New 800-mile trail will open up the Peak District to UK cyclists and walkers
A new 800-mile trail will bring cyclists and walkers from all across the UK to the Peak District.
National cycling charity, Cycling UK, has unveiled the Great North Trail – running from the Peak District to John o’ Groats and Cape Wrath in Scotland. The new ready-to-ride long-distance trail links the Peak District to Scotland’s most northerly mainland points for the first time, opening the country up to Sheffield's cyclists and walkers looking to stretch their legs even further.
Around 98 per cent of the Great North Trail is on bridleways, byways, cycle routes, unpaved roads, and very low-traffic minor roads.
It uses some existing established trails, such as the Pennine Bridleway and Cross Borders Drove Road, but extensive research has been carried out to link these through a network of trails, forest roads and abandoned railway lines.
Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns, said: “We know that around a quarter of people who use the National Trails do so on bikes, yet only two of the 15 National Trails in England and Wales are fully open for cycling.
“We’ve created the Great North Trail because we recognised very little has been done to promote national off-road trails.
“For example, plans to extend the Pennine Bridleway to Scotland were published 20 years ago, but still haven’t been implemented.
“And yet we know there is an appetite for more cycling access to the countryside. Off-road trails can be ideal for families to ride safely, away from traffic and city pollution.”
The route takes in some of northern England and Scotland’s most iconic spots of natural beauty, running through the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales, Kielder Forest, Corrieyairack Pass, Loch Ness and Cape Wrath.
The development of the route is part of Cycling UK’s on-going work to open up more of the countryside to cyclists, which could have enormous health and economic benefits.
For example, the average total spend for off-road cycling and mountain biking visits to the countryside has been recorded as high as £15.71 per person, compared with £8.68b per person walking.
And according to Cycling UK’s 2015 off-road survey, Rides of Way, 91 per cent of respondents said riding was important to their mental health.
Rosie Frazer, from Love to Ride, said: “The 4,000 cyclists who’ve taken part on Love to Ride in South Yorkshire have just topped three and a half million miles since we started two years ago, doing all kinds of cycling, from riding bridleways on the Peak District moors to commuting three miles to work in the morning.
“We know from our schemes around the world that new routes like the Great North Trail encourage more leisure cycling, but people rediscovering the fun of cycling on car-free countryside trails only really switch from cars to city cycling in big numbers when cities invest in really good off road routes, which feel more secure to them.”
Carol Parsons, who runs the Glory Days vintage bike hire and touring company with husband William, uses the Peak District for most of their tours. She said: “The section of this new route through the Peak District has stunning views, and will inspire people to explore more, and has appeal for local cyclists as well as those from further afield.”
Cycling UK has been assisted in creating the trail by the Obscura Mondo Cycle Club’s work in creating a route from Glasgow to Cape Wrath called the An Turas Mor - Scottish Gaelic for 'The Long Journey.’
The Great North Trail is also part of Cycling UK’s wider ambition to connect the National and Great Trails of England, Wales and Scotland.
The route is available to view online on the Cycling UK website, where you can find an extensive route guide and downloadable route files.