Cyclists and horse riders can look forward to exploring new parts of the Peak District this summer with the launch of a new 70-mile off-road route.
The South Peak Loop was declared officially open on April 14 at Hulme End.
The stunning scenic route can be used by horse riders, walkers and cyclists alike, and encompasses bridleways, old railway trails and quiet country lanes.
The loop, which is clearly waymarked in both directions, was developed by the equestrian group Peak Horsepower, an affiliate of the British Horse Society (BHS).
Mark Weston, the society’s director of access and rights of way, said: “There are more than 29,000 horses in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire, representing an investment of over £100 million pounds into the local economy every year.
“The South Peak Loop will help to not only secure that investment to the local economy but also add to it by attracting visiting horse riders, cyclists and walkers from outside the area to take up the South Peak Loop Challenge.”
Equestrian groups have hailed the launch of the route, as rights of way for horse and rider are thought to be under threat.
Any route not formally recorded as a bridleway or restricted byway under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act by 2026 will be extinguished.
Campaigners are pushing to protect such routes from closure, citing safety fears as riders are forced to use roads.
Mark added: “This is a great example of what can be achieved by volunteering and getting involved with the British Horse Society.”
Sarah Fowler, chief executive of the Peak District National Park Authority, joined riders and cyclists for the official launch of the route, which opens up the south of the park just as the Kinder Loop has to the north.
For more information, visit www.peakhorsepower.co.uk.
Where will the loop take you?
The South Peak Loop requires a good level of fitness for horse and rider due to the hilly upland terrain.
The first section stretches between Miller’s Dale and Hartington, taking in part of the Monsal Trail before climbing across the limestone plateau.
After that it continues to Tissington, via the Manifold Valley; Middleton via Carsington Water; before returning to Miller’s Dale via Chatsworth.
Maps and directions can be found on the Peak Horsepower website.