The Monsal Trail’s four newly refurbished tunnels will be officially opened to cyclists, walkers and horse riders on the May 25 by the transport minister Norman Baker.

The Monsal Trail covers 8.5 miles of the former Midland Railway line and with the tunnels now re-opening it will enable all bikers, ramblers and horse riders to experience the original rail route from Blackwell Mill in Chee Dale to Coombs Road in Bakewell.

The majority of the trail’s routing has been accessible since 1981 but the four disused tunnels at Headstone, Cressbrook, Litton and Chee Tor were closed back in 1968 at the time of the line closure for safety reasons.

The tunnels were bypassed by footpaths to go up and around them. Now, with the aid of government funding from the department of transport, each of the four 400m long tunnels has been lit and resurfaced to complete the old Midland Railway line route once more.

There will now actually be six tunnels in total to experience, the other two shorter tunnels at Chee Tor No.2 and Rusher Cutting already having been used by the existing Monsal Trail route.

The trail route passes through a beautiful area of the Peak District’s White Peak and includes the fabulously named Water-Cum-Jolly Dale where Limestone crags meet the still waters of the River Wye.

There’s plenty to see and do elsewhere along the route and for more info follow this link: http://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/index/visiting/cycle/monsaltrail.htm

Riders in tunnel, Monsal Trail



Cyclists in one of the tunnels

Litton Tunnel, Monsal Trail



Litton tunnel

Tunnel notice, Monsal Trail



Tunnel warning sign

Monsal Viaduct, Monsal Trail



Having a rest on Monsal viaduct

  • Julie mcfarlane

    This is a place the world and its mother should visit ,an absolute must for people who want to see the impossible done.To call the views splendid is an understatement,this is beautiful Derbyshire in all its glory.Walk cycle or horse ride plenty of room for all to enjoy a Great British holidayso get your tent camper or caravan and enjoy the history and fun of the Monsel and all the villages and mills that surround it.

  • Fin Green

    It’s astonishing that nobody seems to have noticed that there many unfenced cliffs at various points along the Monsal Trail. These cliffs are as close as 4 feet from the edge of the trail in places. This means that assuming young children follow the advice to ‘keep to the left’ they will be cycling 5-6 feet from the edge of unfenced cliffs.
    Quite frankly the Monsal Trail in it’s current form is extremely dangerous for young children and it is absolutely disgraceful that the National Peak Park Authority has not seen fit to warn anybody(particularly parents of young children) of the potential danger of the trail.

  • David Reed

    Does anyone know a cafe which welcomes cyclists in the bakewel area. About 10 of us want to ride from Wyedale and will be ready for a spot of lunch when we get to bakewell!!

  • sue page-chestney

    It is a pity that a lot of the cyclists using the Monsal Trail are irrisponsable, especially at the weekends.
    I was there with my family and we were forced by the cyclists to walk single file (not good with younger children) whilst the cyclists road 2 -3 abreast and at considerable speed.
    I saw one child fall off the back of his parent’s hired bike because his father was going too fast through one of the tunnels.
    I also saw a child run into by a bike as the cyclist was going too fast and too busy chatting to friends to notice there were young children and families around.
    When families can no longer walk the Monsal Trail because the cyclists take precedence, it is a shame, and the trail will lose many walkers and families because of this.
    Walkers are keeping to the left side, but cyclists seem to think they have the right to go where they like.
    This also applies on main roads where I have seen groups of cyclists ( in lycra) riding 3 abreast down a main road so a driver cannot get past.
    Recently I saw a group cut accross a mini roundabout rather than go around it, and I oftern see them go through red lights.
    As a walker in the peak District they are very inconsiderate and intollerant of walkers.
    I thought they were suppose to give way to walkers, but it seems walkers have to give way to cyclists, even if it means they end up in a parch of brambles or nettles.
    It is time that the rules for cyclists on roads, and cycle ways were obeyed by the majority.
    It gives those who are considerate of others a bad name

  • Barbara

    I think the comments made by A Peak Plodder are very unfair. Saying that the Monsal Trail facilities are inferior to those of the High Peak Trail are just nonsense! From Blackwell to Bakewell on the Monsal Trail there are 2 places to eat and 2 places for a wee (8 and a half miles in total). Compared to the High Peak Trail, once you have left Parsley Hay there are no toilet stops or anywhere to eat for 10 miles at Middleton. How on earth do you reckon that the High Peak Trail has more facilities that the Monsal Trail?

