Where: Longnor, Derbyshire. If you are coming from the north then a good alternative start would be the Cat & Fiddle pub on the A537.
Distance: 25 miles.
Ascent: 3,764 ft.
Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer OL24
Parking: Parking is available in the village square. There is also a car park behind the Cheshire Cheese Inn. Ask the landlord and spend some money in there when you finish!
Overview: This part of the Peak District is not as popular with mountain bikers as others but contains some great riding that the masses are missing out on! This route is tough with a variety of trails and surfaces. The most technical of those are saved for the final off road sections. There are several pubs on route to tempt you and you will also be riding through three English counties in one ride too - Derbyshire, Cheshire and Staffordshire.
Details: (click on a grid reference to centre the OS map above on that point)
1. (0 miles) SK090649 Head up Longnor High Street and turn left into the lane with the sign "Top O' Th' Edge". After passing the cottages on this lane descend steeply on concrete through a gate. Head to the left of the farm building onto a bridleway at the point where the farm road turns right. This bridleway can be a bit boggy sometimes. Follow it across the field, over a concrete bridge and along a green lane until it emerges onto another farm road. Go straight on to a T-junction. Turn left and climb on tarmac to Earl Sterndale. Opposite The Quiet Woman pub (she's quiet because she's had her head chopped off!) turn right and go past the church. Take the second turn on the right up gravel double track. Turn left at the T-junction with another track and climb to the top of the hill with views down into the quarries below.
2. (2.5 miles) SK096673 Continue on the double track round to the left, initially still climbing slightly with with the quarries on your right. Some sections along here are rutted but then the surface improves again before you drop down to meet the road. Almost directly opposite is a bridleway. Take this up a grassy climb to a gate. Through this the bridleway continues curving right wards through another couple of gates before descending across a field to the road. Do not exit onto the road. There is a gate on the right and through this the bridleway carries on running parallel with the road. At the end of the ridge that runs to your right (or you can ride along it for more fun) turn right. Over the slight crest you will see a line of posts that the bridleway follows. Follow these to a gate on the right. Through this descend to your left and follow the bridleway down to a disused railway line. Turn right onto this and follow it until just before a missing bridge over the road there is a gate on your right. Go through this and turn left onto the road.
3. (6 miles) SK072702 Descend to the T-junction and turn left. There is now a road section. Climb up and over a small hill through Harpur Hill. Turn left into Grin Low Road. Follow this to it's end at a T-junction. Turn right onto the A53. Descend to a set of traffic lights by a church. Turn sharply left here onto Macclesfield Old Road. Once you go past the last house the surface starts to become rocky and a tough climb begins. At the summit you should be able to see your next objective in the distance (if it's a nice day) - The Cat & Fiddle pub. Descend quickly on a rocky surface until you meet tarmac. Go straight on up the tarmac lane to the pub.
4. (12 miles) SK001708 Directly across the road from the pub is a well surfaced bridleway. Follow this across the moor to a gate then descend at speed to the A54. Turn right onto the road then after half a mile take the bridleway on your left down a tarmac farm road. Before you get to the farm the bridleway turns off to the right through gates/pens between two walls. Through these there is an obvious descending track to a gap in a wall. Go down and once through the wall turn left and follow the fast grassy descent which turns right at a wall where the stream carries straight on and goes down to a gate. Through the gate things get a little more rocky and technical with some good singletrack down to the bridge at Three Shires Head. As the name suggests this is where the three counties meet.
5. (14.8 miles) SK009684 Cross the old pack horse bridge over the waterfalls and turn right. The next section of trail is an excellent technical trail. Keep left at the fork and enjoy the climb up to a track at a cottage. Turn left and head down the lane through the gate. Go past the rocky area on the left often used by motor bike trials riders and look out for a sharp right turn into a bridleway. Descend this to ford a stream then climb up a short way to a gate. Through this there is a sign asking you to keep left of the posts. Do so and climb to the farm. Go up the very steep concrete farm drive to a T-junction with the road. Turn left and continue climbing steeply to the village of Flash.
6. (16.8 miles) SK025672 After the climb you may want to head into the conveniently situated pub? Once refreshed turn left onto the road and follow it to a T-junction. Turn left onto the A53 and then right at The Traveller's Rest. Follow the road ignoring two left turns and going straight on at a cross roads. Take the next left down a bridleway. This starts out tarmac but becomes grassy and rutted. It brings you out at a farm and a road. Take the lane opposite down towards another farm. Take the right before you get to the farm into what starts out as a muddy rutted track but then turns into a quality rocky technical descent with large rock steps to negotiate.
7. (19.6 miles) SK052674 At the bottom of the descent ford the stream or use the bridge. Carry on up the obvious rocky trail. Expect to be pushing on several sections before the trail eases off towards the top. At Booth Farm exit to the right and take the bridleway on the right. This is a fast flowing descent for 90% of it's length but watch out for the sign indicating the singletrack turn off to the right just around the bend after a gate. The bridleway zig zags steeply to a gate and then a ford while the footpath that shares it's course goes through a gate and over a bridge. Across the stream a short but steepish grassy climb leads up to the road. Turn right onto the road for more steep climbing. Lookout for the very steep trail to the left.
8. (21.3 miles) SK061667 Climb up to tarmac at a cottage. Carry on to cross a road onto an obvious track. At the end of this turn left. At a T-junction turn left again then take the next left onto another obvious track. Descend this track at speed as it becomes increasingly rutted and then brings you out at a road. Turn right then immediately left. Once the tarmac ends you realise the best has been saved until last! A superb rocky descent with more large steps is the final challenge. In the village that gives this route it's name turn right and descend pleasantly on the road. At the T-junction turn left up a final short road climb back to Longnor.
Possible extensions: If you want more then the obvious is to head out into Macclesfield forest too.