Peak District National Park says Monsal Trail more popular than ever on anniversary of opening
This week marks ten years since one of the Peak District’s most iconic walking routes fully opened to the public, and the national park authority reports that more people are now discovering its joys than ever before.
The Monsal Trail was officially opened on May 25, 2011, allowing walkers and cyclists to explore the 8.5-mile traffic-free route through some of the Peak District’s most spectacular limestone dales via four Victorian former railway tunnels.
Up to the end of 2020, the trail had been used for at least 2.5million journeys, but visitor numbers soared to more than 200,000 in three months of summer post-lockdown – 2,000 a day at its peak.
Park Authority chair Andrew McCloy said: “It seems fitting that we are celebrating the anniversary of the one of the Peak District’s best-loved locations in the same year as we reflect on the very reasons for national parks being created 70 years ago.
“The Monsal trail represents many of the reasons why our national parks remain so pivotal for the nation as we recover from the pandemic: a place to exercise and recharge our wellbeing, an opportunity to immerse in nature and the landscape but crucially in a way that remains easily accessible for so many.”
He added: “The popularity of the route remains clear, and not least since the re-opening of tunnels allowed for a continuous route across stunning countryside.
“It’s hoped that the Monsal Trail will a play a key role in the White Peak Loop – bringing together a sequence of routes that allow sustainable travel to flourish in this part of the national park.”
The trail runs along the former Midland Railway line – which closed in 1968 – between Blackwell Mill in Chee Dale and Coombs Road, Bakewell.
Most of the route was opened to the public in 1981, but for public safety footpaths diverted walkers around tunnels at Headstone, Cressbrook, Litton and Chee Tor.
It took until 2009 and an injection of £2.25million from the Department of Transport cycling budget to complete the spectacular direct route.
The Peak District National Park Foundation now raises funds to care for the trail’s heritage, nature and wildlife features.
To learn more about this work and how to support it, go to peakdistrictfoundation.org.uk.