The High Peak Trail is a relatively flat and traffic-free route along a former railway line in the Derbyshire Peak District. The Tissington Trail is also a traffic-free route in the Peak District, taking a slightly lower route. Both routes connect up, and by leaving the route and taking country roads, you can do a circular route that takes in both these trails.
The High Peak Trail
We started this ride at the Middleton Top car park (which is Pay and Display, btw), which is a great place to access the High Peak Trail.
There’s bike hire, cafe and toilets, as well as picnic tables.
You can start the High Peak Trail a bit further back from here, but you’ll need to climb some very steep hills. This used to be a railway line, and so it’s relatively flat. Apart from the approach to Middleton Top, where trains had to be winched up the hill by a giant steam engine. You can still see the chimney to the engine house at Middleton Top.
Even if you do avoid the worst hill, not long after cycling past Middleton Top, you’ll hit your first hill. This isn’t too bad, but for legs not used to cycling, people may need a bit of encouragement to get up it.
The trail continues along much flatter route all the way to Parsley Hay.
One thing to note is that there are many crossings with gates on the High Peak Trail. These are bike-friendly gates but do get annoying after a while.
Just before Parsley Hay stop, you’ll pass where the Tissington Trail joins.
Parsley Hay is another rest stop. This one serves both the High Peak and Tissington Trails.
There’s toilets, cafe, bike hire, and a car park here, so it makes another great place to park and cycle either the High Peak or Tissington Trail.
The Tissington Trail
Travelling from Parsley Hay down the Tissington Trail was very easy as it was mainly downhill. It definately has a slight gradient, unlike the High Peak Trail that was mostly flat (apart from the hill at the start, of course).
A short distance along the trail you can see the old railway heritage at the Hartington Signal Box.
The High Peak and Tissington Trails feel very different. The High Peak Trail is very much along the top of the peaks. You see wide open landscape.
The Tissington Trail descends into wooded valleys, but there’s still plenty of countryside views in between. The Tissington Trail was also narrower in places. Muddier too. Fortunately, there were no gates that you had to keep opening and closing 🙂
I continued along this trail until reaching the old Tissington Station, which has another car park when you can easily reach the trail.
Cycling from Tissington back to the High Peak Trail
There is a marked route on the trail map that you can take down country roads and cycle from Tissington, via Carsington Water, and back up to the High Peak Trail. This takes in part of the National Cycle Route 547, which departs the roads and goes off-road for small section.
Unfortuantely, the road to Carsington Water was closed, and so I took another route via Barrington village and back up to the High Peak Trail.
Unlike the High Peak or Tissington Trails, the roads in-between them are steep. It is the Peak District afterall.
So, this isn’t one for young kids – or most kids of any age – unless they are used to cycling up some very steep hills.
High Peak vs Tissington vs Monsal Trail
This was a good cycle route. However, out of these three trails, if you just had to cycle one, we would advise you to cycle the Monsal Trail. We found that the most scenic and had the most tunnels. It’s also really flat, and easy for kids to pedal.
Here’s where you can find High Peak and Tissington Trail Circular Cycle Route.
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