Tideswell Monsal Trail Bakewell (mountain biking) Route Details

Route Description

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Introduction

A long route taking in a variety of different mostly offroad paths in the White Peak. There is a big contrast between the easy gradients and surfaces of the Monsal Trail and the rest

Conditions

A real mixture of different types. The Monsal Trail is easy, the rest is not. The majority of the route is offroad, but as the White Peak is well drained, even in winter it's never going to be impossibly muddy.

Detailed description

Note: the Monsal Trail features four old railway tunnels which have been resurfaced, and have street lighting in them, making for a pleasant ride litterally through the hills . However, as of the first week of May 2011, they are not quite open yet. See http://twitter.com/#!/pedalpeak for details of the actual formal opening in mid 2011. The description and map refer to the route you can take when the tunnels are fully open. In the meantime, you will have to figure out your own way to link the fragments of the Monsal trail, via roads, or other paths around the tunnel.

From Tideswell, Water Lane take you to Wheston to join the well way marked Pennine Bridleway, which takes you into Monks Dale, and then up a steep path to Wormhill, and then crosscounty to reach a road near Tunstead. From there take the marked tarmac road left to the south (shame it's not properly offroad), until an easily missed turn on the right takes you round the farm, on what is the last remains of a bridleway that once ran through land that is now part of the quarry.

Then after the farm descend sharply into the deep valley, and turn left onto the Monsal Trail which runs along the bottom of a steep sided valley above the river. After joining with another section of old railway (this is also a good place to start the route), head down along the easy path, through a series of two small tunnels which pass through the sheer rock walls on which form both sides of the valley. The engineering of the old railway that the Monsal trail runs along is pretty impressive, as no sooner are you clear of the second tunnel, then you are high above the river on a bridge, and then you plunge into hillside in a much longer tunnel under Chee Tor. This tunnel is dark enough to need lighting, as it's long and curvey enough to completely block the light otherwise. When you emerge, you join a pleasant tree lined section, before reaching the remains of Millers Dale station, and then the trails launches over a river and road on a high metal viaduct. After this carry on down the wooded valley, past Litton Mill (pretty now but once famously unpleasant), until you reach the entrance to the second big tunnel. The tunnel is also curved, and once inside a little way you can't see daylight. After coming out of this tunnel there is a brief open section, offering some amazing views far down to the river at a place bizarrely called Water-cum-Jolly. After the brief daylight interlude you are soon once again underground in a long curved tunnel.

After you surface again, look to your left to the imposing building of Cressbrook Mill. The next section to Monsal Head tends to very popular and you'll need to take care and look out for other trail users particularly dogs running lose. Once you pass through the shallow cutting to reach the viaduct, stop and soak in the views from the famous Monsal Viaduct, and ponder the word of the Victorian poet John Ruskin who took so much offence about the viaduct he wrote "Every fool in Buxton can be at Bakewell in half-an-hour, and every fool in Bakewell at Buxton". If you have the energy, there's a classic view of the viaduct, and pub food, several hundred feet above you at Monsal Head.

After you emerge from the tunnel, there's a change to a softer, rounder, well wooded landscape, through which the trail pushes you along gently downhill towards Bakewell (so easy infact that any fool can be in Bakewell in 30 minutes). At Bakewell station ride down into the town to get food and take a rest by the pretty river bank. Then follow a small deadend street and a path along a small stream to avoid fighting the traffic and one way system, to ride briefly along the A6 towards Buxton, before at the egde of town, turning right onto the packhorse bridge over the river, and then begining a long and hard hill up which climbs past old quarry building before reaching open country.

After descending a nice fast section of single track, rejoin the Monsal Trail, and turn left, back towards Buxton, and after an easy 1km, look for a sign on the right to Hassop and Rowland. Take the small road which climbs steadily, and then turn left onto the small lane signposted for Rowland. After passing through the tiny hamlet, the road turns into a gravel track, as it climbs towards the wooded ridge. As you climb, you'll see big open views south, as well as evidence of the area's mining past. At the top, turn left onto the gravel track which follows the other side of the ridge, past the remains of more mine workings which follow a seam of lead ore running along the ridge. At the junction with a track by the big quarry,  take the right hand turn onto a smaller grassy bridleway that gradually descends from the ridge, before joining a larger track and climbing steeply. The track then flattens as it passes along the edge of a ugly mine tailings pond. From here it's all road back to Tideswell.

First join a road which descends to Wardlow. Then turn right onto the B6465, and then at Wardlow Mires, turn left onto the A623 for a few hundred metres, before picking up the road on the left sign-posted to Litton. From Litton, take Church Lane (not the road signposted to Tideswell) to take you back to Tideswell. 

Narrative

The morning of the Royal Wedding was dry and windy, and even if the sun wasn't fully out, cycling offroad, on gloriously dry trails seemed a better bet than a day in front of the TV.

Route Map

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