We, Ian and Heather, spent the Spring Bank Holiday weekend in Sheffield at our daughter’s and since the weather was really nice we decided to visit take a turn along The Monsal Trail. This is the old Midland Main Line through the Peak District which has been converted to a footpath/bridleway/cycleway. At the moment the route only extends from Bakewell through to Wyedale (just north of Miller’s Dale) but is eventually scheduled to be extended to Buxton linking up with the Tissington and High Peak Trail and finally to Matlock.

So four adults, two children, bicycles, and sandwiches made their way to Hassop station and parked up. Leaving Hassop Station (big car park, cycle hire, café and bookshop) we made our way northwards along the old trackbed – now a well graded dry pathway. Passing Great Longstone Station we were soon at the entrance to Headstone Tunnel where we plunged into the ‘inky’ blackness (in reality there was some lighting), racing on the billiard table smooth, downhill gradient towards Monsal viaduct. Headstone Tunnel, as were all the others we passed through, was in excellent condition. The brick arch lining above the lower limestone rock wall looked pristine and mostly kept the water out.

Soon we were out into Monsal Dale itself, over the viaduct and rolling through the station, or what is left of it, and, climbing at an average gradient of 1:90 on our way towards Cressbrook Tunnel. Just before entering this, we passed the remains of the buffer stop for the loop line and part of the signal post that protected the next section of line. As soon as we emerged from this tunnel we immediately plunged into another one, Litton Tunnel, and as we came out of that, far down below us was Litton Mill.

The long slog uphill continued before a short respite just before arriving at Miller’s Dale with its two viaducts and the remains of the large station (ubiquitous car park, café etc). Uphill again towards Chee Tor Tunnels 1 &2 and Rusher Cutting Tunnel before reaching the end of the line at Blackwell Mill and Wyedale.

All we had to do then was turn around and find our way back to Hassop. Altogether a very interesting and enjoyable day out. If you do decide to do this, make certain the weather is good and it is preferably not a bank holiday weekend.