Green fields highlighted by sunrays through heavy clouds from Curbar Edge

Monsal Trail - What to see and do

There are two cycle hire businesses on the Monsal Trail that you can use:

What features of interest are there along the route?

There are hundreds of interesting things to see along the Monsal Trail including wildlife, geology, industrial and rail heritage. The trail is a way-marked route with coordinated interpretation panels and listening posts to help people enjoy all it has to offer.

Main highlights

Monsal Viaduct

Now one of the most famous features of the trail and listed as being one of historic and architectural interest, was once the subject of much controversy and criticism.

Its construction and the invasion of the Upper Wye Valley by the railway aroused strong opposition. Victorian environmentalist, essayist and poet John Ruskin said: "There was a rocky valley between Buxton and Bakewell, once upon a time, divine as the Vale of Tempe... you enterprised a Railroad through the valley - you blasted its rocks away, heaped thousands of tons of shale into its lovely stream. The valley is gone, and the Gods with it; and now, every fool in Buxton can be in Bakewell in half an hour, and every fool in Bakewell at Buxton; which you think a lucrative process of exchange – you Fools everywhere."

Today, however, the embankments are covered in vegetation and the rawness of the cuttings has mellowed to merge into the landscape.

Cressbrook Mill

Cressbrook Mill was first opened as a cotton mill in 1783, powered by water from Cressbrook stream. It was built on the site of a small herb distillery by William Newton of Abney for Sir Richard Arkwright.

The original building was destroyed by fire but a replacement was soon opened. This became known as 'Old Mill'.

In 1812, construction work started on the large Georgian building that can be seen today 'Big Mill', as it was known, at first used water from the River Wye to power its two large water wheels before steam turbines were introduced in 1890. Manufacturing ceased here in 1965.

Litton Mill

Litton Mill was a large cotton spinning mill that first opened in 1782. It became notorious for the harsh treatment of child labourers by the owner, Ellis Needham. Many of the children, brought from London and other large cities, died young from the cruel treatment and were buried in the churchyards at Tideswell and Taddington.

Lime Kilns 

The Lime kilns to the east and west of Millers Dale Station are examples of commercial kilns built in the 19th and 20th centuries. Quicklime had long been produced in small kilns, mainly for agricultural use, but with the expansion of industry, especially the chemical industry, demand increased. Limestone from the quarries that opened adjacent to the railway and coal brought in by train were burnt to produce the quicklime. This in turn was taken out on the railway. The last kiln closed down in 1944.

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