The Monsal Trail Cycle Route Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Monsal Trail traffic-free cycle route is a must-visit destination, especially if cycling with kids! This 9-mile route follows the course of the former Midland Railway, offering stunning views and a peaceful ride. With four tunnels along the route, each roughly 400 meters in length, the Monsal Trail is perfect for a day of cycling. However, be sure to bring lights for your bike if you plan on riding through the tunnels after dark, as the lights are only on during daylight hours.
In addition to cyclists, the Monsal Trail is also popular with horse riders. When approaching horses from behind, remember to slow down and either talk or sing to let them know where you are. Horses have limited visibility to the rear, so it’s important to avoid startling them.
The Monsal Trail can get quite busy, especially on sunny weekends during the summer months. To avoid crowds, try visiting early in the day.
Photos are by Ciderlad and from Geograph.org.uk.
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Surface of the Monsal Trail
The Monsal Trail has a gravel surface throughout, except for inside the tunnels, where the surface is tarred.
The route is very slightly downhill from the Blackwell end (so slightly uphill almost all the way back). If cycling with especially younger kids, you may want to bear that in mind.
Pretty much any kind of bike can be used, though riders on skinny-wheeled road bikes may find it bumpier than they may like.
Toilets on the Monsal Trail
Refreshment stops: ⭐⭐⭐
Points of Interest
The trail ends just above Bakewell. Nearby is the Peak Rail heritage railway (but getting there involves a short bike ride on the A6).
Routes in Derbyshire
- Monsal Trail Traffic-free Cycle Route
- Tissington Trail Traffic-free Cycle Route
- High Peak Trail traffic-free cycle route
- Cloud Trail Traffic-free Cycle Route
Barriers on the Monsal Trail
There are no barriers along the route. The trail is fully accessible with ramps available at Bakewell Station, Hassop Station, Great Longstone Station, and Millers Dale Station.
Obviously, these are all disused stations.
Bike hire on the Monsal Trail
Weather forecast for the Monsal Trail
What the Monsal Trail looks like
Time-lapse video of the Monsal Trail cycle route
Here’s a nice time-lapse video of the whole route:
Getting to the Monsal Trail cycle route
Sadly, there is no direct trail link, nor a very simple cycle route from the nearest train station, in Buxton. However, Buxton is directly accessible by train from Manchester. This route uses quiet lanes to get you to the start. Just be aware that the very end of the route to get to the trail there is a gravelly zig-zag section.
Monsal Trail – where to park
If you’re driving to the Monsal Trail, there are a number of car parks in Bakewell, and a small car park at Bakewell Station. More car parks are available at Hassop Station, and a small one at Monsal Head. Just know there’s a steep hike down to the Monsal Trail from Monsal Head. There’s a car park at Miller’s Dale, right next to the Monsal Trail. Importantly, all of these are pay and display car parks, and in the high season fill up very quickly, so do try to get there early.
DayCycle routes are routes that can can easily be cycled by most people in a day, or part of a day. Do have a look at all the other DayCycle routes available on WillCycle. Many contain detailed route guides, as well as embedded maps (like the one below) from which you can download the GPX file for the route.