With Spring well in progress we decided to try a new cycling experience a few weeks ago. Having done the Monsal Trail a couple of times we decided to try the Manifold Trail.
The trail starts north of Ashbourne at either Waterhouses or Hulme End. Waterhouses is on the road between Ashbourne and Leek (A523) whilst Hulme End can be accessed via the Ashbourne to Buxton road (A515).
|Thor's Cave overlooking the trail|
|The information at Hulme End was useful|
Alternatively, if you don't have any bikes there is a farm hiring bikes that offers free parking for customers in the village.
The Manifold trail (also known as track or way) follows an old railway line. Unlike the Monsal Trail which is an old mainline carried high through tunnels and over viaducts, the Manifold follows the rivers at the bottom of a valley. The light railway was the Leek and Manifold Valley railway which did not prosper. The route follows the river Hamps and then the Manifold, hugging the river as it curves it way through the scenic valley. Find out more via Wikipedia.
|The joys of Spring|
|Don't worry - we'll go around the hill!|
There are a few food outlets on the route as well as toilets. The cafe at Wetton Mill looks very popular as did the cafe at the station at Hulme End. These are both easily accessible by car whereas the farm cafe we stopped at on the way back to Waterhouses was a bit more remote. Wetton Mill is a pleasant spot at the side of the river slightly more than half way along.
|Hulme End Station - Time for packed lunch|
We managed the whole 18 miles in around 4 hours including a few stops for food. I would have liked to have locked the bikes up and discovered one of the caves by foot but will do that next time. The station at Hulme End has some good information on the area and the trail including some very useful Geological and Geographical information. This facility may not be open on Mondays.
With stunning scenery, plenty of facilities and a nice steady gradient, this is a great family cycling experience and within an hour of Swadlincote.