The Beast of Hope Cross
Length: 11 miles (17.7km)
Elevation Gain: 1,220ft (370m)
This ride is a perfect sample of the Peak District and the variety of trails it offers, from the old railway lines of the Thornhill Trail to the rocky technical descents of The Beast.
The 11 mile loop has something for everyone and provides some incredible views over the Mam Tor Ridgeline. The Beast descent is challenging and does require a certain amount of bike control and confidence, large rocks and loose stones can throw experienced riders off however it is a brilliant descent if you have the confidence.
The ride starts at the Bike Garage in Bamford, taking a right at the main road and another right at the wooden gate just opposite Shatton Lane. From here the ride works its way to Water Lane through the Bamford and Thornhill Recreation Ground, a large open space just behind the Bike Garage. Water Lane is followed for almost half a mile before joining onto Thornhill Lane, this is followed for roughly 0.2 miles before turning left by the red phone box keep an eye out for it!
After following Thornhill Lane for a mile the route takes a sharp right heading up towards the Aston Bridleway, you will ride down a few fast hills before this so keep an eye out for traffic! After the steep little climb to the house at the top, the bridleway is on the left by the gate, this is a perfect place to stop and have a drink etc.
From here the route is all offroad and it has a huge range of surfaces, the first bridleway climbs roughly 370ft over 1.1 miles, it has a couple of gates along the way so respect the landowners and close them once you have got through them. On the day of filming (21st June 2018), the bridleway was running perfectly and even a bit dusty but note that trail conditions can change, recent work by Peak District Mountain Biking has vastly improved the drainage so it should be ok regardless of the weather.
After following the bridleway for just over a mile you get to the highest point of the ride, if the weather is clear you will be rewarded with brilliant views of the Peak District and the Mam Tor Ridgeline. You will see a green sign identifying the footpath up to Win Hill and the bridleway that you have just ridden up, the Beast of Hope Cross continues away from Win Hill towards Hope Cross via some grassy, sandy bridleway. The climb to Hope Cross is a fairly technical one, it is loose and rocky with a number of steps along the way, keep it in a low gear and make sure the legs keep spinning! Once at the top of this climb the route turns right to go down The Beast, this is the main feature descent of this loop dropping you 330ft over 0.5 miles. The Beast is rocky, loose and often changes so make sure you keep an eye on the trail in front of you, on this run I found a log down across part of the trail! Towards the bottom of The Beast the route goes through the gate towards the large firetrack that runs along the bottom of the Ladybower Reservoir. This wide firetrack is followed for around 3.2 miles before joining onto the Thornhill Trail, it is easy to speed down the road and miss the trail so look out for it on the right-hand side as you pass the reservoir. The Thornhill Trail is followed for 1.5 miles before joining back onto Water Lane and through the recreation ground before getting back to the shop.
This loop provides riders with a perfect mix of terrain and riding without having to cover mega milage or altitude. If you are hiring a bike from the Bike Garage it works perfectly as you are able to start and finish from the hire point! This ride took just over one hour to complete but it is safe to allocate up to two and a half hours depending on how long it takes to climb, how many stops you take and how fast you descend. There are a number of scenic spots along this route making it perfect for someone wanting to take it steady and enjoy the views.
You can download the GPX of the route through Strava by following this link.