This is an easy route being on a tarmacadam track and minor roads between Waterhouses and Hulme End and, as such, is suitable for children and old people. The High Peak and Tissington trails are much more exposed to the weather than the Manifold.
The description starts at Waterhouses official car park which is just off the main Ashbourne to Leek road, the A523. When you travel on this road beware the excess of speed cameras. If travelling from Ashbourne, descend into Waterhouses and take a left turn under an old railway bridge in the centre of the village. Turn immediately left into a car park (pay and display I'm afraid GBP1.20 for 4 hours). Here you will find cycle hire and toilets.
Car parking and cycle hire is also available from a private enterprise on the other (north) side of the main road at the east end of Waterhouses.
Disabled Facilities: These are better found at Hulme End at the northern end of the trail, near Hartington. Here there are wide car parking spaces, toilets and the track here is very suitable for wheel chairs (but there are no refreshments or cycle hire).
You really don't need a map or even these instructions, just follow the other cyclists. However, here is a description of the route in the guise of instructions:
Start from the back of the car park and turn right to come back on yourself under the trackbed and onto the pavement. Adults should precede children down this switchback as there is a danger of them going straight out onto the main road. If you are new to trail cycling please read the advice given in on the Advice page. Link to Advice for Trail Cyclists.
Cycle east to the end of Waterhouses village where you cross the Ashbourne road and join the Manifold trail proper. Follow the river Hamps down-stream (it always seems to be flowing the wrong way to me), past a farm on your right. The Hamps meets the Manifold at a shabby caravan site at Weags Bridge.
A half mile to the north of here, on your right, high up in the cliff you can see Thor's cave. Scramble up and have a look if it is not too muddy. Continue north to Wetton Mill where you can have coffee and cakes at the cafe. Toilets are available here too. This is a good place to let the kiddies paddle in the ford. On summer days it can be busy with all manner of recreationists. There is another cave to explore above the cafe.
Follow the minor road along the valley and pass through a short, well lit, tunnel.
When you get to the point in the picture below take the road (ahead) not the track by the river bank.
Past the tunnel it is only a further mile or so to Hulme End. There are no refreshment facilities here but the village has a pub and a shop. Turn right on the B5054 to go through Hulme End. The tourist honey-pot of Hartington is only 1 1/4 miles away but requires that you ride over a small hill and the B5054 carries fast traffic - not suitable for small children.
Returning down the Manifold trail you may be surprised by what you missed on the way up. Enjoy.
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