The Eastern Moors circuit is fast turning into one of my favourite mountain bike rides in the Peak District, especially on days when I’m looking for an off-road ride with fun rather than gnarly terrain, and relatively gentle hills. The views are spectacular along the route and the downhill sections are fast and flowing.
This is one ride I would consider for somebody relatively new to mountain biking. Having said that, it’s no pushover and it’s important to make sure that the distance and terrain are appropriate for all members in the group. It’s also worth pointing out that the route does spend a short time on a couple of roads which have fast traffic.
The countryside around here can be busy at the weekends, particularly on the Curbar/Froggatt sections. However, slowing down around other users and giving a friendly hello goes a long way to ensuring that everybody can enjoy using these trails.
The ability to do this circular ride is down to the work carried out by the Eastern Moors Partnership and Ride Sheffield. The Eastern Moors Partnership is responsible for managing this area on behalf of the Peak District National Park, and is a collaboration of the National Trust and the RSPB. Ride Sheffield, on the other hand, is a group pulling together the collective interests of the Sheffield mountain bike community. Working together, they have successfully turned footpaths along this ride into concessionary bridleways and thus opened up the area for both cyclists and horse riders.
The route is featured in Vertebrate Publishing's White Peak Mountain Biking guidebook, and is available as a PDF (see downloads box).
Early in the ride, the route goes over Totley Moor. This section can often have standing water in large puddles on the track and sticky mud over the moor. In my experience it’s the wettest part of the ride, and many of the other tracks are good year-round surfaces.
Leaving Totley Moor and continuing onto the Barbrook Valley on the eastern side of Big Moor, I always feel like I’ve escaped the main honey pot areas of the Peak District. There are some great places to stop for a rest around here.
Just beyond Wellington’s Monument at Baslow Edge, the guide gives two options: stay high or drop under the crag. I like to stay high on a hard surfaced track (the wet weather option), which you can make interesting by picking your way through the rocks.
The final part of the ride goes along Curbar and Froggatt Edge. The descent from here is great fun, but it is semi-technical so pick your line wisely and go at a speed appropriate for your ability. This is also the most popular area on the ride, but slowing down for others just means you get more time to enjoy the incredible views from the gritstone edges.