You can’t beat holding your next adventure in your hands, especially when your phone battery hits 2%. A well-stocked bookshelf of Peak District maps and guides will always inspire you to get out and explore.
Here’s a collection of Peak District cycling and walking books to suit every taste, with my own thoughts where I’ve had chance to try them myself. Maybe you’ll find a new one for your next adventure.
Exploring the borders of several counties and a National Park doesn’t make things easy for paper maps. You’ll need at least three to cover most of the corners Peaks & Puddles explores, but they all deserve a place on your shelf and in your rucksack.
Perhaps the best feature of all standard printed OS maps is now the code to unlock a mobile app version, without annual subscription, allowing you to see with blue-dot accuracy just how far ago you lost that footpath. It’s even worth buying a shiny new map for.
OS Custom Made Maps
Are your main exploring grids always on the border between two OS maps? A Custom Made Map allows you to centre a map absolutely anywhere and have it printed up as a folded map with your own title and image. Not just an awesome gift but it’ll probably become the most well-thumbed and value for money map you’ll ever buy. It might make sense not to centre on your house but somewhere that includes all your local walking and cycling hotspots. Or, if you know them all buy heart, get it printed flat for framing. (Note: doesn’t include a digital version.)
OS Explorer Map OL1: The Peak District – Dark Peak Area
There’s a reason it’s number 1. Covering Kinder Scout, Bleaklow, the Upper Derwent Valley and as far west and south as Marple and Whaley Bridge, the essential guide for Dark Peak exploring.
OS Explorer Map OL24: The Peak District – White Peak Area
For the Goyt Valley, Buxton and as far south as Leek, Dovedale, Bakewell, Matlock and Wirksworth, the White Peak OS map is an indispensable work of art. Particularly useful for finding linking cycle routes off the popular railway trails and a lifetime of walking routes.
OS Explorer Map 268: Wilmslow, Macclesfield & Congleton
Covering the south of Manchester and Stockport along with eastern Cheshire all the way from the Peak District fringes to Tatton and Jodrell Bank, this is the essential map for Middlewood Way and Cheshire lanes when you fancy something a bit flat(ter).
OS Explorer Map 277: Manchester & Salford
Yes, they make OS maps for big, bad cities too! Whether you want to get into town or out to the country, this one’s a fascinating treasure trove of all those often somewhat hidden rights of way and, no really, some lovely greenery amongst the houses and motorways too, extending south to Cheadle and east to Stalybridge.
Peak District: Cycling Country Lanes
A handy fold-out waterproof sheet map covering the Peak District and surrounds. Often more usable than squinting over an app to plot longer road routes but does slightly eschew some perfectly enjoyable and useful linking paths in favour of asphalt, so not quite the silver bullet for all-rounder cycling it could be. Includes 16 marked circular routes, most best trialled by more confident roadies.
- More buying options: Wordery
The Peak District Cycle Map (No.26)
Part of a collection of maps from Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, covering most areas of the country. This is more focused on clearly showing its own National Cycle Network routes and suggested quieter roads on a fairly basic overall map, though inset maps for major towns and cities are more detailed and it includes five day rides with route descriptions. (Not yet tested by Peaks & Puddles)
South Pennines and Peak District Off-Road Cycle Map
Richard Peace, Excellent Books
Printed on tough waterproof paper, this sheet map includes rides using the Trans Pennine Trail, Pennine Bridleway and featuring a 110 mile ‘Pike to Peak’ circular route, linking the famous landmarks of Stoodley Pike near Hebden Bridge to Rushup Edge and Mam Tor in the Peak District National Park. 14 circular bike rides are included, mostly with a mountain biking edge, along with 20 family trails and web links to GPX files. (Not yet tested by Peaks & Puddles)
Cycling in the Peak District: Off-Road Trails and Quiet Lanes
Tom Fenton & Jon Barton, Vertebrate
Probably the best all-rounder Peak District cycling guide for less intimidating gravel and mountain biking, listing 28 reasonably quick routes over 112 pages including both original loops and, in a briefer family section, the obvious trails. Maps and directions are simple and concise, and though not overflowing with additional detail or knowledge it provides enough to feel worthwhile. Most rides are, however, located further to the east and south of the Peak, and assume a car park to start.
Cycling in the Peak District
Chiz Dakin, Cicerone
Promising 21 routes in and around the National Park, the dainty local Cicerone guide covers a wide area, with many rides conveniently starting outside the National Park and guiding you in to some of its most famous cycling. Perfect for a jersey pocket, it’s nevertheless a packed tome at 220 pages, complete with photos and excellent use of Ordnance Survey for its mapping, though with this spread over several pages it can be hard to quickly get a ‘feel’ for where each loop is sending you — some briefly on roads which would make me squirm (Snake Pass, anyone?). The final route is a challenging five-day 250km (155-mile) ‘Tour de Peak District’. Maybe I’ll try it someday!
Cycling Traffic-Free Midlands and Peak District
Nick Cotton, Ian Allan
Mapping out 30 routes over an enormous area from Chester to Rutland and, in truth, centred rather more on the Midlands than the Peak District proper, this 120-page guide focuses solely on traffic-free cycling. Perhaps, with only the few obvious trails around the National Park, that’s why it has to look so far and wide. Maps are rather simple and directions overly emphasise minor dangers, but if you don’t mind a drive to enjoy some off-road peace, it’s sure to inspire a visit to many a place beyond our usual horizon.
- More buying options: Wordery
Bradwell’s Family Cycle Rides: The Peak District
Paul Francis Cooper, Bradwell
Includes a selection of 18 rides “suitable for the whole family” over 96 pages. Mostly the familiar trails in a handy-sized book, but with a few original loops too. (Not yet tested by Peaks & Puddles)
Most of these maps and guides are of course also available to buy or order from our friendly local bookshops, notably the legendary High Street Books & Records in New Mills. However, buying through the links above will provide a few pennies to cover the costs of keeping Peaks & Puddles afloat at no cost to yourself.
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