Monsal Head, Monsal Dale

Monsal Head Viaduct
Monsal Head Viaduct
Headstone Viaduct (Monsal Dale Viaduct)

From Monsal Head, the imposing Headstone Viaduct, intersects the dale. Built by the Midland Railway in 1863, the viaduct effortlessly glides over the River Wye, and is today recognised as a part of the landscape.

The viaduct, usually incorrectly called Monsal Dale Viaduct, is 300 feet (91 m) long, with five 50-foot (15 m) span arches, some forty feet high at the centre. Initially, some slippage occurred, and remedial work was carried out in 1907-8. Whilst considered elegant today, and indeed a preservation order was placed on the viaduct in 1970, when it was built in 1863 it was seen as destroying the beauty of the dale.

Monsal Head and Cressbrook
Monsal Head and Cressbrook

John Ruskin, considered to be Britain's leading writer on culture, having had many works published on architecture and art, as well as political works, harshly criticized the building of the railway :  Ruskin, however, in his famous Fors Clavigera, wrote of the spoliation of this beautiful Dale: 'That valley where you might expect to catch sight of Pan, Apollo, and the Muses, is now deseasted in order that a Buxton fool may be able to find himself in Bakewell at the end of twelve minutes, and vice versa' 

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