Last day today, and to make sure if wasn’t a gloomy one we had saved the Monsal Trail bike ride for this morning, we have been looking forward to riding this one for several months.
Our campsite for last night and tonight is Beechcroft Caravan Park in Blackwell. A beautiful site that has just undergone a £400k upgrade, everything is shinny new and looks wonderful, we have a pitch on the top tier looking over the Derbyshire Dales. Our reason for choosing the site was its close proximity to the Monsal Trail, although it is only 3/4 of a mile away we didn’t know that it was down a very steep track on the Pennine Bridleway – steep enough for there to be an advisory notice for horse riders to dismount, which means way to steep for us to cycle.
We successfully pushed our bikes down the bridleway and arrived at the start of the Monsal Trail. Yet another former railway line, this one was the Midland Railway line running between Buxton and Bakewell. The trail has been open was years but a couple of years ago the four closed tunnels were re-opened and lighting put in. All together there are 6 tunnels, the longest two are just over 500 metres each – really spooky to ride through as despite the lights you cannot see from one end to the other.
The whole 17 mile trail is off road and runs through some stunning countryside, the views over the dales from the viaducts are amazing. Probably the best part is the view from Headstone Viaduct below Monsal Head, way to deep for me to be looking over the edge. Although a former railway line, as always there is a gradient. We made a slight miscalculation in that we started at the highest end of the trail. Therefore a wonderful run down to Bakewell but a slight uphill all the way back.
We stopped for coffee and cake at Hassop Station just into the return leg to build up the energy levels for the climb. The station buildings have been converted into a cafe, book shop, bike hire and restaurant. Possibly the best and biggest piece of pistachio and apricot flapjack ever and also the purchase of a book with “30 Traffic Free Cycle Rides” so that should keep us going for a while. After our break we set back out and the trail had gotten really busy with walkers and cyclists, whereas on our way down we hadn’t seen more than 1 or 2 people the whole way.
We were nearly at the end of the trail when a small puppy escaped its lead and came chasing after us. Iain shouted me to stop, I did so a little too quickly and I was off. A fair part of my knee is still down on the trail, we have spent half an hour removing the gravel that I brought back in my leg, however the bandage does look impressive 🙂 Home tomorrow morning before any more ailments (still smothered in midge bites that are not going down) but loving Yorkshire and Derbyshire for the brilliant holiday they supplied. As Arnie says – “we’ll be back”.