Family Mountain Biking Part 2 – A three-in-one adventure
Hitting the ‘ railroad’
We cycled from Castleton to the start of this adventure, Hope train station, where we caught the Northern Rail train to Edale (just one stop along but taking the train meant we didn’t have to take the energy-zapping pass over Mam Tor).
Our aim for the day was to enjoy an adventure that had some variety: cycling, scrambling and running, but we didn’t want each of the legs to be too demanding (we are not gnarly adventurers looking for hardcore activities after all, just a family wanting a fun and exciting day in the outdoors).
Leg 1 – cycle to the train station
We were staying in a campsite about 3km from Hope train station in Derbyshire, so we had a gentle road ride along the A6187 (mainly on footpaths and cycle paths) to kick start our mini adventure. Taking bikes onto a train platforn, and then train, is quite a fun thing to do. Once you consider this mode of transport it opens a whole new dimension to your cycling trips – and you can be sure the kids will love it.
Leg 2 – cycle from train station to the start of our walk
After a short train journey to Edale station, we were back on our bikes, this time peddling along the narrow and traffic-free lanes along towards Barber Booth. It was lovely to be exploring this quiet landscape hearing the natural sounds of the countryside, not the rumble of car tyres and growling engines. We roughly traced the route of the River Noe, crossing back and forth over it at times.
On reaching Upper Booth farm we dismounted and locked our bikes against the steel railing of a narrow bridge passing over the river.
Leg 3 – walk and stream scramble
Swapping peddle power for walking, we turned right off the track and started following the footpath running alongside Crowden Brook and up towards the point it drops off the Kinder Plateau.
The walk along the stream is easy and fun – lots of stepping stones to negotiate and narrow sections to jump over – but as you get within about 1 km of the summit of the Crowden Brook, ignore the path on the left and keep following the brook to enjoy some exciting scrambling over and between the rocks lining this spectacularly gorgeous gorge. The scrambling gets a little more interesting from now on, particularly the latter section, which requires a short climb/ near vertical scramble for a few metres (make sure you spot any little ones at this point).
On summiting the brook turn and look back down onto your route – you’ll be in for a treat as the view is spectacular and ample payback for the effort you’ve just invested in getting there. On a clear day you can see for miles. On a not-so clear day, it will feel wild, exhilarating and adventurous (so it’s a win-win, really).
Leg 4 – trail run back to the bikes
After appreciating the view, and changing into your trail shoes, head back on yourself (but not down the waterfall this time); go along the path that traverses South West round towards an unavoidable piece of granite that pokes out down the valley back towards Highfield Farm.
Stay on this path until you reach a junction and then take the route that drops down quite steeply to the left and back in a South East direction towards Crowden Brook (ignore the more obvious path that continues to traverse SW).When you reach the water again the gradient flattens off and all you have to do is backtrack your ascent route, get into a decent running stride, and enjoy the stream-side run all the way back down to your bikes at Highfield Farm.
Throughout this adventure, keep an eye on the clock and aim to cycle back to Edale to arrive just in time for your return train back to Hope on the Sheffield train.
Hope train station information: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/posters/HOP.pdf
Edale train station information: http://www.thetrainline.com/stations/edale
Beginner’s tips from the experts
Halfords have created the Beginner’s Guide to Mountain Biking. There’s skills tips, advice on what to bring and features on trail centres across the country.
Be sure to check it out.