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Monsal Trail

Monsal Trail

&placeidThe Monsal Trail runs for 8.5 miles between Blackwell and Monsal Head in the Derbyshire Peak District. The trail follows the trackbed of the former Midland Railway main line from London to Manchester.

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The Monsal Trail follows the deep limestone valley of the River Wye with crags towering 100 metres above, a river that changes from a fast flowing torrent to a serene lakeland paradise, and spanned by the Monsal Viaduct. The Monsal Trail is among the very best that you'll find in the Peak National Park.

The Monsal Trail runs from Bakewell Station to Blackwell Mill, near Buxton. The Monsal Trail is unsuitable for cycling at its western half, with rocky diversions around closed tunnels, but the section from Bakewell to Longstone offers pleasant and easy cycling, though the best return route is along the trail itself.

From the western end, approach the trail from Wyedale car park at Topley Pike. About 1 km along the track you reach a second railway bridge and a path leads up onto the former track. You can follow it down a further 2 km in the magnificent surroundings of Chee Dale before reaching a tunnel through Chee Tor, which is closed as being unsafe.

The path detours along the river, which is difficult going and includes stepping stones which can be well underwater in flood conditions. The path picks up the railway track again near Miller's Dale, where you cross the Wye by the imposing viaducts. The section downstream gives fine views of Ravenstor and leads to Litton Mill, where another closed tunnel blocks the route. Here the usual route takes a concessionary path along the riverside to Cressbrook Mill, with more fine views of the scenery, but this path is closed to bicycles. (A cycling route would be to go up the green road to Cressbrook Church from Litton Mill and back down the minor road to Cressbrook Mill - but this is steep both up and down).

At Cressbrook the trail crosses the river and regains the railway track which is followed down Monsal Dale and across the viaduct to another closed tunnel. This time you have to climb right up to Monsal Head and follow the small road opposite into Little Longstone, where a path across the fields allows you to regain the railway track.

Good news is that the tunnels are now open at Monsal Head and Cressbrook from May 2011.

The section from Longstone is the only section which is suitable for normal cycling. It follows the railway track all the way through Hassop station to Bakewell, easy cycling if you are on a bike, pleasant walking if you are on foot. Cycle hire is available near the former Bakewell Station, which the Peak District National Park have renovated as an information centre. The trail continues a short distance beyond Bakewell to terminate at the Coombs Viaduct not far from Haddon Hall.

By Road: The western end of the trail is at Wyedale car park, opposite Topley Pike quarry, on the A6 Buxton - Bakewell road. The eastern end at Bakewell lies across the river from the town centre - take the Baslow road and fork right just over the bridge.

By Bus: The Trans-Peak Derby to Manchester bus goes along the A6 past the Wye Dale car park and on to Bakewell, so you can use this bus to get to one end and walk to the other, returning via the same bus service. Alternatively, break in the middle at the foot of Monsal Dale, where the Wye re-joins the A6 - this is only a short distance off the trail.

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