On the sunniest day of our week in The Peak District we hired bikes and cycled the Monsal Trail, and it was the best day of the week! It’s basically 8 miles of traffic-free route through some of the most gorgeous countryside and scenery. People were walking, jogging and horse riding as well as cycling and as you passed people you generally got a nod or an ‘afternoon’ although there was one old gent in a kilt who said ‘nice to see you again’ when we hadn’t seen him before…
We started at Blackwell, where there is a hire place right at the start of the trail. Bikes were £12.50 for adults and I think the trailer was £10 (the girls shared one as it had two seats) and we had the bikes all day. We pedalled along at a fairly sedate pace, stopping to point things out, peer over viaducts and obviously take hundreds of photos.
The trail leads right past where we were staying, Litton Mill. We had a birdseye view of the mill and the cottages surrounding it which was pretty amazing to see. I found out later that it had a murky past and used a lot of orphans as labourers before it burnt down!
The views from the top of Monsal Head where we stopped for lunch (after a pretty steep 10 minute climb up hill!) were truly stunning, but then I am a bit of a bridge enthusiast (maybe I should do a post on that…?) so was always going to think it was pretty special! All the old tunnels that the trains used had been opened up, some of them are so long (around 400 metres) that without the electric lights in them you’d be cycling in pitch darkness, the walls were damp and you got dripped on but it was all part of the fun!
The old stations had been left, platforms and all and it was quite surreal to cycle through them! We cycled around 5.5 miles by my estimation, and when we started to get wobbly legs and sore bums we turned back and headed back to return our bikes!