Leaving the city of Sheffield to begin our bikepacking adventure was a little nerve-wracking. We'd just been handed our bikes, and after a quick lap around the car park to get used to them, it was straight on to roads - with the bike fully packed.
The view from the top of Mam Nick took in the path to Mam Tor and overlooked the Hope Valley.
Within 15 minutes of leaving though, we reached dedicated bike paths and bridleways, and we wouldn’t ride on roads again until the home stretch, on our way back into Sheffield the next day.
The initial climb was tough, but we were rewarded with stunning views of the Peak District, and a fun descent into the valley.
After lunch, whilst our guides assessed the abilities and wishes of everyone in the group, we crossed over Ladybower Reservoir to cycle around three reservoirs. We chose this route because we all wanted to have a wild swim, and there was an opportunity along this trail. The views - and weather - were incredible.
Our group was quite small, which allowed us to all get to know each other very quickly. I enjoyed the more intimate nature of small group cycling, where we could all chat and point out the interesting and beautiful things around us.
There was a great camaraderie on the ride, and we all helped each other when the cycling got a little steep by encouraging each other on.
The wild swim turned out to be a real highlight. The weather was absolutely incredible - our guide, Stefan, remarked that we were the first group that had been able to swim there that year. We made the most of it, cooling off in the shallow water. The current and formation of the rocks made a natural spa for us to sit in. It was the perfect mid-ride stop.
Cycling back along the other side of Ladybower Reservoir in the late afternoon sun, we discussed what we were looking forward to that evening - it was decided that a pre-dinner drink at the pub was in order, before the last leg of the journey to the campsite. Stefan was happy to adapt the ride to our group's wishes, and suggested some great recommendations.
That evening, Stefan made an incredible dinner of vegetable pasta, with more than enough for us all. Our problem-solving skills were tested while trying to find a solution to grilling some home-made garlic bread. After a failed attempt to hold the rolls with metal tongs (trying to avoid slightly singed fingers), we placed the rolls around the firepit, which resulted in perfectly toasted, deliciously smoked garlic bread. Beer and negronis complemented late night chats around the fire.
The next morning came with a warning that we would be tackling Mam Nick - a challenging 2km climb with just over 200m of elevation. Stefan was once again very encouraging and ensured that each of us was able to complete the climb at our own pace.
Reaching the top was a real achievement and the views were the reward. We soon learnt the real definitions of Stefan’s hills descriptions – ‘flat’ meant slight incline, ‘undulating’ meant steep inclines are coming and ‘steep’ meant you’d better get off and push.
The view from the top of Mam Nick took in the path to Mam Tor and overlooked the Hope Valley. From here, we hit a few fast, very exhilarating downhill sections, and scenic paths across valleys, before we came into Eyam for lunch - fuelling us for one further climb back into Sheffield, where our adventure ended.
It was a perfect introduction to bikepacking and to the Peak District - and future plans were made with new-found friends.
Want to give bikepacking a go, but not sure where to start? Check out our Intro to Bikepacking in the Peak District.