Cycling The Longdendale Trail

A chilly but bright Saturday, we decided to pack up our bikes, drive into the Derbyshire countryside and cycle along the Longdendale Trail, a 7 mile cycle track which was once an old railway line. A safe off-road cycle combined with lovely views sounded just the thing.

The trail is part of the Trans Pennine Trail and the route follows the course of the old railway line from Hadfield in Derbyshire to the Woodhead Tunnel. This was the first railway link between Manchester and Sheffield with the first passenger train in 1845. Hard to believe today that freight and passenger trains once thundered up and down this peaceful stretch of countryside. The line was closed in 1981 and subsequently turned into a cycle/walking trail.

We headed for Hadfield, easily found the trail which was very well signposted all the way through the little town and were lucky to get the very last parking spot in the teeny tiny car park. The cycle track is 6.5 miles in each direction. Amid groans from Son when he realised we would be cycling 13 miles, we set off and he soon forgot about the moaning when we spied meadows with cute baby lambs.

The scenery was instantly captivating – rolling green fields then a string of reservoirs at the bottom of the valley.

The 5 reservoirs were completed in 1877 and with the sun shining on them looked stunning. The only slight shame was those pylons that run parallel with the trail – a blot on the otherwise perfect landscape.

A refreshment stop halfway was of course essential, then we clambered back on our bikes and cycled to the Woodhead Tunnel. This is a series of railway tunnels, 3 miles long but now closed and the point at which we had to retrace our steps.

A short rest then it was back on the bike for the 6.5 mile return leg. The cycle to the tunnel – described as flat and it didn’t look like it ascended at all – had left me feeling slightly out of puff the whole way, we needed to work fairly hard and Son moaned a lot. What we hadn’t realised was the railway path had a slight incline the whole way. A bit of a work out but wonderful for the way back – free wheeling and downhill all the way got a thumbs up from all of us.

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