FOR this winter ride I’m based in Monyash, just west of Bakewell in the Peak District. Daylight hours are short and distances are modest to suit. In the last issue, we explored the Tissington Trail, south through Tissington to Thorpe, near Ashbourne. That was once a passenger line from Ashbourne, up to Buxton and beyond.

Today we’ll try an old mineral line, built in 1831 to carry minerals and other goods from the Cromford Canal, near Matlock Bath, north west to the Peak Forest canal at Whaley Bridge. Part of that route now forms the High Peak Trail.

It is pretty high for a railway too, at about 300 metres, or about a 1,000 feet in old money. So wrap up warm as there can be quite a wind chill.

On the plus side it’s pretty flat, as evidenced by the old railway incline marker you’ll find at Longcliffe.

From the centre of Monyash, head south on Rakes Road, signed for Newhaven. After two miles, cross the main A515 with care, then follow the sign for the Parsley Hay car park to access the trail.

This is a shared bridleway, so ride with courtesy to walkers and horse riders. If you are not staying in Monyash, you can park here to start the ride.

From the car park turn left (south) onto the hard packed surface, and quickly arrive at a junction. Take the left fork, following the Sustrans sign for route number 54, the High Peak Trail.

Pass through a tunnel under the main road and watch out on your right for the remains of an old railway signal.

A couple of farm access roads are encountered along the length of the railway, often but not always, involving a gate, so take care when crossing these. Pass Brundcliffe Farm on your left at one of these crossing points.

You then approach a large building to the right of the track. This is Friden brickworks, established in 1892, so about 60 years after the railway was built, and placed here to take advantage of the transport link.

The original name was the Derbyshire Silica Firebrick Company, now shortened to DSF, but the original name is still relevant in that it tells you exactly what they still do, some 125 years later.

Pockets of silica were formed in the limestone millions of years ago by volcanic action, and this raw material was ideal for making firebricks.

A little further on at Minninglow station yard (now a car park) you’ll find an information board about how bricks were shipped from here to be installed in the Sheffield steel furnaces, as heat resistant linings.

First, however, cross the main A5012 with care, and the route curves around the contours, reminding us that it was built by canal men, prior to the golden age of the railway. So the route meanders, rather than following the straighter route of a railway.

On the approach to Minninglow, you’ll see the route of the trail ahead to the left as it crosses a wide valley on top of an embankment; looking a little like a dam wall.

Beyond the embankment, a rusting crane marks the site of a quarry where the limestone and silica would have been extracted. Through Hoe Grange cutting we approach the village of Longcliffe.

The trail crosses a bridge over a minor road and enters the remains of Longcliffe station yard. Just by the bridge, on the left, spot the railway gradient (officially flat) marker.

Leave the trail here by going left just beyond the old railway goods shed (Grade II listed). Curve past a cottage to join the road, turning left again to pass under the rail bridge.

A nice long descent of about two miles follows until you reach a sign right, for Parwich. You’ll soon see the spire of the village church. Follow the road into the village, to find the Sycamore Inn on the right. Being a Robinsons pub, their own Unicorn beer was of course excellent.

A selection of sandwiches and light lunches was also available. The menu is displayed on a chalkboard in the back bar. Look through the archway into the front lounge where another board displays more substantial meals. Bikes can be left round by the back door (through car park). Leaving the car park, bear right, and then right again at the next junction (unsigned), to pass the entrance to St Peter’s church. This was rebuilt in 1873, but retains the original Norman doorway.

Just beyond the church, look out for a small wooden finger post in the left verge, indicating Limestone Way, to confirm you are heading in the right direction. Follow this narrow lane, passing the graveyard on your right, to take the next junction off to the left.

Keep left, passing the entrance to a house named Retladon, and then you’ll see a Road Narrows sign ahead, where turn off right (unsigned). This single track lane will take you out of Parwich.

As you leave the village, the road dips down and curves to the left, where you pass Littlewood Farm to confirm you are on course.

This is a metalled road, open to traffic, but on the day I visited, it was carpeted by autumn leaves, and I saw no vehicles until some way beyond. Continue to a T-junction, where left, signed Pikehall.

Keep right at next junction, then pass a hill on the right, topped by a rocky outcrop called Roystone Rocks. Continue straight on and look out for the blue signage where a Sustrans route (No. 548) cuts across the road. Stay straight ahead at this point, following a wooden finger post for Minninglow Car Park.

In 500 yards, you’ll spot an old railway bridge crossing the road ahead. Turn off right before reaching it. Continue for another 100 yards to access the car park on your left. Once in the car park, bear left to rejoin the High Peak Trail, quickly crossing the road by the railway bridge you saw a few minutes earlier.

It is now a simple matter of retracing back to the start of the ride, via the A5012 road crossing, Friden Brickworks, and on to Parsley Hay. If you’ve enjoyed these railway rides, there are other old rail routes slightly further afield at Bakewell to Monsal and also in the Manifold valley. These are less exposed and more suitable for families.

Next month: A two-day ride with overnight in a pub on the Wolds.

Cycle ride facts

Date of ride: Friday, November 17, 2017

The map: Ordnance Survey Landranger No.119, Buxton & Matlock

The accommodation: Mere View, Rakes Road, Monyash, Bakewell, DE45 1JL.

The pubs: Sycamore Inn, Parwich, Ashbourne, DE6 1QL. Tel 01335 390212.

The bike: Classic 1971 Jack Taylor, Super Track model, built in Stockton on Tees. 23c Continental Gatorskin tyres.

Distance: 24 miles; starting in Monyash (or four miles less if starting from Parsley Hay)

Car parking: On street in Monyash (free), or National Park pay and display at Parsley Hay, SK17 0DG