Stats: 39 miles (if full loops done. Can be cut short near Ladybower) and 5840 feet of ascent (full loop)
The opportunity exists for a halt at the ‘Ladybower Inn’ on route. Also, a detour to the visitor centre at Ladybower. However, apart from that, take what you need with you.
You can cut this ride short around Ladybower, and it is designed in that way. However, the hardy will want to ride the full route. Back at Langsett it has to be the Bank View Cafe; a well-known cyclist and hiker haunt: https://www.facebook.com/bankviewcafe
I have memories of both hikes and bike rides around these moors throughout my youth. Time to share it with you. Albeit that the hardened mtb riders of the Peaks and beyond, will already know of the classic that is ‘Cut Gate’. Rolling, tight, technical, steep, fast and fun, Cut Gate has it all. It can be a mountainbikeneering trip in poor weather, but when the sun shines, you’d be hard pushed to have a better day out.
1. Parking at Langsett Barn, then head around the reservoir via Midhope Cliff Lane and the dam, before turning right onto the farm road (Joseph Lane), keeping the trees on your right.
2. At Upper Midhope, where a junction of tracks is seen, keep to the right (Thickwoods Lane) where the climb begins as you head for ‘North America!’ Yes, I did say North America – check the Ordnance Survey map! As a wall is reached with a gate, where the main track goes on through, take the rutted bridleway left which climbs along sweet singletrack all the way to Howden Edge and Cut Gate End, some 5 miles into the ride.
3. Drop down the twisting and technical Cranberry Clough towards to infant River Derwent in the valley, before following the rolling track that flows majestically around the Howden Reservoir.
4. The track and subsequent road flows round all the way to the A57 Snake Road, where a short detour will take you to the Ladybower Inn for refreshments. Ignoring the refreshment break, ride over the bridge right, and then turn off the Snake Road (A57) onto the Ladybower Reservoir road.
Follow this for a mile or so until a bridleway on the left (gated in trees) is taken, climbing steeply up to Hagg Side. Stay on the track as it skirts the top of the trees, eventually meeting up with a zig-zag track on the left, which will take you down to the Snake Road again (A57). Cross this road and take the track opposite.
5. Cross the road with care. The gate in the trees opposite is easily seen but can lead you to rush across – don’t. This is a fast road for traffic. This track initially drops you to Hagglee Ford, before climbing gently on the permissive bridleway that skirts around this arm of the reservoir. For a bit of adventure, climb the right hand track up into the trees, then descending back down to the edge of the water, before following the track all the way around to Thornhill.
6. At the old red telephone box at Thornhill, turn right (Thornhill Lane) and climb steadily back to Aston. At Aston, in the midst of this tree lined narrow lane, is a turning on the right to ‘The Dimmings’ self-catering cottages – take this, as it is the bridleway to the Roman Road, which eventually drops you down onto the Ladybower Reservoir Road once more. Turn right.
7. The road delivers you Fairholmes visitor centre, which after 30 miles done, may just be time for a real bite to eat before crossing back over to the return track.
8. Follow the bridleway back around the Howden Reservoir, climbing the technical track at Cranberry Clough, and enjoying the Cut gate track once more. As the track begins its descent towards the track junction at Micleden, from whence we came, a track should be taken straight ahead this time, continuing the descent and crossing Hingcliff Common (OS map, before skirting around Langsett Reservoir and heading back to the car and a well-deserved rest.