Monsal Trail walk

Gentle Peak District walk along a disused railway line via viaducts, tunnels, and escarpements

IMG_20240317_133832 Headstone Viaduct seen from Monsal Head

Headstone Viaduct seen from Monsal Head

17-Mar-24 • Andrew Murphy on Flickr

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IMG_20240317_112525 Wye Valley

Wye Valley

02-Dec-23 • Andrew Murphy on Flickr

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15-Jan-24 • Andrew Murphy on Flickr

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IMG_20240317_105731 Headstone Tunnel

Headstone Tunnel

17-Mar-24 • Andrew Murphy on Flickr

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IMG_20240317_105734 Path over Headstone Viaduct

Path over Headstone Viaduct

17-Mar-24 • Andrew Murphy on Flickr

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IMG_20240317_111525 Wye Valley from the Monsal Trail

Wye Valley from the Monsal Trail

17-Mar-24 • Andrew Murphy on Flickr

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IMG_20240317_111532 Monsal Trail

Monsal Trail

17-Mar-24 • Andrew Murphy on Flickr

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Length 9 miles (14.5 km)
Toughness 1 / 10. Good surface. Very gently up or downhill

This wheelchair friendly paved walk/cycle trail in the Peak District National Park follows a closed railway line. It contours along the side of the Wye river valley, crossing over viaducts and through tunnels (all lit, torch not needed).

The trail is 9 miles long, starting 3 miles east of Buxton, at Topley Pike Junction where the live railway ends. It follows the Wye valley through a narrow gorge, over bridges, and via the Chee Tor No. 1 (361m) and No. 2 tunnels (83m), Miller's Dale station to the 2 adjacent Miller's Dale viaducts.

After this, the valley widens, and the path contours high up around it's southern side (views!), passing Liton tunnel (472m), Cressbrook tunnel (431m), Monsal Dale station (just the platform remains) to Headstone viaduct and Headstone tunnel (487m). The tunnel is under Monsal Head, a noted viewpoint, there's a side trail to the top.

After the tunnel, the valley widens again, passing Longstone station, Hassop station, Bakewell station, and ends at the closed Coombs Road viaduct.

If walking one way, there is an hourly Transpeak bus route from the A6 (near the start) to Bakewell (near the end). The link route from the A6 bus stop is along a muddy path, then steeply downhill to the trail, for this part only, hiking shoes would be helpful. If using the bus, walking to Bakewell is better as its a much nicer place to await your bus back to the start.

The trail is surfaced, has a very gentle gradient, and is suitable for wheelchairs and prams. Millers Dale, Hassop, and Bakewell stations have wheelchair access.

Highlights include crossing 2 viaducts, Millers Dale and Headstone. Millers Dale actually has 2 viaducts, 1 you cross, and 1 adjacent to it that remains closed. At Headstone viaduct, do follow the side path to Monsal Head a little way to get a good view of the viaduct - viaducts are more impressive when viewed from afar!

The tunnels are all lit, it sometimes 'rains' a little inside them, but not enough to need a raincoat.

While the viaducts and tunnels remain, sadly, much of the industrial heritage has been lost - signals, track, signs, and station buildings.

The trail is on Google Maps Streetview, and a Monsal Trail Parkrun takes place every Saturday at 9am, starting from Hassop station.

There are plans to extend the trail:

  • west to Buxton, though not via the original railway trackbed (which is still in use for a quarry)
  • south for 12km to Matlock. The work to re-open the tunnel south of the Coombe Viaduct will take some time. The route further south will open first, part of it will be alongside the original trackbed now used as a heritage railway.

There are 2 other 'rail trails' in the Peak District (pdf), the 13 mile Tissington Trail from Parsley Hay to Ashbourne, and the High Peak Trail.


The path is popular with cyclists - being traffic free, it is family friendly, so either walk it at a less popular time (i.e. not on a sunny day in school holidays), or explore some of the side paths off it - see options.


You can do the walk in either direction, or park in the middle, and do it in 2 parts with a bus journey in between. Bus users should walk towards Bakewell as it is a much nicer place to wait for a bus than the remote 'Blackwell in the Peak' bus stop!

From west to east:

  • Chee Dale Gorge : Near the start there is a windy path down to the river at the bottom of Chee Dale gorge.
  • Millers Dale : After Millers Dale station: "I struck off down a side path. I ended up on the quiet road on the north side of the river in Miller’s Dale. This is gloriously scenic and almost no one else was walking or cycling here. Past Litton Mill you have to climb up onto the hillside on a wonderful path that slants up the valley side with mouthwatering views. A steep descent through Cressbrook brings you back to the river, and as you near the Monsal Viaduct, footbridges enable you to cross the river and climb up to it: or you can stay on the road as it climbs to Monsal Head." This sounds like the minor road (marked on the OS map) on the north side of the river.
  • Monsal Head: After the viaduct, before the Headstone tunnel, follow the path up to Monsal Head (pub, tea room) a little way for a view of the viaduct, or all the way to the top for a pint.
  • Monsal Head - Bakewell : "I slanted south on a pleasant field path to Ashford, which is a nice enough village ... (on) the Transpeak bus (route). The Riverside path from Ashford to Bakewell was quite pretty." - this is a longer diversion away from the path

The nearest stations are Buxton and Matlock. The "Transpeak" bus runs between them, and passes near the start and finish of the walk.

