High Peak Trail
3. High Peak Trail (22 miles return) This uses the former Cromford and High Peak Railway line which was one of the earliest lines in the UK as the date of 1825 on Newhaven Tunnel testifies. The line was designed on canal principles but being so high up and on limestone would have been unsuitable for a canal mainly due to the lack of water and difficulty in retaining it!.
We start at Middleton Top car park (small charge). This has the advantage of being fairly high up to start with
Middleton is a short distance from Matlock - turn right at Cromford traffic lights - turn left after approx 1½miles at top of hill and then turn right to reach car park (look for engine house and chimney).
At Middleton car park there is a cycle hire shop, bookshop and visitor centre and the restored engine house at the head of the Middleton incline. The route has the advantage of being nearly level all of the way apart from the Hopton Incline and the path surface varies between ash and a section of tarmac. Scenery is excellent being elevated most of the way. There are two short tunnels at Hopton and Newhaven. We turned around at Parsley Hay near the A515 Ashbourne-Buxton road. There is a refreshment kiosk and a cycle hire shop here. The path carries on for a further 2 miles to Hurdlow. The return trip (22 miles) took us about 4 hours with plenty of stops. The High Peak Trail connects with the Tissington Trail at Parsley Hay (see below)
The two trails van be combined into a longer ride and an excellent day out e.g. start at Middleton Top and arrange for a pick up at Ashbourne or the more adventurous could utilise the road from Middleton to Ashbourne skirting Carsington Water to make a triangular circuit. Similarly it would be possible to connect with the Manifold Trail by using the Tissington trail as far as Hartington station and then transferring to the road through Hartington and thence to Hulme End - about 3 miles of road (mostly downhill). In this case a lift would be required from Waterhouses.