Big rise in visitors to Monsal Trail on the cards as traffic-free route celebrates milestone anniversary

Record numbers of visitors have been flocking to enjoy the spectacular countryside of the Peak District National Park which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.

By Gay Bolton
Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 5:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 5:18 pm

The Monsal Trail which is 40 years old, is currently estimated to attract around 300,000 visitors per year.

Visits doubled in three months to more than 200,000 during the late summer period after lockdown last year. At its peak there were almost 2,000 visits each day.

Peak District National Park Authority chairman Andrew McCloy said: “It seems fitting that we find ourselves celebrating the anniversary of the one of the Peak District’s best-loved locations in the same year as we reflect on the very reasons for national parks being created 70 years ago.

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The Monsal Trail offers visitors the opportunity to view picturesque landscapes. Photo by Daniel Wildey.

“The Monsal Trail today represents many of the reasons why our national parks remain so pivotal for the nation as we recover from the pandemic; a place to exercise and recharge our wellbeing, an opportunity to immerse in nature and the landscape but crucially in a way that remains easily accessible for so many.

"It’s hoped that the Monsal Trail will also play a key role in the White Peak Loop – bringing together a sequence of routes that will allow sustainable travel to flourish in this part of the Peak District National Park.”

Figures collected from the Hassop Station counter show that, from March 10, 2012 to December 21, 2020, at least 2.5 million journeys on the Monsal Trail were recorded. These include at least 1,023,264 cyclists and at least 1,497,297 pedestrians.

The trail includes four former railway tunnels which were officially opened ten years ago on May 25 to create a 8.5-mile traffic-free route through limestone dales.

Chee Tor Tunnel, one of four tunnels which visitors pass through on the Monsal Trail. Photo: Peak District National Park Authority/Alex Hyde

Visitor numbers to the trail increased when the tunnels, which were built in the Victorian era, opened in 2011 and the first week saw an increase of more than 100 per cent in cycle users.

The Monsal Trail runs along the former Midland Railway line - which closed in 1968 - between Blackwell Mill in Chee Dale and Coombs Road, Bakewell.

Most of the route was opened to the public in 1981, with two tunnels - Chee Tor No.2 and Rusher Cutting – already forming part of the trail.

The Peak District National Park Authority recently spent £874,206 on maintenance issues raised through inspections of its four trails - Monsal, Tissington, Thornhill and part of the High Peak Trail.

Visitors are flocking to the Monsal Trail which is marking its 40th birthday in a year that the Peak District National Park celebrates its 70th anniversary.

Tissington Trail is 50 years old this year.

The Monsal Trail is currently estimated to attract 300,000 visitors a year
Four tunnels were opened to create a 8.5-mile traffic-free route on the Monsal Trail in 2011.
Cycling is a popular way to travel along the Monsal Trail. Photo by Daniel Wildey