Topley Pike Junction

This is the 'west' or Buxton, end of the walk. There is a small car park by the start of the trail, access via the Wyedal Car Park (see below).

Chee Dale layby: About 500m away, and steeply uphill, on the A6 (SK17 9TG).

Wydale Car Park: About 1km away via a fairly level link path, also on the A6 (SK17 9TE, £4.50), entrance opposite a quarry road. The bus stop by the car park is on the #65/66 Buxton - Wyedale - Sheffield route, not the Transpeak route to the end of the walk.

Blackwell in the Peak turn bus stop. About 15 mins walk away, via the Pennine Bridleway is the 'Blackwell in the Peak' bus stop (by the A6/Blackwell turn off, no parking, see the OS map), which is on the Transpeak bus route to Bakewell (for Coombs Viaduct). There is a pretty link path. Follow the path on the OS map down to the trail. There is a side path (use the map, hard to spot on the way down), which leads to a nice viewpoint over the Chee Dale valley.

Bakewell / Coombs Road Viaduct

This is the 'east' or Coombs Viaduct / Bakewell end of the walk. The trail ends about 1km past Bakewell station at Coombs Road Viaduct.

There is ample free parking by the viaduct (Coombs Road, DE45 1AR), about 1km along Coombs Road from Bakewell.

There is a pay car park, and some free on street parking by Bakewell station (DE45 1GE).

There are 2 large pay car parks in Bakewell (town centre, DE45 1AQ). From the centre, cross the bridge, and walk uphill on Station Road to the start. Note many roads, especially near town car parks, are 'no town centre parking'.

The closest bus stop on the Transpeak route, is in Bakewell town centre, about 5 mins walk from Bakewell station (on the route), Its about 15 mins walk further to Coombs Viaduct and the start. There are closer stops further south along the A6, but no direct footpaths to the trail from them. You could either walk 1km to the start from Bakewell along the rail trail, or walk 1km further on along footpaths to rejoin the A6 / Transpeak Route further south.

Transpeak bus

Use this bus to return to your car, or to travel to the start or finish from Buxton or Matlock stations. If you have the Google Maps app on your phone, navigate with the 'public transport' selected.

Mon-Sun, hourly, takes 20 mins. Traveline - Bus Times

Route : Manchester (3/day) - Buxton station - "Bakewell in the Peak" (A6 Bakewell turnoff, for Topley Pike) - Bakewell (for Bakewell station and Coombs Road Viaduct : stand A westbound to Buxton and the other end of the trail, stand E southbound to Matlock) - Matlock - Derby (bus station stand 21, train station is 500m away).

Transpeak TP2 and TP3 are the same bus, it changes it name en route. [Mar 2024] The bus fare is £2 (any distance).

Bakewell Bus Routes

There are direct buses from Bakewell to the following towns with stations : Buxton ("Transpeak"), Sheffield ("Peakline"), Chesterfield ( 170 ), Matlock and Derby (Transpeak, "6.1 the sixes").


You can park in many places along the route, for example near the church by Monsal Head


From west to east

  • The Refreshment Rooms (cafe) by Millers Dale station, SK17 8SN
  • The Angler's Rest, SK17, 8SN, a riverside pub not far from Millers Dale station on the B6049
  • Monsal Head Hotel (pub) by the Headstone tunnel, DE45 1NL, just off the route, but worth it for the view
  • Hassop station cafe
  • Many places in Bakewell

This section of the "Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midlands Junction Railway" was built in 1863 - in the era of competing railway companies, as mainline route for the Midlands railway to Manchester. Even when it was built, the route had too many compromises. It had to avoid the land of influential land owners, in terrain that was already difficult, so the Bakewell station is above the town not in the town. During its construction, the landowners, seeing the value of rail line, relented, but by then it was too late to change the route. So, they influenced the location of stations instead (i.e. nearer to them, further from the towns). It was closed in 1968.

The route is safeguarded should it ever be reopened, but the cost of restoring the tunnels and viaducts would be prohibitive.

Version Walk check Mar-24
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By Car

Start SK17 9TG Map Directions

Finish Coombs Roads, Bakewell, DE45 1AR Map Directions


National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Traveline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234


Apr-24 Andrew

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