In early June a brand new long distance route will be officially launched in the Peak District. The 55-mile Kinder Loop bridleway encircles the entire Kinder Scout massif. Horse riders were the moving force behind the trail, but they hope that cyclists and walkers will benefit too.
The route has been developed by Peak Horsepower, a bridleways group affiliated to the British Horse Society, who are billing it as an 'iconic new long-distance and challenging riding route in the centre of the country'. It makes use of existing bridleways, the Pennine Bridleway and the Trans-Pennine Trail.
Starting from the head of the Ladybower reservoir the route goes north beside the Derwent and Howden reservoirs before crossing the moors to Langsett. Here it picks up the Trans-Pennine Trail west to Glossop and the Pennine Bridleway, along which it then heads south to Rushup Edge. It then leaves the Pennine Bridleway and travels east via Mam Tor to Edale, and back to Ladybower.
'The bridleways used in the Kinder Loop are often stony and steep because of the very nature of the countryside they are set in' advise Peak Horsepower on their website.
'The section across the moor from the Ladybower reservoir to Langsett is high and remote so can be bleak and boggy ...Peak Horsepower only recommends this ride for riders who are experienced in long-distance riding and who have riding, walking or cycling experience on rugged terrain. We also suggest you only ride the Kinder Loop from May to September.'
Waymarking is not yet in place on the trail, but it is already possible to use the route with the OS Explorer OL1 map and a set of directions from Peak Horsepower's website.
'We hope it will be enjoyed by horse riders, cyclists and walkers alike' say the group.
The Kinder Loop will be 'opened' on 3rd June by Cosima Towneley, a keen promoter of equestrian access both through her work with the British Horse Society and as a local councillor. She is also the daughter of Mary Towneley who, in September 1986, highlighted the poor state of bridleways and campaigned for a long-distance route for horse-riders by riding with two friends from Hexham in Northumberland to Ashbourne in Derbyshire. This eventually led to the Pennine Bridleway being established - a 205 mile National Trail where horse riders, cyclists and walkers are all welcome (see UKH news here).
'Through the Kinder Loop, Peak Horsepower is fulfilling my mother's overarching idea of which the Pennine Bridleway was but one part: build the arterial routes so others can make the links' said Cosima Towneley.
'It is wonderful to see the emergence of routes joining parishes, districts and counties and to ensure equestrian access which remains so vital to our economic, recreational and historical wellbeing today.'
Wendy Neilson, Chair of Peak Horsepower, added:
'Peak Horsepower hopes this new long distance route will provide people with a wonderful riding experience in the Peak District that they will remember forever. As increasing traffic on our roads restricts access to safe riding, it is important that we develop routes that allow our sport to continue. We hope the Kinder Loop will also be enjoyed by cyclists and walkers.'
'None of this would have been possible without the support of Hoof Funding from Sport England, The British Equestrian Federation and the British Horse Society together with encouragement and practical help from the Peak District National Park Authority.'