Stats: 16.4 miles and 2,500 feet of ascent
OS Map: Refreshments
The Ladybower Inn is excellent, and there’s also options at the visitor centre at Ladybower; plenty of places to choose in the Dark Peak area too.
An ultra-classic circuit. So good you could do two laps…
We’re going clockwise because the clock is a good role model in this matter, with good road climbs at the start of Hope Brink and Lockerbrook, and some fine descents. And we’re starting at the Ladybower Inn because there’s parking there if you give them some custom and ask nicely; and also because it turns most of the roadwork into a warm-up and finishes with the memorable descent through the heather above Cutthroat Bridge.
1. Head towards the reservoir and turn left at the lights onto the A6013.
2. Take the next right, after the dam.
3. Climb on the C-road to the village of Thornhill, where you swing sharp right to gain a level road to Aston.
4 Drop to a stream crossing through a sunken lane deep in vegetation, turning sharp right.
5. Climb. Climb and climb. The incline is never too onerous and there are fine views up the valley to keep your mind off matters lactic.
6. Attain the narrow ridge (by Peak District standards – don’t expect Sharp Edge) joining Win Hill to the rest of the Peak. Keep to the same northwesterly bearing, past Hope Cross and past the bridleway crossroads.
7. Rollick down to the Woodlands Valley on a stony descent, then zig sharply right at the bottom.
8. Cross the river, then carefully cross the Snake Road (A57) to gain the next climb, initially on tarmac, to Rowlee Farm and Lockerbrook. Head north through the woods for a satisfying descent to the reservoir near Gores Farm.
9. Head south on tarmac, past the Derwent Dam, with an obligatory hum of the Dambusters’ March.
10. Cut down to your left at the incongruous roundabout, skirting the head of Ladybower itself.
11. Shortly after crossing Mill Brook, where the track goes up to Ashes Farm, take a step climb cutting diagonally up to Derwent Edge above a forest.
12. Contour round to Whinstone Lee Tor then turn sharp left (heading East to Cutthroat Bridge)
13. Zag sharply back south-west (parallel to the A57) for a memorable final flourish.