Bikes, Biodiversity and Bishops

One of the most exciting things to have happened in the last year has been the big new emphasis that we have been putting on Cycling in the Peak District. It was just a few months ago that John Grimshaw wrote to me suggesting we ‘raise our game’ on cycling. John had recently retired from being founder and Chief Executive of Sustrans, the transport charity and the driving force behind the National Cycle Network. John wanted to help make national parks more cycle-friendly. We were enthusiastic to work with him.

The former-railway tunnel at Ashbourne is the start of the Tissington Trail: Our intention is to open up 5 more and reinstate much of the route of the former London Midland Railway as a major cycleway

The last few months have been a rollercoaster with an enormous amount to do. I’m delighted that my colleagues have been so quick to develop the new project. We are doing lots to promote cycling, including the list of cycle-friendly activities below. This month, with our help, Visit Peak District launches Saddle Up for Summer – with downloadable guides, detail on cycle-friendly accommodation and also excellent events.

The Bishop of Derby signs up at Pedal Peak District

A really good part of the Pedal Peak District is the opportunity to sign up to the excellent new Pedal Peak District website – . This provides up to date information and allows keen cyclists or those new to cycling to experience the landscape by bike. You can sign up to find out about cycling opportunities near where you live and also get detail on cycle events.

Pedal Peak District is an opportunity for people to re-engage or cycle for the first time.

An important part of the new cycling project is the ambitious project to open a traffic-free cycle way linking the railway stations in matlock and Buxton to the National Park. This long-term project has got off to a good start with funds from Cycling England, the Government’s agency that promotes cycling – . John Grimshaw has brokered this new agreement and we were delighted to welcome Cycling England’s Board and staff to the Peak District last week.

Cllr Andrew Lewer of Derbyshire County Council discusses cycling with Philip Darnton, Chair of the Government's Cycling England at Parsley Hay Cycle Hire Centre

Central to the cycling project is our close partnership with local organisations and especially Derbyshire County Council and so it was great to be able to show the Leader Cllr Andrew Lewer and his colleagues from the County some of our work. Much of the work has relied on help from the county council. For example, their highways lighting engineers are advising us on lighting for the Monsal Trail tunnels.

Cllr Andrew Lewer contemplates the stuuning landscape that will be made accessible by the new cycleway

The Cycle Trail will create real economic advantages, indeed I’m delighted that the new cafe and bookstore has opened this week at Hassop Station and note that they plan to take advantage of the new cycleway. On Friday this week, members of the National Park Authority will consider a proposal to transfer the management of the Millers Dale Station to the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. This will allow them to develop plans for a new visitor centre that will help visitors – mainly by bike – to experience the stunning environment of the Wye Valley and its rich wildlife. Details are at:

Officers and Members of the National Park Authority and Derbyshire County Council with Cycling England at Millers Dale Station

Part of Pedal Peak District is about promoting cycling to people who have not cycled before and we are keen to do so with ‘new audiences’. This is why I was enthusiastic when the Bishop of Derby wrote to me suggesting a cycling event in the Peak District to celebrate the environment. It was great to welcome Bishop Alastair and over 50 people from churches across Derbyshire last week for their Spirit and Creation event in which they celebrated biodiversity and the environment.

Bishop Alastair and his wife Caroline contemplate, quite appropriately, an Ermine Moth on International day of Biodiversity

Rev’d Dave Bookless, the National Director of A Rocha UK, a leading Christian environmental charity which includes Eco-Congregations spoke to the group and joined us on a cycle tour of the Tissington Trail including stops to experience the biodiversity of the Peak District. A Rocha is a Christian nature conservation organisation, its name coming from the Portuguese for “the Rock,” as the first initiative was a field study centre in Portugal. A Rocha projects are frequently cross-cultural in character, and share a community emphasis, with a focus on science and research, practical conservation and environmental education details at .

Accessibility for all is an important part of the philosophy of our approach to the promotion of cycling. This new 'Tramper' is one way of allowing elderly, immobile and disabled people access the routes others access by bicycle

Pedal Peak District is an exciting and challenging project and one that fits well with so many aims of the National Park. I’m sure that cycling has a great future and I’m particularly pleased to doing more to promote cycling is something firmly embedded in the new Coalition Government’s plans.  Future cycling events in the Peak District and details of how to book are detailed below.
Tuesday June 1
Cycle Skills for Families (suitable for children 5+)
Two sessions: 10am – 12noon, and 1pm-3pm at Parsley Hay Cycle Hire Centre.
Free cycle skills training on traffic-free trails suitable for children aged five plus. Open to all abilities and lots of fun. Children must with an adult. Bring your own bikes or hire them (normal hire-charges).
Booking essential on 01629 816297 or e-mail
Saturday June 12 and Saturday June 19
Guided mountain bike rides for beginners
10am – 2pm starting from Fairholmes ranger centre, Derwent Valley.
Learn how to mountain bike on an 11-mile easy off-road circuit around the beautiful reservoirs of Howden and Derwent, including introduction to bike handling, maintenance and navigation.
Children must be with an adult, bring your own bike and helmet (essential) or hire them (normal charges). Booking essential on 01433 651908.
Monday June 21 (National Bike Week)
Five miles to feeling fabulous
11am – 1pm from Parsley Hay Cycle Hire Centre.
Cycle through fabulous White Peak scenery, with the support of friendly, experienced cyclists, on a leisurely ride along the Tissington Trail. Aimed at beginners and occasional cyclists, the ride covers five miles at a gentle pace along a flat, traffic free trail. Learn how to handle a bike and how to use gears and brakes. Includes a break at historic Hartington Station where you can buy refreshments. Bring your own bike or hire one (normal charges).
Booking essential on 01629 816297 or e-mail
Thursday June 24 and Monday July 26
Women on Wheels (WoW)
6pm – 8pm from Hassop old station car park.
A 10-mile sociable ride through stunning scenery. The ride will be undulating using traffic-free trails and quiet roads, aiming to build confidence and fitness for new or returning women cyclists. Please bring money for a drink stop on route.
• Women on Wheels free rides will run every month through to October 2010. If you want further details or to register an interest for future rides, call Carol Parsons on 01629 816297 or e-mail
Wednesday July 28 (National Parks Week)
Learning through landscapes
10am – 2pm from Parsley Hay Cycle Hire Centre.
A 15-mile, leisurely ride through stunning scenery of the White Peak and South West Peak with Peak District National Park landscape architect Garrie Tiedeman. Find out how, over the centuries, people have shaped the views we see today. Includes a break in Hartington where you can buy refreshments. Please note there are a few steep sections on minor roads. Bring your own bike or hire one (normal charges).
Booking essential on 01629 816297 or e-mail
For information about cycle-hire centres and Pedal Peak District events, go to

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