Buy the OS Route Map and instructions for this route

It’s good to have a few short routes in your repertoire — the kind of thing you can blast around when you’ve only got a couple of hours to spare or when the weather’s bad. And this little gem is well worth getting the bike muddy for, with a little bit of just about everything crammed into a very compact 15km. The Sett Valley Trail provides an easy warm-up, as well as a convenient off-road route along the valley floor. But the work doesn’t begin in earnest until you start the climb up to Moor Lodge — first on flower-covered meadows and then on a good drive. A left turn signifies the start of the real action, and after a few metres of stony going, you’re faced with a steep grassy climb that will really sap the strength and the willpower — it’s cleanable, just.
The top marks the start of the fun, with the next section slipping sweetly beneath the wheels in an undulating ribbon of sandy moorland track, littered with more than its fair share of rocks. It’s steep down to Hills Farm, and there’s a great little step right at the end. Then, after walking through the garden, the track widens and offers a fast and furious drop to Peep-O-Day. Muddy singletrack takes over — good in places but less interesting in others — and then it’s up into Oxholes Clough, where things gets techie again. A steep climb leads back onto open moorland and then it’s downhill all the way back to Hayfield — at first on a rough moorland track, then on a pot-holed drive.