The Peak District promenade which runs alongside an abandoned railway line


Choosing a walking route in the Peak District can be difficult with the amount of paths to choose from.

Miles upon miles of trails criss-crossing the beautiful backdrop of the National Park, covering dramatic hills, mysterious caves and stunning waterfalls, even our colleagues at the Manchester Evening News were impressed.

But there is one that offers something a little different.

The Monsal Trail was formed following the closure of the Peak and Dales line in 1968 and saw almost nine miles of abandoned railway line turned into a trail, incorporating railway tunnels as well as the Monsal Viaduct.

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Popular with walkers and cyclists, the trail has been made accessible to everyone, making it a perfect family day out.

It stretches from Blackwell Mill, to Chee Dale, to Coombs Road in Bakewell and has no shortage of impressive views.

Dotted throughout are ancient railway tunnels, the longest are around 400m long and are floodlit during the day, creating a walk unlike any other in the Peak District.

Four of the rail tunnels remained closed until 2011 for safety reasons, but today the trail is fully open.

Sporadic along the trail are many quaint independent cafes, perfect for a refreshing drink or a quick bite.

A personal favorite is the Hassop Station Café, a converted train station that offers a lovely selection of fresh homemade cakes as well as bike hire for anyone without their own bike.

To see on the Monsal trail

From the trail you can see the beautiful Water-cum-Jolly Dale, which was hidden when the train tracks closed.

The view from the Tombstone Viaduct below Monsal Head is another area of ​​beauty well worth visiting.

Some views from the trail

Cressbrook Mill and Litton Mill are located on the road and reflect the area’s industrial past.

Following the trail is also a great way to appreciate the Peak District’s railway heritage.

A former station ticket office in Millers Dale has even been converted into a cafe, which is halfway along the road.

Near Millers Dale you will also find several lime kilns, another nod to the Industrial Revolution.

What makes the trail ideal for families?

The traffic-free and relatively flat nature of the Monsal Trail makes it a perfect route for little legs that may tire more easily.

Viaducts and tunnels make the route a fun and interesting journey, speeding through a train tunnel dodging drops of water dripping from the roof makes for an exciting day out with the kids.

Along the trail are abandoned train stations, some have been turned into cafes, but others are preserved and you can climb onto the old platforms.

And finally, a perfect day out with the family can’t be complete without grabbing a treat from a local shop at the end of the trail in Bakewell.

What you need to know before you go

Electric scooters are not allowed on the Monsal trail.

It is advisable to bring a torch if you follow the route later in the afternoon, in case you are caught off guard as the tunnels are only lit during the day.

You can hire bikes at either end of the trail, Hassop Station and Blackwell Mill.

For a shorter route, you can choose the section between Millers Dale and Chee Dale, which is only two miles each way.

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