The Monsal Trail is a popular traffic-free route for walkers, cyclists, horse riders, and wheelchair users through some of the Peak District’s most stunning limestone dales. The trail runs along the former Midland Railway line for 8.5 miles between Blackwell Mill in Chee Dale and Coombs Road in Bakewell. Most of the route was opened to the public in 1981, and it has since become one of the most popular trails in the UK.
The Monsal Trail is a great way to explore the beauty of the Peak District National Park. It offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside and passes through several picturesque villages along the way. The trail is suitable for all ages and abilities, and there are plenty of places to stop and rest or grab a bite to eat. Visitors can hire bikes and cycle the trail, or take a leisurely walk and enjoy the scenery at their own pace. The trail is also accessible for wheelchair users, making it an inclusive and accessible activity for everyone.
- 1 History of Monsal Trail
- 2 Geographical Features
- 3 Points of Interest
- 4 Activities and Recreation
- 5 Conservation and Wildlife
- 6 Access and Facilities
- 7 Future Developments
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions
- 8.1 How long does it take to walk the Monsal Trail?
- 8.2 Where does the Monsal Trail start and finish?
- 8.3 Is the Monsal Trail a circular route?
- 8.4 What is Monsal Head and how do I get there?
- 8.5 What are some recommended stops along the Monsal Trail?
- 8.6 Are there any steep or difficult sections on the Monsal Trail?
History of Monsal Trail
The Monsal Trail is a popular cycling, horse riding, and walking trail located in the Derbyshire Peak District. The trail follows a section of the former Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midland Junction Railway, which was built by the Midland Railway in 1863 to link Manchester with London.
The railway line was constructed to serve the local limestone industry, and it played a significant role in the transportation of goods and passengers for over 100 years. The line was closed in 1968, and the track was dismantled. However, the route was reopened as a recreational trail in 1981, following years of campaigning by local groups.
The Monsal Trail is approximately 8.5 miles (13.7 km) long and passes through some of the most picturesque scenery in the Peak District. Peaksoap has a great visual of the route. The trail features several impressive tunnels, including the Headstone Tunnel, which is over 500 metres long, and the Cressbrook Tunnel, which is over 400 metres long.
The trail also crosses the famous Headstone Viaduct, which spans the River Wye and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The viaduct was built in 1863 and is a Grade II listed structure.
Today, the Monsal Trail is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, attracting thousands of visitors each year. The trail provides a unique opportunity to explore the Peak District’s rich industrial heritage while enjoying the natural beauty of the area.
The Monsal Trail is a traffic-free trail located in the Peak District National Park, Derbyshire, England. It is approximately 8.5 miles (13.7 km) long and runs from Topley Pike junction, near Buxton, to Coombs Viaduct, south-east of Bakewell. The trail follows the valley of the River Wye and runs parallel to the A6.
The Monsal Trail is known for its stunning geographical features, which make it an attractive destination for walkers, cyclists, horse riders, and wheelchair users. The trail passes through some of the Peak District’s most spectacular limestone dales, including Monsal Dale, Chee Dale, and Miller’s Dale. These dales are characterized by steep-sided valleys, rocky outcrops, and lush vegetation.
One of the most impressive features of the Monsal Trail is the series of viaducts that it passes over. These viaducts were built in the 19th century to carry the railway line that once ran through the area. Today, they offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside and are popular spots for photography.
The trail also passes through several tunnels, including the Headstone Tunnel, which is over 500 metres long. The tunnels are well-lit, making them safe to pass through, and add to the unique character of the Monsal Trail.
Overall, the Monsal Trail is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves the outdoors and wants to experience the natural beauty of the Peak District. With its stunning geographical features, it offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages and abilities.
Points of Interest
The Monsal Trail is a popular destination for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and wheelchair users. It is an 8.5-mile traffic-free route that runs along the former Midland Railway line between Blackwell Mill, in Chee Dale and Coombs Road, at Bakewell. Along the way, there are many points of interest to explore.
Bakewell Station is located at the northern end of the Monsal Trail. The station building has been restored and now houses a visitor centre, gift shop and cafe. The visitor centre provides information about the history of the railway and the Monsal Trail. The cafe offers a selection of hot and cold drinks, snacks and light meals.
