Cycling on the Mensal Trail
For a more adventurous weekend away, why not drag the family to the patchwork hills of the Peak District for some fun on two wheels. Home to the Monsal Trail, a flat traffic-free cycling track follows a section of the former Midland Railway, from Topley Pike near Buxton to the Coombs Viaduct on the outskirts of Bakewell.
Who is it good for? Anyone really confident on a bike will be happy wheeling through the countryside.
It’s recently re-opened a series of old railway tunnels which run through the valley making it the ideal place for a spot of family-friendly cycling. The trail starts at Wyedale where you can pick up cycles, trailers and pull-alongs from Blackwell Mill. From here it’s a nice easy ride along a grassy-banked trail to Chee Tor, the first of the four re-opened tunnels. Looming, dark and damp – and often half a mile long – they are a thrilling addition to the ride and exciting for the little ones as they race you through the tunnels. To cycle the eight mile route through nature reserves and past old mills and quarries takes around an hour or so, not accounting for stops for breathers and photos.
There are decent amenities at both ends of the trail and you can also hire bikes from the Monsal Trail cycle hire at Hassop. This place also boasts a fancy shop and an excellent station café serving great local pies, icecreams and Peaks ale.
Once you’ve squealed through the dimly-lit 533 yards of the Cressbrook tunnel you’re rewarded with a renowned Peaks view; the slate-grey arches of the awesome Headstone Viaduct which stretches across the river Wye. From here it’s a leisurely free-wheel down to Bakewell and a well-earned rest.
Travel time: The train from London takes 1 hour and 30 minutes and driving takes roughly 3 hours.
How to get there: The train leaves from London St Pancras to Derby; from £36 for an adult return. Coaches leave from London Victoria to Derby; from £72 return for two adults and two children.
More information: Daily cycle hire is from £8.50 for children and £12.50 for adults including helmets.
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