Wheeling its way to success

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The re-opening of the tunnels on the Monsal Trail is proving to be an all-round success, with more than 50,000 cyclists using the route since re-opening.

The 8.5-mile Monsal Trail is popular with walkers, horse riders, people on mobility scooters and families with pushchairs, but cycling has seen a dramatic increase since four former railway tunnels were re-opened by the Peak District National Park Authority in May last year.

The authority’s automatic cycle counter recorded the 50,000th cyclist on New Year’s Eve.

Transport policy officer, Tim Nicholson, said: “On average there have been 226 cycles per day along the trail in the seven months since the tunnels re-opened.”

The counter has recorded 17,160 cyclists travelling towards the tunnels and 32,855 south-bound towards Bakewell since May.

The boost in cycling brings health benefits to local people and visitors, but is proving excellent for businesses too.

Cheryl Ashton who owns Blackwell Mill cycle hire, said: “It’s been a complete success story for us. We had a falling-down garage that we’ve rebuilt and created a successful business from scratch.

“It’s been life changing for our family.

Hassop Station cycle hire and café owner Duncan Stokes said: “It’s exceeded all expectations – we had no idea how popular the trail would be.

“We’ve had 10,000 hirings since we opened last March. We created two full-time jobs to run the cycle hire and six extra part time jobs during the summer.

“Opening the tunnels created a destination so people can come and spend a day in the area. It’s had a knock on effect for the café as well – there was a marked difference in the number of customers after the tunnels opened.”