Sunday, 11 March 2012

March Walk - The Monsal Trail

Ten members of our Group assembled at Millers Dale Station car park on a warm mild March Saturday to tackle the Monsal Trail - or part of it, around seven miles there and back. The first part of the walk is along the old Midland Rail line from Manchester to London via Derby and is very easy walking along the old tracks. This year it is even less strenuous as the tunnels which in the past had to be detoured,  have been repaired, lighting installed and opened to the public.

We set off across the Millers Dale viaduct and along this part of the walk you are able to enjoy fine views across Millers Dale. The first tunnel we came to was the Litton Tunnel which is 515 yards (431m) long and cut through limestone. It was a little eerie at the entrance but the tunnels are well lit and once inside you are able to see and admire the victorian engineering which went into the construction.

You emerge from the tunnel above the village of Cressbrook built around one of the first cotton mills, still in existence but now converted to apartments. From here it is only a short walk to the next underground part of the route, Cressbrook Tunnel. This tunnel is 471 yards (431m) length and again is cut through limestone.

We are now above Monsal Dale and a short walk further on is the Headstone Viaduct and it was here we took a coffee break sat on the viaduct wall and at the entrance to the final tunnel on route the Headstone. This tunnel at 533 yards{487m) in length is the longest on the route and at the exit the line runs on for about another 100 yards through a deep cutting, with almost perpendicular sides.

It was at this point we left the railway line to make our way up to Monsal Head for lunch. Well fed and rested we eventually departed the pub and after a short stop outside to admire the views across Monsal Dale and Millers Dale, we set off down the hill to the valley bottom and the return leg. For much of the route we followed the river along to Cressbrook and on to Litton where we crossed the river and then climbed upwards to rejoin the railway line and return to the car park.

A very enjoyable walk, plenty to see and the tunnels are an interesting experience. Our thanks to Mike and Judith for organising and leading this outing.

Millers Dale Station Car Park

The Route

Millers Dale from the railway line

Striding out along the Monsal Trail

Entrance to the Litton Tunnel

Exit to the Litton Tunnel

A running commentary - if you can turn the handle quickly enough!

Entrance to Cressbrook Tunnel

Coffee break  on Headstone Viaduct

Brushing up on our local history!

Entrance to the Headstone Tunnel

View from Monsal Head

On the way back through Cressbrook and Litton

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