MACE remember the opening of the High Peak Trail Cycle Route in Derby Telegraph’s Bygones

On the last Monday of each month MACE write for Derby Telegraph’s Bygones, focusing on a Derbyshire title from our collections.

In this month’s article MACE’s Rights Administrator Eliza Richardson considers an ATV news report from 1978 on the introduction of cycle hire centres and set cycle routes across the Peak District.

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Fixed cycle routes were first established in Derbyshire’s Peak District in 1975 on the track-bed of the former Cromford and High Peak Railway.

These routes are still popular today, with the main stops at Middleton Top, Parsley Hay and Ashbourne.

In the ATV news report from August 3, 1978, Peter Green visits the Parsley Hay cycle hire centre and talks to Dave Archer, who is in charge of the scheme.

Dave explains that the scheme came about as a result of Dr Beeching’s highly controversial report into the future of Britain’s rail network which resulted in the closure of lines and stations across the country.

Rail routes which were lost during this period included the Buxton to Ashbourne and Cromford and High Peak lines in the mid-60s. This left the Peak District National Park with two strips of derelict land, together covering some 30 miles, which were converted to very different forms of transport.

Dave comments that no one wanted to see derelict land in a national park and goes on to explain that the land was initially converted into walking and horse-riding tracks before the potential for cycling tracks and cycle hire was realised.

The camera then cuts to a group of families outside the cycle centre: the Lord family from Nottingham, the Swans from Long Eaton and Dave’s own wife Anne and their little girl who are all getting geared up for a bike ride along route five. Dave reveals that all sorts of people come to hire bikes, from groups of mothers to a crowd from the Inland Revenue.

Reporter Peter Green then directs the interview to discuss Route Five, a ten-mile circuit following the old Ashbourne to Buxton railway line which starts downhill and goes towards the village of Hartington. The camera cuts to a map of the route.

Dave then goes on to explain the route in more detail as the camera follows the three families as they embark on the ride.

The original report then cuts to music and the camera follows the cyclists drifting over the lush green hills and winding roads that unfurl across the beautiful Derbyshire countryside.

The route then moves into Hartington village itself where Peter joins the group on his bike.

“Hang about you lot,” he calls, lagging behind. They pass the village brook and slow down on a little country lane. They stop momentarily and Peter prompts the group to carry on alone.

“I’ve been round here before; in fact I was round here yesterday. Now the next section is beautiful. You go a bit further on and you find the River Dove. You’re in upper Dove Valley on your left-hand side.

“Then you go along and it opens up and you can see the hills beyond, and I think you would like to enjoy that on your own, so carry on if you will.”

The music cuts in again and we see the group continuing their ride in vibrant splashes of colour, gliding through the valley past the rolling hills and rocky peaks.

Did you use the Peak District cycle routes during their very early years? Why not share your memories with Derby Telegraph’s readers by emailing


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