Monsal Trail Traffic-free Cycle Route

The Monsal Trail Cycle Route Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Monsal Trail, a traffic-free cycle route, is an idyllic destination for family outings, particularly when cycling with kids! This 9-mile scenic trail follows the course of the historic Midland Railway, offering breathtaking views and a serene cycling experience. 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.

The Monsal Trail is not only a haven for cyclists, but 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 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.

See also  North Dorset Trailway Traffic-free Cycle Route

What bikes are best

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 trail

There are toilets available at Millers Dale station, just off the trail at Quackers Café, at Peak eBikes, at Hassop Station café, and again in Bakewell (but right off the trail).

Ratings

Safety: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Hilliness: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Refreshment stops: ⭐⭐⭐
Barriers: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Surface: ⭐⭐⭐

Overall: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The grading system I use is explained here.

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

Barriers on the 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

Not everyone wants to take their own bike along, but bike hire on the Monsal Trail is available from several outlets.
You can hire bicycles at Blackwell Mill Cycle Hire (who also have a tuck shop), at Peak eBikes, at Hassop Station and at Monsal Trail Cycle Hire in Bakewell.

Paying the rent

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Weather forecast for the Monsal Trail

Plan your trip to cycle the Monsal Trail by using this up-to-date weather forecast.

See also  Middlewood Way Traffic-Free Cycle Route
Weather forecast for the Monsal Trail

What the Monsal Trail looks like

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Time-lapse video of the 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.

More Routes

To find more routes, click this link.

DayCycle

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.

See also  Brampton Valley Way traffic-free cycle route

Map of the Monsal Trail

6 thoughts on “Monsal Trail Traffic-free Cycle Route”

  1. The Tissington Trail & (Cromford &)High Peak trails date from 1971, and were the work of Richard Hutchings (County Solicitor, & an architect of National Parks Act – who in 1986 published a 5000 mile gazetteer of quiet wind & hill assisted cycle routes, providing the early inspiration for Sustrans)
    Paths are generally a drybound macadam (not gravel) blinded with fine dust – in this area generally limestone although some limestones are better for binding (cementatious). Vehicles (motor) with wide tyres that have sipes should NOT be driven on these pavements, especially when wet
    Hulleys of Baslow run the local bus services and had joined the increasing number of rural bus operators who have returned to carrying cycles on the bus (this was standard for Scotland in 1980’s before SMT was sold-off). Trent Barton Red Arrow were also carrying bikes on their express coaches Derby-Chesterfield

    Reply
  2. I would not recommend this for young riders, but more confident riders can extend the day to Rowsley or Matlock mostly off road with a minor road section. When you descend the Monsal Trail at the Bakewell end, instead of heading into the town you turn left along a decent farm track that gradually climbs up to and through Coombs farm, bare left at a bridleway junction through the woods and then a steep descent to Rowsley. (You have to climb this on the way back). There are about 3 or four farm gates as I recall. Across the A6 is the Peak railway and an old mill with a cafe. Also a pub. You can also pick up the White Peak Loop signs here to take you to Matlock which has a short road section. There are a few narrow A frame’s on this section. It would add two more miles to Rowsley and a further four more to Matlock.

    Reply
  3. Neither end is easily accessible with families. Quite steep.
    Parking along Moores Lane at the Bakewell end although it’s level into Bakewell.
    Worth doing.

    Reply

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