The Monsal Trail is a traffic free route for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and wheelchair users through some of the Peak District's most spectacular limestone dales.
The trail runs along the former Midland Railway line for 8.5 miles between Blackwell Mill, in Chee Dale and Coombs Road, at Bakewell.
Most of the route was opened to the public in 1981 but four former railway tunnels had to remain closed due to safety reasons, with public footpaths taking people around them. From 25 May 2011 the four railway tunnels - Headstone Tunnel, Cressbrook Tunnel, Litton Tunnel, Chee Tor Tunnel – will also open for trail users. Each tunnel is about 400 metres long and will be lit during normal daylight hours.
Two shorter tunnels - Chee Tor No.2 and Rusher Cutting – already formed part of the Monsal Trail.
The public can now experience the full length of the former railway route at their own pace and see breathtaking views at places like Water-cum-Jolly Dale that have remained hidden since the railway closed in 1968.
The Monsal Trail tunnels offer one of the most spectacular leisure routes in Britain for cycling, walking and horse riding.
It is the first time the public have been able to go through the tunnels since the former Midland Railway Line closed in 1968.
Following work by the Peak District National Park Authority – using £2.25 million funding from the Department of Transport – the tunnels have been repaired, resurfaced and lit to form an extension to the existing Monsal Trail.
Interpretation explaining the former history of the route has also been installed.
Four of the longer tunnels are lit during daylight hours, dawn to dusk, to make them safe to use. They are operated by a light sensor, so in winter when the hours of daylight are less, the lights in the tunnels will switch off earlier in the day - around 4.30pm. If you are using the trail in the afternoon you are advised to take a torch or have bike lights in case you get caught out. If the lights go off because of a power failure there is a two hour emergency back up in place.
Courtesy of the Peak District National Park
Peak Cycle Links is a local charity whose aim is to promote links to popular cycling and walking routes in the Peak District. One of its ambitions is to see the creation of the White Peak Loop, a 60 mile traffic-free circuit.