What is the Monsal Trail?
The Monsal Trail is a traffic free route for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and wheelchair users through some of the Peak District's most spectacular limestone dales.
The trail runs along the former Midland Railway line for 8.5 miles between Blackwell Mill, in Chee Dale and Coombs Road, at Bakewell.
Most of the route was opened to the public in 1981 but four former railway tunnels had to remain closed due to safety reasons, with public footpaths taking people around them. From 25 May 2011 the four railway tunnels - Headstone Tunnel, Cressbrook Tunnel, Litton Tunnel, Chee Tor Tunnel – will also open for trail users. Each tunnel is about 400 metres long and will be lit during normal daylight hours.
Two shorter tunnels - Chee Tor No.2 and Rusher Cutting – already formed part of the Monsal Trail.
The public can now experience the full length of the former railway route at their own pace and see breathtaking views at places like Water-cum-Jolly Dale that have remained hidden since the railway closed in 1968.
Monsal Trail Tunnels
The Monsal Trail tunnels offer one of the most spectacular leisure routes in Britain for cycling, walking and horse riding.
It is the first time the public have been able to go through the tunnels since the former Midland Railway Line closed in 1968.
Following work by the Peak District National Park Authority – using £2.25 million funding from the Department of Transport – the tunnels have been repaired, resurfaced and lit to form an extension to the existing Monsal Trail.
Interpretation explaining the former history of the route has also been installed.
Lighting the way
Four of the longer tunnels are lit during daylight hours, dawn to dusk, to make them safe to use. They are operated by a light sensor, so in winter when the hours of daylight are less, the lights in the tunnels will switch off earlier in the day - around 4.30pm. If you are using the trail in the afternoon you are advised to take a torch or have bike lights in case you get caught out. If the lights go off because of a power failure there is a two hour emergency back up in place.
Maps and more information
- How to get to the Monsal Trail by bus or train
- Map of Monsal Trail (203KB)
- Monsal Trail leaflet (586KB) (includes map)
- How to find and use the Monsal Trail
- Find out more about the work to re-open the tunnels
- What is there to see and do on the Monsal Trail?
- Proposals for reinstatement of a railway on the route of the trail
It is illegal for motor vehicles and motorcycles to use the route.
Monsal Memories is a series of six 10-minute podcasts about people who worked on, lived by or travelled on the former Midland Railway which ran through the heart of the Peak District National Park from 1863 to 1968.
Left click to hear in your web browser, or right click and choose 'Save Link As' to save to your computer or MP3 player.
- Episode 1 - The Line (10 mins 4.2MB) - memories of the line and what the railway line was built for.
- Episode 2 - The Stations (10.50 mins 3.8MB) - memories of the railway stations along the line including Rowsley, Bakewell and Hassop.
- Episode 3 - The Trains (9.00 mins 3.2MB) - voices of the people who travelled the line and remember the trains, mostly from the age of steam.
- Episode 4 - The Journeys -part 1 (9.10 mins 3.3MB) - memories of the people who travelled the line and remembered the journeys they made
- Episode 5 - The Journeys - part 2 (11.26 mins 4MB) - more memories of the people who travelled the line and remembered the journeys they made.
- Episode 6 - The Railway Workers (14.07 mins 5MB) - voices of the railway workers who worked on the stations and trains, mostly from the age of steam.