Where: Ladybower Reservoir, Derbyshire.
Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer OL1
Parking: There are several free car parks along the edge of the reservoir. There is also a car park at Fairholmes visitor centre.
Overview: A true Peak District epic. Cut Gate Path is a classic trail on it's own and makes a fine out and back ride. However this route turns it into the finale of a testing loop. This ride takes you across some remote and exposed countryside. Unlike a lot of Peak trails these (and this route) are probably best saved for good weather. Sections of both the "Gates" get very boggy in wet conditions.
Details: (click on a grid reference to centre the OS map above on that point)
1. (0 miles) SK173889 Head up the road until you come to a cattle grid and a car park on the right. Take the bridleway on the right. The first section of this climb is the trickiest but you've no excuse for not cleaning it as you are fresh! At the top of the climb go right through the gate and follow obvious ruts along the edge of the field to a gate. Go through the gate and drop left to another gate. This is a fun descent but try to persuade someone to go ahead and open the gate half way down! At the bottom follow the tarmac lane down to the junction with the A57.
2. (2 miles) SK161886 Turn right onto the A57. Unfortunately you now need to climb for five and a half miles on this busy road. The entrance to Doctor's Gate is on your right before the summit of Snake Pass and has a sign to identify it.
3. (7.7 miles) SK095929 Follow the obvious Doctor's Gate path. Initially you need to climb a little and then things level off for a short while before the descent begins. This trail has a bit of everything! Steep rocky sections, flowing singletrack, boggy sections, dangerous sections etc, etc. Some of it will have you grinning and some of it is unridable! The last section is fire road which brings you out at a gate and a junction. The bridleway is signposted. Follow it straight on to it's end at a turning area in the corner of an industrial estate.
4. (11.3 miles) SK045948 Go straight on to a T-junction. Turn right and go up past the church. The road loops round left past this. Follow it to another T-junction and turn right onto Woodhead Road. Climb the hill and take the first left into Cemetery Road. Over the brow of the hill there is a staggered junction. Turn sharp left into North Road then immediately right. Again go immediately right onto a singletrack trail. This soon begins to descend into a wood which provides fun swooping singletrack. Stay close to the edge of the wood until you emerge on a gravel road. Turn right onto this and descend down through a park. Turn left onto Park Road, go over the railway bridge and turn right into Railway Street. At the railway station turn right and follow the road round to the start of the Trans Pennine Trail / Longendale Trail.
5. (14 miles) SK026962 Follow the easy cycle trail for 6 miles until you come to Woodhead Tunnel. Exit up a gravel drive to the right and then switch back left to climb up above the tunnel following signs for the TPT East. Cross the road and finish the short sharp climb at a T-junction with a double track. Turn right onto this and follow it until it crosses the A628. Cross the busy road and continue following the trail until it turns left and meets the road again. Turn right onto the A628 and dodge the traffic for about a mile.
6. (23.2 miles) SE155001 Go to the gate for the first bridleway on the left but don't go through it. Instead turn right along the fence line to another gate. Follow the bridleway along side the snow breaks until it joins the Snow Road. Get in a rut! See how fast you dare go down to meet (yet again) the A628 opposite a pub. Turn left onto the road and carefully get off it after a couple of hundred yards onto the bridleway on your right. Through a gate descend until the bridlway goes left through another gate and a footpath carries straight on. Take the bridleway. Follow this to a T-junction. Turn left and then as the trail sweeps right follow the sign post, turning left and going through a gate. Follow this bridleway through the trees to another junction. Turn right and follow the bridleway until you descend to cross a bridge over a stream.
7. (26.5 miles) SE198005 This is the start of Cut Gate Path. Go through the gate on the other side of the bridge and follow the trail to your left. Climb up a rock paved section before continuing on the obvious trail across Hingcliff Common. Route finding should be obvious on this classic bit of singletrack as you climb over the moor and then descend back towards the reservoirs.
8. (30.9 miles) SK170953 At the end of Cut Gate Path follow the obvious fire road along the edge of the reservoirs. Eventually it turns to tarmac and comes to a T-junction. Turn right and go down underneath the dam, past the visitor centre and then left up the road back to the start of the route.
Possible extensions: Can be extended into a 50 or 60 mile silly route by using the trails around the Hope area!