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Monsal Head, Monsal Dale

The Monsal Trail

The Monsal Trail follows the former Midland Railway line from Blackwell Mill cottages to a point about 1km past the former Bakewell station, a distance of about 20km. For the most part the trail follows the path of the River Wye, which means it offers some spectacular scenery. The eastern end of the trail is accessible by bicycle, but the western section is not, for the section around Chee Tor is quite difficult even when walking, and the section between Litton Mill and Cressbrook Mill follows a concession path on which cycling is forbidden.

Road leading to Monsal Trail
Road leading to Monsal Trail

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 Cheedale 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).

View of Monsal Trail from Longstone Edge
View of Monsal Trail from Longstone Edge

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.

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 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.

Several miles to the south and south-west of this trail lie two other cycle/walking trails, which similarly utilize former railway trackbeds, namely the High Peak Trail and the Tissington Trail.

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