Headstone Viaduct is one of the most impressive features of the Monsal Trail. It is a Grade II listed structure that spans the River Wye. The viaduct was built in the 1860s and has 5 arches that are each 50 feet wide. The viaduct was restored in 2011 and now provides a stunning viewpoint for walkers and cyclists.
Litton Mill is a former cotton mill that was built in the 18th century. The mill was powered by the River Wye and produced cotton until the 1950s. The mill has now been converted into apartments, but the original buildings and waterwheel can still be seen. There is also a cafe and gift shop located at Litton Mill.
Overall, the Monsal Trail is a great way to explore the Peak District National Park. The Points of Interest, including Bakewell Station, Headstone Viaduct and Litton Mill, are just a few of the many attractions along the trail. Whether you are a keen walker or cyclist, or just looking for a leisurely stroll, the Monsal Trail has something for everyone.
Activities and Recreation
The Monsal Trail offers a variety of activities and recreation opportunities for visitors. From cycling to walking and horse riding, there is something for everyone to enjoy along this picturesque trail.
Cycling is one of the most popular activities on the Monsal Trail. The trail offers a gentle route for cyclists of all ages and abilities, making it an ideal destination for families. The trail covers a distance of 8.5 miles and passes through several tunnels and viaducts, offering stunning views of the surrounding countryside. If you’re looking for for all things cycling related, trails, maintenance and bikes while out there, check out Savvy cycling.
Visitors can hire bikes from several locations along the trail, including Blackwell Mill Cycle Hire, Hassop Station Cycle Hire, and Monsal Trail Cycle Hire. Bike hire prices vary depending on the type of bike and the duration of the hire.
Walking is another popular activity on the Monsal Trail. The trail offers a variety of walking routes, ranging from short walks to longer hikes. Visitors can enjoy the stunning scenery and explore the local wildlife and geology along the way.
Photographs credit: Phil Sproson Photography
The trail is well-marked and offers a gentle gradient, making it accessible to visitors of all ages and abilities. There are several access points along the trail, including Bakewell, Hassop Station, and Monsal Head.
Horse riding is also permitted on the Monsal Trail. The trail offers a variety of routes for horse riders, ranging from short rides to longer treks. Visitors can enjoy the stunning scenery and explore the local wildlife and geology along the way.
Visitors can bring their own horses to the trail or hire horses from several local stables, including Tissington Trekking Centre and Bakewell Riding Centre. Horse riding prices vary depending on the duration of the ride and the number of horses hired.
Overall, the Monsal Trail offers a variety of activities and recreation opportunities for visitors. Whether you prefer cycling, walking, or horse riding, there is something for everyone to enjoy along this picturesque trail. While you’re not doing activities you can experience the other charms of the Peak District with a fantastic cottage. If you’re looking to have the best experience possible then a top tier cottage is what you’ll need, we recommend that you look at Knockerdown Cottages for your accommodation.
Conservation and Wildlife
The Monsal Trail is not only a popular recreational trail but also an important habitat for various species of plants and animals. The trail is surrounded by diverse habitats such as woodlands, meadows, and limestone cliffs, which support a wide range of wildlife.
The trail is home to a variety of plant species, including wildflowers, ferns, and grasses. The woodland areas are dominated by oak, ash, and birch trees, while the open grasslands are filled with wildflowers such as cowslips, buttercups, and orchids. The trail also passes through areas of limestone cliffs, which are home to rare plant species such as the Nottingham catchfly and the mountain pansy.
The Monsal Trail is a haven for wildlife, with many species of birds, mammals, and insects calling it home. The woodlands are home to birds such as woodpeckers, nuthatches, and treecreepers, while the open grasslands are frequented by skylarks and meadow pipits. The trail is also a great place to spot butterflies, with species such as the common blue, small copper, and orange-tip regularly seen.
The river Wye, which runs alongside the trail, is home to a variety of fish species such as brown trout, grayling, and chub. Otters have also been spotted in the river, which is a good indication of the river’s health.
The Peak District National Park Authority, which manages the Monsal Trail, is committed to conserving the natural environment and protecting the wildlife that call it home. The authority works closely with local conservation groups to monitor the trail and ensure that it remains a safe and healthy environment for wildlife.
