The High Peak Trail is a traffic-free path that runs for 17.5 miles between High Peak Junction (Cromford) and Dowlow (near Buxton). This used to be the Cromford and High Peak Railway, and was one of the world’s first long-distance railway lines (it was completed in 1831 and closed in 1967). In 1971 the Peak Park Planning Board and Derbyshire County Council bought part of the track bed and turned it into the High Peak Trail, now a national route of the National Cycle Network and popular with walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
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If you are planning a visit to the National Park, please arrive early or late in the day to avoid crowds if visiting over sunny weekends or school holidays. Please also take all litter home with you, don’t bring BBQs and park your car in designated parking areas. Also, please use these route descriptions as a guide; access may change.
Click here to check out more family cycle routes in the Peak District
PARKING INFORMATION: Please do not rely solely on the postcode for parking directions. In the National Park, a postcode can cover a large area. Postcodes are only provided as guidance. Please either use the Google Maps point provided for every walk, or what3words.
The High Peak Trail is one of the best Peak District cycle routes for families as it’s relatively flat (away from the Cromford end) and traffic free. The path is gravel mostly, so not ideal for scooters. Being linear however, the full length of the High Peak trail is a bit far for little ones to cycle in one day. So we take a section at a time.
Compared to the Monsal Trail, High Peak Trail cycling offers better views of open countryside, but there aren’t lots of long tunnels to cycle through.
Did you know you can link up the High Peak Trail and the Tissington Trail to form a circular cycle route? Click here for details.
Cycling from Hurdlow to Friden
It’s 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from Hurdlow car park to Friden car park along the High Peak Trail. This section is relatively flat, with just a very slight incline towards Friden.
Parsley Hay is a good place to break it up along the way of you need to. It’s not quite half way, but it’s exactly 2 miles from Hurdlow car park to Parsley Hay car park. Here there is a takeaway café and toilets. This is a popular spot as there’s bike hire here too.
Just before you get to Parsley Hay, there is this vernacular dry stone building. This is an Istrian stone shelter (a gift from Croatia to the UK) and an unusual spot to explore. Then just past Parsley Hay car park, you will see the junction of the High Peak Trail and Tissington Trail. The High Peak Trail is the one on the left. Shortly after this junction you cycle through a short tunnel.
You do need to get off your bike on a couple of occasions to navigate gates. But there is easily enough room to get your bikes through.
From Parsley Hay to Friden car park it’s 2.5 miles. There’s not much here except parking and a picnic bench.
If you want to cycle a little further along the High Peak Trail, it’s one mile to the next road crossing. This is where the High Peak Trail crosses the A5012 from Newhaven.
Hurdlow car park
Hurdlow car park is a pay and display car park managed by Peak District National Park Authority. The machine ONLY takes coins. But if you are a regular visitor to the Peak District or live locally, you may want to consider purchasing the annual permit for £40, which allows parking in any one of 18 Peak District National Park Authority Pay & Display car parks.
Current car parking prices at Hurdlow are:
|Up to 1 hr||1.50|
|Up to 2 Hr||2.50|
|Up to 4 hr||4.00|
Do arrive early on weekends and school holidays as the car park does get full quickly.
There are no facilities here, but the fabulous Royal Oak Hurdlow is just 100 metres away. It’s one of our favourite pubs in the Peak District. Also, just around the corner is the Bull i Thorn café (they do tasty and very reasonably priced light bites, and we love their hot chocolate) and Tagg Lane Diary (for some fantastic Peak District ice-cream). So you’ve got some great options for treats after you High Peak bike ride!
Friden car park
This is a FREE car park also run by Peak District National Park Authority. There are no facilities, but there is a picnic bench.
Peak District Kids is a free online resource. If you enjoyed this bike ride, you can show your support by buying me a coffee. Thanks so much! You may also want to share your own photos from our walks in our Peak District Kids Facebook Group.
Or visit the Peak District Kids shop. £1 from every sale of the iron-on patches goes towards the Peak District National Park Foundation, a registered charity established to raise funds to care for The Peak District National Park.
Also, feel free to share your walk photos with us on Instagram. Please follow us and tag @peakdistrictkids in your posts so we can share them with our wider community.