stream and through the gate to a sign at the start of the steep climb up Jaggers Clough. Jaggers were the pack horse handlers that used to traverse the many ancient Peak District tracks. The climb ahead is short but challenging and involves negotiating some small steps and a loose gravel surface. It’s all rideable if you have the legs for it.
Descent To The Edale Valley
At the top of the climb head through the gate and along the obvious track traversing rightwards across the hillside. You will reach a signpost pointing you down to Clough Farm. The bridleway goes round the back of the farmhouse and crosses a stream. You then head through another gate and pick up a narrow track that quickly leads down to the road. This is actually the main road that cuts all the way through the Edale Valley and is the one that you started the Blast Into The Past ride on.
Ascent To The Great Ridge
Turn right and follow the road. You go under the railway bridge. Then, continue along until you reach a turning on the left signposted to Back Tor Farm. At this point we are about to start the climb up to Hollins Cross. However, it’s worth pointing out that you have a few alternatives for this section. If you take the turning here it will take you up a very steep track that is really difficult to ride in parts. Having said that, it is the most direct route.
Alternatively, you can continue along the road until you pass the junction to Edale. Then, turn left at the next bridleway and head up to Hardenclough Farm. Continue up the bridleway to Greenlands then take the left hand bridleway that leads you up to the cross at a gentler angle. A final option is to simply follow the road until it swings left at the head of the valley. The road then leads you up a very long and steep climb to the distinctive summit niche known as Mam Nick.
Assuming you do decide to turn left here the track soon crosses the bridge (Back Tor Bridge). It then swings right (ignore the track entering from the left) and climbs steeply to Back Tor Farm. Our Blast Into The Past ride then heads through the wooden gate that’s straight ahead. Continue climbing and eventually, after a few twists and turns that are clearly marked, the track starts to flatten out. You will soon see a stone circular structure. This is Hollins Cross. This point in the ridge actually marks the high point of an ancient route that used to link Castleton and Edale.
The Mother Hill
Once you’ve soaked up the view our Blast Into The Past rides heads rightwards up the block paved track towards the ‘Mother Hill’ (Mam Tor). This innocuous looking lump is actually the site of potentially the oldest Bronze Age hill fort in Britain (and the second highest). All that remains of the fort today are two burial mounds and the defensive ditch but it is easy to imagine that a thriving community was once here.
Don’t get too settled on this track though because soon the path splits and leads you rightwards onto the bridleway continuation. This track climbs steadily and then you traverse rightwards below the summit before dropping down to the road. Take care on the final bit of this track as there is a steep drop on the right.
You now go through the gate, turn left and make the short climb up the road to the deep road cleft I mentioned before (Mam Nick). The road now leads right. You can follow it to the sharp junction at the bottom and turn left on to the Rushop Edge road (A6187). Turn left here and the road drops down to a junction on the sharp bend at the bottom. Take the left fork (signposted to Peak Cavern) and head down this. You will pass the cavern entrance and keep going until the road stops at a turning point and fence.
The Broken Road
Ahead of you lies a unique piece of road. It is certainly one of the most unique top bits of riding the Peak District National Park has to offer. The old Mam Tor road was built in 1819 to bypass the 1 in 5 gradient of nearby Winnats Pass. Winnats was very difficult for coachmen to manage even though they always hitched up two extra horses from Castleton to help. The road was constructed using spoil from nearby Odin Mine. It would probably have stood the test of time had it not been built on the side of a hill made up of layers of shale.
During wet weather the water seeps between the layers and lubricates the joints causing the hillside to head progressively downwards. It is estimated that the hillside will only stop sliding when the slope angle has reached about 30 degrees in around 1500 years. So, all things considered, the road never really stood a chance. In 1979, after years of constant repair, it was finally closed.
Descent To Castleton
The upside of this is that we now get to ride on what looks very much like an earthquake disaster movie film set. It is time to Blast Into The Past! The road is all rideable and has a variety of drop offs and fun little obstacles to play on. Don’t head down too fast as the only drawback with this road is that it’s not very long and you want to make the most of it. Soon enough you’ll be at the gate at the bottom. Head through this and keep following the road. This will soon bring you to Castleton.
Castleton is a great little village with lots of good pubs, a comprehensive Tourist Information Centre and loads of cafes. It also offers a great view back up to Mam Tor. When you’re ready, just follow the road through the village and keep on it until you get back to Hope.
We hope you enjoyed our Blast Into The Past ride guide. We are planning to publish a series of these over the coming months so please keep checking back for more.
If you are new to the area our handy Hope Valley Guide here might be of interest. If you need some bike repairs while you are in the area please talk to our partners at Double Black Bike Repairs here. Finally, if you’d rather be guided on this route, we can help. Full details of our mountain bike courses and private guiding options are here.