The Monsal Trail is a ten mile long disused section of the former Midland Railways line between Buxton and Bakewell in the Peak District National Park, a wonderful legacy of our rich industrial heritage now enjoying a new lease of life as a valuable leisure amenity for walkers, cyclists and other outdoor activities. Passing through a delightfully contoured and rugged landscape, arguably some of England’s most beautiful scenery, the route must have been quite a challenge for the civil engineers of the mid nineteenth century who built it. In addition to the restored viaducts, tunnels, cuttings and retained original station buildings, architectural gems in their own right and testament to the enterprise and skills of our Victorian ancestors, the trail also affords magnificent views of the surrounding countryside and adjacent points of interest including the impressive Cressbrook and Litton Mills as it criss crosses river and valley making its way south. The longer tunnels are lit from dawn until dusk, the trail is well surfaced and smooth with both gravel and tarmac sections, it is suitable for all types of bicycle. The route has a slight incline rising four hundred feet over its length south to north, representing a gradient of just 1/132, it can be cycled in both directions in just over two hours by persons of average fitness, but there’s no need to rush the trail is well within the capability of most age group and fitness levels and on a sunny day the views are tremendous.
If you prefer to hire rather than take your own, cycle hire is available at Blackwell Mill at the Buxton end of the trail:-
tel 01298 70838
Hassop Station on the trail just north of Bakewell
All types of cycle are on offer including electric assisted but it’s wise to book in advance to ensure availability.
Walking the Trail
The trail can be walked from end to end, returning via the regular bus services between Buxton and Bakewell. In addition there are numerous walks on and around the Monsal Trail detailed in the “Grate Little Guides” series (ISBN 1899576 65 7 - Monsal Trail) available from tourist information offices in Buxton and elswhere in the Peak District. The guide includes start and finish points and points of interest along the way including locations of car parks and toilet facilities.
Visitors from the Wigan area are recommended to access the trail at the northern end, using the Wyedale car park on the A6 just 4 miles south of Buxton. The postcode SK17 9TE in a Satellite Navigation system will take visitors directly to the entrance. The preferred route is via the M6, M56, M60 to Stockport then following the A6 through Buxton towards Bakewell. Negotiating Stockport can be difficult at busy periods but I recommend leaving the M60 at junction 2, turning right at the roundabout into Stockport Road to the traffic lights a couple of hundred yards ahead. Turn left at the traffic lights into Councillor Lane, straight ahead at the next set of lights into Adswood Road, then ahead again at the next set into Garners Lane to arrive at the traffic lights at Davenport Station at the junction with Bramhall Lane. Turn left here then immediately right at the next set of lights into Kennerley Road and follow it to its junction with the A6 in about half a mile. Turn right here and follow the A6 through Hazel Grove, High Lane and Disley, the journey is approximately 50 miles and will take one and a half hours in light traffic.
NOTE: Since the opening of the Manchester Airport Eastern Link Road, this journey has been much simplified, now avoiding congestion hot spots and taking far less time. The new recommended route from the west of Manchester is to follow the M6 and the M56 as before, but now leave the M56 at junction 5 for Manchester Airport. Having passed the Airport join the A555 new link road and follow it to its junction with the A6 at Hazel Grove, then follow the A6 towards Buxton and the start of the trail.
Take the bridleway from the rear of Wyedale Car Park and follow the river down to Blackwell Mill to ascend steep banking at the signpost behind the cycle hire and tuck shop. Gain access to the start of the Monsal Trail via a wooden gate. Follow the trail to its terminus beyond Bakewell, returning by the same route admiring the views and the various points of interest along the way, take the camera there will be plenty of photo opportunities.
Ordnance Survey Explorer Series OL24 scale 1:25000 "The Peak District (White Peak Area)" refers, co-ordinates at various points along the way are shown in the table below.
|Start Wyedale Car Park||SK 10377 72511|
|Blackwell Mill (Cycle Hire & Tuck Shop)||SK 11249 72648|
|Rusher Cutting Tunnel||SK 12009 72807|
|Chee Tor Tunnel||SK 12512 73117|
|Lime Kilns||SK 13239 73293|
|Millers Dale Station (Car Park, Toilets & Cafe)||SK 13850 73228|
|Litton Tunnell (Litton Mill)||SK 16133 72917|
|Cressbrook Tunnel (Cressbrook Mill)||SK 16751 72615|
|Headstone Tunnel||SK 18284 72557|
|Private Station Thornbridge Hall||SK 19736 71107|
|Hassop Station (Cycle Hire, Cafe & Craft Shop)||SK 21738 70545|
|Bakewell Station (Large Car Park)||SK 22278 68987|
|Coombs Road (End)||SK 23041 67975|
Click here to see pictures along the trail.
Palfreyman - July 2012
Farthingale Publications:... Is a hobby web site containing articles of local interest to Lancastrians, some favourite walking and cycling routes, selected words and poetry, and some writings of more general and whimsical nature as well as the authors own picture gallery. Access is available via the homepage and menu at the head of the page.
Local Interest: Richmond Hill Dairies; Mind Your Language; John Lancaster MP; Thomas Aspinwall (Miners Agent); Upholland Telephone Exchange 1962; Thomas Linacre School; Scot Lane School; The Lindsays of Haigh; Dust Upon God's Fair Earth; Nurburgring 1960; Wigan Advertisements 1960; Wigan Soldier Missing in Action; It's a Funny Life; Thomas Whitham VC; Isaac Watts; Wigan Old Bank; The Brocklebank Line; John Byrom of Lowton; The Holy City; Private Walter Turton; Little Ships at War; Cricket Calypso; Not Much of a Warrior.
Walking & Cycling: Moss Eccles Tarn; Abbey Lakes to Coppull Moor; Chorley Ice Cream Walk; Douglas Valley Dawdle; Three Counties Cycle Ride; Haigh to Borsdane Wood; A Lancshire Lineaer Walk; Blackrod or Bust; Cycle the Sankey Valley; Cycle the Monsal Trail; Wigan Circular by Bike; Freshfield to Crosby; Irwell Valley Trail (Bury to Rawtenstall); Irwell Valley (Bury to Salford).
Words & Poetry: The Heart of Midlothian; The Family Man; The Fair Rosamond; The Fair Rosamond Comic; The Wreck of the Hesperus; God Bless these Poor Wimmen that's Childer; Dombey and Son; Aw've Turned me bit O' Garden O'er; On Th' Hills; Four Favourite Poems; The Darkling Thrush; The Glory of the Garden; The Rolling English Road; Hymn Before Action; Dust upon God's Fair Earth; Mind Your Language; Jeff Unsworth's dialect poetry.
Wallgate Chronicles: Hugo Boss comes to Wigan; In the footsteps of the Manchester Rambler; Fun with Trigonometry; Surprise at the Philharmonic; Cat Bells; A Walk in the Hills; Eay Times Uv Changed; Fidelio; The Ravioli Room; Desert Island Discs; Travels in Time; The Spectroscope; The Bohemian Girl; Bookcase; Barnaby Rudge; Romance on a Budget; The Battle of Solferino; The Getaway Car; The Switchroom Wigan; The Force of Destiny; Adolphe Adam; The Fair Maid of Perth; Ivanhoe; Semele; Lohengrin.