Walking along the Monsal Trail – 1st September 2012

At 8.30 a.m. on Saturday 1st September, a group of St. John’s parishioners turned up at Liverpool Road Methodist Church to board a coach, bound for Bakewell, with the church’s walking group.  Some of those on board were to be taken directly to Bakewell and the rest of us were to be dropped off on the A6 a few miles outside Bakewell to be led on a walk along the Monsall trail into Bakewell by David Wall.

We had woken to threatening skies so had turned up with fleeces and waterproofs but in the event it was an excellent day for walking and we ended up carrying quite a lot of clothes by the time we got to Bakewell!

Following the rain that we have been having the beginning of the walk was extremely muddy and slippery which slowed the group down a little.  

However the river and waterfall were beautiful and before long we reached the Monsal Dale viaduct.  

This was very dramatic from below.  [Built in 1863 on the Derby to Manchester section of the Midland Railway.  The viaduct is 300 feet long and has five 50 foot span arches.]

We then climbed to the top of the viaduct (not quite the flat walk that had been advertised!) and on to the Monsal Trail.   

We had our packed lunches on the viaduct, surrounded by glorious views and watching the many walkers and cyclists that were enjoying the trail (which is along the disused railway line).

After lunch we set off along the trail and soon reached the Headstone Tunnel.  

[The cutting was made in 1860 when the Midland Railway was under construction.  Blasted with gunpowder and drilled and dug by hand, the 490 metres Headstone Tunnel is the longest on the Monsal trail (and the only one we walked through).  Following work by the Peak District National Park Authority – using £2.25 million funding from the Department of Transport – the tunnels were repaired, resurfaced and lit so that they now form an extension to the previously existing Monsal Trail. The tunnels were re-opened for use in May 2011.]  

As we walked through the tunnel (and along other parts of the trail) it was not hard to imagine a ghost steam train coming down the “tracks”.  The cutting was also a paradise for those interested in geology.

Our next stop was the Hassop Station Café for a welcome drink and toilet stop.  

Again, in that peaceful setting, it was hard to believe that 100 years ago we would have been sitting next to a noisy railway track!

In due course we arrived at Bakewell station about an hour before the coach was due to depart at 4.00 p.m. 

This gave some of us an opportunity to sample the local produce and purchase a Bakewell Tart for tea!

The Liverpool Road Methodists were extremely welcoming and have kindly invited us to join their final walk of the season to Ambleside.

I'm sure we would all like to thank Eric and Malcolm for inviting us and, of course David Wall for leading a really lovely and relaxing walk.