Books and bicycles tours

A weekend with Darcy, Thornton & Rochester

A Books & Bicycles Tour

So often weekends rush away from us! How satisfying would it be to spend a couple of days cycling around the Peak District and Derbyshire in pursuit of the most handsome heroes of them all: Darcy, Thornton and Rochester? It’s easy to leave London early Saturday morning, travel by train to Manchester, and then hop on a connecting train to Buxton and start your ride. It is a stunning route, the perfect introduction to cycle touring with a tent, that will leave you weighing up the relative merits of haughty and proud – but dashed wonderful – leading men.

Total distance covered: 65 miles

Difficulty: moderate/intermediate

Tour highlights:


Elizabeth Gaskell’s former home, where she entertained fellow writers such as Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens and John Ruskin

Chatsworth House, inspiration behind Austen’s Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice

North Lees Hall, the catalyst for Bronte’s Northfield Hall and Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre

Day 1

31 miles

Cycling from Buxton to Chatsworth House – Jane Austen’s majestic inspiration for Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice – is an easy 17 miles downhill through the stunning Peak District. After a few hours wandering the house and grounds in pursuit of Mr Darcy, cycle 12 miles to North Lees Hall, Charlotte Bronte’s inspiration for Thornfield Hall and Mr Rochester. The tower and its battlements are only missing the presence of a ‘madwoman in the attic’ to complete the scene… Nearby North Lees Campsite is the perfect place to practise pitching a tent, or you can stay in one of their snug camping pods if sleeping under canvas isn’t your thing.

Day 2

34 miles

Apart from a moment of ‘up and over’ as you head along the fringes of the Kinder Scout National Nature Reserve, it’s a three hour downhill glide towards Manchester and the former home of Elizabeth Gaskell. Setting off early will mean arriving at the house in good time to take a tour, browse in the excellent antiquarian bookshop, and celebrate a weekend well spent with a glass of Prosecco. Less than half a mile from the house are the stunning Victoria Baths – hopefully, they will be reopened as a place for public bathing in the near future, but for now they offer a dramatic and unique glimpse into a more genteel past. It’s just over a mile to the train station (and you may as well pay your respects to Alan Turing as you pass by his memorial), with a plethora of trains waiting to whisk you back to London in time for a good sleep before returning to the office on Monday morning.

Who knew it was possible to do quite so much with a single weekend?

Does a Books & Bicycles tour sound like your cup of tea?


Slowly cycling around the countryside in pursuit of all things literary is the perfect holiday for book lovers.


If you love the idea of spending some time on two wheels seeing the most beautiful parts of Britain and getting up close and personal with your favourite authors and books, please send me a message and I can help you organise a bespoke tour. One day, I plan to guide some tours myself: I have a lifelong love of books, a 1st class honours degree in English Literature where I specialised in the Romantics, crime literature and the Modernists, and a Master of Studies from the University of Oxford with a niche emphasis on eighteenth century women's poetry. I bring unique ideas, thoughts and enthusiasm to all literary topics and am looking forward to spending time with a group of likeminded bookworms in pursuit of the ghosts between and behind the pages. If you are interested in joining a tour just fill in the contact form, let me know which route interests you the most, and I will send you dates and costs as soon as they are confirmed.