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TRUE GRIT // THE PEAK 200

Neza and Cass escape into the Peak District National Park to ride the Peak 200 route, over three days. Slow, gritty travel at it's finest...

Pre-ride, I meet up with Cass and Stefan at a cafe in Sheffield and we start going through our rough plan, before heading to Pannier HQ to pack the bikes, and pick up some last items of cookware. This is the first time I meet Cass and the initial few hours we spent together are slightly concerning… the guy doesn’t stop talking! Now mix a chatterbox and the north of England’s constant drizzle, and there is reason for concern. But, as long as I’m on my bike, I’m calm. I’m OK.

We ride out of Sheffield towards the Peak District and the two of us seek shelter in a forest that night, near the foot of Stanage Edge, knowing the night will be wet. Stefan catches up in the evening and takes over the camp chef role. It’s typically delicious. While slurping on curry with gnocchi I can hardly keep my eyes open but still manage to steal a few sips of Starward Australian whisky as those two carry on chatting into the dark.

Next day we officially start our tour of the Peak 200 bikepacking route with a proper breakfast in Hathersage, a small little village on the edge of the Dark Peak. The weather gods probably heard my inner complaints the previous day and gift us with a few hours of sunlight. 

I can finally see more than a few meters ahead and a whole new world opens up in front of us. Endless layers of mottled hills covered with tiny flowers and fenced with mossy stone walls. The going is slow, thanks to rocky and slippery trails, but we are not in a hurry. I could try to name all the peaks, rocks or villages, but to be honest; I can’t even remember what the famous British cheese is called. Oh yeah, cheddar! While pedalling, I kill my time on counting the gates we open and close (at least thirty), the sheep we pass (several thousand), and the flapjacks we eat (a dozen a day).

The infamous Peakland grit finds its way not only into the cogs of my borrowed Cotic Solaris Max, local to the area in Calver, but also behind my nails and even in our food. By the end of the day, I definitely don’t look like someone who could walk into a bar and sit on a fancy sofa, without getting an angry look from the lady of the house.

Pannier, voile

VOILE x PANNIER STRAPS

Our Custom Voile x Pannier.cc Bikepacking Straps - Olive and Original Orange...

£9.50
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Pannier

BIKEPACK SNACK BAGS

Our Cockpit/Stem Snack Bag collaboration with Wizard Works...

£57.00
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Pannier

PANNIER (DANGLE)MUG

Our original Pannier Enamel Camp Mug, for your cycling and bikepacking adventures...

£15.00
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That night we seek shelter in a forest overgrown by fern and I am mildly paranoid to actually catch a tick, by far the most dangerous predator on this trip. We wake up to a stormy morning and I surrender myself into a day of soggy shoes and a muddy backside. But I start to be okay with the fact that it’s not unusual to have all weather conditions in a day; to enjoy it, even.

The ride becomes even more scenic once we climb higher and I can finally experience fifty shades of green. With growing confidence, I blast downhill and howl into the distance.

I stop caring about the rain anymore, a smile appears on my grimy face and I finally give Cass a break from my grumpiness. A lovely camp spot with a view of Manchester’s distant lights, topped off with an omelette for dinner makes for a sweet evening, until I crawl into my tent and experience the coldest night of my bikepacking career.

The next few days are all about stopping in tiny villages, gorging on cream teas, chatting to strangers about the weather, finding the driest camp spot, filling our stomachs with cheese scones, dodging sheep shit, and grappling with hike-a-bikes.

My first taste of Peak District bikepacking. Now, onwards to the Lake District…

CREDITS

Words
Neza Peterca

Photos
Neza Peterca
Cass Gilbert

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