In general the terrain in the northern 'Dark Peak' region (which is made up of shales and gritstones) is higher, rougher and bleaker than in the more southerly 'White Peak', which is mostly made up from limestone rocks. This means that the 'Dark Peak' routes are, by and large, over rougher ground and have steeper inclines than those in 'White Peak' area. We have tried to include some specimen routes from all the main areas on this site.
Mountain bikes are not legal on footpaths and should only be used along bridleways, by-ways, cycle trails and roads both classified and unclassified. When mountain bikes first appeared in the Peak, they were used indiscrimately across a range of sensitive environments and the damage they can cause on peat bogs, for example, quickly became evident. You will therefore find that the Peak District National Park Authority has placed 'No Cycling' signs on most footpaths in the area. Please don't disregard them.
Make sure you are adequately clothed, with a waterproof top - especially in winter - and carry some food. You also need a map to find your way, and compass because many of the routes in the Dark Peak climb quite high and you could find yourself surrounded by mist and cloud, which obviously makes navigation much harder. It is also advisable to wear a helmet because many of the tracks are quite rough and all riders come off from time-to-time. It's much easier to get home if your head is in one piece. It is also advisable to carry a pump and a puncture repair kit, plus a couple of spanners for taking wheels off.
We have tried to ensure that all the routes described are accurate and actually traverse rights of way. If we have made any errors then please let us know - and please bear in mind that if someone challenges your right to cycle along a track we have described, then it is always possible that we have made an error and you should not be there.
Maps required are the Ordnance Survey 1:50000 sheets 110, 118 and 119, or the White Peak and Dark Peak 1:25000 Outdoor Leisure series.