Monsal Trail

Walk in Bakewell

Monsal Trail
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Mike Peel

The Monsal Trail offers a scenic and car-free path for walkers, cyclists, horse riders, and wheelchair users to explore the breathtaking limestone dales of the Peak District. Stretching 8.5 miles between Blackwell Mill in Chee Dale and Coombs Road in Bakewell, the trail follows the former Midland Railway line.

In 1981, most sections of the route were opened to the public, except for four railway tunnels that remained closed for safety reasons. Visitors were redirected around these tunnels using public footpaths. However, since May 25, 2011, all four tunnels—Headstone Tunnel, Cressbrook Tunnel, Litton Tunnel, and Chee Tor Tunnel—have been opened to trail users. Each tunnel spans approximately 400 meters and is illuminated during daylight hours. Additionally, two shorter tunnels, Chee Tor No.2 and Rusher Cutting, were already part of the Monsal Trail.

Now, the public can fully experience the former railway route at their own pace, enjoying awe-inspiring views of places like Water-cum-Jolly Dale that were hidden since the railway closure in 1968. Other former railway lines transformed into traffic-free trails, such as the High Peak Trail and Tissington Trail, are also open to the public. Bike hire centers are available to serve these routes as well.

Monsal Trail Tunnels

The Monsal Trail tunnels provide a magnificent recreational route for cycling, walking, and horse riding, allowing the public to traverse these tunnels for the first time since the closure of the former Midland Railway Line in 1968. With £2.25 million funding from the Department of Transport, the Peak District National Park Authority has repaired, resurfaced, and illuminated the tunnels, seamlessly extending the existing Monsal Trail. Interpretative installations have been included to provide historical information about the route.

To ensure safety, the four longer tunnels are illuminated during daylight hours, from dawn to dusk, and are controlled by light sensors. During winter when daylight hours are shorter, the tunnel lights will switch off earlier, around 4:30 pm. If you plan to use the trail in the afternoon, it is advisable to carry a torch or have bike lights in case you encounter darkness. In the event of a power failure, there is a two-hour emergency backup in place.

The Monsal Trail appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Bakewell!

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Visiting Monsal Trail

Duration: 6 hours

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