Random thoughts from Pencefn

…. an engineer, singer and photographer living in Scotland

Monsal Head – 17 September 2011

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One of the iconic views of the Peak is the Midland Railway viaduct across the River Wye.

Headstone Viaduct across the River Wye at Monsal Head

Headstone Viaduct across the River Wye at Monsal Head

The railway was opened by the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midlands Junction Railway in 1863, to be closed in 1968. Although the line did have a swansong during the electrification of the line between London Euston and Manchester London Road (now Piccadilly) during the mid 1960s.

Closure to all traffic in 1968 between Matlock and Buxton resulting in this main line being lifted from Matlock to Topley Pike junction were stone trains from the nearby quarries still run. Since then Peak Rail have reopened a stretch of line north from Matlock to Rowsley. The eight miles from Bakewell to Topley Pike was opened as the Monsal Trail in 1981. At that time four tunnels remained closed and walkers had to scramble around on paths. It was almost impossible for cyclists to traverse the route. In 2008, Julia Bradbury walked the Monsal Trail, including getting access to the Headstone Tunnel.

In the Spring of 2011 four tunnels along the route – Headstone Tunnel, Cressbrook Tunnel, Litton Tunnel, Chee Tor Tunnel – were opened, including the provision of lighting.

Inside Headstone Tunnel looking towards the northern portal

Inside Headstone Tunnel looking towards the northern portal

Although the Monsal Trail runs for over eight miles, we only walked from the south end of Headstone Tunnel to the north end of the viaduct. Possibly a future visit to the Peak District may result walking or cycling the whole of the route.

  • Pictures of the Monsal Trail at Headstone Viaduct and Tunnel
  • Peak District National Park Authority on the Monsal Trail
  • Wikipedia on the Monsal Trail
  • Wikipedia on the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midland Junction Railway

    Author: Stewart

    An instrumentation engineer who enjoys photography and singing. Working in the West of Scotland; a member of St Mary's Cathedral Glasgow and Southwark Cathedral; and a volunteer guard/signalman on the Ffestiniog Railway in North Wales.

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