Peakland Way – Peak District

Peakland way feature image

In the heart of England lies one of the UK’s best motorcycling destinations, the Peak District. Bryn Davies details the fantastic Peakland Way

There are 15 national parks in the UK, and each one of them does a magnificent job of showcasing some of the world’s best and most amazing scenery that’s been millions of years in the making. From the Lake District in Cumbria to Dartmoor National Park in Devon, these designated areas provide bikers with the perfect playing grounds which offer not only alluring views but intriguing culture and history.

The Peak District was the first area of the UK to be designated as a national park when it was granted the honour in 1951. Being smack bang in the middle of England it’s often called the country’s most accessible national park, with huge conurbations on its doorsteps.

Fortunately, there’s a footpath, the Peakland Way, that circumnavigates the Peak District, providing us with the perfect excuse to explore this magnificent part of the country. It must be said, whoever was responsible for the road layout in the Peak District was a biker. There’s no way they couldn’t have been.


No matter which route you take, it seems that there’s a rollercoaster of tarmac waiting for you. Either that or we have unwittingly plotted the greatest motorcycling route in the UK. Starting in Ashbourne, on the national park’s southern boundary, the Peakland Way will take you on a grand tour of the Peak District, wriggling its way up the eastern edge, across the infamous Snake Pass and back down the western side, returning you back to Ashbourne, ready for the ride home.

As the route is a circuit, if you’re approaching from any direction other than south there’s no reason why you can’t jump in where convenient and claim that as your own start point. There’s no bad place to set off from, but Ashbourne provides a great base of operations, with numerous hotels and cafe’s in which you can craft your plan of attack.

Sweeping bends
The sweeping bends by Mam Tor and Barber Booth

And it’s just a mile and a half out of the town that you turn onto the B5056 to ride a beautiful country road that introduces you to the day’s style of riding. The tarmac rolls through woodland canopies before rising up the hills where the views begin to open up and you get a real appreciation of where you are.

Snake Pass is widely regarded as one of the best roads in Britain, and for good reason. You’d be hard pushed to find another 13-mile stretch of tarmac that offers such a thrilling ride, and the surrounding scenery makes the journey that little bit more special.

As you roll up to the start of Snake Pass, resist the urge to jump straight on to it and take a detour up the road that skirts Derwent Water. You’ll reach a dead end after a few miles, but the place is simply incredible, and what makes it even more special is the fact that it’s where the 617 Squadron practised their low-level flying for their Dam Buster raids in Nazi Germany.

At the north-western tip of Snake Pass sits the town of Glossop, and this is a great place to stop for lunch or a coffee if you’re riding the route from south to north. It’s virtually smack bang in the middle of our 120-mile route, and there are plenty of places to grab hearty food.

You won’t want to hang around for too long though, because there’s still the southward journey to be made, and its got even more spectacular. Out of Glossop we ride south, towards Barber Booth, named so after the dwellings in which herdsmen lived many years ago.

It is here where we ride through what is, in my opinion, one of the UK’s most idyllic locations. As the road skirts around the base of Mam Tor (which means Mother Hill), the views spread out wide in front of you and a series of wonderful switchbacks and sweeping bends present themselves, followed by a slower-paced and more relaxed single track lane which takes you through Barber Booth and Edale before reaching the town of Hope.

Derwent Water
Derwent Water where the Dam Busters Practised

Now, there’s a good chance that, if you’re following the SatNav turn for turn, you’ll be directed left at the junction in Hope towards Hope Valley, but I thoroughly recommend heading right instead to experience the otherworldly Winnats Pass.

Upon entering the gorge you’re transported into a different realm. The towering limestone rock faces dominate your flanks and it feels as though you could be riding through Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Local legend says that the pass is haunted by a young couple after they were murdered here by miners, adding to the eerie feel of the place.

The great roads continue as you head through Tideswell and Blackwell and it’s here where we deviate from the Peakland Way footpath in order to take in the Staffordshire Moors. We caught a brief glimpse of the Staffordshire Moors on last issue’s Great Britain ride, and our second visit affords you more time in this special area.

Depending on how you’re doing for time when you reach Flash you can either head out of the Peak District National Park via the beautiful A53 which almost touches the iconic Roaches rock formation (why aren’t all A roads like this?), or head east to Wetton and beyond.

The latter will take you through the raw beauty of the Dovedale National Nature Reserve, and to our starting point in Ashbourne. The Peakland Way is without a doubt one of the most enjoyable GREAT Britain rides I have done. You really cannot take a bad road through the Peak District and so, while we’ve provided a list of waypoints for your SatNav, don’t feel obliged to stick to our proposed route. Head off in your own direction, explore a road that you would have never taken before and savour being in one of the best biking locations in the UK.

Oh, and if you do, make sure you send us some pictures at: Facebook – /ADVENTUREBIKERIDER | Twitter – @ABRMAGAZINE

The Roaches dominating
The Roaches dominating the view in the background

SatNav Guide

Enter the following waypoints in your SatNav and you’ll follow, as near as dammit, the ABR route.

NB: The route below is also available to download so you can stick it straight on your SatNav.

Visit and enter the thread ‘Peakland Way Route Files’.

  1. Ashbourne
  2. Longcliffe
  3. Baslow
  4. Eyam
  5. Nether Padley
  6. Hathersage
  7. Glossop
  8. Barber Booth
  9. Hope
  10. Sparrowpit
  11. Tideswell
  12. Blackwell
  13. Longnor
  14. Wetton
  15. Ilam
  16. Ashbourne