  • A Peak Plodder

    Tried out the new Monsal Trail yesterday. The openning of the tunnels along this track has added another really good cycle trail to the network which is developing in the White Peak / Buxton Area.

    First the postives: The track surface is nice to ride on with a wide range of bikes. Personally I would by choice use a mountain bike for this track, but I’d happily use a more “leisure” type wheels. I think I could even use my road bike, but I’d need a spoke key afterwards. The profile is relatively flat – downhill to Bakewell and uphill on the way back. However the height difference is in the region of about 150m over about 19km so hardly noticeable at all.
    We went on a relatively drizzly day (lots of puddles to cycle thorugh), so not too many cyclists / walkers, but we weren’t alone. I suspect this route is going to be very busy over the summer on good weather days.
    There are lots of interesting things to see – landscapes, geology, the river Wye, heritage (old stations, lime kilns) and several talking information points and notice boards.
    The tunnels provide novelty value and kids will love them.

    Now the not-so-positives: I started from the Wyedale carpark near the end of the trail at the Buxton end. It’s pay and display with a reasonable rate. Despite the poor weather when I went, the carpark was full when I returned (2pm). It is not going to be large enough to cope with the demand over the summer. Additional roadside parking is available on the other side of the A6, but will require you to cross the road (not something I would relish with kids and bikes). From the Wyedale carpark to the start of the trail is about a 10 minute cycle along a track – this is the track to supply the cottages so be aware of cars.
    Blackwell Cottages is the start of the trail and has a new cycle hire shop and a tea shop (couldn’t find the tea shop, but didn’t look hard). No obvious toilets here for cyclists (the bike hire shop is also a tuck shop, but no bike racks were visible). A short steep bit to join the trail – kids and unfit will need to push this bit.
    The second stop along the trail towards Bakewell is the well advertised Hassop station. Stopped here for the toilet. Again no obvious toilets for users of the trail. Yes there is a tea hop here, but I wouldn’t want to have tea there in my cycling gear. The teashop toilets were inadequate for users of the trail, and I suspect the tea shop will soon put up signs stoping non-customers using their facilities. There is a bike hire place here with a small selection of gear for sale. Again bike racks were lacking. I counted only 6 of the wheel cruncher type (the type that won’t hold your bike up if windy and then bends your wheel), again wholely inadequate.
    Cycled on into Bakewell. the nearest “stop” on the trail to Bakewell is Bakewell Station. Here is a pay and display carpark. Again no toilet facilities that I could see, nor any bike racks. Followed the road down into Bakewell town – about 500 meters, steepish hill on the road so only suitable for older kids. I was expecting to see a designated bike parking area some where in the town to accomodate the increased number of bikes arriving in the town. Again disappointed. we did manage to find one bike rack to park our bike at, but was expecting more.
    Followed the trail back to Wyedale, stopping at Miller’s Dale for the toilet. This is an old station with some toilets, though no bike racks that I could see and no tea shop that I could find.

    So overall impressions of the trail. It’s lovely to cycle down and we will return. However the facilities for cyclists and walkers are just inadequate. This is such a shame given the high publicity the trail has been given in the local and national news. The developers need to take a look at the High Peak / Tissington trails just a stone’s throw away, which do have well thought through facilities.

  • Mark street

    Fantastic. I have the best commute in the world working in bake well, I have cycled or run to work most days for the last four years this makes it more fun!!

  • Christel

    I live in the peak district and in my 50’s. Now retired I joined WOW (women on wheels) run by Pedal Peak District. I already treated myself to a folding Dahon bike. Which I can recommend. I was priviledged to be invited along to be one of the first to ride through the newly opened tunnels. (13/5/11) I enjoyed the whole experience and would recommend the ride to all levels of rider and the views are fantastic too. Hassop Cafe/bookshop and Cycle hire are also great to spend time at. I never thought when I started cycling again my picture would be in a cycling magazine! I am looking forward to enjoying the trail on a regular basis. Through out the year.

  • Wendy Boast

    My holiday home in Litton Mill is just a short 2 minute (or less) from a newly opened tunnel. I can’t wait to explore and hope that many of my guests are going to love this new cycle trail. http://www.riversidehouse-peakdistrict.co.uk