The trail is also managed to ensure that it remains accessible to all while minimizing its impact on the environment. For example, the authority has installed bat boxes along the trail to provide roosting sites for bats, and has also created areas of wildflower meadow to provide habitat for pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
Overall, the Monsal Trail is a great example of how a recreational trail can coexist with nature, providing a safe and accessible environment for people while also supporting a diverse range of plant and animal species.
Access and Facilities
The Monsal Trail is a popular and accessible trail suitable for all ages and abilities. The trail is open year-round and can be accessed from several points along its 8.5-mile length.
The trail is suitable for walkers, cyclists, horse riders, and wheelchair users. There are several car parks located along the trail, including at Bakewell, Hassop, and Blackwell Mill. The car parks are free and have designated disabled parking spaces.
There are also several train stations located along the trail, including at Bakewell, Hassop, and Monsal Head. The stations have step-free access and are staffed during peak periods.
The Monsal Trail has several facilities to make your visit more enjoyable. There are several picnic areas located along the trail, including at Monsal Head and Millers Dale. The picnic areas have benches and tables and are accessible for wheelchair users.
There are also several toilets located along the trail, including at Bakewell, Hassop, and Millers Dale. The toilets are accessible for wheelchair users and have baby changing facilities.
If you don’t have your own bike, you can hire one from one of several cycle hire centres located along the trail. The cycle hire centres offer a range of bikes, including tandems and electric bikes, and can provide helmets and child seats.
Overall, the Monsal Trail is a well-maintained and accessible trail with plenty of facilities to make your visit more enjoyable.
The Monsal Trail has been a popular destination for visitors since its opening in 1981. The trail has undergone several developments over the years, including the installation of lighting in the tunnels and the removal of barriers to make it more accessible to all. However, there are still plans in the works to further develop the trail and enhance the visitor experience.
One of the most significant proposed developments is the reinstatement of an active railway on a section of the trail known as the Monsal Dale Viaduct. The proposal has been met with opposition from some groups who argue that it would detract from the natural beauty of the trail. However, others argue that it would provide a unique and exciting way to experience the trail and attract even more visitors to the area.
Another proposed development is the creation of a visitor centre at the Bakewell end of the trail. The centre would provide information about the history and ecology of the trail, as well as facilities such as toilets and refreshments. This development would make the trail even more accessible and enjoyable for visitors, particularly families with young children.
In addition to these developments, there are also plans to improve the signage and wayfinding along the trail. This would help visitors navigate the trail more easily and ensure that they do not miss any of its highlights. The improvements would also help to promote the trail and attract even more visitors to the area.
Overall, the proposed developments for the Monsal Trail are aimed at enhancing the visitor experience while preserving the natural beauty and history of the trail. While there are differing opinions on some of the proposals, it is clear that the trail will continue to be a popular destination for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to walk the Monsal Trail?
The Monsal Trail is approximately 8.5 miles long. The time it takes to walk or cycle the trail depends on individual fitness levels and the pace of travel. It usually takes around 3-4 hours to complete the full trail on foot.
Where does the Monsal Trail start and finish?
The Monsal Trail starts at Bakewell Station and finishes at Wyedale car park. The trail passes through several villages and towns, including Hassop, Great Longstone, and Monsal Head.
Is the Monsal Trail a circular route?
No, the Monsal Trail is not a circular route. It is a linear route that starts at Bakewell Station and finishes at Wyedale car park. However, visitors can use public transport or arrange for a shuttle service to return to their starting point.
What is Monsal Head and how do I get there?
Monsal Head is a popular viewpoint that offers stunning views of the Monsal Dale. It is located near the viaduct on the Monsal Trail. Visitors can reach Monsal Head by walking or cycling along the trail or by taking a short detour from the trail.
What are some recommended stops along the Monsal Trail?
There are several recommended stops along the Monsal Trail, including Hassop Station Cafe, Monsal Head, and Millers Dale Viaduct. Visitors can also explore the nearby villages of Great Longstone and Ashford-in-the-Water.
Are there any steep or difficult sections on the Monsal Trail?
The Monsal Trail is mostly flat and suitable for all fitness levels. However, there are a few steep sections, including the climb up to Monsal Head and the descent towards Miller’s Dale. Visitors should also be aware of the occasional horse and cyclist traffic on the trail.