Try a tour

I've been thinking about what would be useful for people planning big bike tours. It would have been great for me to have tried going on a tour with someone who had experience of doing it before I did my round the world trip. So I'm planning to do a number of free touring weekends for small groups.

In the itinerary:

- Wild camping

- Camp BBQ

- Riding a fully laden touring bike on and off road

- Learning how to fix basic mechanical problems

- Going to a pub (...or few)

If you are interested in this event, please let me know HERE. I will be setting up another weekend in the near future and there will be a rough plan in place before the weekend, but it can be changed to cater for the group that turns up. We could end up doing anything from a massively energetic ride with no comfort stops, to a tour of the best pubs and cafes in an area. If you let me know what you're up for before the event, I can build the plan around who is coming. There are no prerequisites in terms of fitness or experience, everyone is welcome.


- A bike in good working order, which can take light off-road use, has a pannier rack and panniers


- Bike lights

- Camping equipment, including a tent and a sleeping bag

- Warm cloths and WATERPROOFS (at least a waterproof jacket)

- Basic puncture repair stuff and a spare inner tube or two

- Some cash

- All other obvious biking/camping/other stuff you would normally need for a weekend away camping


First "Try a tour" weekend: Peak District - 18th - 20th October 2013

"Thanks for a thrilling biking weekend! Loved the awesome hill climbs & superb descent from Mam Tor" - Sarah

"Had a great weekend of hill climbing, tent pitching, touring stories, rolling Peak District scenery and local ale. It was an added bonus that I got to hang out with some great people who were all partial to a bit of adventure. For me, trying a tour with Tom was the perfect introduction into touring and has left me with some technical knowledge, as well as the confidence to get on my saddle and start exploring the world on two wheels." - Dan

DATE: October 18th-20th

Route: From Sheffield, across Houndkirk Moor, along the bottom of Burbage Edge, down to Hathersage, along Hope Valley, up Mam Tor old road, over to Buxton, through the Goyt Valley, up to Rushup Edge, over Mam Tor to Edale, around Ladybower, finish in Bamford.

Moving Time 08:59:01

Elapsed Time 40:23:21

Max Speed 39.8mi/h

Avg Speed 8.5mi/h

Distance 76.3 miles

Elevation Gain 6,755 ft



A group of 5 of us set out from Sheffield at 8 PM on Friday; Sarah and James, a married couple from Oxford, Dan a 23 year old from Milton Keynes, and Tom a PhD student from South Wales. We didn't know each other before we met up for this trip but with the common interest of cycling, conversation soon turned to past trips and journeys. The off-road trial from Sheffield to the Peak District starts about 50 metres from my front door, so we headed out on that, in the dark. An hour of climbing later, James said "where's the nearest pub", I replied that it was a five minute ride away, so after about an hour, we were nursing a delicious local pint and eating a pork bap at the "Pig and Pint" night at the Norfolk arms in Ringinglow.

We left the pub and cycled on to some woods where we pitched the tents and for four out of five of us, wild camped for the first time.

We thought we'd picked a good, flat spot, out of the way and hidden. Zack and Fudge, two dogs on an early morning walk didn't think so however, and went crazy when four strange smelling cloth things were in the way of their usually clear track. They did serve as a good alarm clock at 7 am though. So we were up early having been rained on all night, but it had pretty much stopped by the time we were out of the tents. Porridge and beans (eaten as separate courses - although James thought about combining them) got us going and we set off through the early morning mist. Houndkirk Road and Burbage Edge offer spectacular views of Sheffield and the Peak District respectively, however this morning we could see about ten metres of cloud in each direction. After a bit of light off-roading, a fantastic three mile descent took us to bacon rolls and cakes at Cindra's Tea Rooms in Hathersage.

Hope Valley soon passed under our wheels, fueled by our second breakfast, then we had another testing climb: up the old Mam Tor Road. The road has been replaced by one that goes up Winnats Pass now because of landslides. The old road has been half swept down the mountain, but it's an interesting thing to see and still a passable track for bikes.

At the top, we headed to Buxton, along some beautiful quiet country lanes. We had left the Dark Peak (the moory, heathery, rocky bit) and entered the White Peak (the greener, rolling hills and stone walls, lots of sheep bit). There were some amazing cows, with one large white stripe around their middle, but they were otherwise black. In Buxton, the Co-op provided a ridiculously calorific lunch to fuel us up the long climb over to the Goyt Valley, An equally long descent brought us to Errwood reservoir, which when constructed, flooded the village that was there. When the water level is low, the remains of the old buildings can be seen.

A great off-road track, took us to Whaley Bridge. Actually, 99% of the track was great. One very short section was rather muddy thanks to logging trucks, and Sarah's foot got a bit wet!

A stop for a coffee in Chapel en le Frith allowed for a quick break before the long climb up to Rushup Edge and over the back of Mam Tor. Dan flew up the climb - he's obviously a natural climber. Then came my highlight of this particular trip, the sweeping descent to Edale, the Ramblers Inn and the Mam Tor Burger!

After getting back on the bikes for a while, a fantastic Wild Camping spot materialised by a river so we pitched the tents, ate some cake, drank some Glen Moray whisky, talked about Scotch and went to sleep.

More porridge for breakfast in the morning, then feeling refreshed, we cycled into Hope Valley again, along the Thornbridge trail to Ladybower Reservoir. After another quick cafe break at the visitor centre, we passed the famous Howden and Derwent Dams. Derwent Dam and the reservoir behind it was used for low-level flying training by Lancaster Pilots to train for the Dambusters mission "Operation Chastise". It was also used for the Dambusters film.

Tom set the pace as we rounded the top of the reservoirs and started heading back down the other side on a spectacular off-road trail.

Not long afterwards, we were back on the road, and a 20 minute ride brought us to the station in Bamford and the end of the weekend. We started as a group of strangers and ended as a team who'd had a great adventure in the Peak District that seemed to last a lot longer than two days. A microadventure like this proves that it's possible to do a brilliant trip in the Great Outdoors in just a weekend.