Planning Tools

Temporary Road, Trail and Path Closures

Highways works are now collated into a single website, while each local council provides its own page for temporary rights of way closures and diversions.

Note that these are not always exhaustive when it comes to more minor closures. If you’re heading somewhere new, a good map is always wise in case you need to find an alternative route.

Online Maps

There are plenty of online mapping tools, but which are the best for cycling and walking?

  • OpenCycleMap / OpenStreetMap — Quite simply the best for cycling, with fantastic detail of paths, routes, connections and on-road facilities (although currently no indicator between basic painted lanes and segregated cycle lanes). National Cycle Network routes are highlighted and even features like bike parking can be marked. Found something wrong? Edit it!
  • Google Maps — Ok, you may have heard of this one. Ignore the often unhelpful “cycling” overlay of bright green lines which often don’t deliver and use it instead for the aerial imagery and excellent Street View. Both are now indispensable tools for sussing out road layouts, confusing rural paths or finding somewhere to lock a bike when visiting somewhere new.
  • Bing Maps — No really, Microsoft’s mapping tool is one of the best out there for one reason alone: it lets you explore Ordnance Survey maps for free! Just find a location and pick the OS layer. (Note that they don’t seem to be quite as up to date as the Ordnance Survey’s own, paid online maps.)
  • OS Maps — The official Ordnance Survey maps tool provides a crisp and clear standard map that is however, surprisingly, totally useless for public rights of way away from the roads. For their familiar Leisure Maps overlay, you’ll need to pay a subscription. More useful is the recent addition of a free National Cycle Network layer, updated regularly by Sustrans.

Mapping geeks might also be interested to explore the Definitive Maps of Derbyshire County Council, Cheshire East Council and Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council. These allow you to see layers of various interesting things, from public rights of way to land ownership and protected spaces.

Route Planners

The idea of a single journey planner that’ll just tell you the easiest, most pleasant way to cycle somewhere still seems a bit of a dream, but by using any or all of these you can piece together the best bits for an ideal route.

  • — Simple, free and useful, this tool might look pretty basic but, from picking a start and a finish point, it still generally provides some of the best results with great maps from OpenStreetMap. Being able to choose between ‘Fastest’, ‘Balanced’ and ‘Quietest’ routes is a definite help: quietest are usually the best to try, but can lead you over obstacles like steps and footpaths.
  • Strava — The activity tracking app has a smart and simple desktop route planner where clicks snap your path nicely onto known ways, giving you elevation and an estimated time. You can choose to follow “most popular” routes, based on the clever ‘heatmap’ of fellow riders, though this often snaps you along busy A roads. Unfortunately, it’s now only available as part of the paid subscription package.
  • Komoot — Claiming the most advanced outdoor tech, the route planner tells you what type of surface to expect and can be switched to prefer road, mountain, gravel riding and more, including hiking. Obstacles are also usefully highlighted, although some results including difficulty level seem to over-egg things a bit. (Sett Valley Trail, difficult?) Paid features include turn-by-turn navigation and offline maps via the app.

Route Listings


  • Northern Railway — Operates trains on the Buxton and Glossop lines from Manchester Piccadilly as well as stopping services to Sheffield via the Hope Valley, calling at Marple, Strines, New Mills, Chinley, Edale, Hope, Bamford, Hathersage and Grindleford. Trains generally carry two bikes per unit with no reservations – cycle policies here.
  • Transpennine Express — Faster rail services between Manchester and Sheffield, though generally only stopping at Stockport in-between. Spaces for bikes must be reserved before you travel, up to 15 minutes in advance but as early as possible advised – cycle policies here.

See also Maps & GuidesCycle Hire

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