With a thirst for outdoor adventure, I decided to brave the elements again, this time taking my bike on a tour of the Peak District National Park. The route I chose went via Glossop through Snakes Pass (A57), to Bamford via the reservoir. According to one of the locals, Snakes Pass is one of the most difficult climbs for any cyclist to accomplish, even experienced ones. I was well pleased with myself – a rank amateur on a mountain bike. The conditions weren’t just steep, but icey and windy. At just over 3 hours, 30 miles and 1170 feet elevation gain later I finally arrived at my destination, Hathersage.
This was my first stay at a YHA and certainly won’t be my last. Upon arrival at about 2pm, I made the horrid realisation that the hostel was closed and that I would have had to wait another 3 hours before someone would be available to let me in.
I was tired, cold and wet, having just cycled 3 hours up to the top of the peaks and back down again. I rang the main switch number on the YHA site and explained my situation. The lovely girl at YHA rang the hostel where I was staying and lucky for me, the manager was still there and let me in. Amy was really warm, welcoming and friendly and checked me in without a moments hesitation.
Before too long I was enjoying a nice long hot, well earned shower and then the afternoon unwinding in the lounge and a sleep in my single room.
YHA Membership only costs £20 per year so if you spend a lot of time traveling and staying at YHA, membership will pay for itself pretty quickly. A discount of £3/night applies for members.
YHA have meal options you can pre-purchase including what they call Supper Club dinner serving a set menu at a set time but with the opportunity to dine with other guests and share stories and experiences. Of course, the YHA does have full self-catering facilities if you wish to cook yourself. But of course, I was on bike and couldn’t really spare the additional space or weight in my pannier bags or backpack so I opted in for the pre-booked meal option. However, next time I will be sure to pack some Yorkshire tea bags, sugar and small milk portions so I can at least have a brew.
The one thing I loved about staying at the YHA is the variety of people I’ve met along the way including the staff. I met Alex, originally from Poland, now living in Cambridge but spent most of his earlier years living in London. He and another young fella called Dave from Surrey were doing a rock climbing course nearby. I also met this German couple who were traveling around north west England. We all chatted as we ate a delicious lasagne and garlic bread, sharing stories of our origins and travels around Britain and Europe.
On my 2nd day, I decided to ride another 10 miles with an elevation gain of 1000 feet up to the peaks again, this time with the intention of completing a nearby mountain bike track at Ringinglow. However when I arrived, both trails were closed due to bad weather conditions. While I was disappointed I couldn’t get to ride on a proper mountain bike track, the ride itself wasn’t disappointing as I still managed to capture some stunning photos of the scenery on the ride back down the hill.
I spent the remainder of my day downstairs in the lounge writing and editing photos as I was pretty knackered after my two previous rides and wanted to rest prior to my cycle back home the next day. I did polish off a couple of pints of Yorkshire Farmers ale at the local pub before dinner that evening.
After breakfast the following morning, I jumped back on my bike for the long ride back home. It had forecast to snow but it was only raining. I chose to do the return journey through Castleton and the A6, a slighter shorter distance but the climb from Castleton to the top of hill was even worse than Snakes Pass at 1600 feet at a very steep 20% incline. It was more than my poor legs could cope with so I walked up, my bike next to me. Of course, the steep climb was worth the effort with stunning scenery to view while riding along the plateau.
After riding the top of the mountain for several miles, it was mostly downhill from there, riding at speed down the A6 back into Stockport.
Overall, it was a very ambitious tour for an amateur like me but extremely rewarding. I think the next time I decide to go on tour, I’ll either catch the train and plan to do mountain bike tracks or I’ll buy a road bike so I can climb those massive hills with ease. Hathersage and the surrounding national park has dozens of walking and hiking tracks so that’s also on the cards and I think would make for an equally satisfying experience. AT