Planning Tools

A collection of useful online tools to plan your next adventure.


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.

The Peak District National Park Authority which owns and manages several Peak District trails also notifies of closures:

Note that these are not always exhaustive when it comes to more minor closures. If you’re heading somewhere new, having a good map to hand 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 good 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 — Often best to ignore the “cycling” overlay of bright green lines which sometimes don’t deliver. 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.
  • 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. (To view these on mobile you’ll need to select “Request desktop site” from your browser settings.)
  • OS Maps — The official Ordnance Survey maps tool provides a crisp and clear standard map that is, surprisingly, totally useless for public rights of way away from the roads. For their familiar Leisure Maps layer, you’ll need to pay a subscription or buy a paper map which has a code inside. More useful is the recent addition of a free National Cycle Network layer, updated regularly by Sustrans.
  • Transport for Greater Manchester Cycle Maps — These really useful maps with a neat and clear design cover each of Greater Manchester’s ten boroughs. Select one and you can zoom and scroll around to see off-road paths, on-road lanes, suggest quiet roads and crossings.
  • Cycle Derbyshire Map — A basic single-sheet PDF covering the whole of the county, this map is a good start to pin down some of the key routes, but perhaps not detailed enough for more local routes. A recent update has improved and updated it, but some of the marked routes are still inconsistent, eg. rather bumpy or roads marked as “cycle routes” when they contain no cycle infrastructure.

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. Hours of fun!

Route Planners

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

  • Cyclestreets.net — 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

  • Sustrans National Cycle Network — Official website of the sustainable transport charity which looks after the network, with listings and maps not just of each numbered route but more well-known named ways within them.
  • Visit Peak District & Derbyshire Cycle Routes — A joint initiative in Derbyshire produced some excellent cycle route leaflets for four areas: Ashbourne, Bakewell, Hope Valley and Matlock. The routes vary from easy-going off road trails to more challenging hills and, in a few places, perhaps less pleasant roads. They’re also available here online with free downloadable PDF maps and GPX files.
  • Peaks & Puddles Cycle Routes — Heard of it? This handsome guy is building his own free online resource of cycle route guides for the High Peak, Cheshire East and Stockport area. All ridden and tested, with photos and useful tips.

Transport

  • 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.

Local & Tourist Guides


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