Featured Ride: Belper to Milldale Cycling Loop

Start and Finish: Belper

Distance: 44 miles

Total Ascent: 1280m

Terrain: Mostly road and quiet country lanes

Suitable for: Road, MTB, hybrid and ebikes

The Route

  • This Belper to Milldale loop starts at the historic town of Belper around 7 miles north of Derby. Some may find this route quite testing due to the amount of climbing, but it starts with a steady flat section out of Belper along the A6 towards Duffield.  From here the first climb known as Cumberhills is met, although short-lived, it’s a sign of more climbing to come later. 
  • From here the route passes Kedleston Hall and the former seat of the Curzon family now managed by the National trust.
  • With Ashbourne as the next target, the route follows some very peaceful lanes, passing through the small villages of Mercaston and Bradley, whilst mostly uphill the climbing is quite steady before hitting the main road for a short time into Ashbourne center. 
  • Although a little early for a cafe stop Ashbourne has a number of nice cafes to visit if you are planning a leisurely days riding. 
  • After leaving Ashbourne the route returns back to quiet lanes passing through Mapleton and uphill to Blore.  Before dropping down a twisty fast section into the village of Ilam. Ilam lies on the river Manifold and the entrance to the Manifold valley.  
  • After leaving Ilam the biggest climb of the day is met with gradients above 10% on some sections and lasts for around 1.5 miles. This is rewarded by a downhill section into a picturesque valley and the village of Milldale. There is a small cafe here should a stop be required.
  • Milldale is a tiny village located on the river Dove and gives access to some lovely walks with the valley eventually reaching Dovedale and Thorpe Cloud. There are a number of natural caves and unusual rock formations in this area including Dove Holes, Ilam Rock, and Reynards Cave.
  • After leaving the village and following the river for a short time the route turns up to leave the valley, en route to Tissington. Tissington boasts another cafe, very pretty stone cottages clustered around a stately home, a duck pond, wells, and an ancient church. Tissington was first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as ‘Tizinctum’
  • From here there is a brief climb and a section of fast downhill to a ford stream crossing. The ford is passable on the bike if the water isn’t too high, for the brave. But can be a bit slippery with a few hidden hazards so be warned. Circumnavigation is possible for the less brave.
  • From here the route passes through Bradbourne and then skirts along the edge of Carsington Water. 
  • Before becoming a reservoir in 1979 Carsington was used by the RAF during the 1940s as a bombing run and the old ‘Bomb Tower’ can still be found and climbed, by following the cycle path around the water. Carsington has a nice cycle path of around 8 miles and is worth a visit for a ride around. 
  • With a few more ups and downs the next destination is the market town of Wirksworth in the White Peak, with market charter dating back to 1306, and St Mary’s church believed to date from 653, the town has a long history.
  • From here the route passes through Aldewasley near the Shining Cliff Woods and then heads down for the final few miles into Belper across the river Derwent with the Belper River Gardens and Stutts North Mill to the left which is part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage site. The Mill has a long history dating back to 1776 with cotton spinning spanning over 200 years. 

Route and GPX

You can download the route or view the route here:

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